And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
It is not, perhaps, the end we would envision for a great prophet like John the Baptist, a godly man, a servant, and one with a unique mission from God Himself. He fulfilled what he had been commanded, created, and born to do. He preached repentance. He showed people the way to Christ. But what was his reward for that? Spending his last days in prison and being killed for standing up for what is righteous and God-honoring. He was willing to speak truth until the end, willing to decrease so Christ might be magnified. So surely he would have rather faced that end than compromise his convictions and be spared.
We live in a world that is hostile to the truth of God and antagonistic toward His ways and His righteousness. We won’t often be embraced or celebrated for following God’s way, but may we be willing to take that stand anyway. It may seem like evil overcomes and evil wins, but in God’s eyes, surely John was welcomed home with a commendation for his faithfulness. That is what ultimately matters, even if we face a brutal end here.
The undercurrent that ran throughout John the Baptist’s life was his faithfulness and obedience to God. He was a voice of hope because he spoke about Jesus. He challenged people to evaluate the way they were living and to choose righteousness and obedience to God’s ways. If there is a message that the world needs today, it is the same as the one John brought—the Lamb of God has come into the world to be our Savior. We need His cleansing. We need His forgiveness. We need His help, and it is available to us.
John the Baptist was kind of a curiosity in his day, but he was uncompromising in his commitment to God. He pointed many to Christ. He stood up for what was right. And he died at Herod’s hand for doing so. It may not always be easy, but may we be willing to follow his example. Let’s be unafraid to tell people about Jesus, who He really is, and let’s be faithful to God and stand fast in righteousness despite the evil in the world around us.