They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
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.”
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. Mark 6:13-29
Sometimes, when we serve God, we find ourselves between powerful people who do not want us to exist. They want us to go away. Sometimes they are in seats of government and sometimes it happens within the church. Folks who want their sins hidden, people who want the truth tellers to be silenced, folks who think their power gives them the right to abuse and bully others, will always take advantage of the meek and pure of heart. Yet history always turns towards justice, and we honor the saints of God and not those who got their ways for a season.
This story of the dancing daughter and the beheading of John the Baptist, brings the harsh truth of our daily lives into sharp focus. We see people of power taking advantage of others, getting their way despite all the evil they have done. This is no parable but gritty, harsh, headline grapping reality. We are caught up in the drama of desire and sinfulness. John dies to silence him, the truth bearer. We are invited by God today to be the truth bearers and understand that no one likes to face their own truths and sins. There are real, lived consequences for following God.
Today I ask God to help me be brave and follow God, to be a truth teller and one who brings light to the shadows. May we not be those who manipulate for our gain but be those who live for Christ alone, sharing light and love, despite the cruelty and abuses of the world.