For Herod himself had given orders to arrest John and to chain him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” So Herodias held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing he was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him he would be very perplexed and yet he like to listen to him. – Mark 6:17-20
As the fame of Jesus increased, there continued to be questions about his identity. Some even thought he was a resurrected John the Baptist (6:14). It is at this point that Mark explained to his readers what had happened to John. The popular prophet spoke against the sins of the civic leaders, an act that landed him in prison.
Herod, though, didn’t want to execute John due to fear but also amazement. Though John’s message offended him it also drew him in. So, Herod would listen to John until Herodias, the wife whom he had taken unlawfully, devised a plan to force John’s execution.
The prophetic voice of those faithful to God often rub the wrong way those in power. The claims of the Kingdom of God and Jesus as Savior-King are claims of authority. The Bible tells us that a day is coming where every knee, include those of kings, presidents, governors, and dictators, will bow before Jesus as Lord. He is the Sovereign One and our lives belong to him, either to our eternal joy and pleasure or to our eternal dismay—depending on if we willfully place our lives under his authority now.
Power possessed by human beings corrupted with sin often breeds an attitude that one can get away with whatever one pleases. Hence why Herod acted the way he did, and why many in power today act in similar ways. Yet, in the end, Jesus will stand as the righteous Judge. None will be beyond his authority.
When we faithfully proclaim the sovereignty of God over all earthly powers, and we call people to repent and trust in Jesus, it will sometimes upset the powers that be. In the face of such situations, we are to be like John and continue to faithfully speak the truth, even if it should cost us our freedom or even our head (6:24-29).