Lenten Reflection - Mark 6:13-29 by Kat Duck
“14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.” 16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married.18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. 21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered. 25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.” Mark 6:13-29
It seems that fear is driving Herod as he looks back on the death of John. I think Herod did what he did not want to do (sound familiar?) because he felt beholden to his family and his guests. Rather than look weak in their eyes, he has John killed and then, when he finds out Jesus is casting out demons and curing the sick, he becomes sick with worry that it is really John raised from the dead and not a man called Jesus doing all these miracles.
Fear is a powerful emotion and one that often causes us to do the wrong thing. I know how the grip of fear can paralyze because it has caused me to do all sorts of really reckless things. When I am in the throes of fear, I will do what I think will relieve the situation at the moment, not thinking of long-term consequences. Without replaying embarrassing and perhaps boring episodes from my own life, I will just say that acting out of fear is not a good way to live.
And, even though Herod’s fears were real (if he was perceived as weak by his constituents there’s no telling what would have happened to him), Herod still reacted to the situation from fear and not rational thought, setting up a scenario later when he thought John had been raised from the dead that scared him even more. The things we do we’re in a bind (or think we are) often come back to bite us later.
The lesson I have learned from this reading is to look at what’s going on, think about it, and act rationally. While this is the ideal way to live and the path we won’t always take, it’s good to look at it as the way we might be wise to follow. How do you react to fearful situations? Do you take time to think and pray about them or just react at once? Think about a new way of living as we work through Lent.