Seize Your Opportunity: Mark 6:14-29

Focus Passage: Mark 6:14-29 (NCV)

14 King Herod heard about Jesus, because he was now well known. Some people said, “He is John the Baptist, who has risen from the dead. That is why he can work these miracles.”

15 Others said, “He is Elijah.”

Other people said, “Jesus is a prophet, like the prophets who lived long ago.”

16 When Herod heard this, he said, “I killed John by cutting off his head. Now he has risen from the dead!”

17 Herod himself had ordered his soldiers to arrest John and put him in prison in order to please his wife, Herodias. She had been the wife of Philip, Herod’s brother, but then Herod had married her. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to be married to your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias hated John and wanted to kill him. But she couldn’t, 20 because Herod was afraid of John and protected him. He knew John was a good and holy man. Also, though John’s preaching always bothered him, he enjoyed listening to John.

21 Then the perfect time came for Herodias to cause John’s death. On Herod’s birthday, he gave a dinner party for the most important government leaders, the commanders of his army, and the most important people in Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and the people eating with him.

So King Herod said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I will give it to you.” 23 He promised her, “Anything you ask for I will give to you—up to half of my kingdom.”

24 The girl went to her mother and asked, “What should I ask for?”

Her mother answered, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist.”

25 At once the girl went back to the king and said to him, “I want the head of John the Baptist right now on a platter.”

26 Although the king was very sad, he had made a promise, and his dinner guests had heard it. So he did not want to refuse what she asked. 27 Immediately the king sent a soldier to bring John’s head. The soldier went and cut off John’s head in the prison 28 and brought it back on a platter. He gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When John’s followers heard this, they came and got John’s body and put it in a tomb.

Read Mark 6:14-29 in context and/or in other translations on!

Perhaps there is a little bit of skepticism in me when I read about certain events in the Bible. This skepticism is not about whether these events actually happened, and it is not skepticism that affects my belief in Jesus. It is skepticism related to how circumstantial a number of the events are in the Bible. It is wondering, “Was this a coincidence, or was God or a group of people behind setting up the details of this event to happen just like it did?”

The event in our passage is one such place. In this passage we learn about how John the Baptist’s life ends: Herod has a party and his wife’s daughter comes in and dances for the guests. The dance is so well received that Herod makes the daughter a huge, open-ended promise. The daughter consults with her mother about what to ask for before then asking for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Herod has to keep his word in the moment over his earlier desire to not kill John.

That is a broad summary of what this passage covers, and it is a perfect place for my imagination to run wild with questions about what was going on behind the scenes. Did Herodias teach her daughter to dance in a certain way to prompt such a positive response? Did Herodias slip something into Herod’s drink to lower his judgment? Was God behind this event, or would He have preferred that John die of old age in prison?

Or was this just a set of circumstantial events that Herodias was able to see an opportunity in to get her way?

While there is no way for me to know on this side of heaven, there is something we can learn from Herodias’ actions in this passage: Whether you helped set the stage or whether circumstances create the perfect opportunity, be ready to act when the opportunity arises. But in our case, we should seize opportunities that help the lives of those around us instead of Herodias’ opportunity that resulted in a life that ended because of her.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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