Stuck in a Grudge


Today’s passage sounds more like the plot of a movie than a passage from the Bible: mistaken identity, a bad relationship, a grudge, and revenge that leads to a killing. 

Before you begin reading:

  • Reflect on a time when you might have held a grudge or sought revenge from someone—or when someone held a grudge against you. What was that like?


14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Who were people speculating that Jesus might be? Who do you say that he is?
  2. What was at the core of the conflict between Herod and John the Baptist (vss. 18, 19)?
  3. Herod made a promise in this passage that he soon regretted. What was the promise, and to whom did he make it (vss. 22-23)? 
  4. What about you? Have you ever made a rash promise? Have you ever held a grudge that caused you to do something unwise or even mean? What was the outcome?


Several bad choices set in motion the death of John the Baptist: a grudge, a rash promise, and an attempt to save face with friends. Herod seemed very concerned about the approval of his guests. How often do you let the opinions of others lead you into doing something that isn’t wise or that is even very wrong?

  • Spend some time asking God to give you the desire to please him more than others.
  • Pray for the wisdom to measure your words today and the courage to say no when needed.