The Death of John the Baptist
14 Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because everyone was talking about him. Some were saying, "This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. That is why he can do such miracles." 15 Others said, "He's the prophet Elijah." Still others said, "He's a prophet like the other great prophets of the past."
16 When Herod heard about Jesus, he said, "John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead."
17 For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip's wife, but Herod had married her. 18 John had been telling Herod, "It is against God's law for you to marry your brother's wife." 19 So Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod's approval she was powerless, 20 for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.
21 Herodias's chance finally came on Herod's birthday. He gave a party for his high government officials, army officers, and the leading citizens of Galilee. 22 Then his daughter, also named Herodias, came in and performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod and his guests. "Ask me for anything you like," the king said to the girl, "and I will give it to you." 23 He even vowed, "I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom!"
24 She went out and asked her mother, "What should I ask for? "Her mother told her, "Ask for the head of John the Baptist!"
25 So the girl hurried back to the king and told him, "I want the head of John the Baptist, right now, on a tray!"
26 Then the king deeply regretted what he had said; but because of the vows he had made in front of his guests, he couldn't refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner to the prison to cut off John's head and bring it to him. The soldier beheaded John in the prison, 28 brought his head on a tray, and gave it to the girl, who took it to her mother. 29 When John's disciples heard what had happened, they came to get his body and buried it in a tomb.
Herod Antipas (Mark 6:14)
Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great and Malthace, a Samaritan woman. Half Idumean, half Samaritan, he had therefore not a drop of Jewish blood in his veins, and "Galilee of the Gentiles" seemed a fit dominion for such a prince. He ruled as "tetrarch" of Galilee and Peraea (Luke 3:1) from 4 BC till 39 AD. The gospel picture we have of him is far from prepossessing. He is superstitious (Matthew 4:1f), foxlike in his cunning (Luke 13:31f) and wholly immoral. John the Baptist was brought into his life through an open rebuke of his gross immorality and defiance of the laws of Moses (Leviticus 18:16), and paid for his courage with his life (Matthew 14:10; Ant, XVIII, v, 2).438
Herod Antipas sent away his wife (a king's daughter), and Herodias (his niece) deserted her husband (her uncle, Herod Philip) so that they could be together. Theirs was an adulterous and incestuous relationship. "[Herod Antipas's] first wife was a daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia. But [Antipas] sent her back to her father at Petra, for the sake of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had met and seduced at Rome. Since the latter was the daughter of Aristobulus, his half-brother, and therefore his niece, and at the same time the wife of another half-brother, the union between her and Antipas was doubly sinful. Aretas repaid this insult to his daughter by a destructive war (Ant., XVIII, v, 1)."439
John the Baptist ... Herodias (Mark 6:14, 19)
John the Baptist had denounced the immoral and illegal marriage of Herod Antipas. For her part, "Herodias, smoldering with hate, wanted to kill" (v. 19, The Message) "this upstart prophet of the wilderness who had dared to denounce her private relations with Herod Antipas. ... She never let up, but bided her time which, she felt sure, would come."440 In a desire to keep peace with his wife, Herod had John locked away "in a terrible, deep, and hot dungeon that formed part of the castle-palace at Machaerus [ma KAY rus441]."442 Convinced that John was not merely innocent but even "a good and holy man" (v. 20) - that is, "[a] holy, pious, upright, honest man"443 - Herod refused to have him killed.
And so Herodias stewed in her anger until her chance finally arrived when her daughter, Salome [suh LOE mee444] ("probably in her middle teens"445), performed a lewd dance at a party Herod had given for some high-ranking officials and community leaders. "We can well imagine the erotic and suggestive manner in which the probably half-naked girl danced."446 Through her mother's prompting, the daughter responded to Herod's extravagant gratitude by asking that John the Baptist's head be added to the dinner menu447 - indisputable proof that the prophet had indeed been put to death.448 Herod's "moral impotency coupled with his silly pride"449 got the best of him. Anything but a man of high moral character, Herod kept his rash oath (= "public promise"450) not for the sake of Salome, but because of the many "important" guests who had witnessed it451 Herod was caught in the mother-daughter trap and had John executed. Herod Antipas "stands as the example of all the moral cowards whose moral and religious convictions are too weak to meet an issue."452
Herodias was a type of Jezebel and, in fact, Mark may have been alluding "to the Elijah-Jezebel conflict since Jesus later identified John as Elijah (Mark 9:11-13)."453 Like the religious leaders who turned against Jesus, Herodias preferred to get rid of the one who denounced her sin rather than deal with the sin itself.454 And as the religious leaders feared losing their place of prominence, Herodias must have feared that John's message might eventually convict Herod and lead him to put her away.455 This episode demonstrates the lengths to which people will go in an effort to silence the Gospel.456 For those who oppose the message of Jesus, the most important things in life are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.457
Herod ... Jesus (Mark 6:16)
The apostles' preaching tour was so successful that word of Jesus soon reached Herod himself.458 Popular opinion held that Jesus was a miracle-working prophet, and guilt-ridden Herod feared that he was actually John the Baptist returned to life. "John wrought no miracles (John 10:41), but if he had risen from the dead perhaps he could. So Herod may have argued."459 Jesus' ministry was similar to John's in that they both preached repentance.460 John had denounced the immoral and unlawful aspects of Herod's actions, while Herod's fears were based on political dangers.461 (Some things never change. While today's immoral politicians may have no respect for God's Word, they very much care about anything that might upset their political careers.) It is worth noting that Herod eventually received his just deserts: his army was defeated, he was deposed, and he and Herodias were banished.462 Contrast Herod with Jesus: "Over against the corrupt and failed 'kingship' of Herod, who feasts in his palace and is concerned only for his status and the great ones of Galilee, stands Jesus."463 Herod pretended to be a king; preferred the company of society's "elite"; was a spineless coward; and ended his life in humiliation. On the other hand, Jesus was the King of kings (incognito); preferred the company of ordinary, unpretentious people; was a courageous hero; and ended his life in the triumph of the resurrection, with the promise of a future return and universal acknowledgement of his right to rule.
Refusing to Hear
The story is told of a rich father whose son, whom we'll call Ralph, took to a life of crime and debauchery, in the process bringing disgrace on his family and causing his father much grief. When he learned that his father had died, however, Ralph went home immediately in the hopes that his father had left him something in the will.
Along with the other family members, the rebellious son sat in the attorney's office and heard the reading of the will, the first part of which included a lengthy listing of the son's misdeeds. Unable to endure any more, Ralph jumped up and fled the room. He disappeared completely, and no one ever heard from him again.
It turned out, however, that the father had left his son an inheritance of $25,000. But Ralph ran out before getting to that part of the will. And since he could not be located, he never received his inheritance.
Ralph paid a high price for refusing to hear about his sins.464
Rather than confess their guilt, Herod and Herodias silenced the voice of the one who confronted them with their sinful lifestyle. In the end, they lost the inheritance that God has in store for anyone who will turn from his/her sins and turn toward him.
??? What are some ways in which people today seek to silence the convicting Gospel?