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The Lengths They Will Go

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More Foreshadowing

The text this week is Mark 6:14-29.  This is a text that details how John the Baptist was executed.  The text also does what many texts in Scripture do, it foreshadows Jesus’s own execution.  One could look at this as a “political” text and expound on the unjustness of power, then and now.  I am not going to go directly down that road.  However, there is no way to read this text and not get a lesson in raw political power, and the machinations that undergird the wielding of such power.  The question is, what lesson does this teach us?

They Will Stop at Nothing

It is true that Jesus, while not endorsing any political program, stood as a serious threat to Roman authority, and Roman toadies like Herod.  This threat was twofold.  First, there is the idea (misplaced) that Jesus was here to lead some type of armed uprising against Roman rule of Palestine.  Second, there is the notion that simply by demanding that people give their allegiance to God only, that there was a seditious nature that could subtly undermine Roman rule.

John is a harbinger of this threat that Jesus represents.  This is why he got into trouble in the first place.  Herod, the text says feared John because he  was “righteous and holy man” (Verse20).  The fear is the key here.  Herod could care less if John was holy in his own right.  He only feared the public reaction brought on by killing one righteous and holy.  We know he could care less because, in the end, kill John he did. 

The lesson, and the foreshadowing, is the lengths that the power establishment will go to rid itself of threats.  Herod’s wife manipulates her daughter to ask for John’s head on a platter.  She wanted a threat to Herod’s and her position eliminated.  This is a clear foreshadowing to the many attempts, the final one successful, that the power establishment went to eliminate Jesus.  In the end they trump up charges against Jesus to get rid of a state enemy. 

Of course, all this is how it needed to happen.  There can be no resurrection without Jesus’s death.  That said, it is instructive to see the lengths that people will go to eliminate a threat.  In 2000 years not much has changed.  We as modern-day followers of Jesus the Christ, should not be naïve about this.  If the establishment were ever to perceive us as a threat, then they would go to extraordinary lengths to be rid of us.

What this foreshadowing tells us is that Jesus will really die at the hands of a corrupt political establishment (sorry for the redundancy), and that this establishment will not be picky about how they get the job done.  The text also tells us that we should be prepared for hostile reactions in this world as we go about living out our faith, by people not picky about how they get the job done.  Jesus did not say that following Him was going to be easy, He said exactly the opposite.  John found this out, and we see in this text the outline of Jesus’s earthly fate.  Our task is to look past any earthly trouble and trust in the eternal promises of God.  No matter how difficult, ours is to believe, then obey.

Praise Be to God

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