Mark 6:17

For Herod himself had sent and arrested John, and put him in prison, in chains, to please Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because Herod had married her.


flashbacks catch us up
now we can see a bit more
bringing relief or fright

pieces fall together differently
with each new process glimpse
shifting decision points

a 180° change in understanding
can appropriately have us affirming
first and last judgments

like a crystal radio
we are always dialing in
fluctuating signals

doing the best we can to keep up
with late-breaking news
adjusts intimations of what’s next

stories without flashbacks comfort
we always only know what we know
never having to forgive more

for now we recalculate
where we thought we were headed
which moving way we now follow


Herod has dealt with John and can as easily deal with Jesus when he crosses a line or raises a politically sensitive matter. John shamed Herod about his marriage to his half-brother’s wife while Philip (per Mark) or Herod (per Josephus) was still alive. Whatever the brother’s name, this was a direct affront to Leviticus 18:16; 20:21.

We have already heard that the Pharisees and Herodians were conspiring against Jesus. In due time another death will distract from the tenuous legitimacy of Herod’s rule.

In many ways we are hearing the latest transgression G*D warned against when the crowd demanded a king in 1 Samuel 8. Mark has extended a long line of privileged excess—Ahab and Jezebel are here named Herod and Herodias. Whether the king’s wife is a foreigner or a niece, “might makes right”.

Marley’s ghost or Lady Macbeth’s hands can’t be avoided. Herod may have dealt with John’s shaming with a beheading, but the underlying problem of power, privilege and their self-justification will continue to haunt Herod and all who follow. Already the unease has begun before we even get to Herod’s excuse for intentionally doing away with John.

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