Title: The death of John the Baptist
Scriptures to Read: Mark 6:14-29; Matthew 14:1-12; Luke 9:7-9
John’s ministry lasted three years
John the Baptist had been in jail for almost two years. This was for a longer time than he had been in active ministry – which had been for 12 – 14 months. His total time for ministry was three years, just like Jesus.
The reason he was put in jail
He had been put in jail for criticizing the marriage of Herodias to Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas was one of the sons of Herod the Great, who had ordered the death of all children under the age of 2 in Bethlehem. Herodias was the granddaughter of Herod the Great to another son, one of the sons Herod killed. She was first married to her uncle, which of course violated the Mosaic Law. She then left her uncle and became mistress to her step-uncle. And then she married Antipas while her first husband, Philip, was still living, which also violated the Mosaic Law. Marrying his brother’s wife is a violation of Leviticus 16:18; 20:21. The uncle – niece marriage was also a violation of Leviticus 18:12-14; 20:19-20. Altogether she was guilty of triple adultery and guilty of incest: Two counts of incest and three counts of adultery. Because of John’s proclamations against her marriage she convinced her husband to have him arrested, but she could not talk him into having John executed. In Mark verse 20 Antipas knew that John was a righteous man and a holy one. Therefore, he simply kept him in prison.
John is beheaded
At a birthday party, the daughter of Herodias (historically called Salome), did a dance that Herod Antipas liked and he made a commitment without thinking it through. He was also probably a bit drunk at this stage and promised her she could have anything she wanted. When she asked for the head of John the Baptist Antipas tried to avoid it, but he was trapped by his own commitment. As a result, John the Baptist was beheaded.
The timing of John’s death
One more time then, what happens to the herald will happen to the King. What do you think about the timing of John’s death as it relates to his message and purpose? John’s role was to herald the King, to pave the way for Israel to accept Yeshua as Messiah. Now that the nation had rejected Yeshua and lost the chance to enter the Messianic Kingdom at that point in time, John’s mission was complete.