Saturday 15 October 2022

Bible Book:

His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus. (v. 12)

Matthew 14:1-12 Saturday 15 October 2022

Psalm 80


The recent discovery of mass graves in the Ukrainian city of Izium is disturbing and distressing evidence of the lengths to which despotic rulers will go. We don't know how many people were killed on the orders of the Herod who had John the Baptist executed. The fact that he allowed this beheading to happen even though it grieved him (v. 9) makes me suspect that many other atrocities took place which didn't trouble him at all.

I was talking to someone recently who was reflecting on how the large number of daily deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic became such a regular part of our news bulletins that we began to think it was normal. The bigger the number, the easier it was to lose sight of the individual stories and relationships behind the headline figure. The same is true of the war in Ukraine, the floods in Pakistan, and the migrants crossing the Channel.

I find the last line of today’s gospel passage deeply moving because it plunges us directly into the huge impact of Herod's actions on those who knew and loved John the Baptist. There was a body, a burial, a relative to be informed. Did Herod think about any of that when he gave the order for John to be beheaded? And John was just one person. It is unbearable to contemplate how many hearts are grieving because of those mass graves in Izium.

“His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.” (v. 12) I wonder why they waited until after the burial before they told Jesus? Maybe they had to bury the body quickly, before sunset. Maybe they decided to bury the body secretly because they were frightened about what Herod might do to them or to Jesus. Maybe they were leaving the most difficult task (telling Jesus) until last. How sad it is that we don't even know the names of these disciples while Herod – and Putin – have become infamous.

To Ponder:

  • What news headlines have disturbed you most this week?
  • When have you had to share distressing news with someone?

PrayerLoving God, whose heart is grieved by the suffering of each individual person, give your peace to all those whose hearts are troubled. Amen.

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