22,24-26 “For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.’ … And she went out and said to her mother, ‘For what should I ask?’ And she said, ‘The head of John the Baptist.’ And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.”
Mark 6:22, 24-26 (ESV)
Have you ever wanted to impress someone so badly that you were willing to do almost anything? Maybe it was a boy or girl that you liked, or an older sibling or group of friends.
In high school, it seemed like impressing others was the goal above just about everything else, including making good grades. Scores of my very smart and capable schoolmates dropped out or faced worse consequences in life all because they were living to impress others.
Interestingly, college wasn’t all that different. Time and again, I witnessed my friends and teammates making poor choices for no reason other than they wanted to impress or be liked by someone.
In this passage from Mark 6, we witness someone making a grave mistake, simply to please others (read Mark 6:14-29 for the entire story).
Herod was a king during John’s time. Not a true king though. He was one of four brothers given some quazi-rule over a region of the Jewish state. Their positions were more like appeasement than actual offices.
At some point, Herod had fallen for his brother’s wife, Herodias, and the two contrived to divorce their respective spouses in order to unlawfully wed each other.
John the Baptist, being the straight-shooting prophet that he was, made it clear to Herod that his actions were sinful. John was the opposite of a people pleaser.
Because of John’s forthrightness, Herod had thrown John in prison, even though it was clear that Herod knew John was right, and he even respected him for it. Herodias didn’t like John, nor did she respect him, so she sought an opportunity to get revenge.
On Herod’s birthday, she enticed her husband by having her daughter (by Herod’s brother) do a sensual dance for him and his guests. So enticed, Herod foolishly vowed to give the young girl whatever she wanted. Prompted by her mother, she asked for John to be beheaded.
Wanting to keep face before his friends, Herod did it, though he was sorry. And as history goes, he would be sorrier still since for his sin against John, he would ultimately be banished from his “kingdom” and made to live in squalor the rest of his days.
As followers of Christ, our motivation must be to please our God above all else. Seeking to please others above our God will ALWAYS lead to us compromising what we know to be right. What’s more, our compromises often have consequences that the people we sought to please won’t stick around for.
Seeking to please God and obey His commands and the way He would have us go about our lives is always the better choice above all else; and not because we will always like the results (consider both John’s and Jesus’ fate). But ultimately because our God, who controls our ultimate fate, will be pleased, and our consequence will be His absolute best for us.