We might cringe as we read this. The violent act of the death of John the Baptist might remind us of some uncomfortable parts of the Old Testament. This beheading could also remind us of the deaths of Christians in some countries today who have been persecuted and killed for their faith.
Herod hears of the power of Jesus from the work of the 12 disciples, and thinks that John, who he had killed, has been raised from the dead.
Then we have a flashback to explain how and why Herod had killed John the Baptist.
This story shows the difference between close relationships with God and a total lack of a relationship with God. Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were filled with God’s love for the people around them. They did all they could to teach people about God’s love and forgiveness. King Herod did not have any love for God, or any appropriate love for the people around him.
Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ are serving God. The other people in the story are serving themselves: they are doing what makes them seem more powerful and important, or just what makes them feel good. Herod caught himself out by making an extravagant promise to Salome, who danced to get him to promise her a gift. Salome wanted to impress her mum. Herodias wanted revenge on John because he had criticised her marriage to Herod.
Moral: only serve God.
Scots Memorial Hobart