MS Week #19: What Is Holding You Back?

On Sunday morning Brad spoke on Mark 6:14-29 highlighting how king Herod’s sin held him back from accepting the truth of Jesus christ.

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

  • King Herod hears of all that Jesus and his disciples are doing, the great works and healings and teachings, and he hears about it second hand because other people are talking about him, trying to figure out who Jesus is. Some say that John the Baptist was raised from the dead, others say Elijah, and others say just any prophet of old.
  • Now when Herod hears of all of this he can’t figure it out, and is likely scared. Because he himself beheaded John. And now, the man that he killed for reasons we will see in a second is alive again and walking around doing miracles. If you were Herod, think you’d be a little scared? It says in verse 20 that Herod feared John because he was a righteous and holy man so he kept him safe. But then he eventually kills him. Now he is hearing reports that this righteous and holy man whom he killed himself is back from the dead, that would be pretty terrifying.
  • Then the story shifts, and we get kind of a flashback to how John the Baptist was killed. It is an incredibly sad story, and the only long, detailed story in Mark about someone other than Jesus.

17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

  • It says that Herod had put John in prison because he called him out. Herod had married his brothers wife, something he never should have done, and John the Baptist was telling him and likely others that this wasn’t ok. This marriage would have been illegitimate according to Jewish law, against the Torah, and John was calling him out. So, Herod put him in prison.
  • But even though he imprisoned him, he feared him, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man. So he kept him safe, didn’t let Herodias kill him like she wanted to. And it says that when he heard John, he was greatly perplexed and heard him gladly.
  • This is so interesting, because Herod clearly knew there was something special about John the Baptist. He knew he was righteous and holy, so he knew that when John was calling him out, he was right. He enjoyed listening to his preaching, but never believed it. Herod is a man who is conflicted. Recognizes righteousness and holiness and truth, but allows the power of sin to turn him away from it. He seemed to be so close to getting it and understanding who John was and therefore who Jesus was, but his desire for power and pleasure clouded his vision and didn’t allow him to fully see.
  • And this is a warning to us. We come to church, hear the gospel preached, our parents talk about it, we kind of get who Jesus is, or at least who people claim him to be, we recognize that the things he has commanded us to do and not do are good, but maybe there is some kind of sin, or multiple sins, or just sin in general, that is holding us back. We can’t let go of our sinful desire for something so we can cling to Jesus and believe the gospel.
  • My plea to you is to believe that whatever that sin is offering you, Jesus has something better. Just experience him, experience joy in him and see with your own eyes that what Jesus has to offer is better than whatever temporary happiness that sin can offer.

21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

  • So vision clouded by sin, Herod has a birthday party with a bunch of high up people. At this party there is food, drink, and this girl dances and entertains him, and he liked the dance so much that he told her she could have whatever she wanted up to half his kingdom. The girl goes to her mother, who had a grudge against John the Baptist, and asks what she should ask for, and returns to ask Herod to bring her John’s head on a platter.
  • Herod is sorry, but because of his oaths he does what she asks. An executioner goes, beheads John the Baptist, and brings his head back on a platter to the girl, who gave it to her mother. Then John’s disciples come and take his body and put it in a tomb.

Conclusion

  • Ok, there’s a lot going on here. We have a fearful Herod who hears about Jesus and thinks it is John the Baptist risen from the dead. Then the story shifts, we get a flashback to a detailed story of the execution of John the Baptist. So what’s going on?
  • Last Old Testament prophet (calls out king, announces judgment, calls for repentance)
  • Markan sandwich (prophets -> disciples)
  • Jesus identified as a prophet
  • John the Baptists death points to Jesus’

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