“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.”(Mark 6:14-16)
John the Baptist had taken Herod to task for marrying his brother’s wife. I do not know exactly why that was a sinful thing, but I assume it had something to do with how his brother’s wife came to be his wife – a sordid tale most likely.
“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.” (Verses 17-20)
We try to tell ourselves that our past actions are just that, in the past. And cannot influence our presence, unless we allow them to. But actions tend to snowball; started in the past they “roll” into our presents and smash our good intentions.
“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.” (Verses 21-25)
Herod seems like the type of man who indulged himself in the pleasures he wanted, and did not consider the costs or consequences. We can assume that from the fact that he married his brothers wife, and that he took “pleasure” in the dancing of his wife’s daughter, who I am suspecting was the daughter of his “missing” brother.
“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.”
One may think that Herod acted with integrity by granting his niece’s(?) request. But who would give into such a blood thirsty request? Especially when realizing from whom the request actually came? I heard or read somewhere the idea that Heriodias herself came up with the idea of her daughter dancing for Herod and then asking a favor of him. No, I don’t think Herod thought through his actions very well.
I do hope and assume, beloved reader, that you think carefully about your actions, their cost and consequences. I am reminded again of this year’s lectionary theme of renewal and recommitment.
Living responsible lives is part of that. It is sometimes a painful process – first seeing where we have gone astray and made poor or unwise choices. Then we must face the cost and live with consequences. We could even continue this cycle of poor/unwise choices and the cost & consequences. Or we could change, which can be just as painful or more so than continuing our previous pattern.
Do not think, beloved, that renewal and recommitment is just for those who only strayed a little. We may often think of renewal and recommitment as just deciding to be more diligent in the life we are leading. It is possible to pull yourself back from the brink and go a completely different direction.
May you, beloved reader, not allow whatever mistakes you have made in the past derail or destroy your future! Selah!