In today's text we hear the gruesome and tragic story of the execution of Jesus' beloved mentor, John the Baptist. Mark gives us the most detailed account of this story that we find anywhere in all the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The reasons for this are broadly speculated on by theologically brighter minds than my own but here are some elements of the story that resonated with me this time around.
1) Mark is holding up the fate of John as a foreshadowing of the fate of Jesus. Just before this scene Jesus has been teaching about how a "prophet is not loved in his own country and among his own kin" and even more, usually pay the ultimate price for their faithfulness in delivering the, often hard, word of God, John pays it, and Jesus will eventually as well.
2) The consequences of speaking the truth about the Kingdom of God against the kingdoms of "this present darkness" is mortal.
3) Do you notice that women are not often called out by name in the Bible generally and in the Greek text specifically? even when we get proclamations like "Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her." (Mt. 26:13) and even then, no name! Women are never, or very rarely, named for their good works on behalf of the ministry of the Gospel and of Jesus but they are named 3 times in a today's account where "they" (women, in this case a specific woman) Herodias is/are seen as engaging in activity that is counter to the gospel and just plain wicked.? It is important we pick up on these "currents" in the telling of the larger biblical narrative.
Generally, this story is about the cost of discipleship and the prophetic truth that the Reign of God will always be opposed by the kingdom of men because the former is about justice, reciprocity and grace, and the latter is about fear, power, and oppression. The encouragement we can take from the story is in knowing that as we faithfully prophecy to the truth of God's grace, which is our Christian calling, there will indeed be consequences but that those consequences are passing whereas the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ endures into eternity.