Mark 6:14-29 (NRSV)
Verse 14King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him." Verse 15But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." Verse 16But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised."
Verse 17For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because Herod had married her. Verse 18For John had been telling Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Verse 19And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, Verse 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. Verse 21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. Verse 22When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it." Verse 23And he solemnly swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." Verse 24She went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the baptizer." Verse 25Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." Verse 26The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Verse 27Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, Verse 28brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. Verse 29When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
The disciples were preaching and acting in Jesus’ name, while “some” continued to speculate about the identity of this popular preacher. King Herod, amid the buzz, thought he had managed to silence John handily. Double-minded, Herod had feared John, yet “liked to listen to him.”
Then at a party the drama spun out of control to a gory end. The dancing daughter heard well how pleased and powerful Herod was, and how rash with his unconditional offer. The mother, hearing her daughter ask for direction, wasted no time. Matters escalate and soon the king, the daughter, the mother, and the disciples all face the traumatic aftermath of this “dance.” Impulse that leads to sin is quite a player in this sickening scene. Its inner music and outer beat often drive people to absurd moves.
But still we are called to look to this Jesus, our King, whose first impulse was to have mercy.
Lord, help us to listen for your word when evil flourishes. Amen.