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Matthew 14:3-12 (NIV)
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people because they considered John a prophet. 6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
The life of John the Baptist was not an easy one. This weekend, Mark tells us in passing that John had been arrested (Mark 1.14). In Matthew, we have this brief, sad summary of John’s life. His successful ministry of baptism by the sea also included him speaking truth to power. Once Jesus is ushered in, John is imprisoned and later beheaded. From the world’s perspective, John’s life may seem too short and filled with disappointment. From an eternal perspective, he did exactly what he was called to do. He faithfully called the people of Israel to repent. He prepared the way for Jesus. He was faithful to the last. Whose standards do we use when we look back on our own lives. Are we seeking to be successful in the eyes of the world, or seeking to be faithful? Thankfully, these two things are not always mutually exclusive! As the week begins, I invite you to begin a conversation with God about what He has called you to do. What direction is he leading you?