It was a great party. Everyone was having a brilliant time. All the movers and groovers were there, all the people to be seen with.
Then the daughter of Herodias, my wife, came out to entertain us. Well, I say my wife… actually she was my brother’s wife, but, well…
I was fine with it, well I am the ruler, I can do what I like.
I’d been challenged on it by that John the Baptist. I suppose if I’m honest, I knew he had a point. He made me feel uncomfortable, afraid even. But Herodias was furious. She wanted him out of the way. Asked me to kill him – but I couldn’t do that! I put him in prison – as much for his own safety! But still there was that niggle… What if he was right? I had a lot of time for John in a way.
Anyway, back to the party. Her daughter danced for us. She was marvellous. Everyone loved it. I was so pleased with her, and if I’m honest trying to big myself up in front of my guests, I promised her that she could have anything she wanted – right up to half my kingdom if she wanted it. I thought she’d want some jewellery of fancy clothes. How stupid I was.
She went off to ask her mother. Bad idea. She’d been waiting for her chance. There was only one thing she wanted and she was willing to use her daughter to get it.
Right now on a platter I want the head of John the Baptist!
That was her request. What could I do? The right thing and lose face with all those important and influential people? Or give in to her wishes, let everyone see I was a man of my word, but somehow let the wrong thing happen?
I went with her request.
How I regret that decision now.
And now I’m hearing about this Jesus, and I’m even more worried. Is this John, come back to life? Come to haunt me with my stupid actions? Come to reprehend me for my for giving in and not doing what I knew was right?
The Death of John the Baptist
14 Jesus became so well-known that Herod the ruler heard about him. Some people thought he was John the Baptist, who had come back to life with the power to work miracles. 15 Others thought he was Elijah or some other prophet who had lived long ago. 16 But when Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “This must be John! I had his head cut off, and now he has come back to life.”
17-18 Herod had earlier married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. But John had told him, “It isn’t right for you to take your brother’s wife!” So, in order to please Herodias, Herod arrested John and put him in prison.
19 Herodias had a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she could not do it 20 because Herod was afraid of John and protected him. He knew that John was a good and holy man. Even though Herod was confused by what John said, he was glad to listen to him. And he often did.
21 Finally, Herodias got her chance when Herod gave a great birthday celebration for himself and invited his officials, his army officers, and the leaders of Galilee. 22 The daughter of Herodias came in and danced for Herod and his guests. She pleased them so much that Herod said, “Ask for anything, and it’s yours! 23 I swear that I will give you as much as half of my kingdom, if you want it.”
24 The girl left and asked her mother, “What do you think I should ask for?”
Her mother answered, “The head of John the Baptist!”
25 The girl hurried back and told Herod, “Right now on a platter I want the head of John the Baptist!”
26 The king was very sorry for what he had said. But he did not want to break the promise he had made in front of his guests. 27 At once he ordered a guard to cut off John’s head there in prison. 28 The guard put the head on a platter and took it to the girl. Then she gave it to her mother.
29 When John’s followers learned that he had been killed, they took his body and put it in a tomb.
How easy it is to get carried away with the moment; to do something to impress others, even when you know it’s wrong. But Jesus has come not to condemn us for the things we have done wrong, but to offer us forgiveness for them. Knowing what we have done, acknowledging that at times we make wrong and stupid decisions is something God can work with – and, in Jesus, offers us forgiveness and the opportunity to start over.
As one of this weeks other lectionary readings says,
Christ sacrificed his life’s blood to set us free, which means that our sins are now forgiven. Christ did this because God was so kind to us. Ephesians 1:7-8
I know that there are things that I’ve got wrong,
stupid decisions I’ve made,
things I’ve done that would have been better not done,
things I should have done that I haven’t.
I bring them before you now,
and saying sorry.
Thank you that you do not write me off,
but through what Jesus has done,
and let me start again.
Lord I pray
that I may know that reality