Mark 6:19

So Herodias was incensed against John, and wanted to put him to death, but was unable to do so,


desire thwarted lingers
building deeper resentment
building to a climax
seeking one release
seeking still another
satisfaction is elusive
satisfaction doesn’t satisfy
shame colors everything
shame requires satisfaction
desire thwarted lingers


Not being able to do-what-we-want-when-we-want is a rather mundane part of life. We have heard that there were religious groups who wanted to do Jesus in but didn’t have the authority under Roman occupation; they couldn’t. When we look clearly enough at our own lives, there are any number of reasons/constraints on us; we can’t.

When we have to work through someone else’s agency, we can get rather creative in finally getting our way.

While able to repress internal conflicts for a while, eventually they show up under the guise of, “It wasn’t our fault, they blocked me from acting (or forced me to act) on my desires (noble or not).”

Just as there were competing rumors about a John/Jesus connection, there are differing explanations for the final decision to do away with John that have been put forward. Josephus indicates Herod had John killed for political reasons because Herod feared his influence/accusation might lead to open revolt. Mark has a comedic caricature of an unjust/decadent ruling class with an ever-popular palace intrigue that all too easily falls into a formulaic scheming wife and a helpless husband.

Whether we are talking about political intrigue or personal conflict, Myers73 suggests a larger context, “Mark suggests a common destiny for all who preach repentance.” It is the changed heart and life challenge that brings resistance from Herodias and resignation from Herod. These combine to resist repentance and are present in every system with an ordered power resting on violence as a final solution.

Finding desires thwarted is a wilderness testing that aborts a deeper journey to find a retreat experience which would transform the angst of perceived shame into a doubling down on the strength of knowing one’s own belovedness, wherever you are on a culture’s ladder. To use Jacob’s ladder here—how do we stand steady and let the “angels” use the ladder as we partner with G*D and Neighb*r?

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