Today's Reading: Mark 6:14-29
Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. (Mark 6:20)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Herod has some outward respect for John. Probably being one to hedge his bets, he figured a preacher was good to have around. Maybe he even almost believed what John preached. But when it came down to it, Herod didn't love John's preaching more than he loved his stepdaughter dancing for him.
But there's a warning in that for us. It's easy to go and hear God's Word week in and week out but then live as if it doesn't really make a difference. The Lord takes a back seat to the things we love more. The people we are supposed to love and serve get our demands and bad attitude instead. It's as though we hear the Word but not at all. Repent of hearing your preacher like Herod heard his!
In the end, Herod's crooked heart cost John his life. It's sad in a way. John preached the Lamb of God. He was the forerunner of Jesus and yet didn't get to see the promises fulfilled, but had his head lopped off in the dungeon instead.
Yet even John's death pointed to Jesus, for Jesus often told His disciples that they would suffer for Him, and so John did. But that suffering points to Jesus' own suffering because He was crucified by those who knew the Scriptures even better than Herod. In the end, it's all our sin that cost Jesus His life.
But He is the Lamb that John declared and so John's death is not in vain, because Jesus' death was not final. He rose again. And just as John prepared the way of the Lord by pointing people to Jesus, so Jesus sent His apostles to point to Him in their preaching and baptizing. Your preacher, in the line of the apostles and prophets like John, has baptized you and declared that your sins are forgiven. John's Savior is your Savior. And so we thank the Lord for John's faithful testimony and the blessed crown of life he has received and that we will receive, too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Our thanks for John the Baptist Who, till his dying day, Made straight paths for the Savior And heralded His way! In witnessing to Jesus Through times of threat or shame May we with faith and courage The Lamb of God proclaim. (By All Your Saints in Warfare, LSB 518:24)