John the Baptist was a great man. So great, Jesus said, that up until his day, no one born of a woman was greater than John. Yet in Matthew’s gospel (chapter 14) we read of his death: a death so random, unfortunate and petty we could be excused for looking up from the pages to ask, “Father, how could you let this happen?” I wonder if Jesus had the same question. In the verses that follow the news of John’s death we are given a window into how Jesus handled grief. There are at least five meditations on how to process the senseless sadness we sometimes encounter.
1. Jesus had the experience of receiving unexpected bad news (v13). We are not alone in our surprise and grief: Our Lord himself lived through events unforeseen and had to deal with shock and sadness. When we are overcome with senseless suffering we will find Jesus there with us.