The Death of John the Baptist
When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about Jesus, he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.”
For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.
But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. So John was beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.”
Matthew 14:1-12 NLT
My Thoughts: We’ve been spending time with very thought provoking parables from Jesus, then suddenly in our new chapter we read about Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee.
When Herod hears about Jesus and his many miracles, his guilt causes him to be concerned that John the Baptist has been resurrected in Jesus. He feels guilty because he killed John when he carelessly offers whatever his daughter desired at a public birthday party. His wife Herodias uses that offer to manipulate their daughter into having John killed.
To give you a little back history, Herod divorced his own wife to marry the wife of his half-brother, Philip. John the Baptist had been preaching in the desert and thousands flocked to hear him. It was no secret that John had rebuked Herod for his adulterous marriage to Herodias. Most people dislike having their sins pointed out, but to do it publically is even more infuriating. Herod hesitates to have John killed because of his popularity, and instead had John put in prison.
What is interesting is that Herod actually liked John. John was probably one of the few people he met who spoke only the truth to him. However, the truth about his sin was a bitter pill to swallow. He couldn’t allow John to continue to constantly remind the people of the leader’s sinfulness, but he was afraid to have John killed, so he put off any decision. Herodias had no qualms about killing John so she used trickery to have John executed.
Now Herod hears about Jesus and it not only resurrects his guilt about John, he is faced with the same quandary for Jesus: what do I do with this man?
This question is certainly not new to anyone since the beginning of time! Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, asks this very question later in the book of Matthew:
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked.” Matthew 27:22 NIV
Do we have an answer for this eternal question? The answer has no neutrality and everyone will eventually have to answer one way or another. Whether we accept Christ or reject Christ, it is the answer to the question…, our answer to the question.
In the book “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, he says this about Jesus:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
What do we do about this eternal question? You can be like C.S. Lewis and search for the answers until you come to the same conclusion: Jesus was, and is, the Son of God.
Perhaps like Herod you know the answer but don’t want to face your sins? I know from personal experience, the longer we take to face our sins, the longer those sins hurt us.
Maybe you know the answer; that Jesus is the Son of God, but you believe your sins are too great to overcome or be forgiven? The truth is only Satan wants us to believe it is too late to face our sins or that our sins are too great to overcome.
“I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven.” Mark 3:28
God is a loving God and he doesn’t want any of us to perish!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
When we accept Jesus, the gift from God that is for everyone, we receive eternal life. How do we receive the gift of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins?
“…if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Do you know the answer to the question about Jesus? Never have I felt such a sense of urgency that we all know the true answer to this question! Have you chosen Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior?
Closing Prayer: If you are ready to answer the question and surrender your heart to Christ please pray this prayer with me:
Father God, I surrender my heart to Jesus Christ, your Son. I confess with my mouth that I am a sinner and I have sinned against you. I repent of my sins and surrender my life to you. Father I believe this is only possible because Jesus Christ died for my sins and was raised three days later. From this day forward, help me to live every day for you and in a way that pleases you. I love you Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. Amen.
If you prayed this prayer today, welcome to the Kingdom of God and eternal life!
If you are still confused, please seek help from a Bible believing church or another believer in Christ to get your questions answered. I cannot stress enough that the time is coming where everyone will make a choice to accept or reject Christ. This is a life-saving decision and I pray you make the right choice!