4 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.” 16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. 21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of[c] Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered. 25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
In this account we are given the royal perspective of how the execution of John the Baptist came about. We find out about how Herod and his family were involved. I wonder what it was like for John.
How long was he in gaol for? Did he suspect that sooner or later he would be executed? How did he spend his time whilst incarcerated?
Not long before he had been preaching to crowds of people and baptising them. He had even baptised Jesus. Yet he had a clear sense of calling. He knew he wasn’t the messiah, his role was to prepare for Jesus. The messiah had come, and now John’s task was over.
John certainly had an unusual life. Born to elderly parents as a miracle child, he grew up and as an adult led the people of Israel to repentance.
There is very little we know about John the man, but from the gospels it is clear he walked with absolute assurance of what God had called him to and he did not shy away from it.
God, please help me to walk with conviction and focus as John did. Help me grasp what it is you have put me here on the planet for and help me to pursue it with passion. I thank you that just as you made John with a desire to prepare the way for Jesus, you have given me a desire for the things you have called me to. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh