Weekly e-Devotion: July 13 Edition

Mark 6:14-29

Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday July 15 2018

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”16But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18For John had been telling Herod, “‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.27Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

   There are so many parallels between what happened to John and what happened to Jesus.  The key resemblance is their courage and commitment to speak truth to power. Both initiated their ministry with almost the same message: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near (See Matthew 3:2 and 4:17).”  And it is even more interesting to note that both Herod and Pilate were fascinated with John and Jesus respectively while, at the same time, they were very upset and frustrated by these men.  As Mark 6:20 has it, “When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.”  This verse is an indication that the Spirit was at work in Herod, but he had not yet allowed the Spirit to have its perfect work with him. John had made it clear to Herod that marrying his brother Philip’s wife was not a good thing and it was said that his wife seethed with rage over John’s pronouncement.  See Mark 15:1-15 for a similar dynamic (different circumstances) with Pilate and Jesus.  Truth does have consequences. 
    No one knows if Herod complied with his wife’s desire to behead John because he was drunk or because he thought he would lose face with everyone who had heard him make an outrageous promise to his step-daughter, a promise that his wife took advantage of to get rid of the moral voice of John in her life. Whatever the reason, the expediency of getting rid of John to further marital harmony didn’t work out so well for Herod.  The text for this Sunday begins with news about Jesus whom Herod decided must be John the Baptist raised from the dead.  Clearly, what he had done continued to weigh on his mind and heart.  We don’t know if his wife’s conscience engaged or not.
Herod’s story would have been completely different if he had taken John’s message to heart instead of simply listening to him like he was a religious curiosity.  Yes, there had been no prophets of God for about four centuries, so John was a unique voice. But the voice was aligned with all previous prophetic utterances and he was ultimately treated as so many of the prophets were treated. For Herod, as for us sometimes, the concerns and relationships of this world overshadowed the ultimate relationship he should have been cultivating with God.  And so, John’s voice was silenced.  Except that it wasn’t.  John’s prophetic presence continued as a backdrop to everything that was to come.
In the Old Testament (2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12-19), we read about another kind of dance altogether! You might call it a liturgical dance because David was dancing in joyful abandon before the Lord wearing perhaps even less than Herod’s daughter! David was dancing along with the entire house of Israel because they were bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the city of David, an ark that brought life to the people but death to those who neglected to take it seriously! In the midst of such utterly high and holy ceremonies, the people of Israel were so filled with joy that dancing was the natural result!  Today, particularly in church, if we feel that urge, we cross our legs and sit on our hands until it passes and we can return to pious quietude.  I imagine the Lord of the Dance is hoping that we would rather choose to gambol before him like innocent children or frolicking lambs. 
We have two dances set before us in these biblical stories… a dance of joyful, holy abandon before God or a dance of seductive manipulation and death to satisfy the lusts of the flesh. It is wise, therefore, for us, God’s children, to choose our dance partners with great care.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at phoeger@allsaintsphoenix.org or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


Heavenly Father,  help us to speak truth to power even when there are undesirable consequences. Amen

Our pastors and other program directors are here to help nurture your faith journey anyway possible. Our staff can be reached by calling the church office at 602.866.9191.

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July 15
8th Sunday after Pentecost
Click HERE to read
Amos 7:7-15
Psalm 85:8-13
Ephesians 1:3-14
Mark 6:14-29 *

July 22
9th Sunday after Pentecost 
Click HERE to read
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 23
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

* eDevotion Bible text(s)

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