“The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.” Mark 6.26-29
It was not long since we were talking about John along with Jesus as a chosen son born to Israel. He first appears during the birth story of Christ when his mother Elizabeth and father Zechariah are with a surprise child from God. Paralleling this, of course, is Mary and Joseph. John and Jesus were cousins and would bring about the Kingdom of God. John would introduce Jesus and preach about repentance, and Jesus would then save the people from their sins. Although just five chapters ago in Mark, it had been thirty years since John and Jesus were born within months of each other.
And now John, who proclaimed the Kingdom, who prepared the way for the Messiah, who baptized Jesus in the Jordan, was dead. His head lying on a platter because of a jealous family dispute. And although the first century would have been better had John been alive, he served his purpose and his Lord. John did what he needed to do — what he was called and commissioned to do since his birth. And “his disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb,” v. 29.
It makes me wonder why Jesus allowed John to remain dead. I mean, he had just healed the young daughter of Jairus in Mark 5, could he not have also healed John? The impact of John verses this little girl — why wouldn’t Jesus save or spare his life? Was it because John had served his purpose? He did what he had been called to do?
Each of us have been given a purpose. Some large and others small. I’ve been having a conversation with one of our Methodist bishops who is about to go on a round the world tour, visiting dozens of countries, ordaining ministers and establishing churches. This particular bishop is also a scholar and a teacher as well as an early apostle of a new Methodist denomination. And I think to myself, “What an amazing purpose God has given this man of God!”
But my purpose, and yours for that matter, is equally significant. In God’s eyes, who we are and what we do matters whether it be preaching to hundreds or caring for one. For God measures the person according to his heart, just like King David — a young shepherd boy who grew to greatness because of his great love and admiration for the Lord.
Today, seek God and his purpose for your life. Find contentment in where he has placed you, whom he has allowed you to love, and the witness you bear for him this day.
“O Lord God, I often compare myself to the other great persons with whom I work and admire. I realize that I am made by you, for you and for your purposes. You have a path and a plan for me — whether it’s reaching millions or simply just a few. For you are the one who truly does the work. Come now, Holy Spirit, find me willing and faithful. Help me know the power of your love and the strength of your Spirit. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen