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Study of Mark — Mark 6:14-29 April 10, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
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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.” 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.

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.

The death of John the Baptist. Herodias “had a grudge” against John — he was willing to call sin sin, and called her and her husband on their sin, in no uncertain terms. He wasn’t a popular guy because he had a tendency to do that – he let people know exactly what they were doing wrong, and why it was wrong, and he immediately called them to repent. Jesus called people to repent, letting them know what they were doing wrong. He wasn’t shy about it, though He did emphasize forgiveness. Of course, to be forgiven you first have to admit that you’re doing something wrong; that was the point of John’s ministry, and Jesus did things much the same way.

We don’t like to do that today, do we? We want people to like us. We want people to come to our big church buildings every Sunday, and leave money in the plate, and if we tell them that they’re a bunch of screw-ups, they probably won’t do that, will they? So we let them off the hook. We call it “not wanting to judge others” and things like that, but it’s really our desire to be liked, and have people think we’re nice. And in doing so, we’re letting people go on thinking that they’re doing just fine, that there are no problems in their lives, and that they really don’t need a Saviour anyway.

John the Baptist didn’t do that. Jesus didn’t do that. They were both perfectly willing to condemn people who were doing the wrong thing, and who weren’t willing to repent. John lost his head because he called high-ranking people on their sin. Jesus was crucified because He made the religious leaders of the day uncomfortable, because He called them whitened tombs, clean on the outside but full of corruption and decay on the inside. Neither man made any efforts to make people feel good about themselves, or to encourage them to live their best life now, or anything that the modern evangelical mainstream seems to want to do today.

It isn’t love to let someone continue on a path that will lead them to eternal torment and separation from God. It isn’t tolerance to let someone condemn themselves to Hell because they won’t stop doing what God has condemned. And while we may enjoy being popular right now, we will have to live for all eternity with the thought that there are people in Hell who didn’t have to be there, who could have been in Heaven if we had just done our job, and shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. And let them know the truth that Paul wrote about in Romans 3 — We are all sinners. We all stink, we’ve all let God down, and we’ve all fallen short of what God expects from us. But, knowing that, God made a way for us to be saved anyway, because He loves us that much. And no matter how rotten we are on the inside, no matter what we’ve done, we can be redeemed. All we have to do is stop trying to do it ourselves, and trust Christ and what He has already done for us. After all, whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

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