This is the Day
“At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’” Mark 6:25
One Saturday morning several years ago, my neighbors—who also happen to be Jehovah’s Witnesses—came knocking on my door. During the course of our hour long conversation, and out of curiosity, I asked why it was that they didn’t celebrate birthdays. The answer they gave was given as such: There are two birthday parties mentioned in the Bible, and both of them include a death.
In Genesis 40 we read about Pharoah’s birthday feast at which he hung the chief baker who had been imprisoned with Joseph. And then, of course, we read from our text here in Mark, that King Herod—during his birthday celebration—makes an oath which results in the beheading of John the Baptist.
Isn’t it true that we have to be so careful with how we interpret scripture? Taking the examples of two ungodly men and putting a period on the end of the sentence that says “Birthdays equal death and so God must hate birthdays,” seems to me to be a whole lot of legalism and not much grace. This is what Paul says:
“One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; And he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” Romans 14:5-6
Whatever we do, we should do to the glory of God alone. If we read scripture through the lens of this truth, we can see how Jesus’ perfect grace fulfills the law in perfect righteousness. GotQuestions.org says this, “True service and holiness are simply the outworking of the Spirit, the overflowing of a life dedicated to the glory of God. When our focus is on loving God rather than simply serving Him, we end up doing both.”
In His grace, God gives us a spirit of discernment to know how to live a life focused on bringing Him glory. And to those who don’t know Him, He has revealed Himself, and His truth. Even King Herod recognized that John was a righteous and holy man. He knew in his heart that killing John would be an act of defiance toward God Himself.
By reading into every story in the Bible and committing ourselves to flesh out any perceived disgrace or error on the part of others—with the intent of working to be better than the other guy and self-made righteous—we put ourselves right back under the burdensome yoke of the old covenant.
Jesus has given us freedom. So whether you celebrate a birthday by thanking God for another year, or you choose to overlook that day in order to lift Him up—do it with your whole heart—with your eyes set firmly on the goal of bringing Him glory.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
by Siara Borning