In today’s world, the Christian commitment to holiness runs counter to cultural trends. Politicians, pastors, and others who speak up for biblical truth do so knowing that they will face public ridicule. But this is nothing new.
In Matthew 14, two women played a very different role in the Gospel narrative. Jesus was nearing the end of His two-year ministry in Galilee, and news of His growing popularity had reached even the highest-level ruler—Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. Herod had established his capital in Tiberias, eight miles down the coast from Capernaum, where Jesus had made His ministry base. We can be sure he kept an eye on Jesus’ activities.
Herod came to a curious conclusion. “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead!” This seemingly came from superstition, rumor, and fear. Matthew takes this opportunity to explain what happened to John. Herod had likely taken John into custody a full year and a half prior to this account. Just as Jesus had begun challenging the religious leaders, John had publicly condemned Herod’s problematic and incestuous marriage. Herodias had been his brother’s wife and the daughter of his older half-brother. Herod arrested John in response.
While imprisoned, John received reports about Jesus’ ministry from his own disciples (Matt.11:2–6). Jesus sent John a personal confirmation of His identity. Then, on Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias (Salome) danced at the party. Herod was so pleased that he promised her anything. Herodias, full of hatred toward John, seized the opportunity for revenge. Upon her mother’s prompting, Salome asked for John’s head on a platter. After John’s disciples buried his body, they went immediately to find Jesus and tell Him the news.
>> Standing up for biblical truth will probably not make you popular. In fact, it can often come at a cost. Many will say they believe in Jesus, but fewer will risk much on His behalf.
We are inspired by stories of faith in the persecuted church. Many of us wonder if we would have the courage to risk so much for Your name. Boldness for the gospel comes from You, Lord. Give us such boldness.