Thursday, February 22, 2007

A major brat!

For some reason, the Bible seems to be full of goofy families. I'm not sure whether it's because our concept of family is so different today, or because the Biblical authors included details only when they were unusual. Perhaps it's a bit of both.

So Herod is king of this section of the Roman empire, and he has a brother. Herod has married his brother's ex-wife, and John the Baptist objected to that arrangement. This got him arrested. Herod's wife wants to kill John, but Herod won't do it.

What is it with these people? Why do they care so much what John thinks? If it's just John's opinion, why can't they ignore it? But if it's God's opinion, rather than John's that they're concerned about, then it's even dumber to imprison or kill John.

And in any case, why can't they talk about this and figure it out, rather than scheming to ... well, I'm getting ahead of myself. Herod has a birthday party, and invites a bunch of officials and military commanders and such.
When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you." And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom."

She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?"

"The head of John the Baptist," she answered.

At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter."
Mark 6.22-25
The king straightened her out. "Listen kid," he said in a confidential tone. "You blew your line. Your line is supposed to be 'Oh no, my Lord the King; the light of your countenance is more than I have wished for my whole life' or something like that. Now try it again and don't blow it this time, OK?"

No, he didn't say that. Instead, he took it like an exasperated 20th-century parent. He replied to his wife's daughter, "You bloodthirsty brat! Your mother put you up to this, didn't she? Go to your room; no dessert for you tonight!"

No, he didn't do that, either. What actually happened was this: He didn't want to be embarrassed in front of his dinner guests, and ordered John's beheading.

What? He didn't want to be embarrassed? In front of who? His boss? No; he was the boss! He must have been a really insecure guy.

Which reminds me of the predicament of a modern-day wage slave, working at a job he doesn't like so he can buy things he doesn't need to impress people he doesn't even like!

And Herod's story also shows that being at the top won't necessarily bring happiness or security.

So what am I looking for today? And are the choices I make today -- not just the big ones but the little ones, too, like am I going to reach out to someone or just take the easy path -- will those choices bring me closer to God, or take me one step closer to ending up like Herod?

No comments: