HERODIAS AND HER DAUGHTER
Scripture references: Matthew 14:1–12; Mark 6:14–29 Bible Search Tool
Herodias had married Philip, the brother of King Herod Antipas. John the Baptist preached against this marriage, which was incestuous according to Old Testament Law. Herod had John imprisoned, but he was afraid to execute the popular prophet. Herod feared John himself, “knowing that he was a just and holy man” (Mark 6:20). Herodias however was incensed that John had publicly condemned her, and she “held it against him and wanted to kill him” (Mark 16:19).
Her chance came when Herodias’s daughter danced at a feast Herod gave, and the king effusively told the young woman to name her own reward. When she looked to her mother for advice, Herodias told her to ask for John the Baptist’s head.
Certainly Herodias was a grasping and self-centered woman. She abandoned Philip to marry the more important Herod, even though she knew this was condemned in God’s Law. When John preached against the marriage, her pride generated murderous intent. She did not hesitate for a moment to involve her own daughter in what was nothing less than the murder of a godly man. Harsh, brittle and hardened, Herodias cared for nothing but revenge.
She won her revenge. But sacred history has marked her as the New Testament counterpart of the Old Testament’s detested Jezebel.
John the Baptist had spoken out against Herod’s decision to wed his brother’s wife which was contrary to God’s law. While Herod seems to have been shaken by John’s preaching, Herodias became furious. She knew that what she had done was wrong, but when confronted she refused to admit and correct her fault. Anger at others is often a sign of hardness in our own hearts—a warning we need to heed.
Herodias’s response to godly counsel was to retaliate against the counselor. Her anger led her to a far greater sin, as she conspired to end John’s life. If we harden our hearts, we make ourselves vulnerable to far greater sins.
THE WOMAN WHO BLESSED JESUS’ MOTHER
Scripture references: Luke 11:27-28 Bible Search Tool
The woman, mentioned only here, intended to compliment Jesus in saying, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You.” It was common in the first century to praise an individual by praising his or her parent. In responding as He did, Jesus did not discount His mother, but reminded all those who heard of the true source of blessing: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).
That is, “Don’t praise Me. Listen to what I say and do it!”
CAIAPHAS’S SERVANT GIRLS
Scripture references: Matthew 26:69–71; Mark 14:66–69; Luke 22:56–60 Bible Search Tool
The night before the crucifixion, the soldiers took Jesus to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. While Jesus was being interrogated inside, Peter hung around out in the courtyard, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. One of the servant girls of the high priest confronted Peter, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee” (Matt. 26:69). Peter loudly denied any connection with Jesus, and the girl went away. Later the first girl returned (Mark 14:69) or another girl (Matt. 26:71) approached him and questioned Peter again. The third questioner was apparently a man (John 18:26). Each time Peter swore that he had nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth.
Typically we focus our attention on Peter and his denials, but here we’re concerned with the servant girls. They were women of especially low status, with no claim to any authority. Yet they took pride in being in the high priest’s household. That they were slaves was less important than that they were his slaves! They not only took pride in being members of the high priest’s household; they also identified themselves with him. Jesus was their master’s enemy, so He was their enemy as well. Even though slaves, they felt bold enough to confront a man whom they thought might be their master’s enemy.
The servant girls, slaves of Jerusalem’s high priest, have a lesson to teach us. We, too, are slaves: slaves of Jesus Christ (see Rom.1:1). As Jesus’ bondservants:
We take pride in being members of God’s household. Our true identity is rooted in our relationship to Him—not in who we are in ourselves.
We are to identify ourselves with our Lord and with His purposes. We are to value what He values, love those whom He loves, and reject everything that He rejects.
We are to struggle against every evil He condemns, seek to right everything He sees as wrong, and take a stand against all that He labels sin.
Scripture reference: Matthew 27:19 Bible Search Tool
Pilate’s wife may be considered Jesus’ last advocate before He was condemned. She is mentioned only in one verse: “While he [Pilate] was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife went to him saying, ‘Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.’ ”
Even though the ancients considered dreams a source of revelation from the gods, Pilate ignored his wife’s unwitting warning. Under pressure from the Jewish leaders, Pilate condemned Jesus to death.
Since God created women to be suitable “helpmeets” for their husbands, it is a foolish man who completely rejects the counsel of a loving wife.