Party Favor

Mark 6:27 “…and He went and had him beheaded in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.”

Observation: Herodias’ daughter had danced before King Herod and his party guests. In response, Herod offered her any reward she wished, so at the urging of her mother, the girl asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. In response, the king sent an executioner to carry out the deed. His pride was at the root of this heinous crime. The Word says he felt regret but “because of his dinner guests (v. 26) he was unwilling to refuse her.

Application: Herod was led into profound sin because of his pride and arrogance, but there is another, more convicting thought that arises as I read: see how easy it is to develop immunity from tragedy visited upon others? For Herod and his guests this exchange was but a few minutes’ interruption before they would all turn again to the party that was their higher priority. But for John and his friends, Herod’s command had the most profound, life-altering implications. Even as John’s head was presented to Herodias as a gruesome party favor, John’s friends were dealing with his headless corpse and with their unimaginable anguish, their lives forever altered.

And I wonder: how much like Herod and his friends am I? When someone asks for prayer due to approaching surgery, when a friend finds herself in the throes of deep loss due to divorce or death, I may respond wonderfully in the moment, but how am I at follow-up? Do I pray repeatedly in coming weeks, or treat it as just a one-time duty? Do I take food or send a note, or better yet make myself available to just listen, without offering advice? Or do I treat their loss, their anguish as an out-of-sight thing that need not interrupt my own party, my daily life’s flow?

All too often I have treated a friend’s devastation as a party favor presented once to the King so I can go on about my business.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I realize that my compassion is rarely like Yours. Show me what it means to truly give myself to another, withholding nothing of the time and money at my disposal. I have nothing except by Your blessing, so cause my resources to be repositioned at Your disposal, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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