The Beheading of John is an imaginary short story written from the perspective of John's executioner. It is a brief, thought-provoking recreation of the events leading up to the beheading of John the Baptist.
John the baptist in Luke
The preaching of John the Baptist sounded a chord that drew crowds of people from all over the land. This chord had certain dominant notes. A warning of the judgment to come was given. A call for repentance was issued that each individual could not escape. A baptism was required to mark their turning. And immediate hope was given to fan the growing expectancy of the Messiah.
John did not go to the city and preach from the steps of the temple. He did not go to the marketplace where the crowds had come to buy and to exchange news. He did not even stand at the gates and stop those who entered. John cried out in the desert, and they went out to hear him. He probably chose a place at the ford in the Jordan, a few miles north of the Dead Sea where the caravans from the East crossed into the land of Judea. He was heard, and the word spread that a prophet had risen again in Israel.
When Luke's Gospel introduces John's ministry, he chooses his words carefully: "The word of God came to John" (Luke 3:2). Often this terminology had been used to describe the experience of the Old Testament prophets: "Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah" (Isaiah 38:4; see also Jeremiah 1:2, 4: 13:3; Ezekiel 1:3).
All four of the Gospel narratives tell of the ministry of John the Baptist and all three of the Synoptic Gospels use a quotation from Isaiah to show fulfillment in the work of John.
But only Luke carries the quotation far enough to include the words, "And all mankind will see God's salvation" (Luke 3:6; Isaiah 40:5). This is important to Luke's theme as he records the Gospel, and in his independent way, he takes advantage of recording these words from Isaiah. The gospel will be for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.