Matthew 14:1–12 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9)
14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus 2 and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”
3 For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. 4 Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
6 But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. 7 Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.
8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”
9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. 10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
Herod heard about Jesus and thought that He might be John the Baptist reincarnate. This was a response seated in mythology and false religion. The writer, Matthew, then recounts the story of John the Baptist’s encounter with Herod that led to his death. Herod married his brother’s wife, and John said that he was wrong for having her. Herod had him imprisoned, but did not have him killed for fear of a public outrage. When Herod’s wife saw that her daughter pleased Herod, she encouraged her to ask for John’s head on a platter. Because he had promised to give Herodias’ daughter anything she asked, he was obligated to give her what she asked. John’s head was brought to her, and his disciples buried his body.
The lessons here are many, but primarily the point is that sometimes telling the truth will get you in deep trouble, and evil people may also try to harm you. That does not mean that you should stop telling the truth, or that you should stop preaching the gospel. What your honest ministry may cost you here on earth, the eternal rewards are still greater beyond any comparison. Witnessing and/or ministry may be costly, but you should never stop. The eternal payoff is unbelievable.
Artwork from: http://carolinasnalc.org/2014/11/02/november-2-2014/