Dance of Death!

Doers of the Word.                       
Saturday, August 1                            
Dance of Death!

Commemoration of John the Baptist’s cruel death.

In this dark and depressing passage, a ruler becomes so entranced by his stepdaughter’s moves that he makes a fateful promise he later regrets.

Herod Antipas was a morally conflicted man.  His wife Herodias use to be married to his brother.  But Herod’s plans to marry her had been condemned by John the Baptist, and in response Herod had thrown the holy man in jail.  Herod might have killed John, but he was fearful that the people would riot, because they believed that God had blessed him.

That all changed the night of Herod’s birthday bash.  There was plenty of eating, drinking, and dancing.  One particular dancer captured Herod’s heart: Salome.

Swept up with delight, Herod promised to give the girl whatever she wanted.  Herodias saw this as her chance, so she whispered into the ear of her daughter, who relayed the request to Herod: “I want the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”  Suddenly Herod found himself in a terrible bind.  If he refused his stepdaughter’s request he would be seen as going back on his word.  But if he gave her what she asked, he would be responsible for the death of an innocent man.  As we know from reading Matthew, Herod decided that murder was the easier road.

Two lessons emerge from this sad tale.

  • Be careful what you promise, particularly when your brain has been commandeered by your desires.
  • If you’re vulnerable to the wiles of gyrating women, you may want to steer clear of the dance floor.