Thursday, July 29, 2010

Herod Antipas Murders John the Baptist

And when a convenient day had come, Herod on his birthday made a feast for his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; and when Salome, the daughter of Herodias came in, and danced, she pleased Herod and all them that sat at the table with him. The king said unto the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish, and I will give it to you." Thus he swore unto her, "Whatsoever you shall ask of me, I will give it to you, up to the half of my kingdom." And she went forth, and said unto her mother, "What shall I ask for?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptizer." And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, "I wish for you to give me now in a platter the head of John the Baptist." And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded John in the prison, and brought his head in a platter, and gave it to the girl: and Salome gave it to her mother. And when the disciples of John heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid him in a tomb.

Then the disciples of John came unto Jesus and told him that Herod had killed John. Jesus wept. Then Jesus spoke, "John bore witness to the truth. He was a lamp that was burning and shining and we were willing to rejoice for a while in his light (John 5:33-35). He was the Elijah that was to have come and yet they had their desire upon him, just as it had been written of old. In a similar manner, I too, will suffer at their hands." (Matthew 17:11-12, Mark 9:12).

The conflict between Herod Antipas and King Aretas of the Nabatian Arabs erupted into open war. Both sides had raised armies and prepared for war, and sent their generals to fight, representing their respective kings; and when they had joined battle, all Herod's army was destroyed by the treachery of some fugitives, who, though they were of the tetrarchy of Herod Philip, joined with King Aretas's army. So Herod wrote about these affairs to Emperor Tiberius, who being very angry at the attempt made by Aretas, wrote to Vitellius, the governor of Syria, to make war upon King Aretas, and either to take him alive, and bring him to him in bonds, or to kill him, and send him his head. This was the order that Tiberius gave to the governor of Syria. Yet this the governor did not do.

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod had killed him, who was a good man who had commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that washing with water to be made acceptable to God. Herod greatly feared John when many came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved by hearing his words. It was at the castle of Macherus, where John the Baptizer was put to death. And thus did the Jews have the opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him (Josephus "Antiquities of the Jews"18:2-9).

And Herod was told of Jesus, that he taught the people and worked miracles. But when Herod heard thereof, he said, "It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead." And he desired to apprehend Jesus (Luke 9:7-9).

The same day there came a certain man of the Pharisees, saying to him, "Get out of here, for Herod is looking for you to kill you!" And Jesus snapped back in anger, "You go and tell that fox, "Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless, I must walk today, and tomorrow and the day following, for it is not fitting for a prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem."" (Luke 14:31-33). He told his disciples, "Beware of the leaven of the Party of Herod. This is the leaven of iniquity. A little leaven leavens the whole loaf. Purge out the old leaven, the leaven of malice and wickedness, that you may be a new bread since you are truly unleavened. Let us keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (Mark 8:15, 1 Corinthians 6:6-8)."

Jesus desired to go to a remote place alone with his disciples in order to mourn the death of John (Matthew 14:13, Mark 6:29-32). Jesus spoke to his disciples, "The day will come when we will return unto Jerusalem. There I, the Son of Man, shall be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, I shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn me to death, and shall hand me over to the Gentiles. And they shall mock me, and shall scourge me, and shall spit upon me (Mark 10:32-34). They will kill me, and yet on the third day I will rise again and be glorified (Mark 9:30-35). After that day, the Holy Spirit will come upon you. John baptized you with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost and by fire (Acts 1:5). The scribes and the Pharisees think that by killing me they will destroy me. By killing me I will become more powerful than they can imagine. I will rise from the grave and be manifested as the Lord of Heaven and Earth. They imagine that by slaying John and the Son of Man that they can silence us. And yet, this Good News of the Kingdom will be proclaimed unto the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). I have come to set the world on fire and how I wish it were already blazing! I have a baptism to undergo and I am eager for it to be completed! (Luke 12:49-50, Thomas 1:10)." But the disciples couldn't understand this teaching. It's meaning was hidden from them and yet they were afraid to ask. So, Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat, falls to the ground and dies it remains alone; but if it dies it produces much grain." (John 12:24)


He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, "John performed no miracles, but everything that John said about this man was true." And many believed in him there and were baptized. (John 10:40-41)

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