Tag Archives: Mark 6:14-29

What Have I Done?

So frightened
by those who tell the truth,
terrified of being
found out,
trying so hard
to keep face
in front of my friends.

Who is this man
who knows so much
about me?
The real me?
Who looks into people’s lives
and sees the truth?

I am a weak man,
easily persuaded
however foolish
or cruel
the outcome;
backed into a corner
by my own ego
and need to look good.
Feeling the need
to remove someone
who calls me out
on my life choices.

Taking a life
for sport.

What have I done?

Lord as I look at other people
it can be so easy to see their faults,
what I think they are doing wrong
or how they are hurting me,
but I’m not always so quick
to look at my life
so critically.

Help me to look
and think
and live
for you.

Mark 6:14-29 (CEV)

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,[c] 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.

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Getting it Wrong – and Putting it Right

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?

Mark 6:14-29

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

Lord,

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,

acknowledging them,

and saying sorry.

Thank you that you do not write me off,

but through what Jesus has done,

forgive me

and let me start again.

Lord I pray

that I may know that reality

Guilty?

The pin-prick of guilt can make you behave in the strangest ways, to react most inappropriately.

Here one man pays for someone else’s guilt with his life…

Mark 6:14-29

The Death of John the Baptist

14Jesus 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. 15Others thought he was Elijah or some other prophet who had lived long ago. 16But 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.”

17-18Herod 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.

19Herodias had a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she could not do it 20because 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.

21Finally, 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. 22The 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! 23I swear that I will give you as much as half of my kingdom, if you want it.”

24The girl left and asked her mother, “What do you think I should ask for?”

Her mother answered, “The head of John the Baptist!”

25The girl hurried back and told Herod, “Right now on a platter I want the head of John the Baptist!”

26The 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. 27At once he ordered a guard to cut off John’s head there in prison. 28The guard put the head on a platter and took it to the girl. Then she gave it to her mother.

29When John’s followers learned that he had been killed, they took his body and put it in a tomb.

Herod has married his brother’s wife.  John pulls them up for it, telling that they are wrong.  I have a hunch that Herod might actually have realised this, because it seems to be Herodias who leads the persecution, and ultimately execution of John.  She wants rid of the voice that is going to point out the wrong they have done.  Herod however, realised that John was a holy man – and so begins in their lives a classic pull between good and evil, right and wrong.

Herodias excels herself though by getting her daughter caught up in it all.  She doesn’t mind who she uses to get what she wants in the end – John, and his voice of truth, gone.  Though even though heavily led by Herodias, Herod gets caught out by his own stupid showing off – and he ends up making the decision to go through with the request for John’s head.

Herod loses his head metaphorically speaking, and John loses his literally (Tom Wright p 49)

We all have those times when we hear the voice of truth in our lives, either the voice in our head, or someone who is brave enough to point out to us something that is going wrong.  Part of the Lenten discipline of taking time apart is to listen to that voice, to hear the truth of what is wrong in our lives; to face up to it – and do something about it.

It can be so tempting to want rid of it.  To try to drown out the voice, to steer clear of someone who dares to tell us what we need to hear, to try to avoid hearing what God is saying to us.  We may not go as far as cutting anybody’s head off, but we certainly try to cut voices out.

So, this Lent, how are we going to respond to the voice of truth, the niggle of guilt?

We do have something we can do with our guilt, as the story unfolds, we learn that part of God’s new thing that he has come to do, is that Jesus can deal with that for us.  If we find ourselves pulled up short, realise what we have got wrong and where, we don’t need to be held by guilt, but can know the freedom that Jesus brings.  He exchanges it for the things we have got wrong, that we can start again.

Lord,

when I hear that voice,

feel that niggle

that something is not right in my life;

may I not try to run from it,

or bury it –

but face it in you.

I hand to you today

the things that I have got wrong.

I may not be a murderer, or a wife-stealer,

but there are things there

that should not be.

I give them to you.

Thank you that you deal with them,

and allow me to start again

in your New Way

This year, I am again following the Big Read using Tom Wright’s Lent for Everyone – Mark.  I’ll reflect here – if you’re following it too, or even if you’re not, please share with me.