The more I think of the Big Dipper, the more enigmatic I find him. A prophet called by God to begin a transition into a new Order. A transitional figure who can't himself quite make the transition, never quite makes it. Mind you, some of us are more like JB than we might like to admit, with our own ups & downs, our doubts & puzzling overs. It's better to admit them, that we're in transition at this point, than make a pretense of absolute faith that doesn't fool us or anyone else. JB's a lot like our old friend Thomas. Let's not knock either of them without exploring the up-side of doubt. On the other hand, there's no God future in remaining wallowing in doubt, never getting beyond it.
That other enigmatic figure, Josephus, suggests a more political reason for John's demise than his fulminating against the moral impropriety of Antipas' forbidden marriage. Herodias' daughter & her story look a bit like an excuse for an already planned course of action, like Henry the 8th's move against Rome. The north was a hotbed for dissent, & Antipas didn't want a revolt on his hands. If that didn't finish him, the Romans would. Herod doesn't wait to gather a 'coalition of the duped' (The Australian, 21.6.03) like George Dubya. He strikes & it's as much he as Salome who has JB's head on a plate. After all, we can't have WMD's (Warnings against Moral Disintegration) threatening our world, can we?
JB's death is prophetic of Jesus' own death, as Lazarus' raising will one day become a sign of Jesus' raising. Jesus has no doubt what he's in for, right from the beginning. Both JB & Jesus begin with a message of, "Repent..", but only LK (3: 10+) goes on to tell us John's message has a strong social content, as of course Jesus' does. Rulers don't like that kind of thing. And many church members who claim to recognize & come under God's Rule don't give evidence of knowing the "Repent!" bit must be followed by action that shows God's Rule biting in consequence of a life turned around in God's direction.