Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent

by Janine Economides

Cross for Lent 2012Genesis 45:16-28
Psalms 81, 82
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 6:13-29

The death of John the Baptist has to be one of the most gruesome subjects in the Bible. It’s notable for its particularly garish, nightmarish depiction of the young woman dancing to please her mother, the manipulated request of the queen, and the cowardice of the king. Noteworthy, especially, is Herod’s motive: He’s sworn an oath to the girl, his queen’s daughter, in front of his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. Whatever she wants, up to half his kingdom, he’ll grant her — but all she wants is the head of John the Baptist on a platter. It’s manipulation at its height, ugly and brutal, the opposite of the Kingdom. What makes it all possible is Herod’s fear of his audience, his need for the “praise of men” above the “praise of God.” The Gospels frequently give us the contrast between the “honor that comes from men” and the honor that is of God. I don’t think this subject will ever leave us. In our age of image propounded upon us far beyond the concepts of the ancients, we can’t afford to leave it behind in our own thinking. Jesus has said to His own brethren who taunted Him about making His public image, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.” It’s always time to consider the inner reality of God’s truth more powerfully than that which pulls us only into considerations of image in the eyes of others.