ESOCS Devotional 27 March 2023
MEMORY VERSE: “So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother.” Mark 6:27-28 NIV
TEXT: MARK 6:14-29
14 King Herod heard of it, for [Jesus’] name had become well known. He and they [of his court] said, John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why these mighty powers [of performing miracles] are at work in Him.
15 [But] others kept saying, It is Elijah! And others said, It is a prophet, like one of the prophets [of old].
16 But when Herod heard [of it], he said, [This very] John, whom I beheaded, has been raised [from the dead].
17 For [this] Herod himself had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he [Herod] had married her.
18 For John had told Herod, It is not lawful and you have no right to have your brother’s wife.
19 And Herodias was angry (enraged) with him and held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him; but she could not,
20 For Herod had [a reverential] fear of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and [continually] kept him safe [under guard]. When he heard [John speak], he was much perplexed; and [yet] he heard him gladly.
21 But an opportune time came [for Herodias] when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and the high military commanders and chief men of Galilee.
22 For when the daughter [f]of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased and fascinated Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, Ask me for whatever you desire, and I will give it to you.
23 And he put himself under oath to her, Whatever you ask me, I will give it to you, even to the half of my kingdom.
24 Then she left the room and said to her mother, What shall I ask for [myself]? And she replied, The head of John the Baptist!
25 And she rushed back instantly to the king and requested, saying, I wish you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.
26 And the king was deeply pained and grieved and exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests, he did not want to slight her [by breaking faith with her].
27 And immediately the king sent off one [of the soldiers] of his bodyguard and gave him orders to bring [John’s] head. He went and beheaded him in the prison
28 And brought his head on a platter and handed it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.
29 When his disciples learned of it, they came and took [John’s] body and laid it in a tomb.
Repentance isn’t a practice that most people enjoy. And it’s certainly not something people want to be told they need to do. In a world that cheers personal autonomy and self-expression, the suggestion that someone’s way of life is something that needs to be repented of is largely considered out of bounds. But as Christians, we recognize the call to repentance is a primary part of the message of the Gospel. It’s only when we repent of our sins and turn to Jesus that we can be forgiven and saved from the wrath of God.
As we come to Mark 6:14-29 we encounter a group of people who are fully committed to living for themselves. At the heart of the story is a King who has an affair and who is called to repentance by John the Baptist. In these fifteen verses we get an incredible view of the deceitfulness and destructiveness of sin as well as a stark reminder of the significant opposition we can face as we stand for the things of God in world that is in rebellion against Him.
In Mark 6:7-13 Jesus sends out the Twelve on their first apostolic mission. In Mark 6:30 we are told of their return. Sandwiched between their departure and their return is this story of John the Baptist and his death at the hands of those who didn’t like his message. The placement of the story is instructive: A reminder of the difficulty of the calling. As we go out to speak on behalf of Christ, we must go with full knowledge of the opposition we will face.
What was Herod’s fear all about? He could not have been happy with John’s judgment against his adultery. There is no evidence that Herod repented. Yet we are told that Herod knew John to be righteous and a holy man, and Herod liked to listen to him. Was he like we are sometimes, sensing a hard truth about our lives, uneasy but not ready to accept it?
John the Baptist always pointed beyond himself to Jesus, the Christ. This Jesus, this Son of God, had come to bring God’s promise of forgiveness and deliverance from evil and death.
This is the dawning of God’s kingdom that John proclaimed, a reign of peace with God and one another.
- Are you discouraged by how the world receives you as a witness for Christ?
- Lord, make me a vessel of honour for the ministry no matter the odds in Jesus’ name. Amen.
FURTHER READING: Exodus 12:37-51; 2 Kings 5:1-19; Romans 2:17-29
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ESOCS Devotional 27 March 2023