Mark 6:7-29

He called the 12 disciples to him. Then he began to send them out two by two. He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits.

Here is what he told them to do. “Take only a walking stick for your trip. Do not take bread or a bag. Take no money in your belts. Wear sandals. But do not take extra clothes. When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave town. Some places may not welcome you or listen to you. If they don’t, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet. That will be a witness against the people living there.”

They went out. And they preached that people should turn away from their sins. They drove out many demons. They poured olive oil on many sick people and healed them.

John the Baptist’s Head Is Cut Off

King Herod heard about this. Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead! That is why he has the power to do miracles.”

Others said, “He is Elijah.”

Still others claimed, “He is a prophet. He is like one of the prophets of long ago.”

But when Herod heard this, he said, “I had John’s head cut off. And now he has been raised from the dead!”

In fact, it was Herod himself who had given orders to arrest John. He had him tied up and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias. She was the wife of Herod’s brother Philip. But now Herod was married to her. John had been saying to Herod, “It is against the Law for you to be married to your brother’s wife.” Herodias couldn’t forgive John for saying that. She wanted to kill him. But she could not, because Herod was afraid of John. So he kept John safe. Herod knew John was a holy man who did what was right. When Herod heard him, he was very puzzled. But he liked to listen to John.

Finally the right time came. Herod gave a banquet on his birthday. He invited his high officials and military leaders. He also invited the most important men in Galilee. Then the daughter of Herodias came in and danced. She pleased Herod and his dinner guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want. I’ll give it to you.” And he gave her his promise. He said to her, “Anything you ask for I will give you. I’ll give you up to half my kingdom.”

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

“The head of John the Baptist,” she answered.

At once the girl hurried to ask the king. She said, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist on a big plate right now.”

The king was very upset. But he thought about his promise and his dinner guests. So he did not want to say no to the girl. He sent a man right away to bring John’s head. The man went to the prison and cut off John’s head. He brought it back on a big plate. He gave it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. John’s disciples heard about this. So they came and took his body. Then they placed it in a tomb.

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