The Gospel of Mark #16 - A Guilty Conscience
The Message of Mark #16:
A Guilty Conscience
Text: Mark 6:14-29
Thesis: To stress the importance of receiving Jesus now while you still can.
(1) What is a conscience?
(a) A little girl once defined it as: “Something that makes you tell your mother before your brother or sister does.”
(b) Webster’s 10th Collegiate Dictionary defines it as: “The sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good.”
(2) Put yourself in this story and ask yourself what you would do:
Keith Obraske, a 23-year-old man, went to the ATM machine to get out $20. When he did, he received his $20 bill and several other $20 bills kept coming out until he wound up with a total of $5,580. What was he to do?
(3) Let us now note a story about a man who failed to listen to his conscience:
I. The Story:
A. Herod Antipas, heard about Jesus and His work.
1. Herod was the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C. – A.D. 39.
2. He was born in 20 B.C. to Herod the Great and Malthace.
3. “The mission activity of Jesus and the Twelve throughout Galilee” had come to Herod’s attention (Lane 211).
4. ‘Jesus’ name’ “is synonymous with the total person as expressed in his word and deed” (English 128).
B. Herod believed that Jesus was a resurrected John the Baptist.
1. Many reports were being made concerning Jesus:
a. Some believed Jesus to be John the Baptist.
b. Some believed Jesus to be Elijah.
c. Some believed Jesus to be a prophet of God.
2. Herod was convinced that Jesus was John the Baptist, who had returned from the grave.
C. Herod was fearful because he had been responsible for killing John the Baptist.
1. “Herod arrested John and threw him in the dungeon of the desert fortress-palace of Machaerus on a high ridge down by the Dead Sea. Machaerus was built as the boundary-fortress for southeast Palestine and was surrounded by thick walls and flanked by towers 160 cubits high” (Hughes 1:140).
2. Herod imprisoned John because:
a. #1: According to Josephus, Herod was fearful of a possible uprising because of John’s influence on the people.
b. #2: John had spoken out against Herod’s adulterous marriage.
(1) Herod Antipas had been married to the daughter of Aretas IV, King of Nabatea to the east and south of Perea.
(2) However, he had divorced her and had seduced Herodias to divorce her husband and marry him.
(a) Herodias was the daughter of Herod’s half-brother, Aristobulus; therefore, she was Herod’s niece.
(b) She was married to Herod’s half-brother, Herod Philip; therefore, she was also Herod Antipas’ sister-in-law.
(c) Herod Antipas met her on a trip to Rome and convinced her to leave Philip and marry him.
(3) This was a sinful relationship (Lev. 18:16; 20:21).
3. Herod only wanted to imprison John, but Herodias wanted to kill John.
a. While John was in prison, Herod would have John come and talk with him from time to time.
(1) “Herod may have liked listening to John because he felt that listening would somehow atone for his condition” (Hughes 1:141).
(2) “Herod is pictured as superstitiously fearing John because he knew that John’s life was holy and his was wicked” (Brooks 105).
b. Herodias waited for an opportune time to get her husband to agree to kill John.
(1) This opportune time came when Herod was celebrating a birthday.
(2) Herodias convinced her daughter to dance before Herod.
(a) “Herodias felt that the only place where her marriage-certificate could safely be written was on the back of the death-warrant of John the Baptist” (Manson 40).
(b) Herodias “is a social climber, who is willing to sacrifice even her daughter to secure her hold on her husband and power” (Garland 251).
(c) Herodias devised a plan with her daughter to kill John the Baptist.
1) According to Josephus, the daughter’s name was Salome.
2) Salome’s father was Herod Philip.
3) She was likely a teenager at this time.
(d) Salome danced before Herod and he agreed to give her anything that she wanted.
1) She immediately asked for John’s head “on a platter.”
2) Herod “is trapped by his own weaknesses and sin into a position where he is blind to the real issues, and John is treated as a political puppet instead of as a prophet of God” (Hooker 161).
c. Herod then immediately ordered the execution of John the Baptist.
D. Now, we see Herod Antipas living with a guilty conscience.
II. The Application:
A. Like John, we must speak the truth, no matter what!
B. Unlike Herod, we must do what we know to be right, no matter what!
1. “How many people’s consciences have been awakened to eternal things and their own sinful plight, and yet they have buried it all because of what they feared their friends or family or fiancé or spouse or fellow-students would think” (Hughes 1:143).
2. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it’s right.”
C. When you fail to listen to your conscience, it will always catch up with you!
1. Solomon said: “My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Prov. 3:21-24).
2. David said: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psa. 32:3-5).
(1) Oh by the way, did you decide to keep the money or return the money? Keith Obraske returned the money and had a good night’s rest.
(2) Listen to your conscience now and come to Jesus!