July 9, 2021
14King Herod heard of [the disciples’ preaching,] 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.” 15But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
17For 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. 18For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20for 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. 21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22When 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.” 23And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25Immediately 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.” 26The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
I was a new and excited pastor when I was called to Pennsylvania. I told God that I was “ready! Put me in the trenches. I got this!” One morning just as I was getting up, I got a phone call to go visit the brother of a parishioner whose wife had died. When I got there, the wife was lying in the bed and her son and husband confess that they were not believers. My heart is racing as I realize that I have the opportunity to explain the joy one has in their salvation. I leave that place to go to the nursing home where a parishioner that I had grown close to, cries and begs me to take her home. It took all I had to keep myself from putting her in the car and take her home. I cried with her. After that visit, I go to a home that where, as soon as I walked into the door, the parishioner’s husband hands me a bible and asks me to read second Corinthians, which is about how women are to be silent in the church. Immediately, I realize I am being persecuted for proclaiming Christ because I am a woman. I explain the context of the text to him and tell him that I believe I am called by God to serve the church. When I got home late that afternoon, I was exhausted. I say all of this because we must be careful what we ask God for in our lives.
King Herod put himself in a bad predicament. John the Baptist had been telling King Herod’s wife that she needs to obey God and straighten up. Herod respected John and even enjoyed his company, but his wife was a different story. She didn’t want to hear what John had to say and she certainly did not want to change her ways. One evening, the king gave a party, in which his beautiful daughter came into the room and danced for the guests. Herod was taken back by her and swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you.” The daughter not knowing what to ask for, went to her mother and asked her what she should ask for. King Herod’s wife told her to ask for John’s head to be delivered on a platter.
King Herod had put himself in a position that to say that he would not, would have been a complete embarrassment in front of his guests. So, he ordered to have John the Baptist’s head chopped off and delivered on a platter. I wonder if Herod’s wife really believed that Herod would go through with it. I wonder how King Herod slept at night.
This story demonstrates a couple of things. First, John the Baptist was a righteous and good man who had helped prepare the way for Jesus coming into the world. He followed Jesus. He loved Him. Unfortunately, this demonstrates that just because we are followers of Jesus Christ doesn’t mean that our lives are always going to wonderful. In fact, this demonstrates the opposite! If we are to really stand up for Jesus Christ in this world, we have the possibility of facing persecution! I believe that evangelism for the sake of the gospel will get harder in these days to come.
Second, who did Herod obey? It sure wasn’t God! For God says that “Thou shalt not kill!” Instead, Herod goes against the core of his own soul and obeys his wife instead – just so that he doesn’t embarrass himself in front of his guests. I cannot help but to wonder if King Herod had asked God for what he needed in this difficult decision, how this story may have had a completely different ending.
Here is what I know for sure…God does answer prayers. I asked God to put me in the trenches and I got exactly what I asked for. However, I am not sure it was the answer that I thought I would get! It was a very hard day. But the parishioner’s husband that didn’t believe I should be a pastor because I was a woman, gave me a hug that afternoon before I left their home. There were many visits after that. It was a great lesson for me!
When you are in times of discernment; when you are in a place of trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong; when the choice is even one that makes us cringe, or the outcome has the potential to be frightening – consult God in prayer. Ask God for what you need. Ask God for what you want. God does answer our prayers and gives us what we need, even when we may not like the answer.
However, you may just want to be careful of what you ask for – because you may just get it!
Let us pray…Gracious God. Help us to come to you when we are in discernment. Help us hear your call for us and guide us into your will. “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Send your spirit upon us and fill our hearts with your love, grace, and mercy. We pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.