King Herod Antipas came from a complicated family. But his birthday party recorded in Matthew 14 must have stood out as one of the messier episodes in his life. By the end, the popular prophet John the Baptist was dead, against Herod’s better political judgement. But for readers of the Bible the question arises: why is this grisly story included in the book of Matthew? Matthew is writing a gospel, not a gossip magazine. In this talk we look at how John the Baptist plays two roles in the Gospels: He’s there to help us understand Jesus, as he walks ahead of Jesus preparing the way. And, he’s there to help us understand ourselves, as we follow after Jesus on the same road. And those two purposes are in play as we’re told about John’s messy death.