8 Dec. Mark 6:14-29

8 Dec. King Herod Antipas thinks Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead

"King Herod [Antipas, ruler of Galilee] heard about Jesus, because he was now well known. Some people said, 'He is John the Baptist, who has risen from the dead. That is why he can work these miracles.' Others said, 'He is Elijah.' Other people said, 'Jesus is a prophet like the prophets who lived long ago'."

"When Herod heard this, he said, 'I killed John by cutting off his head. Now he has risen from the dead!'"

"Herod himself had ordered his soldiers to arrest John and put him in prison in order to please his wife, Herodias. She had been the wife of Philip, Herod's brother, but then Herod had married her. John had been telling Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to be married to your brother's wife...'"

"On Herod's birthday, he gave a dinner party for the most important government leaders, the commanders of his army and the most important people in Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and the people eating with him."

"So King Herod said to the girl, 'Ask me for anything you want, and I will give it to you'... The girl went to her mother and asked, 'What should I ask for?' Her mother answered, 'Ask for the head of John the Baptist.' At once the girl went back to the king and said to him, 'I want the head of John the Baptist right now on a dish.'"

"Although the king was very sad, he had made a promise, and his dinner guests had heard it. So he did not want to refuse what she asked. Immediately the king sent a soldier to bring John's head... He gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John's followers heard this, they came and got John's body and put it in a tomb."

          (Mark 6:14-29)



Mark's Gospel tells us that John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod Antipas (the son of Herod the Great, and ‘tetrarch’ (ruler) of Galilee and Peraea) in his fortress at Machaerus in 27AD because John had told him that his marriage to Herodias, his half-brother Herod Philip I's estranged wife, was morally and legally forbidden (see Leviticus 20:21).

Herodias, Herod's wife, was furious with John the Baptist, and persuaded Herod to have him imprisoned while she devised a plan to get rid of him altogether.

She did not have to wait long. On his birthday, Herod laid on a sumptuous feast for all the top officials in Galilee, and his wife arranged for her teenage daughter to perform a sexy dance in front of the drunken male guests. Herod was so pleased with his step-daughter that he promised the girl anything she asked for. So, after consulting her mother, the girl asked for the head of John the Baptist.

Later, the beheading of John came to haunt Herod. When Jesus began preaching in Galilee, people said he was "John the Baptist, who has risen from the dead" (Mark 6:14). Herod, plagued by his own evil deeds, began to believe these rumours himself: "When Herod heard this, he said, 'I killed John by cutting off his head. Now he has risen from the dead!'" (Mark 6:16)

But some in the crowd thought that Jesus was Elijah (the prophet who was expected to return to earth to herald the coming of God's 'Messiah' or 'Christ'), or "a prophet like the prophets who lived long ago" (Mark 6:15)

So why do Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all introduce John the Baptist into their accounts of the coming of Jesus? Why was John the Baptist regarded as an essential part of the Christmas story to 1st century Jews and Jewish Christians living in Roman Judaea? We'll find out tomorrow, before moving on to the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus himself.

The photo shows a decorated wall in Herod's Palace at Masada. The room in the palace at Machaerus, where Herod gave the order to execute John the Baptist, would have been similar to this.

You can read more about Herod's palaces @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/2-…/john-critisizes-herod/

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