By Randy Dillon
Mark 6:20 “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus and in some respects it seems more celebrated, in their early ministries at least. John was well recognized for his call for repentance but also for his integrity in his preaching and his austere life.
Herod, the tetrarch, had the authority to govern Jerusalem with near totalitarian power. Yet scripture indicates that while Herod feared John, he also knew that John was a “just” and “holy” man. Furthermore, Herod watched John and heard him. His judgement was based on his own experience even though his own culture was the antithesis of Jewish society, culture and religion. That Herod was positively influenced by John says much about how John conducted himself.
John did many good things in the view of Herod and, apparently, Herod even heard from John “gladly.” The integrity of John’s life was his witness to the world. It even spoke strongly to a man such as Herod. It is sad to note that in the subsequent verses (21-29) Herod resorted to his usual behavior when he had John executed at the request of his wife’s daughter because John opposed the sinful relationship of Herod and Herodias, Herod’s wife, who was formerly the wife of Herod’s brother.
The issue here is not Herod but rather John. Herod was a weak and fearful leader. Yet he realized that John was a better man than he was. John had genuine integrity in his beliefs and the truth of the word as it bore on his behavior. It was this honesty in word and deed that so intrigued Herod and commended John to him.
Likewise, must we as Christians exhibit the same honesty and integrity in our lives such that those opposed to us will see God not only in our speech but also in our actions. When we speak truth, and do it in kindness and love, we too may find that we will be heard gladly.