It seems that everyone was talking about Jesus. So it’s no surprise that Herod the puppet king over the territory north of Galilee heard about the things he was doing. Some people were saying, “Jesus is John the Baptizer -- raised from the dead -- which is why he has such miraculous powers.”
15 Others were saying, “No, he’s got to be Elijah, the most eminent Hebrew prophet -- the one who lived in the 9th century BC.”
Still others were speculating, “He’s one of the other ancient prophets.”
16 When Herod heard all the conjecture, he chimed in, “Jesus has got to be John, whom I murdered. He must be back from the dead.”
17 This thought was gnawing at Herod because he was the one who had arranged for John’s arrest and imprisonment. He did this at the insistence of Herodias -- his illegitimate wife. She had been the wife of Herod’s brother Philip but Herod took her for himself and “married” her. 18 So John gave Herod grief over the adulterous situation and told the king, “It’s against the law spelled out in Leviticus 18:16 and 20:21, to take your brother’s wife!”
19-20 This did not set well with Herodias, who apparently liked being king Herod’s wife. So she was scheming to kill John. But she couldn’t pull that off because, strange as it sounds, Herod was protecting John.
You see, Herod had great respect for John, believing him to be a right-living and holy man. So you can see how confused Herod was about him. What John said to the king was disconcerting -- but at the same time he enjoyed listening to him.
21 Finally, the moment she had been waiting for arrived. It was a birthday bash for Herod -- a huge feast to which everyone who was anyone was invited -- government muckety mucks, military brass, and the elites of Galilee.
22 Herod’s daughter, also named Herodias, put on a dance performance that thrilled both Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and it’s yours.” 23 Then caught up in the moment, he turned his offer into a vow, “I swear -- anything… Whatever you ask I’ll give to you. Ask for half my kingdom and it’s yours!” 24 The young Herodias left the banquet hall and sought her mother’s advice, “What should I ask for?”
“John the Baptizer’s head,” the older Herodias replied.
25 The girl rushed back to the king and blurted out in front of the guests: “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptizer on a plate -- and I want it right now.”
26 The king was distraught but didn’t try to weasel his way out of the promise he had made in front of all his guests. 27 So Herod ordered a guard to fetch John’s head. The guard went to the prison, did the deed, 28 brought the severed head on a plate, and handed it to the girl. She in turn handed it to her mother.
29 When John’s apprentices heard what had happened, they came and claimed his dead body. They then gave him an honorable burial in a tomb -- in spite of his shameful death.