Week 65 | Sections 71a,b
In a parenthetical sort of way our study this week circles back to the life and ministry of John the Baptist. As Herod Antipas considers Jesus’ ministry and word that the movement was growing, yet differently that of the politicians and many religious leaders, he grew concerned of the social and political impact.1
1 At that time, 2Herod the tetrarch3 heard the report4 concerning Jesus, 2 and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptizer. He is risen from the dead. That is why these powers work in him.”
14 King Herod heard this, for his name had become known, and he said, “John the Baptizer5¯6¯7 and has risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” Others said, “He is a prophet, or like one of the prophets.” 16 But Herod, when he heard this, said, “This is John, whom I beheaded. He has risen from the dead.”
7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him; and he was very perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again. 9 Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” He sought to see him.
3 For Herod had laid hold of John, and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. 4 For John said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 When he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced among them and pleased Herod. 7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatever she should ask.
8 She, being prompted by her mother, said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptizer.” 9 The king was grieved, but for the sake of his oaths, and of those who sat at the table with him, he commanded it to be given, 10 and he sent and beheaded John in the prison. 11 His head was brought on a platter, and given to the young lady: and she brought it to her mother. 12 His disciples came, and took the body, and buried it; and they went and told Jesus.
17 For Herod himself had sent out and arrested John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias,8 his brother Philip’s wife, for he had married her. 18 For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him, but she couldn’t, 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. 21 Then a convenient day came, that Herod on his birthday made a supper for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias9 herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and those sitting with him.10 The king said to the young lady, “Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” 23 He swore to her, “Whatever you shall ask of me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 She went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” She said, “The head of John the Baptizer.” 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.” 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. 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, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the young lady; and the young lady gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard this, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
- Have you ever felt powerless to sin, like Herod unable to change your mind or behavior?
- In the midst of sin have you felt that deep desire for the freedom as Herod felt when he listened to John’s message?
- What relief and good is there for those who repent, or resist evil and sin?
- Would you say your life has been controlled more by philosophical convictions, Biblical rule/law, or your spiritual relationship with Jesus?
- Read the 1928 collect below and discuss what stands out to you.
- What can we learn about integrity and leadership from today’s reading?
- How ought we prepare ourselves for malice, misfortune, or persecution?
- How are we to prepare for the expected (or unexpected) end of our ministry term?
Learning Objectives: Repentance, Vice, spiritual aspirations, the power of sin and temptation.
- The Collect Rob is reading is as follows: “Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Saviour by the preaching of repentance: lead us to repent according to his preaching and, after his example, constantly to speak the truth, boldly to rebuke vice, and patiently to suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.” The RCL provide us a complete litany for June 24 – the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist.
- After Jesus had commissioned and sent out the twelve Apostles, which was in the winter, since it came to an end before the Paschal season (Section 72c).
- Herod Antipas is not really king, but a “tetrarch” being “one of four rulers”. Because of the Roman Empire it a position something like a governor with limited authority. Antipas ruled over Galilee and Perea; his brother, Archelaus, ruled over Judea and Samaria; his half-brother, Philip, ruled Golanautis (see Harmony Bible Map). The tetrarchs ruled each region but they were subject to the Senate in Rome and also the will of Augustus. His deeds and reign were so popular among the Romans that people often used the Greek term euangelion (translated, “good news” or, “gospel”) to describe the events. Perhaps the Good News that Jesus was teaching and bringing concerned Herod as it was so different than that of the Empire.
- We suspect that the ‘report’ came to Herod Antipas there at his palace in Tiberias, not at the fortress were John was imprisoned. See the map and the context of the chronology. While the distance between the two places would take about three days, Herod didn’t change his mind.
- The first account of John the Baptist was back in Week 4 Section 4.
- The Nazarite vow can is from Numbers 6, and is explained in detail in the Jewish Encyclopedia. Pastor David Guzik offers a thorough study of Numbers 6.
- John, a forerunner of Jesus, had a prophetic ministry in which he openly called people to Baptism, Repentance. It grew tremendously and only began to wain as John stepped back so that Jesus’ ministry could increase.
- Herod the Great had 10 wives and their children all wanted a part of the Kingdom. The family was terribly dysfunctional and contrary to the customs of the Jewish people. John the Baptist confronted this behavior, and that was not easy to hear. Yet as much as Herod didn’t want to be confronted, we think his soul desired wholeness and so he tolerated John’s sermons until he was forced to have him beheaded as explained in this story.
- This would have been Salome, who was about 14-16 years old at the time of John’s death. Salome was the daughter of Herodias and Herod II. Herodias, was the daughter of Mariamne, the daughter of Simon the high priest. Previously married she divorced Philip and married Antipas when they fell in love with one another. It was a scandal among both the Jewish people (they were both Jewish), and even the Roman social-elite. Jesus called Herod Antipas, ‘that fox’ (Lk 13:32), because Jesus he was known to be needlessly destructive and reckless, yet still indecisive and avoiding conflict by trying to placate others.
- While nothing more in Scripture speaks to her future, Josephus wrote “Salome was married to Philip, the son of Herod, and tetrarch of Trachonitis; and as he died childless, Aristobulus, the son of Herod, the brother of Agrippa, married her; they had three sons, Herod, Agrippa, and Aristobulus”(Josephus: Antiquities 18.5.4). It is thought that she was born c. AD 14 – and died between 62 and 71). Dr. Henry Abramson delivered this video lecture concerning Solome.