Reflections: The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Today’s Reading: Mark 6:14-29
Daily Lectionary: 1 Kings 11:42-12:19; 2 Corinthians 7:1-16

The king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. (Mark 6:27-28)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Poor John the Baptist was trying to do God’s work of preparing the way for the Lord. Yet we see that it lands him in jail and gets him killed. Look at evil King Herod Antipas behind it all, getting away with it as he is free to do whatever his heart desires.

This is one of the many ways that sin and Satan work on us, drawing our attention to what works in this world so that we think doing the right thing will hurt us and temptations will have no consequences.

But that is an illusion. Appearances can be deceiving. Herod is not free. He is a captive slave to his lusts. After getting half-brother Philip’s wife Herodias to be his own, he refuses to leave his adulterous marriage behind when John calls him to repent. His sexual urges control him so that he cannot even say no when Herodias and Salome make their grisly demand for John’s head on a platter. Mark reports that then Herod’s guilty conscience had him terrified that Jesus was actually John the Baptist come back from the dead to get revenge. In the end, Herod Antipas loved his life and lost it all.

John, however, is completely free in the place where all tears are wiped away. Sin can no longer hurt him as he rests from his labors in heaven with the Lord. And even before his execution, John was free because the Holy Spirit filled him. Neither his own sin nor other people’s opinions controlled him. He preached so people would receive God’s freedom from the sins that were controlling them through the forgiveness of their sin.
Now John lives, even though he died (and even though he sinned before he died), all because Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world by His death. And so He took John’s sin away. And Jesus takes your sin away, too. You are free. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty God, You gave Your servant John the Baptist to be the forerunner of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in both his preaching of repentance and his innocent death. Grant that we, who have died and risen with Christ in Holy Baptism, may daily repent of our sins, patiently suffer for the sake of the truth, and fearlessly bear witness to His victory over death; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Martyrdom of John the Baptist)

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch