Reflections: The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Today’s Reading: Mark 6:14-29

Daily Lectionary: 1 Kings 11:42-12:19; 2 Corinthians 7:1-16 

When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
(Mark 6:20b) 

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. John the Baptist was not out to win friends. He was sent by God to call people to confess and repent of their sins, to change their sinful ways, and return to the Lord God and His way. 

Your pastor is called to do the same thing. He is called to make you uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that you might want to shut him up and tuck him away where he can’t be heard anymore. 

John also pointed to Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Your pastor is called to do the same thing. 

We call this preaching Law and Gospel. The Law as contained in the Ten Commandments shows us our sins, like committing adultery in the case of Herod and Herodias. It makes us uncomfortable because we don’t like to think of ourselves that way. We don’t like hearing that we are sinners who sin in thought, word, and especially in deed. That’s why we need preachers to put God’s Law into our ears and hearts to convict us of our sins and call us to repentance. 

The Gospel is the Good News that Jesus is the Lamb of God, who was sacrificed on the Cross to take away the sin of the world–to take away your sin, all your sins of thought, word, and deed. Again, you need a preacher to put God’s Gospel into your ear so that by the Holy Spirit you believe it. 

Then, like Herod, you can gladly hear God’s Word of Law and Gospel through your pastor. It may often perplex you, it may confuse you, and it might not always make sense, but you should gladly hear and learn it. As strange as it may sound that God would send His only-begotten Son into this world just to kill Him on the altar of the Cross, that is the Gospel, the Good News of salvation for you. By His death on the Cross, Jesus has taken away your sin and forgiven you all your offenses against the Ten Commandments, in order that when you are laid in a tomb, you will be with Jesus, kept safe for eternity. 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. Daniel Voth, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, ND.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.