Monday 29 August 2022

Bible Book:

May those who sow in tears, reap with shouts of joy. (Psalm 126:5)

Matthew 14:1-12 Monday 29 August 2022

Psalm 126


Today the Church marks the death of John the Baptist. He is an important figure in the gospels whose life and ministry are closely intertwined with those of Jesus. The four gospels say slightly different things about John, but the consistent element is that he was preaching and had followers prior to the ministry of Jesus. He called people to turn away from a sinful life, receive God’s forgiveness and be baptised with water. He also proclaimed the imminent arrival of a more special person who would baptise people with the Holy Spirit. John then meets Jesus, baptises him, sees the Holy Spirit descend on him in the form of a dove, and hears the voice of God confirming that Jesus is the Son of God. In Christian tradition, John is known as the ‘forerunner’ of Jesus.

After this encounter with Jesus, John continues with his own ministry, and some ongoing interaction with Jesus is recorded (eg Matthew 8:14-17; 11:2-19). The next we hear of John is today's passage that tells of his imprisonment and execution. There is a slightly fuller account in Mark 6:14-29.

Most significant in these accounts are the way that John spoke out against the local ruler. Herod (not the same Herod from whom Jesus’ family flee in the Nativity story) is one of four puppet kings governing the Jewish territories under authority from the Roman imperial powers. He had abandoned his first wife in order to marry Herodias, who had previously been the wife of his own brother. John had been publicly critical of this behaviour, which was contrary to Jewish law. Verse 4 says that John had been telling him "It is not lawful for you to have her" and the verb used here implies that John had kept up a sustained effort to tell Herod this. Herod exacts his revenge, and contrives to get John beheaded.

John is the forerunner of Jesus not only through his role prior to Jesus’ ministry, but also in his example of what it means to stand up for justice and persevere in spite of persecution – Jesus himself would suffer a similar fate.


To Ponder:

  • John points away from himself to Jesus and he speaks out for justice. How do you feel about John as a role model?
  • The Christian Church has come to understand John being part of God’s plan as ‘the forerunner’ to Jesus. How do you think John felt about Jesus?


God who is present in all creation, you sent your servant John the Baptist to prepare people for the coming of Jesus. Inspire us to prepare ourselves and others to meet Jesus. Strengthen us to listen for your word and to share it.Comfort us when we face opposition and help us to endure it. Amen.

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