Lesson 28

The Gospel According to Mark

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

6:12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 6:13 They cast out many demons, and anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them. 6:14 King Herod heard this, for his name had become known, and he said, "John the Baptizer has risen from the dead, and therefore these powers work in him." 6:15 But others said, "It is Elijah." Others said, "It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets." 6:16 But Herod, when he heard this, said, "This is John, whom I beheaded. He has risen from the dead." 6:17 For Herod himself had sent out and arrested John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, for he had married her. 6:18 For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 6:19 Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him, but she couldn't, 6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he did many things, and he heard him gladly.

6:21 When a convenient day had come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper for his lords, and the high captains, and the chief men of Galilee; 6:22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and those reclining with him. The king said to the young lady, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you." 6:23 He swore to her, "Whatever you shall ask of me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom."

6:24 She went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?"

She said, "The head of John the Baptizer."

6:25 She came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptizer on a platter."

6:26 The king was exceedingly sorry, but for the sake of his oaths, and of his dinner guests, he didn't wish to refuse her. 6:27 Immediately the king sent out a soldier of his guard, and commanded to bring John's head, and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 6:28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the young lady; and the young lady gave it to her mother.

6:29 When his disciples heard this, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.

Today's Lesson 

In yesterday's lesson we discussed how Jesus had sent out the Twelve. He sent them out two by two and with no supplies other than the clothes on their backs. He gave them the power to heal and the power to cast out unclean spirits. They were to take the message to the towns of Galilee that the Kingdom of God was at hand. We are not told how long this period lasted, but it would make sense to assume that it lasted for quite some time, at least weeks and perhaps months. What we are told is that it lasted long enough for word to get back to King Herod about what Jesus was doing in Galilee.


This section then becomes the conclusion of what happened to John the Baptist. It is the story of how John was beheaded by Herod and what led up to the event. The events that are described speak for themselves. What we may say briefly is some background that might help to explain some of the history behind this event. The Herod that is spoken of in this story was Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. Herod the Great was established as king over Israel by the Romans but when he died the Romans divided his kingdom up in to four parts. Herod and his sons were only partially of Jewish ancestry and their commitment to the Law of Moses was sometimes only a matter of convenience to them. What we have here was another of the gross violations of the Law from this family and the consequences for a prophet who spoke out against it.


Herodias was a granddaughter of Herod the Great. Herodias had married her uncle, Philip, who lived in Rome. Philip was Herod Antipas' half brother. While visiting Rome, Herod Antipas convinced Herodias to leave her husband Philip and come and rule with him in Galilee. John the Baptist spoke out against this flagrant violation of Mosaic Law. Herod had John imprisoned not to kill John, but to silence the criticism. John was too popular for Herod to kill outright. As it was, Herodias used her daughter to trick Herod into doing it anyway.


What we are left with is a story of corruption and revenge. John spoke out about the Law and Herodias wanted him killed. Herod was too weak a man to prevent this from happening. John was the last of the prophets before Christ. He died in the tradition of the prophets who had gone before him. He prepared the way for Jesus to come and deliver the message of the Kingdom. He was God's voice, crying in the wilderness. Though Herod had everything he desired, he had compromised his own soul and lost everything. Though John's life was ended in a prison, he has gained eternal life by serving God.


Would you be willing to speak out if you knew that something was against God's ways? Would you be willing to pay the price for speaking the truth?


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