14. King Herod heard of what was happening, for Jesus' name and reputation by this time had become very well known. In fact, he was so taken by the reports he was hearing of Jesus' ministry, that he and the members of his court said, "John the Baptizer has apparently been raised from the dead! That can be the only explanation of why these mighty powers and abilities of His to perform miracles are at work!"
15. But others were saying, "No...it's not John...it is Elijah!" And still others said, "He is obviously a prophet, like one of the prophets of old."
16. But Herod was convinced. He insisted, "Seriously...I'm telling you, this is the very same John whom I beheaded...he has been raised from the dead!"
17. Herod was the one who had sent for and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, after he had married her.
18. The reason for this was that John had publicly told Herod, "It's not right or lawful for you to have your brother's wife like this!"
19. And, as a result, Herodias was incensed with him, and held a grudge that eventually turned into a desire to kill him...but she couldn't make that happen,
20. For Herod had a reverential fear and awe of John, believing that he was truly a holy man. Because of that, he continually kept him safely guarded. When he heard John speak, he actually became miserable with guilt...and yet he was strangely attracted to, and respectful of, John's fearless message...as if he had sort of a love/hate relationship with the prophet.
21. But one eventful evening, an opportunity came for Herodias when Herod, on his birthday, threw a party for his nobles, and the high military commanders and chief men of Galilee.
22. That night, when the daughter of Herodias came in and seductively danced for him, she ignited a kind of palpable passion in Herod and his guests...and the king, in a moment of desire, said to the girl, "Honey, you can ask me for whatever you desire...anything at all...and I'll give it to you!"
23. He even went so far as to put himself under oath to her, reiterating in front of everyone, "I mean it...whatever you ask for, I will give it to you...even to the half of my kingdom!"
24. So she left the room and excitedly said to her mother, "What should I ask for? And Herodias bitterly replied, "Ask for the head of John the Baptizer!"
25. And without missing a beat, she rushed back in to the king and made her dark request, saying, "I want you to give me the head of John the Baptizer on a platter right now!"
26. And the king immediately sobered up, instantly experiencing profound regret and remorse over his thoughtless oath. But even though he was deeply pained and grieved by this, because of his oaths and his guests, he did not want to be seen as someone who was too weak to keep such a promise.
27. So he sadly and reluctantly sent off one of the soldiers of his bodyguard, and gave him orders to decapitate John at once, and to bring his head. And the guard followed orders and left immediately to behead him in the prison,
28. And, according to the horrible request, brought his head on a platter and handed it to the girl. And the girl then gave it to her heartless mother.
29. When John's disciples heard the tragic news, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
30. After this, the apostles came back and rendezvoused with Jesus, reporting on all that they had done and taught since He had commissioned them to go out on their own.
31. When they were through comparing notes, Jesus said to them, "Well done, gentlemen...now you need to get some well-deserved rest...come away by yourselves to a secluded place, and take it easy for a little while." He wanted them to start taking better care of themselves, for they were continually coming and going, being so involved in the work of the ministry that they regularly didn't even take time to eat.
32. So, according to instructions, they got in a boat and went off to a remote place by themselves.
33. But it had become virtually impossible by this point for them to have any real privacy...they were now as famous and as recognizable as Jesus. As a result, many people spotted them and saw where they were going, and they ran there on foot from all the surrounding towns, getting there ahead of those in the boat.
34. And Jesus went with them, too, but as His boat landed, He saw the great crowd waiting there. And instead of being resentful of this intrusion on what was supposed to have been a time of relaxation with His disciples, He was actually moved with compassion for them. He saw them as being like sheep without a shepherd, so He got out of the boat and just began to teach them many things right then and there.