So John was beheaded in the prison, (Matthew 14:10)
Relate: What names would come to mind if I were to ask you who was the godliest people of our generation? Who best has modeled integrity, sacrifice, holiness, etc? For me, two names immediately jump to the forefront at that question: Billy Graham and Mother Theresa. A tier below that there stands in my mind Desmond Tutu, Richard Stearns, Leslie Newbigin, Louis Giglio, Francis Schafer, John Piper, Shane Claiborne etc. A quick look and a little thought makes it clear to me that this list is more about famous and influential Christians, not necessarily godly ones. After all, I can only know their public actions and words. I don’t necessarily know how they lived day to day. The thing is, it is in the day to day that true godliness is found. With that thought, I would have to amend my list to include people like my grandmother, dad, and my aunt Judy.
No matter how I build my list, it isn’t good enough. No matter who you might put on yours, it also falls short. John the Baptist beats them all. Jesus said of John that among men born of women, none is greater. He was the forerunner for the advent of God Himself. He was the voice in the wilderness. He was a prophet, the last of the OT prophets, yet more than a prophet. He was the Elijah that was to come. He baptized God.
React: John also lived in poverty. When Herod felt he had gone too far, he gave this great man an extended stay in prison. There John began to doubt his own calling and Jesus’ identity. Finally, he was beheaded on a whim. Clearly, if only he had more faith he wouldn’t have found himself in such difficult situations, right? He must not have believed enough or God would have set him free from that prison, right? He must have done something wrong or he would not have lost his head, right? No, he remained in prison because he refused to back down from the truth. He lost his head because an evil man made a stupid promise in a moment of lust and was too proud to back down from it.
Sometimes evil happens because God allows it that we might be refined as fire. Sometimes it happens because the enemy is attacking us. Sometimes it is the product of our own stupidity or sin. And sometimes it happens it happens because we get caught in the whirlwind of another person using their free will for evil. Some things can’t be “rebuked” away. Praying harder, believing more, and casting out devils won’t help one bit. For whatever reason some things must be endured. And if it’s something we’re going to lose our heads over, at least when we open our eyes on the other side, we will understand why.
God, there is so many questions I don’t have an answer for. Why did John the Baptist, the greatest of men have to die? Why does this world have to be the way it is? Why do so many suffer? Why do I always have to have a reason for everything that happens in life? No matter what questions may arise, help me to never doubt Your goodness. Even in the chaos of this world You are a rock I can stand on. Though little questions may remain, You are the Answer.