For this is what had happened: Herod had ordered John to be arrested; and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her; and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.” So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him; but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him; although he became very disturbed whenever he heard him.
Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion, the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.” And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.”
The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards, with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.
We are always impressed by science and scientists. After all, thanks to them we can enjoy such technical marvels as the cell-phone, the computer, the DVD, etc. We look in awe at a man like Einstein, “one of the most creative intellects in human history,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica (III, 818). This man, who understood the complexities of our physical universe like no one else, was nevertheless an agnostic. He would have been unable to answer the three most basic questions that the Bible answers: “Where do we come from? Where are we destined to go? How do we get there?” Einstein did not know the answers to these questions, answers that we learn at six years old from our catechism.
That is what the apostle Paul is writing about when he describes his preaching. It was not clever or brilliant, steeped in human wisdom, designed to dazzle minds by means of intellectual pyrotechnics. No, it presented a man executed as a criminal on a cross—nothing to revolutionize theoretical physics. Yet, God’s power was saving us through that bleeding Son of his. For God’s ways are always infinitely more powerful than all our science and all our technology.
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