John the Baptist Executed On A Whim

Matthew 14:1-12 informs us about the death of John the Baptist by Herod Antipas. Herod was obviously wicked and appears to be prideful. He makes a foolish vow and then sticks by it… choosing to kill John rather than backtrack on a vow he made on a whim. It is worth noting that Herod did not even want to kill John, but determines it is better to execute John than to nullify a vow.

14 When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee,[a] heard about Jesus, he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.”

For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.

But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. 10 So John was beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. 12 Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.

It is hard to imagine such a foolish decision by Herod. The chapter even begins with recognition that Jesus, whom he thought may be John raised from the dead is doing many miracles. This seems to indicate that Herod knew John had power and authority above a normal man… but refused to acknowledge it was from God and refused to submit to it because it would call him to change how he was living.

John, on the other hand, served God even to his death. He did not compromise truth to save his own life. He lived, and died, for God. This scripture provides a stark contract between those who live for God and those who are wicked and selfish, living only for themselves and without a accurate moral sense of right and wrong.

We can be assured from the rest of God’s word that John is with God and Herod would seem to be somewhere else. There is ultimately accountability for our actions, often in this world… always when we die and face our creator.

Praise God for providing a way to salvation and forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ! Those who repent from our sins, submit to and serve Jesus Christ will also go to be with God when we die.

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Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

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