The Death of John the Baptist
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What Has Come Before
Then, too, John's followers were inclined to feel jealous, because their master was now left alone, and all the people were seeking Jesus. John sent two of his followers to Jesus, to ask him this question, "Are you really the Savior who is to come, or are we to look for some other as the promised Christ?"
When these men came with this message from John the Baptist they found Jesus in the midst of a great company of suffering people. They saw him making the sick well by his touch, giving sight to the blind, and casting out the evil spirits, and they listened to the words of Jesus as he taught the people.
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All the common people who heard this were glad, for they believed that John was a prophet, and they had been baptized by him. But the Pharisees and the rulers were not pleased, because they had refused to listen to John the Baptist or to be baptized by him.
Not long after this the end came to the noble life of John the Baptist. A great feast was held on King Herod's birthday, and all the princes and nobles of his kingdom were in the palace, eating and drinking together. While they were making merry, the young daughter of the woman Herodias, who lived with Herod as his wife, came into the dinner room and danced before the guests. Herod was so greatly pleased with her dancing that he said to her, "Ask whatever you please, and I will give it to you."
He swore a solemn oath that he would give her whatever she might ask, even to the half of his kingdom. The girl went to her mother, and said to her, Tell me, what shall I ask? Her mother told her what to ask, and she came back with haste to the king, and said, "I will ask that you give me here upon a plate the head of John the Baptist."
The king was very sorry that he had made the promise, but he was ashamed to break his word in the presence of his princes. He sent a man to the prison, with orders that the head of John the Baptist should be cut off and brought. It was done, and the young girl took it upon a plate, and gave it to her mother Herodias.
So, as Herod's father, thirty years before, had caused all the little children of Bethlehem to be killed, this King Herod, the son, caused John the Baptist, one of the best of men and a great prophet, to be put to death.
The followers of John the Baptist went to the prison, and took away his body and buried it, and then they went and told Jesus of all that had been done. After this they were among the followers of Jesus.
Herod the king heard of what Jesus was doing, the sick healed, the blind made to see, and the dead raised to life. Everybody by this time was talking of Jesus and wondering who he was. Some said, "This is the prophet Elijah come again to earth." Others said, "If he is not Elijah, he is surely one of the prophets of the old time who has come to life."
But Herod said, "I know who this is. It is John the Baptist, whom I killed! He has come back to life, and by him all these great works are wrought!" And Herod was in great alarm, for he was afraid of the man whom he had slain.