Scripture: Matt 14:1-12
Key verses: (1-12) At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; 2 and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 3 For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod 7 so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9 The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; 10 he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. 12 His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.
Reflection: Clearly we have here is the clash of two kingdoms. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of Herod are radically different and Matthew invites us to observe the contrast through this horrible story. John the Baptist had been imprisoned because he condemned Herod for divorcing his wife and then taking his bothers wife, Herodias. On Herod’s birthday, Herodias’ daughter, Salome, danced before the king and Herod was so pleased that he promised to give her any request she desired. Out of revenge for criticizing her marriage, Herodias told Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Although Herod was shocked by the request, he reluctantly agrees to save face, giving in to the crowd.
In contrast, we remember the kingdom of God that John the Baptist points to at the beginning of the gospel. John called people to a kingdom of justice, hope and compassion. It was a kingdom based on the law of love. John’s kingdom was based on integrity.
We are kingdom people, but what kingdom does our everyday life and choices reflect? Do we take the easy way out and give into peer pressure or do we live with integrity and faith?
John the Baptist points us to the way of God’s kingdom, even in his death.
Prayer: Forgive me for all the times I have given into choices that do not reflect your kingdom, God. Today, may integrity and love rule my day as I seek to follow your son. Amen.
Author: Michelle Thomas-Bush
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].