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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mark 6:17-28 Against Total Power Resting in One Person

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.

Thoughts- On this Fourth of July- American Independence Day- we can be grateful for our freedom, and that one man does not have such absolute and whimsical power.  Herod Antipas felt he could do whatever he wanted to do. He even divorced his wife to marry his brother's widow-who was also his niece, Herodias. Ssome rumored he had a part in his brother's death too.  When John the Baptist, popular though he was, rebuked him , he was put in prison.  Here the king made rash promises. He obviously would rather not break a drunken promise than take a prophet's life.  He would rather show off his power than do what was right.  America's system of checks and balances on the executive office by both the legislature and the justice system are not to be taken for granted. 
Prayer: Lord, please preserve our country.  We thank you for our freedom, and pray that you will preserve it for us.

John Calvin abridged: John the Baptist has furnished us an example for all teachers- not to wink at the faults of those in authority, in order to gain or keep their favor- even if that favor would be used later for the public interests.  Herod shows us how the Spirit of God works even among unbelievers.  In some measure he obeyed God's commands [by not killing John at first],  Yet, whenever unbelievers are hard-pressed, they escape from God's way, and break out into stubborness and even irrational rage. 

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