Story Eighteen

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
YOU remember that just before Jesus went from Jē̇-rú-sā̇-lĕm to Găĺ i-lee, Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst was put in prison by the king, Hĕŕ od Ăń tĭ-păs. Jesus stayed in Găĺ ĭ-lee for a year, and nearly all the time Jŏhn the Baptist was alone in his prison near the Dead Sea. His followers, who were now very few, came to see him, and told him of the works that Jesus was doing. These were wonderful, but they were not what Jŏhn had expected Jesus to do; and in his prison, with no one to explain what Jesus was saying and doing, Jŏhn began to doubt a little whether Jesus were the Savior who had been promised so long. Then, too, Jŏhn's followers were inclined to feel jealous, because their master was now left alone, and all the people were seeking Jesus. Jŏhn sent two of his followers to Jesus, to ask him this question, "Are you really the Savior who is to come, or are we to look for some other as the: promised Christ?”
When these men came with this message from Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst they found Jesus in the midst of a great company of suffering people. They saw him making the sick well by his touch, giving sight to the blind, and casting out the evil spirits; and they listened to the words of Jesus as he taught the people.
When his work for the time was done, Jesus turned to the men who had come from Jŏhn, and said to them, "Go and tell Jŏhn what you have seen and heard, how the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is that man who believes in me without doubting.”
After these men had gone to bear the words of Jesus to Jŏhn, Jesus spoke to the people about Jŏhn the Baptist. He said:
"What was it that you went out into the wilderness to see? Was it a reed shaken by the wind? Was it a man dressed in rich robes? Those who are clad in splendid garments, and sit at feasts, are in the houses of kings. Who was the man whom you went out to see? Was he a prophet of God? I tell you that he was a prophet, and more than a prophet; for he was the one who came to make men ready for the coming of the king. And I say to you, that among those who are born on the earth, there has never arisen a greater man than Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst. Yet he who is the least in the kingdom of God is greater than Jŏhn; for he can see with his own eyes, what Jŏhn can only hear of from others, the works of the gospel.”
All the common people who heard this were glad, for they believed that Jŏhn was a prophet, and they had been baptized by him. But the Phăŕ ĭ-sees̝ and the rulers were not pleased, because they had refused to listen to Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst or to be baptized by him.
Not long after this the end came to the noble life of Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst. A great feast was held on King Hĕŕ od's birthday, and all the princes and nobles of his kingdom were in the palace, eating and drinking together. While they were making merry, the young daughter of the woman Hē̇-rṓ dĭ-as, who lived with Hĕŕ od as his wife, came into the supper-room and danced before the guests. Hĕŕ od was so greatly pleased with her dancing that he said to her "Ask whatever you please, and I will give it to you.”
He swore a solemn oath that he would give her whatever she might ask, even to the half of his kingdom. The girl went to her mother, and said to her, "Tell me, what shall I ask?”
Her mother told her what to ask, and she came back with haste to the king, and said, "I will ask that you give me here upon a plate the head of Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst!”
The king was very sorry that he had made the promise, but he was ashamed to break his word in the presence of his princes. He sent a man to the prison, with orders that the head of Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst should be cut off and brought. It was done; and the young girl took it upon a plate, and gave it to her mother Hē̇-rṓ dĭ-as So, as Hĕŕ od's father, thirty years before, had caused all the little children of Bĕth́ lĕ-hĕm to be killed, this King Hĕŕ od, the son, caused Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst, one of the best of men and a great prophet, to be put to death.
The followers of Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst went to the prison, and took away his body and buried it; and then they went and told Jesus of all that had been done. After this they were among the followers of Jesus.
Hĕŕ od the king heard of what Jesus was doing, the sick healed, the blind made to see, and the dead raised to life. Everybody by this time was talking of Jesus and wondering who he was. Some said, "This is the prophet Ē̇-lī́ jah come again to earth.”
Others said, "If he is not Ē̇-lī́ jah, he is surely one of the prophets of the old time who has come to life.”
But Hĕŕ od said, "I know who this is. It is Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst, whom I killed! He has come back to life, and by him all these great works are wrought!”
And Hĕŕ od was in great alarm, for he was afraid of the man whom he had slain.