This passage of scripture is much like a movie that shows you the middle of the story and then flashes back to show you how it got to this point in the first place. It starts out that Herod thought that Jesus might be John the Baptist risen from the dead and it was getting the best of him.
Herod: was the son of Herod the Great and when Herod the Great died the Kingdom was divided among his three sons. Herod the Tetrach was given a fourth part of the Kingdom later. I share only a little bit of History but for those who are critics of the Bible who say it is just fairy tales and mystical talks, this shows that the Bible was written with real people, real cities and actual events recorded in other historical accounts.
Herod believed that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead because he knew the Jews believed in a physical resurrection. Combining what the Jewish people believed along with Hellenistic Superstition that spirits would come back who were seeking revenge caused Herod to have cause to want to get rid of Jesus immediately.
Matthew 16:13-14 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
So people were looking at Jesus as some great prophet and some believed one that came back from the dead. Of course John Baptized Jesus which shows you the extent of their superstition. Because of the miracles that Jesus was performing Herod thinks Jesus has these powers because He came back from the dead with them.
This arrest of John took place just before Jesus started His ministry in Galilee but it is here that we find out why John was imprisoned and beheaded. When you watch a soap opera you can be sure that those crazy things on those shows does happen and did happen. John told Herod that his marriage was not lawful for several reasons.
First Herod was married to the daughter of Aretas,who was the king of Nabatea south of Perea but later divorced her. King Aretas went to war over the divorce and defeated Herods brother Antipas who was only saved because the Romans intervened. Not only did Herod divorce Aretas daughter, he married His other Brothers (Philip) wife Herodias who was also his niece.
Leviticus 18:16 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother.
Leviticus 20:21 “‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.
John the Baptist is confronting sin because this was a national scandal that everyone knew about. Only John the Baptist had the courage to tell the King that what he was doing was sin. Some believe that John the Baptist confronted him on more than one occasion because in the gospel of Mark it says that Herod liked listening to him.
Mark 6:19-20 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled[a]; yet he liked to listen to him.
Herod was protecting John because he feared his popularity with the people because they believed John the Baptist to be a great prophet.
Herodias and all her evil ways gets passed down to her children because she teaches her to act that way. The girl that danced seductively in front of Herod would have been around 14 years old. Not only what she young she was also his step daughter.Everyone present would have been shocked that he was aroused by her,but they would not have dared said anything.
Herod who was probably a little drunk made a promise to her and she being coaxed by her mom said she wanted the head of John the Baptist on a serving tray. Herod was more worried about his reputation than he was about what was right and wrong. What is amazing is he was trying to save a reputation he did not really have. People that justify their lives seem to have many contradictions in them that they do not see or acknowledge. It is the path of sin to make you believe your life is alright.
John the Baptist did not have a trial to convict him to be sentenced to death, which was against Jewish and Roman law That did not matter to Herod because he learned from his dad that you can just have people killed at will. His dad is the one who had all the babies in Bethlehem killed when Christ was born.
What we can learn from this
1) Speaking the Truth can cost you
“Without a belief in God, nothing is unconditionally wrong.” Erwin Lutzer
“For the Christian, living by today’s distorted philosophy of tolerance is impossible. You either think there is an unchanging standard of right and wrong- the Bible- or you don’t. You can’t hold both opinions at the same time. Either wrong is wrong and must be opposed or wrong is right and should be encouraged. Make up your mind.” (Be Intolerant, Ryan Dobson, pg 39)
Our society wants us to live in this world where there is no right and wrong and therefore the most misquoted verse in the Bible is judge not (Matthew 7:1). People are saying I want to do what I want and if you disagree then you are judging me. In our society the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth What standard do we live by? There is no right or wrong and it is only live and let live.
Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
We have to call sin what God calls sin because only God is a standard by which we can live by. If there is no God then there is no right or wrong there just is. Many will say that it is what is best for the majority of people or as long as you are not hurting anyone.
The best way to put it is that everyone lives in a box and you can do anything you want as long as it does not effect my box. The problem with this philosophy is we all live in the same box. Everyone’s life effects the lives of others.
Herod was looking for answers but really did not want the answers. Herod lived a life where he indulged in every kind of earthly pleasure and continued searching because the path of sin leads to emptiness and death. Many people are miserable but are too afraid to say anything about their lifestyle because if they do they get criticized. Either out of pride or thinking they will eventually find happiness, people continue to indulge in what this world has to offer only to be disappointed when it does not satisfy.
2) People do not want their sins pointed out
Jeremiah 2:13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Moral Relativism is like a joy ride that ends in a crash. Television promotes sins as if they are fun with no consequences. If you read the Book “After the Ball” they admit to using Hitler’s tactics to promote a homosexual lifestyle. Like Hitler you just have to demonize your opponent not their points because truth does not matter. There is no middle ground you are either promoting a cause or you are against it and they do not leave room for you to be neutral. They also use humor when it comes to all sorts of sins because humor breaks down our guards.
Humor is their best weapon to soften up the American public for the promoting of their agenda. If you can get people to laugh at adultery, homosexuality, and even pedophilia, you break down resistance and make the masses more accepting of this behavior.” (When a Nation forgets God, Erwin Lutzer, PG. 87)
They also rename sins so that they do not sound as bad. Abortion is now called a women’s right to choose and homosexuality is called a alternative lifestyle. We do the same thing when we call things a bad habit or family tradition when God calls it sin. Of course not all sins are off limits because we still do not want murder and adultery and gluttony but almost anything else is fair game.
Keep your laws off my body” is what you will hear screamed when it comes to abortion or gay marriage but not when it comes to seat belt, helmet or even Big Gulp laws.
3) Fear God more than man
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[a]
John the Baptist feared God more than what people thought and what would happen to him. Although John the Baptist called people to repentance of sin many people came out to see him. Many knew his message was one they needed to hear and obey. Many people did acknowledge his message.
A.T. Robertson “ It cost him his head; but it is better to have a head like John the Baptist and lose it than to have an ordinary head and keep it.”
Acts 4:17-20 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
A day is coming when telling someone that what they are doing is wrong will be considered hate speech. Already there is name calling and if you say anything you are a homophobes or right wing religious fanatic. There will be a steep cost and you will have to decide if standing for what is right is worth the cost. It will cost you family, friends and even jobs in the future. It is already happening in Canada and there are laws being passed in America that will soon abolish what you cannot say. Just like Herodias had to kill off John the Baptist they will try and silence you because you point out what is wrong with their life.
As a Church we are called to be salt and light in this world and with that we will face persecution. We will be labeled as the problem and be blamed for holding back progress.
4) Speak the truth in Love
“If you unload both barrels on your lost friend or family member, you’re not likely to get very far. If you keep your mouth shut, you’re and accomplice to his eternal death.” (Be Intolerant, Ryan Dobson, Pg 102)
2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant[e] must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Do you see people in their sin and have compassion or only anger? We need to stand up to the lies of sin but also be people who others know they can come to when the lies of sin destroy their lives. We need to be people who know what they believe and why we believe it so we can help those who finally see the truth.
The best argument for Christianity is Christians of course the best argument against Christianity is also Christians.
We have to pray for our nation and for those God has placed in our lives.
The mission field is in America and we need to be strategic on how we are going to reach our own country for Christ.
If you have lost your passion for those who are throwing their lives away in sin ask God to renew your love for those who do not know Him.