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Summary: Christ Followers can anticipate persecution from the world. However, they are called to live holy, gentle lives in the midst of a fallen world, honouring the Father through righteous lives and by inviting the lost salvation in Christ.

“When Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.’ And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.” [1]

One of the sorriest spectacles in the entirety of the realm of human interactions, has to be that of an old man who trades moral standing for some titillating display from a woman young enough to be his daughter. Such a sorry display can only be matched by a cougar who is besotted with some young male. Perhaps those old fogeys imagine they can somehow recapture their youthful days, a youth that has receded so far into the distant past that it can only be vaguely remembered.

When the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod and his guests, it is apparent that he was appreciative for more than her terpsichorean skill. Her artistic abilities seem not to have motivated him to make the generous offer he made. Young women don’t understand men. I know that it is a source of great amusement to speak of how men don’t understand women—and I admit that men really don’t understand women! As an aside, this is a strong argument against the current fad of men claiming to be women. Such is an impossibility if for no other reason than men simply can’t understand women. A man can never be a woman, no matter how he feels. He simply will never understand how a woman thinks or what she feels. She has her own logic.

However, it is equally important to note that this inability to understand one another is a two-way street—women cannot really understand men. When they do finally begin to gain some knowledge of how men think, they will be tempted to become manipulative and destructive. That is what happened when this young woman danced for her stepfather. Her mother used the event to school her daughter in the dark art of seduction for malicious purposes.

RASH DECISIONS AND HAUNTING MEMORIES — As is almost always true, this story begins somewhat before the salacious dance that has mesmerised Bible readers for years. You are aware that decisions made in the heat of a moment have a way of coming back to haunt us. Oh, there are consequences enough when we are acting with integrity, but you may be assured that our rash decisions are especially problematic.

In order to fully grasp what was taking place, we will want to focus on the king and a rash decision he made. Herod reacted negatively to John’s bold message. Herod was outraged because John’s message stung! Candidly, Herod failed to think through a decision he was about to make. Herod had imprisoned John. Herod didn’t like what John was preaching and decided to silence him by locking him away. That decision would have grave consequences for John, and for Herod.

Our study begins with Jesus ministering to the crowds, as He always did. This is the account as Peter reported it and Mark wrote it. “[Jesus] called the twelve and began to send them out two-by-two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts—but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So, they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

“King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, ‘John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ‘He is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘He 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 6:7-13].

The people respected the Baptist. He wasn’t a loveable character, but he spoke truth and called people to live holy, godly lives. He was consistently righteous, and he was universally respected as result of his life. When he had been murdered, the people mourned the death of John as a loss for all. Herod, however, was haunted by John’s death. When Jesus appeared on the scene, people attempted to account for His power, speculating on His origin. Herod, however, was tortured by his own conscience and by the way in which he had been manipulated into ordering John’s death. The appearance of Jesus frightened Herod and compelled him to recall his own cowardice.

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