Herod’s birthday party

Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his home town. The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and those who heard him were astonished.

“Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” they asked. “He’s only a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters are living here among us.” And they took offence at him.

Then Jesus said, “A prophet is never without honour, except in his own town, among his  relatives and in his own home.” He couldn’t do any miracles there, except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
Then Jesus set out, going from village to village to teach the people. He also called his twelve disciples together and sent them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits.

“Take nothing for your journey,” he said, “except a staff. Don’t take food, or a bag, or money in your belts. Wear sandals, but don’t an extra shirt.

“Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave that town. But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that it’s had its opportunity.”

So the disciples went out, telling everyone that they should repent of their sins and turn to God. They cast out many demons and healed the sick, anointing them with oil.

Herod Antipas, the king, heard about Jesus, because everyone was talking about him. Some people said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that’s why he can do such miracles.”

Others said, “He’s the prophet Elijah.”

Still others said, “He’s a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.”

But when Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead!”

For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favour to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip’s wife, but Herod had married her. John had told Herod, “It isn’t lawful to marry your brother’s wife.” So Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod’s approval she was powerless, for Herod respected John and knowing that he was a good and honest man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.

Herodias’s chance finally came on Herod’s birthday. He gave a party for his high officials, army officers, and the leading citizens of Galilee. Then Herodias’s daughter came into the hall and performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod and his guests.

“Ask me for anything you like and I will give it to you,” he said to her, and made a vow. “I’ll give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom!”

She left the hall and consulted her mother, “What should I ask for?”

Her mother said, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist!”

So the girl rushed back to Herod and said, “I want the head of John the Baptist, right now, on a plate!”

Then the king bitterly regretted the things he had said, but because of the vow in front of his guests, he couldn’t refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner to the prison to cut off John’s head and bring it to him. The man beheaded John in the prison, brought the head in on a tray and gave it to the girl, who then took it to her mother.

When John’s disciples heard what had happened, they came and collected his body and buried it in a tomb.

Mark

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