Notes On Mark’s Gospel (56)

“On Your Mark”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!


A Brood of Vipers (Chapter 6 Verses 14-29)

The alarming thing is that the daughter does not seem in the least perturbed by what she is to request (v24). She is as hard as her mother. It is a fact that children do not need to be schooled in evil, just leave them to their own devices, but when they are trained to the devil’s work rather than God’s, that really is evil is it not? Our children are born in sin, there is an inbuilt bias towards sin from the beginning that needs to countered, our children must be taught, that is our covenantal responsibility (Proverbs 22.6; 22.15; 23.13; 29.15; Ephesians 6.4). To leave them alone, or even to leave them to the state’s education system today, is to leave them, I fear, to the devil. We cannot be ultimately responsible for the outcome as far as salvation is concerned, that is of the Lord (Ephesians 2.5-8). Nor are we responsible for them forever, there comes a day of understanding, a time when they are responsible for how they live and behave. But this young woman delighted in evil just like her mother, she ran to make her request (v25). When the devil puts the knife in he twists it. She, Herodias, wants John’s head, absolute proof of his death, not an executioner’s or even Herod’s word for it. She does not trust a wife-stealer. What a brood of vipers. What a horrendous thing is sin.

The king was trapped (vv26-29), by his moral weakness (v26), he did not want to refuse her. He would rather please her and face the wrath of God. There is not an ounce of moral courage in the man. He was trapped even more by his foolish pride (v26). Herod’s disgrace was he was the prepared to please men than God (Luke 12.5; Acts 4.19). This man stands as a monument in Marks’ gospel, an example of moral cowardice, and religious conviction that is too weak to stand up against anyone or thing. The thing is done (vv27-28). The matter was told to Jesus (Matthew 11.2), and John was buried decently (29). Jesus and the disciples withdrew. Not because of fear, but in deep grief, because a prophet, more than a prophet (Luke 7.26) had passed from Israel, it was a sad day for the Jewish nation, but a sadder one loomed. This was about a year before Jesus’ own death, he died at the time of Passover, and John’s death was just before the previous Passover. John’s ministry pointed to Jesus, the Lamb of God (John 1.29), and John’s bloody death pointed forward to the bloody death of the Lamb on the Cross (1Corinthians 5.7; 1Peter 1.19; Revelation 5.6; 13.8). Flowing from which comes an abundance of life, to a world that is broken, that has lost its way in a morass of sin (Revelation 22.1). Grace indeed!

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)

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