King Herod heard about everything that Jesus was doing. His name had become well known because of all the miracles and healings that he performed. He was perplexed and thought that Jesus must be John the Baptist raised from the dead, because he was able to do supernatural things. Others thought that he was Elijah, and others thought that he was one of the ancient prophets come back from the dead. Herod said “I beheaded John, so who is this I’m hearing stories about?” He wanted to see Jesus for himself.
MT 14:1-2, MK 6:14-16, LK 9:7-9
Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested and put in chains in prison, on account of the fact that he had married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. John had told him that it was not lawful for him to be married to his brother’s wife.
Herodias had a grudge against John because of this and wanted to kill him, but she couldn’t because Herod was afraid of the crowd. They thought that John was an upright and godly man, and a prophet. Herod was disturbed every time he heard what John had to say, yet he still liked to listen to him.
Herodias found an opportunity to get what she wanted at Herod’s birthday party, when he gave a large banquet for all the important people in Galilee. Her daughter pleased everyone at the party with her dancing. Herod made an oath in front of everyone that he would give her anything she asked for, even up to half his kingdom.
She asked her mother what she should request and her mother said “John the Baptist’s head!” Herodias’ daughter asked to be given John the Baptist’s head on a platter right away.
Herod was full of regret, but because of the oath he made in front of important guests he sent orders for John to be beheaded. His head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who then carried it to her mother.
When John’s disciples received the news, they removed the body, placed it in a tomb, and then went to tell Jesus what had happened.
MT 14:3-12, MK 6:17-29