"Why Did John Die?"
John the Baptist plays a vital role in the first century. It was he who prepared the people for the coming of the Lord (Isa. 40:3-6; Lk. 3:2-6). He stands out for this work. In fact, he was prophesied as coming “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Mal. 4:5-6; Lk. 1:16-17; Matt. 17:11-12). Yet, after a time of preaching and preparing the people for the coming Messiah and His kingdom, we see him die at the request of a wicked woman (Mk. 6:22-28). Why did John die? Let me suggest three reasons why he died.
John Died Because He Would Not Change God’s Message When People Got Mad.
John’s message included crying out for the nation’s repentance (Lk. 3:7-14); and explicitly warning Herod it was not lawful for him to be married to his brother’s wife (Matt. 14:3-4; Mk. 6:18). Because he would not relent or change the message, Herod had him put in prison and later killed. John was not the first nor the last to suffer such treatment for standing strong in the faith (Heb. 11:36-39; Acts 12:2; Rev. 2:13). Yet, he stands out as a great example of faith and courage; and his godly example lives on to this day. Have we learned the lesson from John? Do we stand by the truth of God’s word even when people get mad (I Cor. 16:13-14)? If not, why not?
John Died Because A Wicked Woman Saw No Other Way To Silence Him (Mk. 6:17-28).
After Herodias’ daughter danced for Herod, he promised her: “Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.” She consulted her mother, and Herodias demanded John’s head. It is evident that John’s faithfulness to God and His message did not waver despite cruel treatment, so she decided to silence him the only way she could. Sadly, there are people today who, like Herodias, blame the messenger when they do not like the message! As we know, from putting John to death, to the crucifixion of Christ, to the persecution of the Christians, such treatment did not silence the gospel message but spread it farther (Acts 8:4)! May we be emboldened to spread God’s word when opposition comes our way.
John Died Because A Wicked Man Made A Foolish Vow (Mk. 6:23).
We don’t know if John was told why he was executed. It was simply carried out “immediately” after the request was made. Herod was “sorry” for what he had vowed, but not sorry enough to try to change the girl’s mind (or her mother’s) or to offer something else. John died that day because of a man’s unruly tongue (Jas. 3:2-12)! Let us keep in mind that our words are powerful! They can build or tear down, so choose your words wisely!
Let us be thankful for John and people like him who are faithful to God to the point of death (Rev. 2:10). John’s righteous life and death were not in vain (I Cor. 15:58). He teaches us how to act in the 21st century.
Jarrod M. Jacobs
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