Steve Ngai (危 志 荣) KuaLa Lumpur, Malaysia

Mark 6: 14-29 (John the Baptist Beheaded)

John the Baptist Beheaded
14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying,[c] “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

15 Others said, “He is Elijah.”

And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”

16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”

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[d]; 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[e] 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.

Note:
Overall: I think the narration of this passage is like Herod thought Jesus is resurrected John the Baptist. Then, it went back to the past how Herod beheaded John the Baptist. Without realizing this, it can be confusing. Example, the title of this passage is “John the Baptist Beheaded”, Jesus was thought resurrected John the Baptist, there are details of what cause Herod to kill John the Baptist.

v14-16

a. King Herod: Actually, Emperor Augustus denied the title “king” to Herod. Goaded by the ambitious Herodias, Herod pressed for the title again and again until he so offended the emperor’s court that he was dismissed as a traitor. Mark uses the title King Herod either because it was the local custom to call him “king,” or more likely, he used it ironically. All his ancient readers would remember the character of this “Want-to-be King Herod.”

b. It is Elijah: Some people thought Jesus was Elijah, because it was prophesied Elijah would come before the Messiah (Malachi 4:5). Others thought He was the Prophet Moses said would come after him (Deuteronomy 18:15).

v17-19 – Palestine was divided into four territories, each with a different ruler. Herod Antipas, called Herod in the Gospels, was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip ruled over Traconitis and Idumea. Philip’s wife was Herodias, but she left him to marry Herod Antipas. When John confronted the two for committing adultery, Herodias formulated a plot to kill him. Instead of trying to get rid of her sin, Herodias tried to get rid of the one who brought it to public attention. This is exactly what the religious leaders were trying to do to Jesus.

v22-23 – He shouldn’t make any foolish promise in the first place. Secondly, even if he had made that promise, he can still make it up by canceling that promise since he has the highest authority there. This is similar to what happened with Saul (1 Samuel 14: 24-44)

v22-23 – As a ruler under Roman authority, Herod has no kingdom to give. The offer of half his kingdom was Herod’s way to say that he would give Herodias’s daughter almost anything she wanted. It is like figure of speech.

v26 – In order to take his brother’s wife Herodias, Herod put away his first wife, a princess from a neighboring kingdom to the east. Her father was offended, and came against Herod with an army, and defeated him in battle. Then his brother Agrippa accused him of treason against Rome, and he was banished into the distant Roman province of Gaul, where Herod and Herodias committed suicide.