“And they went and told Jesus.”

Moving to chapter 14 of Matthew (vv. 1-12) yesterday, the author tells of the circumstances surrounding the death of John the Baptist.  First, Matthew relates that Jesus’ reputation made its way to the tetrarch Herod.  Herod believes Jesus might be the resurrected John.  This prompts the story of John’s death in which Herod’s wife (who is also his sister-in-law) plots the death of John, whom Herod had imprisoned for reprimanding his unlawful marriage, and sees an opportunity at Herod’s birthday party.  Getting her daughter to dance for Herod caused him such delight that he promised her whatever she wished.  Consulting with her mother she asked that John be beheaded and so it was done to avoid Herod breaking his oath.  John’s disciples carried his body away and buried it.  Then they told Jesus.  Telling Jesus of bad news, troubles, great sorrow, or anguish is a lesson we can take away from this terrible event.  Jesus already knows us better than we know ourselves.  But he wants to provide us a deeper knowledge and understanding of ourselves and Him.  By going to Him first for assistance in our most difficult times orients us to Him.  What is His will in the particular circumstance?  How can we best carry it out?  The Lord is generous with the Spirit for all who ask for it sincerely and with open hearts.  This is true all the more when we face our biggest challenges.  His grace is sufficient for us (2 Cor 12:19).  And all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, counsel, understanding, knowledge, fortitude, piety, fear of the Lord — see Is 11:2) will be necessary to see us through.  Finally, the Spirit is the Comforter when nothing on earth seems to be able to relieve us.

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