Questions for Littles: Whom did Herod think Jesus was (v14)? What had Herod done to him (v16)? What had John the Baptizer said to Herod (v18)? Who wanted to kill him for that (v19)? Why couldn’t she (v20)? What had Herodias done to please Herod (v22)? What did He swear to her (v23)? Whom did she ask for advice about what to ask for from Herod (v24)? What did Herodias ask for (v25)? How did the king feel about this (v26)? But what did he do and why (v26)? What had John’s disciples done with the body (v29)?In the Gospel reading this week, we came to the account of how Herod beheaded John the Baptizer. The way we get to it is by a sort of flashback, in which we are learning why Herod might think that Jesus was actually John the Baptizer, resurrected.
Herod had a strange esteem for John the Baptizer. He didn’t lie and pretend in order to try to get the king to like him. He told it like it is. “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Obviously, something about John’s character had struck a chord with Herod that he could think that Jesus was John, resurrected back to life. It also seems that his disciples’ earnestness to retrieve and bury the body—even without a head!—had left an impression upon Herod.
Burial is a way of saying, “he’s not done with this; we expect resurrection.” Christ’s burial was the same way: an expectation of resurrection. And I hope that your burial will be as well, dear Christian.
So Herod was impressed with John. This wasn’t a faker. This was a just man, an upstanding man, a righteous man, a holy man. In fact, v20 tells us that Herod did many things to protect John, and that he heard him gladly. That should be terrifying.
How few of us “would do many things” in order to “hear gladly” a faithful preacher, who isn’t afraid of offending us with the truths of God’s Word? On the one hand, I think that many of us will have to admit to being less zealous to hear faithful preaching than Herod!!
On the other hand, if Herod was so zealous to hear John, then what could have led to such a turn that John’s protector would suddenly sentence him to death?! Let us beware of worldly pleasure such as feasting our eyeballs upon a dancing girl. Guard the eye-gates of your hearts, men!
And let us beware of pride similar to that in which a man could be so impressed with himself and his property that he considers it half of it disposable. Let us beware of its evil twin, immodesty, in which a man makes display of himself by grandiose gifts and rash vows.
Finally, let us beware of how desiring the admiration of others can make us throw our morals and our consciences out the window. He had done many things to protect John before, but now he was quick to sign off on his death lest he suffer the most great and terrible consequence of embarrassment?!
How can you strengthen yourself against peer pressure? In what situations are you in danger of lust entering your heart through the eye-gate?Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or HB310 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”