What led Herod to kill John? Earlier in Mark’s account, Jesus warns the crowd, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (3:29). The common interpretation of this verse focuses on the “unforgivable” aspect of this wrong, but other scholars argue that Jesus is warning us that rejecting the Holy Spirit is the sin that every generation is guilty of.
Last month we honored Martin Luther King Jr. with days of service, quotes on Facebook, and promises to work harder to fulfill King’s dream of racial justice and reconciliation. The unfortunate truth is that the version of MLK, Jr. we often celebrate has been sanitized to make us more comfortable. How would we have reacted to his opposition to the Vietnam War and his solidarity with sanitation workers who striked in 1968? Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t shot because he wanted black and white children to play together, but because he wanted them to grow up and share power.
Jesus notices that we build monuments to the prophets that our ancestors killed. What would it take to break this cycle of violence?
We may not murder those who advocate for social changes that make us uncomfortable, as some do, but we certainly discount, silence, and quench the Holy Spirit working within them.
For a time, Herod listened to John and valued him. But in the face of growing pressure, he eliminates him, silencing his challenging message. How might the story have been different if Herod had found the endurance to face his discomfort and consider that the challenge came from God? How might we find the endurance to do the same?
How might we be quenching the Spirit of God to protect our sense of comfort or control?
Spirit, help me listen. Give me courage to die to myself and take up the cross for your kingdom, that breaks into our world before we are ready. Amen.