A10 "GIVE ME"
St. Matthew 14.vv.1-2
~ At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him". For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because John had been telling him, "It is not lawful for you to have her". Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter". The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus. ~
Fairy stories often have the theme "Ask for what you will and you shall have it", or "I grant you just one wish"; but here we are dealing not with a fairy story but a very grim story of folly, spite and cruelty.
In the Old Testament we read of Solomon in a dream being offered a free gift from God at the beginning of the kingship, "Ask what I shall give you". What a moment! What an opportunity for self aggrandisement! But no - he chose the gift of wisdom to govern aright God's people. Is it any wonder that the Lord was pleased with his modest request? The "wisdom" he was given may have been a kind of judicial astuteness and his later career may have belied his humility and sincerity, but nevertheless it was a very auspicious and commendable beginning to his career (IKings 3.vv.4-15).
In the New Testament Herod Antipas's foolish promise to Salome
: "Ask what you will up to half of my kingdom", brought
upon him appalling shame and infamy - how awful! Poor John Baptist!
He paid dearly for his courage and forthrightness; our Lord paid
him a wonderful tribute :- "Of those that are born of women
there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist".
Jesus said "Ask and it shall be given you". Is this true? How often we hear, "Well, you jolly well asked for it!". Do we always ask for the right things, and are we sometimes denied those things we honestly believe are right to ask for? The answer to these questions is simply as Jesus taught us, "Thy will be done".
Like Solomon we are called, everyone of us, to a task of high destiny, nothing less than to represent Christ in the world. (He has no hands or feet or voice but ours). What then are we to ask for? Surely for the grace that brings us courage, Patience and Faith?
Courage - We crave for peace, but in our folly and the wisdom of God we are denied total peace. We can't avoid the clamour, the cries of pain, our involvement with the world. We can't slip out of the world, stop the world and get off; but we see the example of Jesus unflinching, never swamped by trouble or misfortune. He followed the way of the Cross, knowing that God was in control - the Lord was his strength and shield.
Patience - Is there anyone who does not fret, have bouts of ill-temper, chafe under the pettiness of man, grow moody or morose? We need to look to Jesus, bearing with the sin and folly of mankind. God is patient - "Wait then on God".
Faith - This means going on in the dark with Christ, trusting in God's loving purposes for his children. "Only believe", said Jesus to Jairus (Mark 5.v36). Let us go on in faith, have courage and practise patience.