Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29
While Jesus traveled and taught, His dear friend John the Baptist was still locked up in prison. King Herod had put him there because John had told him he should not have married his brother’s wife, a woman called Herodias. She hated John and wanted him dead. If it had not been for Herodias, John would have been free.
On King Herod’s birthday he held a big party and invited all his friends, family, counselors, generals and other important people who served him. The palace was full of people laughing, drinking and eating. The musicians started playing a strange and lovely song and everyone turned to watch as a beautiful young woman started dancing. Her feet hardly touched the floor. She was more graceful than any dancer they had ever seen.
King Herod smiled. “That is the daughter of my wife, Herodias.” He said. “Nobody else can dance like her.”
Slowly, but surely, the girl made her way over to Herod’s table and danced right in front of him. With a last twirl and toss of her head, she knelt before Herod. The king felt even drunker when he looked into her eyes.
He said. “Ask me for anything you want and I’ll give it to you.” Then he promised with an oath which could not be broken.
The girl ran off to her mother, Herodias and said. “What will I ask for?”
Herodias smiled wickedly. “Ask for the head of John the Baptist on a tray.”
When the girl returned to the king and told him her request, the king was very upset.
“John is a good man, how can I possibly have him killed?” He thought to himself.
He looked around; all the important people were watching him. Herod felt weak.
“Very well.” He told a guard. “Bring me John’s head on a tray.”
When John’s disciples and friends heard that he was dead, they went to the prison and claimed John’s body for a burial. They went and told Jesus about John’s death. When Jesus heard that His closest friend was dead He grew very, very sad.