I now blog on chapter four of my book. This is not a popular section of the Bible. In fact, its lack of popularity shows how it is popularly avoided even though surrounding contexts are taught routinely in Sunday Schools. Rightly so, this story would scare the living daylight out of little kids. After all, who wants their kids to hear about heads rolling?
I propose however that this is more than a story about beheading that needs to be told at least on the pulpit. Mark 6.14 says, “King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had been well known. Some were saying, ‘John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’” The story then goes on to talk about John losing his head (literally).
Let me give you some hints to read this story properly within context. The way the story is introduced shows that this is a story about Jesus and not about John. Moreover, the section previous, Mark 6.7-13, talks more about what the disciples did than Jesus. In order to understand the beheading story properly, we need to read it first in terms of the Jesus story and then the disciples’ story. I don’t deny that the text itself is quite violent, but it isn’t violent in the way we imagine.
As I always say, the texts are not at fault. The interpreter is!