There are all kinds of dances: musical, psychological, political, mental, and deadly.
While Jesus was trying to do some good in Galilee, events beyond His control were unfolding down in Jerusalem. John the Baptist was imprisoned by King Herod, the evil son of the Herod who had slaughtered the innocents when Jesus was born, because John had denounced Herod’s marriage to his sister-in-law. I don’t claim to know how good King Herod was on the dance floor, but he was good at the political dance—keeping opposing forces under control to keep the peace with Rome. John had just gone too far, that was all, denouncing the private life of the king. Prison was where he belonged. It was not enough for his new wife, Herodias. She wanted John punished and eliminated. Her new husband didn’t feel that was necessary. Herodias knew how to dance the dance of manipulation. She arranged for her daughter to entertain the King and his guests. It is good not to try and imagine the young woman’s dance, but, coached by her mother, it pleased the king. Inflamed by her dance, Herod made a rash promise.
“Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.”
Still out of breath from her sensual dance she panted out her demand.
“Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”
Surprised by the demand, Herod’s ardor quickly cooled. He realized he had been danced into a corner. For the sake of his guests, he felt he must honor his promise. What’s one prophet more or less, anyway? He ordered the execution. The party was suspended until a servant returned with the severed evidence of a promise kept. Herodias was the only one who still had an appetite. John’s disciples took his body away for burial and representatives came to tell Jesus.
Jesus Receives the News
Herod had convinced himself that Jesus was really John resurrected. His political dance had failed to bring any peace to his soul. It is certain that both John’s disciples and those of Jesus considered this a serious threat to the Lord. Hearing the sad news of His friend, cousin, and forerunner, Jesus needed to be alone. He was not a dancer, especially not the political kind. He hated plots and saw through them easily. His enemies were never successful at covering up their political schemes against Him. Neither did Jesus dance with words. He was the original man who said what He meant and meant what He said. Those who tried to dance around Him with clever words and trickery always ended up tripping and falling on their faces.
Sometimes it is good to be alone.
Here we see the humanity of Jesus. The death of a good man saddened Him. The murder of a friend broke His heart. He wanted to be still and quiet so He sought solitude. It wasn’t long before the multitude discovered His location and came bringing their needs to Him. There was little time to grieve the loss of His friend or to ponder the opposition of a powerful politician. There were sick people to heal, demons to scatter, and there was a message of hope to preach. This was no time to dance with grief.
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.” And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.
Lord Jesus, the news of the death of John the Baptist broke Your heart. You had to get alone with the Father for a while. Give me the wisdom to get alone with You. You said the Father was in the Secret Place. I want to join Him there today. When I am alone with You, I am not really alone at all! Your Spirit abides within me so I am never alone. Thank You, Lord!
Shut in with God
Shut in with God in the Secret Place.
There in the Spirit beholding His face.
Gaining new power to run in the race.
Oh I long to be shut in with God.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.