Spend time meditation on the cross and what it meant for Jesus. Give thanks today for what it means for you.
Sex, power and politics are a heady mix. Today’s story surely qualifies for such an epithet.
The account of the behading of John the Baptist begins with a report that the disciples’ mission in yesterday’s story came to the ears of Herod Antipas. The disciples’ preaching caused speculation as to Jesus’ identity and the three possibilities suggested match this given by the disciples to Jesus’ question to them as to who people believe him to be. Herod’s conclusion is that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the seat. This Herod is the sony of Herod the Great, and Mark’s account gives us a picture of a lavish and morally bankrupt court which matches contemporary accounts of the Herodian family’s immorality and, above all, their desire to stay in power. Herod had broken Jewish law by marrying his brother’s wife and his actions probably shocked most Jews, not just John. Although Herod recognized that there was something special about John, he put him in prison. This was not enough for Herodians, and finally her chance came. Despite later operatic and film reproductions of this story, there are no ‘seven veils’; we are simply told of her daughter’s dance and all that followed from that. Because he cared more for his reputation than doing the right thing, Herod had John executed.
We are reminded here of another figure of authority who cared more for his reputation and career than he did about setting free an innocent man. In that sense, John’s death prefigures that of Jesus. This story reminds us that throughout the ministry of Jesus there is the shadow of the cross. It won’t be long before the disciples start to learn the lesson. But we, today, can rejoice as the shadow of the cross gives way to the dazzling light of the resurrection
Pray today for those in authority. Pray that they will do what is right, and not what preserves their reputation or their career.