Mark 6:14-29

14 And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.” 15 But others were saying, “He is Elijah.” And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!”

17 For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; 20 for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; [l]but he [m]used to enjoy listening to him. 21 A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and [n]military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; 22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and [o]his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of [p]his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb.

We’re given another recap of the events that led to John’s death. We previously touched on the history of Herod Antipas.

Summarizing: Antipas was the son of Herod the Great (the man who had previously tried to kill Jesus as an infant and reportedly slaughtered the infants and toddlers of Bethlehem.) Antipas had inherited his lands (the region of Galilee) on the death of his father when the Romans divided the kingdom into four regions.

Antipas had entered into a political marriage with the daughter of the neighboring Nabatean kingdom. It was, at the time, an independent kingdom, but a tributary of Rome which had dealt the kingdom a military defeat. Antipas had married the daughter of the current king Aretas the Fourth, then divorced her and married Herodias who was his brother’s wife and Antipas’ niece. The situation causes Antipas no end of headaches, starting with burning a major bridge with his brother Philip, then his former father-in-law beginning preparation for war, John the Baptist, and lastly introducing Herod Agrippa (Herodias’ brother) into his life. The latter would eventually betray Antipas, denounce him before emperor Caligula, and lead to his loss of property, title, and exile.

So, Antipas is not a man who makes good decisions, he is rash and impulsive. Those qualities carry over to this passage where he, possibly in a drunken state, offers his step-daughter half of everything he owns because he liked her dance performance. Traditionally the dance was erotic in nature and inflamed the man’s passion.

The girl consults with her mother Herodias who is described as having a grudge against John because he condemned her marriage because it was against the Mosaic law.

The recklessness of Herod Antipas is contrasted with the faithfulness of John and John’s disciples.

Despite the negative implications, John did not mince words before anyone. He spoke out against evil be it from average folks, the religious leaders, or political leaders. And he was imprisoned for it. Despite moments of discouragement, he was encouraged by Christ to remain faithful, which he did until his execution.

There is a lot of discussion in Jesus’ teachings and in the New Testament about the need to remain faithful and finish well. Mark 4 discussed the parable of the sower and the seed and describes various scenarios where we begin well, but are hampered by various concerns in this life that hold us back and stop us from living a full life filled with love. They prevent us from becoming what God intended us to be, a person who is a giver of life, encouragement, refreshment, and comfort to others. John had called on Antipas to repent, but Antipas had refused.

Despite that, John had continued to appeal to the man, but ultimately John’s life, his tree was cut down. But his life’s work was not. He had touched many. Antipas was surrounded by people, but they were not true friends. John was alone, but he was surrounded by more men and women who would stick by him and continue his life’s work. He would leave a legacy as a man who brought others closer to God and changed their lives for the better. He was poor and imprisoned, but he possessed immeasurable wealth as demonstrated by the friends he still had who would claim his body, and the men who became part of the Twelve, and the men who later joined the fledging church and became godly pillars within it.

Antipas would leave a legacy as a man who was obsessed with his own desires. He was wealthy and powerful, but impoverished of soul. And when everything was stripped away, he would have nothing left.

The prophet and king are contrasted. One was rich. One was poor. Which one you view as wealthy likely depends on what you value in life: people or desires.

1 thought on “Mark 6:14-29

  1. Pingback: Mark 6. Jesus Is Rejected at Nazareth | Bummyla

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