'Week 2
John the Baptist - 3'

Wednesday Reflection

9th December 2020

'John the Baptist - His death'

9 The king was distressed,
   but because of his oaths
   and his dinner guests,
   he ordered that her request
   be granted
10 and had John beheaded
   in the prison.'

.... Matthew 14:9,10

John did not seek out
the multitudes.
Rather, somehow,
he attracted them.

His influence was phenomenal.
Hundreds, if not thousands,
were baptised by him.
And his success was solely
in the message he proclaimed.

He was brave,
and willing to speak truth,
even if it meant his own death;
he was not afraid of
the religious or political
leaders of his day.

He spoke the truth
with clarity and passion;
he didn't live to please people,
simply to preach the need
for forgiveness of sin.

He called out the Pharisees
and Sadducees,
for what they truly were;
he knew their hearts
and lives were
far away from God.

He spoke the hard truth
to Herod,
one of the four rulers
over Palestine.

When Herod had taken Herodias,
his brother Philip's wife,
to become his own,
John challenged him saying,

"It is not lawful
 for you to have her."

....(Matthew 14:4).

It had bothered Herod
so much that although
he had John imprisoned,
he didn't want to kill him
in spite of his wife's
determination to get rid of John.

But Herod had a grudging
respect for John,
visiting him in prison
and spending time
talking with him.

Herod was afraid
of the people because
so many considered him
to be a great prophet.

But on his birthday celebration,
in response to a promise
he had given to
the daughter of Herodias,
John's life was tragically ended.

"Prompted by her mother,
she said,

'Give me here on a platter
 the head of John the Baptist' "

....(Matthew 14:8)

Herod was put in
an invidious position;
in spite of his reluctance
to kill John,
he could not back down
on his promise in front of
all his important guests.
He gave the order
for John to be beheaded.

Even in death John
held the loyalty
of his disciples.
When they heard what
had happened,
they collected his body
and buried it.

John thus ended his
relatively brief life upon this earth.
But what an impact he made.

It may be said that
the cause of Jesus
would not have enjoyed
the immediate success it did
but for the role of John the Baptist.

But even in this heartless,
cruel plot,
John's death was not in vain.
For to live for Christ,
to speak truth,
to point others to Him,
can never be in vain.

His mission was completed,
God's call was with him
even until death.

He had lived to point others
to Jesus,
and once his mission
was accomplished
his life was completed.

There were times
in his imprisonment
that even John,
this great man of God,
had doubted if God was there.

He wondered if Jesus
was really the Messiah,
the One who had come
to set us free.

If so,
why was he left there
in prison,
why was Jesus not
setting him free?

I find this encouraging;
we all have our doubts
and fears from
time to time.

When I do,
I then feel guilty -
what's happening
to my faith?

But if a great man
like John can have doubts
and questions,
I guess it's ok for us
to have them too.

They are a way of
developing and
strengthening our faith.

One indisputable fact
to hold on to is that,
no matter what battles
we face in this world,
Jesus is always there beside us;
he alone is our hope and deliverer.