Blog Devotionals

The Brutal Death of John the Baptist

May 13, 2024 | Sam Rainer

Your life is not about what you can achieve. Your life is about what God can advance. For the good news to advance, we are called to great sacrifice. The death of John the Baptist is a difficult passage to study. When you read Matthew 14:1-12 and Mark 6:14-29, you realize he suffered for doing what was right. John the Baptist gave everything to Christ and was then executed.

What are we to make of this story? We’ll discuss these texts in depth on Sunday. One thing we do know is how Christians have died and still die for their faith. John the Baptist helps us understand what an all-out commitment to Jesus looks like.

The backstory is a confusing mess. Herod Antipas convinced his half-brother’s wife to divorce her husband and marry him. His half-brother’s name is Herod Philip, and her name is Herodias. What’s even wilder is that Herodias is a niece to these half-brothers and the granddaughter of Herod the Great.

John the Baptist tells the family, “You can’t do that! It’s sinful!” The family responds by throwing him in jail. Herod had the power to kill John the Baptist, even without reason. But John the Baptist is popular among the people.

Additionally, Herod knew deep down that John the Baptist was righteous. Mark records Herod’s complicated and paranoid reasoning.

“For Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.” – Mark 6:20 (NLT)

Ultimately, it was Herodias who really wanted John the Baptist dead. Herod’s conscience was telling him the truth. But Herod suppressed the truth and succumbed to wickedness.

“But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” – Romans 1:18 (NLT)

When you intentionally suppress God’s truth for your own benefit, you bring God’s wrath upon yourself. God discloses righteousness to us and gives people the capacity to know right and wrong. How did it all end for John the Baptist? Why was he murdered? I’ll unpack the whole story on Sunday. See you then!