What Jesus Did! 'Up to No Good' — Matthew 14:5-12

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.

But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias's daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. At her mother's urging, the girl said, "I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!" Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. So John was beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. Later, John's disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.

— Matthew 14:5-12 NLT

Key Thought

"Up to no good." My parents and grandparents used that phrase a lot when I was growing up. As I've come to adulthood, I like the phrase, too! There are some things, some activities, and some places that are only for those folks who are "up to no good." A decision to sin and betray our faith occurs when we choose to put ourselves in those places knowing what they're about. Once we're there and involved, it becomes very difficult not to get sucked into the vile activities involved.

The only thing that is greater than Herod's fear of the people is his sinfulness. Bedding his brother's wife, he has his niece/step-daughter perform a lustful dance that arouses his passion and the vilest of instincts among his drunken companions. Clearly this is a situation where everyone is "up to no good." The results are tragic and horrifying. The despicable way that John's body is desecrated speaks volumes about the decadence and debauchery that have taken over in Herod's world. The clear lesson for you and me is to avoid the presence of evil and the places where people are "up to no good."

Today's Prayer

Holy and merciful Father, guard my heart from wickedness and guide my steps away from evil. Through your Spirit, give me the gift of discernment so that I may recognize when Satan is trying to lure me into situations that are evil. I want to serve you with honor and integrity. Please forgive me for my sin and empower me to do your work. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Romans 13:11-14
  • 1 Peter 4:3-4
  • Ephesians 5:10-12


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Illustration of Matthew 14:5-12 NLT — "I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!"

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.