Relax and listen. Consciously prepare to hear God’s Word. Clear your mind of the worries and tasks that lie before you. Open your heart and allow it to refresh.
Mark 6:14-29 (NRSV)
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
This might not be a popular opinion, but I feel sorry for Herod. Now, this is not the same Herod who was King when Jesus was born, but his son, who was also named Herod.
Herod was, in a sense, a tragic figure. He was boxed into a corner by his own pride. He could not retreat from the promise he made in front of all those powerful men. He couldn’t retreat, so he had to follow through by granting the promise. He was sad, and guilty, and ashamed, but he couldn’t back down. He had to follow through on the beheading of John the Baptist.
Herod gave in to pressure from his wife and from the important men at his party. So, instead of standing up for John, he caved to the pressure and had John the Baptist beheaded.
In our lives when the world clamors for us to do this or that, we need to have a back bone and stand up to those pressures. Living with and in Christ can help us avoid pressure. Living with and in Christ can help us not to follow the pressures all around us. Living with and in Christ can help us live a life of which we can be proud.
Precious Lord, we are your children, your followers. There is so much pressure to conform to how the outside world wants us to behave. Help us to stand up to that pressure and to stand up for you. Amen.
Go with God.