From last Sunday, we heard Jesus say: “The only place a prophet isn’t honored is in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4 GW) This week continues that theme. In the Old Testament reading Amos, from the southern tribes (Judah), faces opposition from the priest in the northern tribes (Israel). Yet, it is God who calls the prophet, not the priest or the king of Israel or Judah. In the Gospel reading Herod illustrates the extremes to which enemies of God will go in trying to silence a true prophet. John the Baptizer spoke plainly of the coming Messiah (Jesus), and called people to repent, even kings. He spared no punches, telling Herod pointedly about his sin with Herodias.
Jesus, the ultimate Prophet, is not deterred from his purpose. Yes, he will die at the hands of His enemies. But He does so in His time and in His way (John 10:18). But it is not time yet. He has much to accomplish for the perfect work of salvation. And when He does die, He dies also for those wouldn’t honor Him. He even dies for us, “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).
Amos 7:7-15 (GW)
This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall built with the use of a plumb line, and he had a plumb line in his hand. He asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” I answered, “A plumb line.”
Then the Lord said, “I’m going to hold a plumb line in the middle of my people Israel. I will no longer overlook what they have done. The worship sites of Isaac will be destroyed, and the holy places of Israel will be in ruins. I will attack Jeroboam’s heirs with my sword.”
Then Amaziah, the priest at Bethel, sent a message to King Jeroboam of Israel. It read, “Amos is plotting against you among the people of Israel. The country isn’t able to endure everything he is saying. Amos says that Jeroboam will be killed with a sword and that Israel cannot avoid being taken from its land into exile.”
Then Amaziah said to Amos, “You seer, run away to Judah! Eat there, and prophesy there! But don’t ‹ever› prophesy again in Bethel, because this is the king’s holy place and the king’s palace.”
Amos responded, “I’m not a prophet, and I’m not a disciple of the prophets. I am a rancher and a grower of figs. But the LORD took me away from herding the flock and said to me, ‘Prophesy to my people Israel.’”
Ephesians 1:3-14 (GW)
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. Before the creation of the world, he chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in his presence. Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this so that the kindness he had given us in his dear Son would be praised and given glory.
Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins. God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness. He poured out his kindness by giving us every kind of wisdom and insight when he revealed the mystery of his plan to us. He had decided to do this through Christ. He planned to bring all of history to its goal in Christ. Then Christ would be the head of everything in heaven and on earth. God also decided ahead of time to choose us through Christ according to his plan, which makes everything work the way he intends. He planned all of this so that we who had already focused our hope on Christ would praise him and give him glory.
You heard and believed the message of truth, the Good News that he has saved you. In him you were sealed with the Holy Spirit whom he promised. This Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive our inheritance. We have this guarantee until we are set free to belong to him. God receives praise and glory for this.
Mark 6:14-29 (GW)
King Herod heard about Jesus, because Jesus’ name had become well-known. Some people were saying, “John the Baptizer has come back to life. That’s why he has the power to perform these miracles.” Others said, “He is Elijah.” Still others said, “He is a prophet like one of the other prophets.” But when Herod heard about it, he said, “I had John’s head cut off, and he has come back to life!”
Herod had sent men who had arrested John, tied him up, and put him in prison. Herod did that for Herodias, whom he had married. (She used to be his brother Philip’s wife.) John had been telling Herod, “It’s not right for you to be married to your brother’s wife.”
So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she wasn’t allowed to do it because Herod was afraid of John. Herod knew that John was a fair and holy man, so he protected him. When he listened to John, he would become very disturbed, and yet he liked to listen to him.
An opportunity finally came on Herod’s birthday. Herod gave a dinner for his top officials, army officers, and the most important people of Galilee. His daughter, that is, Herodias’ daughter, came in and danced. Herod and his guests were delighted with her. The king told the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” He swore an oath to her: “I’ll give you anything you ask for, up to half of my kingdom.”
So she went out and asked her mother, “What should I ask for?”
Her mother said, “Ask for the head of John the Baptizer.”
So the girl hurried back to the king with her request. She said, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptizer on a platter at once.”
The king deeply regretted his promise. But because of his oath and his guests, he didn’t want to refuse her. Immediately, the king sent a guard and ordered him to bring John’s head. The guard cut off John’s head in prison. Then he brought the head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.
When John’s disciples heard about this, they came for his body and laid it in a tomb.