How do we deal with the story of John the Baptist in the Gospel of Mark. On the surface it is weird to be reading along and then all of sudden have a flashback to the cause and death of John the Baptist. Mark tells this story in Mark 6:14-29.
The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 30These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. Mark 4:15-19
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, ‘John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’Partly this story is told in order to foreshadow the trial and death of Jesus. John and Herod shows us what will happen to Jesus when he confronts power. Herod has heard of Jesus and the comparisons to John and this reminds him of John's death. John and Herod had a complicated relationship. John had held Herod accountable for his marriage to his brother's wife. Herod's wife did not like this and wanted John dead. But, at the same time, Herod feared John, for he knew that John was righteous. Because John was holy, Herod arrested him but kept him safe. So when Herod's birthday party roles around and he promises his stepdaughter she can have whatever she wants - she asks for John's head at the prompting of her mother. Herod was in a tough spot for he had promised her anything and even though he believed John to be righteous, he had him killed. Herod sold out, he let the cares of the world determine his action. The weeds had choked out the word of God. John had sowed the seeds of God's kingdom, but Herod's worldly concerns prevented him from hearing the word and acting differently. What worldly concerns choke out God's word today?
For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’ Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
Make a list of your concerns and worries. Invite the Holy Spirit to share with you which of these cares are thorny ground in your life. Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but the sinners. Ask Jesus to help you learn to transform your thorny ground cares. Amen.
I Want Jesus to Walk With Me