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CaravaggioSalomeLondonIn other news today, a popular prophet who had a longstanding ministry by the Jordan River where he baptized the repentant was executed by beheading, under the orders of King Herod.

John, whose nickname was “the Baptizer,” was known for his unusual clothing and eating habits, along with a fiery style of preaching reminiscent of Israel’s prophetic tradition.

In recent months, John’s ministry had taken an unusual turn. His message focused more and more upon the arrival of a Messiah-King who he believed would usher in the kingdom of God. He spent the last months of his life in prison due to his vocal criticism of King Herod’s marriage arrangements.

Here is how people in Galilee and Jerusalem responded to the death of this controversial prophet.

Elam the Essene: We are deeply disturbed to hear of the demise of this beloved prophet in Israel. The death of John the Baptist is a reminder that the “sons of darkness” are at war with the “sons of life.” We recommend that our fellow Israelites take measures to separate themselves from the darkness of our world, to cultivate personal spirituality, and wait for God’s intervention. However much we agree with John’s assessment of King Herod’s sin, we disagree with his decision to go public with his criticism. The piety of John the Baptist would have been preserved had he chosen to cultivate his own personal holiness rather than meddle in temporal affairs.

Philip the Pharisee: John was a prophet who exerted an enormous amount of influence among our people. We commend him for his stance toward King Herod’s sin, but because he also spoke harshly toward those of us who admirably seek to apply the Torah to everyday life, his legacy is mixed. John had a high view of God’s written Word, but he often dismissed our oral traditions. He implied that the holiest of Israel are just as guilty before God as the people who oppress us. He implied that we are all sinners. Had he been wiser, he could have avoided this terrible fate by being more sensitive to the needs and feelings of his listeners. He was unnecessarily combative toward the righteous people who likely would have supported him, and we believe this contributed to his execution.

Samuel the Sadducee: The beheading of John the Baptist should serve as a cautionary tale to our Jewish people of what happens when we bring our personal religious beliefs into political affairs. To speak boldly about King Herod’s marriage arrangement was a terrible mistake, perhaps due to John’s reliance on the prophetic tradition of Israel instead of the Books of Moses. We are called to practice our religion, not call into question the ruling authorities or the sexual practices of other people. We recommend that our people focus on meeting the needs of the disadvantaged and not be distracted by such unimportant matters.

Jesus of Nazareth: Among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared.

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6 thoughts on “News Release: John the Baptist’s Beheading”

  1. Todd Wilkinson says:

    EXCELLENT!!! I hope “In The News” will be a continual series!!! Thanks


  2. Terry Galloway says:

    I found your article today after being on a John the Baptist type mission for years. A few weeks ago I realized why John the Baptist was beheaded, and I have been trying to tell pastors to preach the truth about divorce and remarriage. Yes, it is very uncomfortable to say that remarriage is not allowed because only God dissolves a marriage by death of a spouse. It doesn’t make people feel good. But Jesus said that it was better never to marry if you can’t accept that marriage is formed by God for life. Voddie Baucham and John Piper have been brave enough to speak the truth. I hope that there are others. I pray for pastors to get this right because the culture has so thoroughly embraced divorce that gay marriage is overtaking our country too. Jesus said that the way is narrow and few will find it, but those of us who have found the Way, the Truth and the Life have the responsibility to tell the truth just like John the Baptist.

  3. George says:

    Unfortunately, John Piper forgets about the fact that as Christians, we are under Grace, not under law. Jesus fulfilled the Law with all its requirements. In some ways, he’s being like the Pharisee’s, who imposed even stricter rules than what the Law said, and didn’t lift a finger to help people carry them. And he relies on interpretations which are not really shared by the majority of traditional, conservative thinkers.

    Yes, marriage should not be entered lightly, and neither should divorce. God perfect will is for all marriages to succeed and there be no divorces. However, that isn’t always accomplished. We need to prepare people for the reality of marriage, and make sure they are good fits, instead of them finding out that they disagree on almost everything from finances to having children.

    But the position of Grace is that people make mistakes, but God will forgive them. There is only ONE unforgiveable sin, and that is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. All other sins God will forgive if you ask him.

    I do think that pastors and churches in general should draw the line at only allowing a 2nd marriage. And not allowing a 3rd, unless there is clear proof that there is justification for it. Too many Christians have the worldly view, that if they aren’t happy with their spouse, they should be able to leave, because they aren’t compatible.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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