John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison. When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?”
Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on: The blind see, The lame walk, Lepers are cleansed, The deaf hear, The dead are raised, The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. “Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!”
When John’s disciples left to report, Jesus started talking to the crowd about John. “What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A prophet? That’s right, a prophet! Probably the best prophet you’ll ever hear. He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, ‘I’m sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.’
“Let me tell you what’s going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him……
“Are you listening to me? Really listening? “How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” (Matthew 11:1-19 MSG)
At about this time, Herod, the regional ruler, heard what was being said about Jesus. He said to his servants, “This has to be John the Baptizer come back from the dead. That’s why he’s able to work miracles!”
Herod had arrested John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison to placate Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid because so many people revered John as a prophet of God.
But at his birthday celebration, he got his chance. Herodias’s daughter provided the entertainment, dancing for the guests. She swept Herod away. In his drunken enthusiasm, he promised her on oath anything she wanted. Already coached by her mother, she was ready: “Give me, served up on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer.” That sobered the king up fast. Unwilling to lose face with his guests, he did it—ordered John’s head cut off and presented to the girl on a platter. She in turn gave it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples got the body, gave it a reverent burial, and reported to Jesus.
When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:1-14 MSG)
- Listen to the first story – if you were there what would you see in Jesus? What’s he feeling about all this?
- Listen to the second story – what’s going on in Herod’s, John’s and Jesus’ inner thoughts and feelings?
- Where do these two stories connect? Where do they connect with our inner thoughts and fears and our hope for life?
A Prayer for Light & Freedom
in whom we live and move and have our being,
you have made us for yourself,
so that our hearts are restless until they rest in you;
grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose,
that no selfish passion
may hinder us from knowing your will,
no weakness from doing it;
but that in your light we may see light clearly,
and in your service find our perfect freedom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.