John the Baptist Beheaded

Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 21-23; Mark 6,7

Today’s Key Passage – Mark 6:14-29


Jesus once said, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11), and in our key passage today we learn what happened to him.  John was a prophet – a servant of the Lord who came to pave the way for Jesus.  He was a great man who did many great things, so why was he ultimately killed?  John, like Jesus, hated sin.  John knew that all sin was bad and especially knew that unrepentant sin was really a slap to the face of God.  Therefore, when John found out that King Herod was committing adultery with his brother’s wife Herodias, he was not able to sit idly by and say nothing.  He told Herod that what he was doing was wrong – he called Herod on his sin in hopes that Herod would repent and turn to God.  This made Herodias furious and she wanted John the Baptist killed, but Herod initially did not want to kill John because he knew he was a righteous and holy man.  Ultimately, though, Herod succumbed to peer pressure and beheaded John.

So what can we learn from today’s key passage?  There are two important lessons we can take away from John’s gruesome fate.  The first lesson is about exposing sin.  When John saw Herod’s sin, he could have simply stayed quiet and not talked to Herod about his adultery.  As a man of God, though, John knew that sitting quietly while people around us sin is really the same as hating them and that not saying anything can often be confused for condoning sin.  John wanted to save Herod, and he knew that Herod needed to repent, so he went to him in love.  Ephesians 5:8-13 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”  John chose to expose the darkness, and because of that choice he was arrested, imprisoned, and executed.  Does that mean that John made a bad choice in exposing Herod’s sin?  Absolutely not.  Exposing the sin certainly did not make John popular with Herod or Herodias, but that was not what mattered most to John.  What was most important to John was not what others thought about him but rather what God thought about him.  Exposing Herod’s sin was in line with the will of God, meaning John made the only correct choice when choosing to talk to Herod about it, regardless of the ultimate consequences.

The second lesson we can take from this story is not to crumble under pressure.  Herod did not want to kill John.  He feared John and he knew that John was righteous and holy.  Not even his wife could convince Herod to kill John.  Sadly, though, when Herodias’ daughter asked for John’s head Herod found himself in a jam.  He had told her to ask for anything she wanted and swore on oath that he would give it to her, and to deny her request would have made Herod look very foolish in front of his guests.  Herod was more concerned with what others thought about him than he was about doing what was right.  Though he knew killing John was wrong, he crumbled in the face of pressure and killed him anyway.

In this story, we instantly notice the striking contrast between John and Herod.  One man cared about doing what was right in the eyes of God, while the other cared about doing what was right in the eyes of other people.  Very often in life, we find that these two things are not the same.  When we are faced with choices, we should constantly be asking ourselves on which side we want to be.  Do we want to be like Herod and go along with what the world believes to be right, or do we want to be like John and do what God tells us is right.  In reality, this is the same question we have to answer every time we are tempted to sin.  When we make the right choice – when we act in accordance to God’s will instead of man’s will – we know we are making the right decision.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.


Posted on February 27, 2013, in 02 - Mark and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Jesus is an awesome God…..What I have learned and knew all alone is “His will will be done”…..

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