Evil – sadly – is no myth

Herod…had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. 

Yellow Daisies & Prickly Pear Cactus | Austin, Texas | October 2020

February 12, 2015. 21 Coptic Christian construction workers from Egypt were beheaded. These martyred Christians have much in common with John. Beheaded. Jesus followers. Unjustly treated. Victims of sin and hatred. 

I wish such things would never happen. I wish it would never be that God’s people had to suffer the full brunt of evil and sin. I wish there was no sin in the world – my enemies, my world, my heart. But it lurks everywhere. Too close for comfort. Too close even for an expert in denial to ignore. 

God doesn’t ignore sin. He doesn’t require that we pretend all is well when in fact it is not. He doesn’t ask us to get to a place of mind over matter to block out the evil that is everywhere around us. Mary Baker Eddy – who said that evil was an illusion – notwithstanding. 

Herodias’ daughter dances. Herod offers a foolish promise. Herodias incites Herod. John is beheaded. That is a chain of evil and injustice. 

But it does not thwart God’s purpose and plan. No matter how evil might intrude it will not have the last word. No matter how unjustly people may act, truth and justice will prevail. John will be buried. Jesus will continue his mission. Herod will be a forgotten blip on history’s screen. John will be remembered. God’s kingdom remains. 

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