Mark 6:7-29

The Twelve

Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions:

“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.

“And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.

“If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”

Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.

The Death of John

King Herod heard of all this, for by this time the name of Jesus was on everyone’s lips. He said, “This has to be John the Baptizer come back from the dead—that’s why he’s able to work miracles!”

Others said, “No, it’s Elijah.”

Others said, “He’s a prophet, just like one of the old-time prophets.”

But Herod wouldn’t budge: “It’s John, sure enough. I cut off his head, and now he’s back, alive.”

Herod was the one who had ordered the arrest of John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison at the nagging of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. For John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herodias, smoldering with hate, wanted to kill him, but didn’t dare because Herod was in awe of John. Convinced that he was a holy man, he gave him special treatment. Whenever he listened to him he was miserable with guilt—and yet he couldn’t stay away. Something in John kept pulling him back.

But a portentous day arrived when Herod threw a birthday party, inviting all the brass and bluebloods in Galilee. Herodias’s daughter entered the banquet hall and danced for the guests. She dazzled Herod and the guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me anything. I’ll give you anything you want.” Carried away, he kept on, “I swear, I’ll split my kingdom with you if you say so!”

She went back to her mother and said, “What should I ask for?”

“Ask for the head of John the Baptizer.”

Excited, she ran back to the king and said, “I want the head of John the Baptizer served up on a platter. And I want it now!”

That sobered the king up fast. But unwilling to lose face with his guests, he caved in and let her have her wish. The king sent the executioner off to the prison with orders to bring back John’s head. He went, cut off John’s head, brought it back on a platter, and presented it to the girl, who gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and got the body and gave it a decent burial.

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