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The Death of John the Baptist


At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; 2and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 3For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. 6But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod 7so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. 8Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; 10he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. 12His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.

Feeding the Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

34 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, 36and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

5. And though he wished to put him to death. There is some appearance of contradiction between the words of Matthew and Mark: for the former says that Herod was desirous to commit this shocking murder, but was restrained by the fear of the people; while the latter charges Herodias alone with this cruelty. But the difficulty is soon removed. At first Herod would have been unwilling, if a stronger necessity had not compelled him reluctantly to do so, to put to death the holy man; because he regarded him with reverence, and, indeed, was prevented by religious scruples from practising such atrocious cruelty against a prophet of God; and that he afterwards shook off this fear of God, in consequence of the incessant urgency of Herodias; but that afterwards, when infuriated by that demon he longed for the death of the holy man, he was withheld by a new restraint, because he dreaded on his own account a popular commotion. And here we must attend to the words of Mark, Herodias lay in wait for him; 359359     “Herodias cherchoit occasion;” — “Herodias sought an opportunity.” which imply, that as Herod was not of himself sufficiently disposed to commit the murder, she either attempted to gain him over by indirect wiles, or labored to find some secret method of putting the holy man to death. I am more disposed to adopt the former view, that she employed stratagems for influencing the mind of her husband, but did not succeed, so long as Herod was prevented by remorse of conscience from pronouncing sentence of death on the holy man. Next followed another fear that the business of his death should excite the people to some insurrection. But Mark glances only at what prevented Herod from yielding immediately to the entreaties of the prostitute; for Herodias would have wished that, as soon as John was thrown into prison, he should be privately executed. Herod, on the contrary, reverenced the holy man, so far as even to comply willingly with his advises: Herod feared John Now the fear which is here mentioned, was not a dread arising from a mistaken opinion, as we dread those who have obtained some authority over us, though we reckon them to be unworthy of the honor. But this fear was a voluntary respect; for Herod was convinced that he was a holy man and a faithful servant of God, and therefore did not dare to despise him. 360360     “Estoit aucunement contreint en soy mesme de luv porter l’honneur, et ne l’osoit pas mespriser;” — “was somewhat constrained in himself to bear respect towards him, and did not dare to despise him.” And this deserves our attention; for though John knew by experience that it was, in many respects, advantageous for him to have some share in the good wishes of the tetrarch, 361361     “Qu’il eust quelque entree en la Cour, et que le Roy l’eust aucunement agreable;” — “that he should have some access to the Court, and that the King should be somewhat favorable to him.” yet he was not afraid to offend him, when he could find no other way of securing that favor, than by wickedly conniving at a known and disgraceful crime. He might indeed have protested that he did not at all consult his private interests, and that he had no other object in view than the public advantage; for it is certain that he requested nothing from motives of ambition 362362     “Qu’il n’a rien demande au Roy pour se faire valoir, ou pour monstrer son credit;” — “that he asked nothing from the King to put himself forward, or to display his influence.” but that Herod yielded to his holy counsels, which had a reference to the lawful administration of the kingdom. But as he perceives that he has no right to accept this kind of compensation, 363363     “Que ceste facon de compensation n’est point honneste, ne selon Dieu;” — “that this kind of compensation is not honorable, nor according to God.” which would procure for him some kind offices by betraying the truth, he chooses rather to turn a friend into an enemy than to encourage, by flattery or silence, an evil which he is laid under the necessity of reproving with severity.

John has thus, by his example, furnished an undoubted rule for pious teachers, not to wink at the faults of princes, so as to purchase their favor at this price, how advantageous soever that favor might appear to be to the public interests. 364364     “Encore qu’ils ne la cherchent point pour leur regard particulier, mais seulement pour avoir occasion de profiter plus en d’autres endroits;” —”even though they do not seek it for their private interest, but solely in order to have an opportunity of doing more good in other respects.” In Herod, on the other hand, the Spirit of God exhibits, as in a mirror, how frequently it happens that those who do not sincerely worship God are nevertheless willing, in some measure, to obey His commands, provided that He will grant them some indulgence or abatement. But whenever they are hard pressed, they throw off the yoke, and break out not only into obstinacy, but into rage. There is no reason, therefore, why they who comply with many sound advises should be well satisfied with themselves, till they have learned to yield and surrender themselves unreservedly to God.

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