Day 24: John the Baptist is Beheaded

Text: Mark 6:17-29
Event(s): John the Baptist is beheaded

I’m not quite sure why this reading plan chose to insert this event here. Chronologically, John the Baptist was not beheaded at this point in the timeline; that didn’t happen till a bit later. However, for the sake of staying with this plan, I’ll go ahead and include my comments about this here, and later, when we get to the point in the timeline when this occurred, I’ll make mention of it. It really has no negative effect on our reading or studies.

Mark 6:17-20Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife” The “Herod” named here is Antipas. He was Philip’s half brother, and on one occasion when he came to visit him, he seduced Philip’s wife, Herodias, and then divorced his own wife, Phasaelis so he could marry Herodias. Obviously, seducing  your sister in law, while your brother is still alive, is immoral. But this wasn’t just an adulterous affair, it was incestuous as well, because Herodias was actually the daughter of another half-brother, Aristobulus. So this was technically his niece. Antipas had also converted to Judaism, so John the Baptist was rebuking this behavior as unlawful under Mosaic law. But Antipas’ passion was getting the best of him.

Mark 6:22Herodias’ daughter came in and danced” The daughter’s name was Salome and we can only imagine what kind of dance this was to get that kind of response; it was undoubtedly seductive. Here’s what a well known theologian had to say,

Solo dances in those days in such society were disgusting and licentious pantomimes. That a princess of the royal blood should so expose and demean herself is beyond belief because those dances were the art of professional prostitutes. The very fact that she did so dance is a grim commentary on the character of Salome, and of the mother who allowed and encouraged her to do so. -William Barclay, Theologian

Today’s Takeaway: I just want to point out – it’s okay to dress attractively, fashionable, and feminine. Being modest doesn’t mean we wear turtlenecks up to our ears and dresses down to our ankles and every piece of clothing has to look like it fits us like a flour sack. Women are made beautifully. Our form is lovely, our appearance is lovely and we reflect the image of God when we walk confidently in the beauty we were made to reflect. However, when we dress provocatively or seductively, or we use our looks, our appearance  or our shape to get attention, to get ahead or to get something we want, we are handing over what God meant for good, and placing it in the hands of the enemy to be used by a different force altogether. It is an outright form of manipulation which leads to our own bondage. Yet let me be very clear, if and when we see any girl or woman dressing like this or acting in a way that is seductive – as a Sisterhood – as daughters of God who can see the true value of each person – we are called to cover one another with love; to pull in and speak value to, not to strike out in judgment or to look at in a way that causes shame.

Additional (optional) reading: The parallel accounts of this event can be found in Matthew 14:1-12; Luke 9:7-9