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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: February 26, 2024

One of the ways sinners love to justify their sin is by splitting it into sections and handing those sections to other people. That way, if everyone is only responsible for part of the sin, then no one is really responsible for the entire sin. At least that’s what we tell ourselves here. 

This is something we see in our reading from Mark chapter 6 today. Herod has John the Baptist put to death. But it wasn’t really his fault, you see. It was the fault of his friends, who would have judged him for breaking his vow to spare John’s life. And it was especially the fault of his wife Herodius, who wanted John dead because he’d publicly condemned them for their marriage. 

Ah, but Herodius wasn’t really to blame. She didn’t have any authority to summon the executioner. Sure, she had the desire to see John put to death, and who doesn’t desire things like that from time to time, but Herod was the one who had the power to make it happen. Besides, she wouldn’t even have been able to ask for it if her daughter Salome hadn’t given her the opportunity by dancing before Herod’s guests.

Ah, but Salome wasn’t really to blame. She was being a dutiful daughter when she went to her mother and asked her what she should ask Herod for. Sure, she placed the gun in her mother’s hand, but her mother was the one who fired it. And so, as John’s head is severed from his body, as the prophet of God is slaughtered, how strange that no one is really guilty. Such is the deception of our sinful nature. But God isn’t fooled. And neither should we be. 

So don’t lie to yourself. When you defiled yourself with iniquity, you were not an innocent victim in someone else’s schemes. You were not tossed the hot potato of sin out of the blue. You knew what you were doing. You were a willing accomplice. Even if you were naive, you chose to be by closing your eyes. There is no plausible deniability with our Lord who sees everything, including you pretending to see nothing.

So mourn the headless prophet whose death you caused. But mourn by turning to Christ, not to self-justification. Run to Jesus Christ, the Lord of mercy and salvation. In His wounds, you will find forgiveness that is full and free, overflowing and abounding. No matter how many times you’ve sectioned off your sins and handed the bits to other people, don’t come to Jesus as a partial sinner because He has no mercy to give to partial sinners, only full ones. So come to him as that, asking for full forgiveness. And you will always find it. In Christ, you will find the One who will give John back his head and grant him eternal victory over his enemies, just as you’ll find the One who has eternally severed your sins from your soul and who will grant you the very same victory, the very same eternal life.

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