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. – Mark 6:17-29
I won third place in the Ford Punt, Pass, and Kick competition when I was 12 or 13 years old. With that came a plaque. That was it. I won the Photographer of the Year competition on more than one occasion. Again, another plaque…and maybe some bragging rights. But that’s seriously very little to brag about!
Herodias’ victory over John yielded a much more gruesome trophy. It’s difficult for me to imagine that on any level. What a sad win for her. Surely it was a horrible tragedy for John. But she would live with the sad results of her own actions for a time to come. A life built on deceit, resentment, manipulation, and murder is no life at all. Those are the spoils of her victory.
There is another Champion who fought an unimaginably-difficult battle against deceit, manipulation, murder, and all manner of sin. He chose to fight that battle by faithful obedience to the Heavenly Father. He chose to win that battle by losing his life. He chose to conquer in spite of all the fury of hell being thrown at him. He chose to vanquish sin and death by his own sacrifice and death.
The rewards of his victory are many. His obedience, faithfulness, and sacrifice grew from a perfect faith and love. For that he was raised from the dead. He was vindicated and proclaimed his victory in the very stronghold of Satan. He was exalted above everything in heaven and on earth, and given the name that is above every name. At his name, every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth. Every tongue will confess – in the end, even Herodias – that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
We, too, are the rewards of his victory. We have been redeemed. We belong to him. This is truly good news. Never manipulative. Never self-serving. Never faithless. But good, kind, merciful, just, true, and gracious is his perfect love. And his is the ultimate and eternal victory over every kind of evil we may experience in this life.