Reflections: August 29, 2020
The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
By Mark Buetow
Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded [John's] head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb. (Matthew 6:27-29)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. John was the fiery prophet at the Jordan preaching the coming Messiah who would burn those who did not repent and bear fruit. John was the faithful preacher who told sinners of God's grace and baptized them in the Jordan, washing away their sins. John was the voice crying the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. He was the preacher who pointed out the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He was the pastor who called Herod to repentance for taking his brother's wife. John was the last prophet of the Old Testament and the first preacher of the New Testament.
For all that, he died miserably by having his head chopped off while in Herod's dungeon. Don't be surprised. Being a Christian means all the glory and majesty and honor of Christ heaped upon you as a child of the King of Kings. And with that you just might die sadly or miserably or forgotten, because the life that Jesus brings us is not a life that turns everything in this life perfect. Being a follower of Jesus is not an escape from the evil things or people of this world. The death and resurrection of Jesus guarantee that your death will end in resurrection, but they don't promise that your life will be easy or comfortable or happy.
John trusted in one thing, one Person: Jesus. Jesus is all he had to preach and all He had to trust in. Same for us. Strip everything away and all we've got is Jesus. But if Jesus rose victorious from the dead, so will John. So will you. So will all His people. Just as the world wanted to get rid of Jesus, so it will try to get rid of you, maybe mildly by just ignoring you, maybe violently by persecuting and killing you. John had Jesus. You have Jesus. That means the world can't have you. You belong to Him and are safe in Him forever, just like John the Baptist. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Our thanks for John the Baptist Who, till his dying day, Made straight paths for the Savior And heralded His way! In witnessing to Jesus Through times of threat or shame May we with faith and courage The Lamb of God proclaim. ("By All Your Saints in Warfare" LSB 518, st. 24)
-Rev. Mark Buetow is the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in McHenry, Illinois.
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