Although the king regretted it, he commanded that it be granted because of his oaths and his guests.
Toe jam again. Yummy.
We’ve all been there before—opened our mouth before we activate our brain! Then come the consequences. We either have to stand by what we said and follow through on actions or humble ourselves and sometimes BEG forgiveness. Even then, the words are already out there doing their damage.
From “The Christmas Story” movie and the laughable “double-dog dare” scene (it’s all fun and games until the firemen are called) to the daily news stories of senseless killings because someone said something, we see this story played out.
In the New Testament, we find the story of John the Baptist’s death replayed several times. In today’s readings, the retelling of his beheading is more like a flashback scene in a movie. We know he was killed, but we don’t know the actual details.
We do know this—when Herod heard about Jesus’ death, he immediately thought John the Baptist had been resurrected (Matthew 14:2; Mark 6:16; Luke 9:7)!
Being a big-shot king, Herod liked to flaunt his power. In honor of his own birthday, he decided to have a huge hoopla. For this party, he invited the top dogs. Any man who was someone was there. I’m sure the food and drinks were flowing—and maybe a little too much drink.
In entered a beautiful young girl in the midst of these men. As she began to dance, you can imagine the hooting and whistling going on. When the dance was over, Herod, high on power, desire, and drink, offered his high praise. But a simple praise wasn’t enough. No, he had to then offer her a promise and an oath—several times.
“…The king said to the girl, ‘Ask me whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.’ So he swore oaths to her: ‘Whatever you ask me I will give you, up to half my kingdom’” (Mark 6:22-23).
Well, this was no ordinary girl—this was Herod’s own stepdaughter, child of his wife, Herodias! After this, she went to confer with her mommy about the request. When she returned asking for John’s head (see Mark 6:25), Herod realized he’d been set up.
Although he secretly feared, and some even say admired, John the Baptist, his wife Herodias hated him! Her anger had been festering, and she was determined to find a way to get what she wanted.
All eyes were on Herod. Would he do it? Would he kill this man—this prophet he feared? Would he back out on his oath in front of all these big shots and deny the request?
Open foot, insert mouth. GULP. PEER pressure? Or PRIDE pressure?
Reading today’s story, we know the ending. He followed through. He couldn’t risk being humiliated in front of the dignitaries now, could he? But we find that this deal haunted him and stayed in his mind. So much so that when he heard of Jesus, he automatically assumed it was John the Baptist who’d come back (to haunt him?).
The more he heard about Jesus, the more intrigued he was and wanted to meet Him. The sad reality is when Herod did get a chance to meet Jesus (see Luke 23), he didn’t recognize Jesus as the Savior who could relieve him of the demons in his head!
We all say things we don’t mean. Sometimes we make rash vows in front of others and then not wanting to embarrass ourselves, we follow through. Sometimes we make the rash vows in silence, pleading to God. “God if you do this, I promise I will…” Then we have to deal with the consequences.
Sometimes we have never-ending guilt and regret playing through our minds like a broken record. In those situations, do you turn your guilt over to Jesus and allow Him to remind you of the price He’s paid for you? Or do you allow Satan to bring it to your mind over and over and torment you?
We’re human. We make mistakes. But let’s try to meditate and keep Ecclesiastes 5:2 (“Do not be hasty to speak….”) at the forefront of our brains so we might keep the toe jam locked away in the pantry!
- What thoughts do you think were running through Herod’s mind when the young girl asked for John the Baptist’s head? What thoughts run through your mind when you realize that you have just said something rash?
- Why was John in prison anyway? (Matthew 14:3) Do you feel that your convictions are strong enough that you could stand and declare them to a dignitary? A boss? A friend?
- What do you think was the purpose in the flashback storylines? What lessons were taught to us when we look at the story from the view of Herod? Herodias? The young daughter? John the Baptist?
- Jesus does not want us to live in a mind prison. He has paid the price for ALL of our sins – even “foot in the mouth” disease! Do you believe this? When you meet Jesus, do you recognize Him for the Savior that He is and all that He has done? CAN you—and WILL you—lay it at the foot of the cross?