Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lenten Reading Mark 6:14-29

Mark 6: 14-29

Herod understood the resurrection. Sort of. He was afraid that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead. After all, if Jesus could perform all sorts of miracles. Perhaps being raised from the dead was one of them (which, of course, it was. But later.)

But John was punished for speaking the truth. The truth about the morality of Herod’s incestuous relationship with his wife. John demanded moral leadership from the offical king of Israel; but what he got instead was the temper tantrum of a queen scorned.

I think we have to be careful with texts like these. I know too many preachers who use John the Baptist as their model. Fire-breathing, angry, moralistic preachers who prefer to condemn sin rather than forgive sinners. I know too many Christians who see the faith as a bunch of “do’s and don’ts” rather than living in God’s grace through Jesus.

It’s not that I think Christians don’t have a role to play in public morality. Quite the opposite. But like John, Jesus, and the prophets, our job is to point to a different reality - God’s reality - and call people into it. A reality of justice, love, compassion, peace, and forgiveness.

After all, John baptized people to give them a new start. Jesus died and rose again so that people and the world would be re-newed. That’s the vision that God has for us. That’s why John was executed.

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