Righteousness beheaded!

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Mark 6:1-29; Proverbs 16:8-9

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Mark 6:26 “And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.”

Why was King Herod “exceedingly sorry”? Because he was about to behead John the Baptist whom he deemed to be “holy and righteous”. Yet, the king was not sorry enough to value the life of this righteous man over and above what he promised of Herodias’ daughter. He was not sorry enough to choose the life of John the Baptist over and above what he could have lost in terms of his word and reputation.

The irony could not have been lost on the readers of this chapter of the gospel of Mark. While the king cherished the holiness and righteousness of someone like John the Baptist, he was all ready to overwrite such values with his own sense of righteousness, which was to fulfil his promise as the king. Such an irony echoes throughout the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. While the people marvelled at Jesus’ teachings and miracles, many stomped their foot on all of these when their own set of beliefs and wants were being threatened.

Am I like Herod? Are there times when i choose to sacrifice what is righteous to God to preserve my own reputation or sense of worth? Have I spoken against others unnecessarily so as to make myself “look” better?

I will always remember the time during national service, when several of us played a prank on a fellow soldier as he was quite a trouble maker. Yet, when we were found out by our trainer, all except one of us didn’t have the courage to own up. Up till today and especially after knowing Christ, I felt ashamed that I didn’t own up then and it served as a stark reminder for me to put God’s righteousness above my own sense of reputation or worth.

As the Apostle Paul always said in his letters to the churches and fellow co-workers, He is not ashamed of the Gospel. The Gospel is not just about how we share the good news with others; but it also about how we live truthfully in the Gospel. Hence, as God’s children, we should not be ashamed of the Gospel and of His call to righteousness. We should not place the things of this world, our own insecurities above what is good and right to God. What is reputation? What is even my own promise to others? If all these are not done in the righteousness of God, then they are really nothing in God’s sight.

Help me Lord, to value Your righteousness over and above my own reputation and sense of self-worth. This is so that Your kingdom is truly proclaimed. Help us as a church not to step on one another for our own sake; but rather to build one another up for Your sake. Amen.


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