Bible Study - Mk. 6:17-29 Death of John the Baptist


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Mark 6:17-29 : 

Mark 6:17-29 The Death of John the Baptist

Slide 2: 

Mark 6:17-20 Herod had John the Baptist arrested and placed in prison because John had both publically and privately spoken the truth about Herod and Herodias’ relationship (cf. Lk. 3:19-20). Herodias was a designing woman bent on securing power and wealth, for herself and her daughter Salome, by Herod Philip I. While living in Rome with her husband Philip and her daughter, she participated in an adulterous relationship with Herod Antipas, Philip’s brother. She consented to leave her husband and become Herod Antipas’ wife. John the Baptist had pointed out that their “marriage” was invalid (Lev. 18:16; 20:21) and thus both were living in an adulterous state. Herod, like so many today simply ignored the marriage laws. Herodias on the other hand developed a hateful grudge that would eventually end in the murder of an innocent man, John the Baptist. The Holy Bible : Revised Standard Version Second Catholic edition (2006), with the ecclesiastical approval of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Thomas Nelson Publishing for Ignatius Press.

Slide 3: 

Herod also ignored Herodias’ grudge and “kept John safe” because Herod recognized John as a “righteous and holy man (cf. Mt. 14:5; 21:26).” The story of the death of John the Baptist is a contrast between good and evil, between morality and immorality which is every bit as applicable today as it was 2,000 years ago. Because of Herod’s lust he had married not only his brother’s wife but also his niece! He had committed the sin of adultery by taking his brother’s wife and the sin of incest by marrying his own niece. Herodias agreed to marry Herod, her uncle, provided that he would divorce his present wife the daughter of Aretas IV the king of Petra. Herodias didn’t want to share a household with a potential rival and especially an Arab.

Slide 4: 

This incident was the beginning of hostilities between Antipas and Aretas, which eventually led to Aretas’s war against and defeat of Antipas in AD 36. Herod Antipas always wanted to be a king, not a tetrarch, and then his now brother-in-law Herod Agrippa I was made a king by Emperor Caligula. You will recall that Herodias is consumed with the desire for power and wealth so she insists that Herod go to Rome to plead his case for kingship before Caligula. Caligula subsequently banished Herod rather than give him the title of king. Herodias then disappears from history when she followed Herod into exile. From the Letter of James (1:11) we read, “So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Slide 5: 

Mark 6:20-29 Like oil dropped in a cup of water Herod’s arrogance and Herodias’ need for revenge spreads across the cup and draws Salome into the oil slick of sin. After Salome dances for her alcohol-crazed stepfather and his guests he then publically promises to give her up to half of his kingdom. Since he isn’t a king and hasn’t a kingdom, he means he will give her an important gift. Her vengeful mother, Herodias, now sees the chance to permanently eliminate John the Baptist so she has her daughter ask for John’s head on a platter. When Salome makes the request Herod is trapped, denying her request would cause him to lose favor with both the girl and Herodias while also making him look weak in front of his guests. He makes the politically expedient decision to kill John and remain the “big man” in his family and community. The Holy Bible : Revised Standard Version Second Catholic edition (2006), with the ecclesiastical approval of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Thomas Nelson Publishing for Ignatius Press.

Slide 6: 

John’s death was important to Mark as a preview of the death of Jesus. John, like Jesus, was executed by a secular ruler. Herod, like Pilate, did not want to execute his innocent prisoner but caved in to pressure from others. Herodias, like the chief priests, schemed to bring about the execution. Salome like the crowd in the street was asked to seek the death of an innocent man. John’s disciples, like Joseph of Arimathea, buried the body of their leader.

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