In a simple verse, packed with emotion, we find the greatest lesson. I hope this encourages you as it does me.
John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. (Matthew 14 v 12)
When John had been killed his disciples went to tell Jesus.
Many have spent centuries focusing on this verse but haven’t seen its true importance.
The questions that have energised the archaeologists and historians since is this, where did they bury his body and where is his head?
From the 4th century John’s burial place was believed to be in Sebastia, a small Palestinian village (one of the oldest continually inhabited places in the West Bank). But in 2010 in the monastery of St John in Bulgaria, archaeologists found bones which they believe are John’s. John’s head has the traditional legends of many religious relics: It is in Damascus, Syria, on the site of what was a Church called John the Baptist but now is a Mosque; It is in the Church of San Sivestro in Capite, Rome; It is in the Cathedral of Amiens, France; It is in the Residenz Museum, in Munich, Germany; His right arm and right hand are to be found in Istanbul, Egypt and Monenegro.
Whilst the hunt goes on the significance of the lesson remains: talk to Jesus.
When it goes wrong, talk to Jesus.
When your dreams have ended, talk to Jesus.
When you have closed the chapter, talk to Jesus.
When you have buried your friend, talk to Jesus.
If you can still talk to Jesus it means it isn’t over.
In that first century when the gospels were being heard and read and they see how the movement of John had been struck down what were they actually learning? When the Christians were being blamed for the fire in Rome by Nero leading to their evil torture and terrible deaths, how did these kind of stories help them? In answering those questions let me take you to another gruesome beheading, well, 21 to be exact. February 15, 2015 a video shocked the world, taken from a rocky beach on the Mediterranean Sea, Western Libya of 21 Coptic Christians being beheaded by ISIS. The pictures are forever etched in our mind. How did their families recover?
Studies of the full version of the ISIS video have shown how these Christian men not only glanced at each other with encouragement before they were pushed to the ground for their beheading but the families could hear their loved ones seconds before dying, saying “Ya Rabbi Yassou! (Oh my Lord Jesus!).
When Jesus is at the end of your sentence then it isn’t over.
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)