Why Was John The Baptist Allowed to be Killed in Such a Manner?

Beheading of John The Baptist

Question:

Why was John the Baptist allowed to be killed in such a manner?

Reply:

Two relevant scriptures come to mind. [Matthew 16:24-25] “24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (ESV)

[Galatians 3:13-14] “13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (ESV)

Explanation:

In the verses from Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus provides two sentences which are quite  shocking to most people of that era and even to most in the two subsequent millenniums afterwards. To summarize the verses, Jesus is stating that just as his death on the cross was a sacrifice of his life, if any would be like him (his disciple), he/she should be prepare to lose their life, in order to gain eternal life with God, “…take up his cross and follow me”. This statement shows the seriousness of the commitment to follow Christ. Later, we will see the blessedness of such an act.

Every believer’s life obviously does not end in suffering death by beheading, as John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod the King. But every true Christian must surrender his/her life as a “born-again believer”.  In the rebirth process, the true Christian convert dies internally (spiritually) to self and then the Holy Spirit takes residence inside the person’s heart (mind).

This residency of the Holy Spirit secures and seals the believer for God and Christ. Sealed by God, now the believer lives out his or her faith as ordered by the providence (wisdom) of God and His good pleasure or will. In this state the believer’s will (desires), is tied to Christ’s will (desires), and now acts of obedience and sacrifice by the believer, shows anyone who may observe such acts, that Jesus Christ reigns as Lord in the believer’s life.  This glorifies (exalts) God, because people seeing such acts displayed… the faith of King David, or the love shown by Ruth, the courage and contrition by the Virgin Mary, Peter’s extreme sacrifice or Paul’s compassion, see such as, acts of God.

And conclude that these acts could only be accomplished by the empowerment of God.

This shows observers that the person is truly being moved by the will of God.  Additionally, when believers are willing to die in the service of Christ, or die rather than denounce Jesus Christ, it shows non-saved people, that the believer must truly believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so it must be true.

In my own Christian walk, I’ve asked a similar question to the one our knowledge seeker asked here. I asked, “Why is a blood sacrifice needed to atone for the sins of mankind. This is a basic thought of many a person seeking acceptance by God and seeking to know how to serve that same God (a benevolent Creator). Some may phrase it, “Why did God (Christ) need to die, to save all people in the world?” And, “why must people die because of their sin and unbelief in a Holy God and their unbelief in His power to save?” 

The second part of this is easy… If a benevolent God exists, then whatever method He has graciously provided for the salvation of his created beings, would be the best plan to follow. God has deemed that faith (belief) in Him and in His abilities (the workings of His mighty power) is the plan of salvation. This begs the question from any seeker… How can one be sure of a plan and follow a plan, which (they may feel) was not directly or specifically provided to them? But rather provided vicariously through others (Prophets, Patriarchs and Priests).

The resounding answer from God is given in a parable that Christ himself told and is recorded in Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 12. In the story told by Jesus, He uses a  landowner to represent God, who has leased out his vineyard (the people of Israel and the gentile nations) to (Earthly Kings and Pharisees, the religious establishment and governing powers), with the thought to receive some of the harvest of the vineyard (reverence and worship as the true provider and leader of Israel and the nations) as repayment.

The owner (God) sends several messengers (Prophets and Faithful Priests) over a long period of time to ask for his share of the harvest (the acknowledgement that he is God over Israel and the whole world), all of these are beating and some killed by the leaders of the people (Kings and/or the religious establishment), with the general consent of the general populous.

Finally, the land owner decides to send his son to reason with them, and just before sending his son, he decided to send one last messenger to tell them of the planned arrival of his Son, so that they may prepare to receive him (with the proper respect and dignity). The last messenger (John the Baptist) prepared and warned those willing to listen, of the coming of the vineyard owner’s son (the prophesied Messiah, Jesus, as foretold by all of the previously abused and slaughtered Prophets). They killed that last Prophet (John) in a very disrespectful manner.

The gospel of Mark records the final thought and actions of the owner of the vineyard (God)… “6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

The Galatians verses (3:13-14), address the Passion of Christ, which refers to the physical and mental sufferings placed on Jesus (including his death) by God for our redemption and salvation. The resurrection of Jesus our Lord, ushered in as new age, as address in the second scripture, Galatians 3:14, and in it we find the answer for why all the sacrifice of so many person’s and then even the very Son of God… 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Summary:

Here on earth, we may never know or understand why God chose 1) the sacrifice of the life of countless prepared persons through the ages, 2) the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, and now, since Christ’s death and resurrection, 3) the sacrifice of many prepared Christian persons for the sake of the Gospel and for His Glory; as they are lost in the many diverse and often cruel ways, across the millenniums, as the means of promulgating the Gospel message through time.

What we do know now, is that all are not chosen for this privilege, as the Word says… Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” And yet another scripture states, 116 Psalm 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.16 Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you… you have freed me from my chains. Such a sacrifice is for those who have been prepared for it.

Still each Christian believer has forfeited his/her life for Christ, in this world, to gain the blessing of eternal life in Heaven throughout eternity. The value of such a blessing is inestimable, by human knowledge. But Jesus gives the following value to the gift of the Kingdom of Heaven… Matthew 11:11 “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

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Comments

  1. This kind of story is never allowed to be debated in Church. People simply get scared and stopped believing Jesus if they know Christians have to lose their lives in order to gain it. No one really believes this kind of stuff anymore. That’s why the Church will have to tell the story of Daniel, how an angel shut the mouth of the Lion instead. It makes more sense for people who are pursuing protection for their lives.

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