Deeply Distressed

Today's devotion from Mark 6:1-29.The death of John the Baptist is a perplexing account in Scripture. Mark records the context as being godly morality in direct conflict with godless hedonism. In particular, while Herodias' husband, Philip, had gone to Rome, she became involved with his brother, Herod. It is unclear as to the motivation of the affair. Some believe it was lust, others believe it was strictly a power play on the part of Herodias. In either case, their relationship was seen as unlawful and immoral. John the Baptist did not shrink from denouncing their immorality. He publicly called them out for their infidelity. This didn't seem to bother Herod. The Bible implies that Herod only imprisoned John to appease Herodias. Scripture tells us that Herod was puzzled by John and like to hear him speak, and, therefore, was not in favor of executing him.

Yet during a debase time of celebration, Herodias found her opening. Her daughter, Salome, performed for the king and his guests. In response, he offered to grant her a reward. This was a common act. While the words indicate she could ask for up to half the kingdom, custom indicated this was not really the offer. It was a showy display for the king and understood to be exercised in moderation.

In having her daughter trap the king in this predicament, virtually forcing his hand in order to keep from losing face in front of his guests, Herodias is demonstrating that her vendetta against John was so important that she would endanger her daughter and risk the wrath of Herod to accomplish it.

This reveals two truths to us. First, the bold and prophetic proclamation of John intrigued Herod because it was so unusual. I can only imagine that part of the appeal was that John was so out of place in a society bent on winning favor instead of standing for truth. He was probably surrounded by 'yes men' who would only placate him. Herodias' response was much more filled with hate, even at the expense of her daughter.

Jesus was right. The stark difference between the godly and the worldly will stand out like a shining beacon to some and will cause deep hatred in others.