When studying Mark 6:14-29 with my colleagues last week we discussed a variety of things related to the text. Such as John’s word of reproof to Herod regarding his marriage to Herodias (18), Herod’s decision to have John the baptist or the baptizer beheaded (even though he respected, rather feared, and protected him – see verse 20), the internal dilemma that Herod faced as being a king and a father, 1 Sam 8 (the chapter that talks about Israel’s rejection as God as their king), truth spoken to those in authority and so much more.
After the Bible study we talked during lunch time about the kingdom of heaven. Though we all have different opinions on what the kingdom of heaven is, I decided to do some research on it. I read other passages in the Bible that I compared and contrasted to Mark 6:14-29. They are Dt 17:18-20 and Dan. 6. The first passage gives the regulations of what a king of Israel should do when he becomes king. He was to read the law all the days of his life, to learn to revere God and to ”follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel” (Dt. 17:19-20). Upon reading this I could see that Herod did not follow these commands. As in Dan. 6, we find king Darius who was cunningly lead by his advisers to have Daniel thrown into a den of lions because he prayed to God (v.12-13). On the other hand, Darius was distressed by the decree he made and desired to do anything he could to save Daniel’s life (14). Fortunately, Daniel was not eaten by the lions, Darius then had his advisers, as well as their wives and children, who were against Daniel thrown into the den and he decreed that the peoples of his kingdom should fear and revere the God of Daniel (23-26).
Herod was a human being that seems lost, distraught, unsure of what is going on during his reign as depicted in Mk 6:14-29. Just by hearing that Jesus was like one of the prophets from long ago he believes that Jesus was John that he beheaded (14-16). Of course he did not follow the requirements described in Deuteronomy, but he had a similar concern for a righteous man as did king Darius for Daniel. On a side note, our leaders today even ourselves are not capable of keeping God’s commandments due to our sinful nature. In all, Herod was an imperfect king, not suitable to rule the people of Israel during his lifetime. Ironically during Herod’s reign there was one being that came from heaven to reestablish his reign (rather then a fixed kingdom on earth): Jesus the Messiah. Though the Israelites had rejected God as their king in 1 Sam 8, God still remained their king, even king of the universe. Jesus being the God-man was capable of fulling all the commands of the law. He was not moved by the politics in his time and he was sure willing to help the oppressed, those who faced injustice. Jesus was the kingdom of heaven on earth. His very presence 2000 plus years ago amongst humanity gave a foretaste of his reign as he healed the sick, made the lame walk, made the blind to see, delivered people from the possession of demons, resurrected the dead, died on the cross for the sins of humanity and raised also from the dead. The great thing is that he still reigns at the right hand side of God the Father and will soon bring to consummation his kingdom that has already come and that has not yet been fully accomplished.
What joy it will be for the many who kept the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus and to finally see him face to face in the new heavens and new earth. Lord, your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.