“…Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.” (Mark 6:20)

As a mother of four, I often wonder how my own parents managed to raise five kids without raising their voices. Somehow, all it took was a look and complaints gave way to compliance. We listened, even when we didn’t like what was being said.

This reminds me of Herod Antipas and his fascination with John the Baptist in Mark 6:20: “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. If you’ll recall, this Herod (that’s a title, not a name) is the one who put away his first wife (a princess from a nearby town) to marry his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias (a sin John openly called out and the reason for which he was imprisoned). It was her daughter, Salome, who danced provocatively for Herod and friends at his birthday dinner party where he (overcome by lust), promised her anything, up to half the kingdom. This foolish behavior landed him directly, as they say, “between a rock and a hard place”, as his niece (prompted by mom) asked for John’s head on a platter.

In order to save face with distinguished guests, and appease his wife, Herod felt compelled to follow through with his vow. Yet how would the multitude of John’s followers react to this execution? And who, then, would intrigue Herod with such bold conversation and wise counsel if he did grant the girl’s shocking gift? Herod felt “exceedingly sorry” (v.26) and it’s important to note that his deep distress over this request is described by the Greek word “perilypos” – the same word describing Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane (Mark 14:34). But unlike Jesus, Herod caved to fear. 

The cruelty for which Herod was so well known is matched, here, by this act of cowardiceHe did what he knew was wrong for the sake of pleasing others. And he received his just “reward” in the end – defeat in battle, an accusation of treason, and banishment to a remote land, where he and the hideous Herodias both took their own lives. What a sad ending, especially when active listening could’ve transformed him into a conqueror in Christ! Remember, John was filled with the Holy Spirit from his first encounter with his cousin in the womb. Believers get that same, powerful indwelling Spirit as a guarantee. Since perfect love (God) casts out fear, we are able to be brave, even when we don’t feel courageous.

In the words of Aretha Franklin, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me”… I remember, as a child, telling my mom “no” when she would ask me to do a chore, but I would say it with a smile, and then get the job done. (What a brat!) Yes, it was momentarily disrespectful but ultimately, I obeyed. Of course, fear of discipline played a part but, more so, it was my parents’ deeply rooted love in me that produced a tried-and-true trust, resulting in reverence. That’s the kind of relationship your Heavenly Father wants with you! So, you can say the wrong thing and do the right thing (like me) or vice versa – sweet talk, sour walk (nope!) – but what if we all just “take care, TCB”? Taking care of business is simply loving God because He first loved us. That means, even when offended by biblical truth or confused by painful circumstances, we trust His wisdom and obey His instruction because true respect follows, and He’s the Dad.

SHINE, always