The Courage of John the Baptist

The Courage of John the Baptist

(Illustrative account taken from Mark 6:17-28 KJV.)

Raucous laughter filled the grand hall as Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, feasted with his governors, military chiefs and nobles. The banquet was in honor of Herod’s birthday. Alcohol flowed freely as he was toasted and cheered as a great leader. Salome, the daughter of his wife Herodias, began to dance before the men, pleasing them with her beauty and enticement.

In the exaltation and pride of the moment, Herod called her to him. “Ask me for whatever you want, and I will give you up to half of my kingdom.”

Pondering her good fortune, Salome slipped out to consult with her mother. Herodias had left her first husband, Herod Philip, to live with his half-brother, Herod Antipas. She thought about this as she considered her daughter’s request. Antipas had come to visit his brother and had fallen in love with her. He persuaded Herodias to leave her husband to come away with him. She consented to marry him if he would forsake his own wife. In pursuit of love, ambition, and pleasure, they both divorced their companions for one another.

With anger, Herodias thought about the holy man they called John the Baptist. She had coerced Herod to throw him in prison. The multitudes were being stirred by his preaching and even Herod listened to him with gladness. This so-called prophet of God had told Herod and the people, “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.”

With decision, Herodias ordered Salome to make haste and ask for the head of John the Baptist on a charger. Herod was sorrowful but he had made a public oath. Immediately, he had the executioner behead John in prison and delivered the head to Salome and Herodias.

John the Baptist, forerunner of Jesus Christ, lost his life because of his courage to proclaim the whole truth, irrespective of consequence. While other spiritual leaders were careful not to offend the leaders, John obeyed God and shared the uncompromising gospel.

The Jewish historian Josephus states: “Herodias took upon her to confound the laws of our country, and divorce herself from her husband while he was alive, and was married to Herod [Antipas], her husband’s brother by the father’s side” (Antiquities 18.136.5).

Herod and Herodias were in violation of the Jewish/Mosaic Law for multiple offences. It would have been easier for the man of God to ignore the prevalent sinfulness, but God had commissioned him to prepare the way of the Lord.

Society today is full of wickedness and spiritual darkness. Mankind is now living in the dispensation of grace and truth where Jesus has restored the sanctity and purity of marriage between one man and one woman for life. Godly marriage is a wonderful institution of God, but the political and social norms are moving further and further away from God’s express plan for marriage. “Divorce and remarriage” is contrary to the principles of marriage itself and are in clear violation of God’s law in the New Testament.

Many professing Christians have adulterous marriages which are excused and even condoned by many churches. Truth on this subject might offend the unrepentant, but it will set the captive free and provide caution and safety for those considering marriage. Compromise comes where there is silence for fear of offending.

Where are the John the Baptists of this time?