John the Baptist Beheaded for the Law

John the Baptist Beheaded for the Law

If one were to correlate this period of time on the calendar of Western civilization, he or she might find that the execution of John the Baptist (also known as John the Immerser) likely took place about this time in the first century. This event was captured by the Gospel Writers Matthew and Mark. According to Matthew in 14:3-12 and Mark in 6::17-29, John the Immerser had by this time been imprisoned. He had apparently been imprisoned by Herod’s administration for his controversial ministry in the Judaen countryside. In these particular passages, the daughter of Herodias, had been enticed to dance for Herod the King of Judah. As payment for her obviously sexually provocative dance number, Herod promised her whatever she wished. After consulting her mother Herodias, the daughter claimed her prize by demanding the head of the imprisoned John the Baptist. That claim by Herodias’ daughter, according to the Gospel writers, sorely bothered Herod. It bothered Herod because, despite Herod’s pagan, sinful and bloody life, he knew the relevancy of Torah (aka the Law). It’s no different today from the biggest criminal in the neighborhood who knows the deal about Jesus and has to some degree fear of those who carry the Word of God to the community. In this particular case, Herod feared John because Herod, according to Mark, believed him to be a “holy man.” Yet, for whatever reasons, be they personal or political, Herod imprisoned John. John’s crime: accusing Herod of violation of the Laws of Moses.

John the Baptist's head on a platter

According to Michael Rood, in His Chronological Gospels Gospels, notes that John held Herod in “violation of the Torah commandment that prohibits intimacy with the wife of one’s brother.” This is found in Leviticus 18:16. Rood goes on to note the existence of a similar commandment that prohibits intimacy with the sister of one’s wife during her lifetime (vs. 18 of the same chapter).

Angry and embarrassed over being called out by John the Immerser, Herodias advised her daughter to demand in lieu of money or possessions, the head of John the Immerser on “charger,” which in our English parlance denotes that of a platter or plate. Herodias’ daughter indeed demanded the head of John be delivered to her on a platter. The execution order, despite Herod’s concern over the holiness of John, we given and John died a martyr’s death. His crime as stated above: preaching and teaching Torah or the Law.

Let it be known that the Law, even in the New Testament, was central to the nation of Judah who occupied the land; and even the King of Judah, Herod–the imprisoner and executioner of John the Immerser.

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So when believers in Christ pooh-pooh the Law, let it be known that John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was one of the first martyrs of the true Faith once delivered, who stood for and died for Torah. No one in their right mind should ever say that the Law was done away with. This one mighty man of God was willing to die for the Law.

How about you?

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