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Lessons Learned From John

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Lessons Learned From John’s Death

Mark 6:14-29; Luke 23:6-11

This portion of Scripture is a sort of a flashback to things that occurred at some time in the past, but were now being reconsidered because of some trigger in the present.  Jesus had been going about preaching, healing, and teaching throughout the are that Herod had jurisdiction.  At the beginning of chapter 6, we see some more of the world’s rejection of Christ.  He goes to His hometown of Nazareth, and His own family rejects His message.  The Book of Luke teaches us that the people were ready to cast Him headlong off the hill that the city was built on.  We could say that Jesus popularity increased because of the good He was doing, but the negative attention got his name out there also. 

When Jesus was born, King Herod the Great was concerned that his throne and power were in jeopardy.  He declared an edict to kill all the baby boys to ensure he did not lose his position.  Now we are about 30 years in the future, and his son, Herod Antipas has control over a portion of the area.  If you try to study the life of the Herod family, you will come away a little confused and disturbed.  There are some things that just aren’t right. 

Herod Antipas had a half brother named Herod Phillip. Herod Philip married Herodias, the woman in our text, who was the daughter of his half-brother Aristobolus. She was his half-niece. They had a daughter named Salome, the girl who danced for Herod Antipas, her double half-uncle and step-father.

Herod Philip was disinherited by his father Herod the Great. He and Herodias moved to Rome.

Herod Antipas and his wife visited his brother in Rome and Herod Antipas fell in love with his half-niece and sister-in-law Herodias. They had an affair and both left their spouses and married one another.  Sounds like a modern day arrangement. 

Now enter John the Baptist.  He has all the ammunition he needs to preach an uncomfortable message of adultery, and wrong-doing.  This kind of preaching offended Herodias, so Herod had John put into prison.  We are seeing a glimmer of this in our current election campaigns.  Preachers are saying some things that the media is grabbing hold of and running with, and the politicians are deciding to distance themselves from them.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  As time goes on, preachers will be condemned and jailed for preaching what has been termed hate speech.  When I read the text, I see John’s preaching as being right on, and I see the response much like today when it comes to biblical preaching.  You can respond to preaching that has offended you in three ways.

You can ignore it.

You can blame the preacher.

You can ask God to help you accept it.

I want to take some lessons from the death of John and make application to a real issue of our day, the death of a conscience.

Before we go any farther, we need to talk about the conscience. A lot of people are confused about the conscience and what it does. Many people believe that the conscience was given to us to help us make decisions between right and wrong. That is a false assumption! The conscience will only resist any deviation from the truth, or the right and the wrong, it knows.

            For instance, if you have been raised to believe the Bible is absolute truth, your conscience will help you know the difference between what is right and wrong based on the Bible, your standard for truth. If you start to do something the Bible says is a sin, your conscience will rise up and tell you to stop. If, on the other hand, you have been raised to believe that there are no limits in life and you can do as you please, your conscience will not give you any problems.

            That is why so many people are in such trouble today. They have adopted a philosophy that says, “If it feels good, do it!” As a result, they do not live by the truth of the Word of God, but by the feelings of their flesh. They do as they please and their conscience never bothers them.

            The most dangerous thing any person can do is to sin against the truth. Paul tells us that sinning against a “good conscience” leads to spiritual “shipwreck”,

1 Timothy 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

A “good conscience” is one that knows the truth and desires to be obedient to it. When people know the truth and reject it in favor of their own standards of right and wrong, they sin against a “good conscience”.           That is what we see in our text today.

What we see in these verses is a picture of how a person can sin against their conscience to the point that they are capable of anything. It is possible to ignore the warnings of your heart, your soul and your mind until those warnings cease to be heard. It is possible to so deaden the conscience that it no longer stands as a barrier between the individual and any sin they choose to commit,

1 Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; They have seared their conscience to the point where it feels nothing and no longer warns them about evil.

1.  Herod hears the Word (20).  This is kind of hard to process.  JTB would rip Herod’s life style and living arrangement, and Herod liked the preaching.  He knew that John was a man of God, that he lived right, and that his message was meant for his good.  He did many things.  I see that Herod tried to make some things right according to the preaching.  History tells us that although he never placed his faith in Christ, Ben Franklin loved to hear George Whitefield preach.  Whitefield was not a soft, tickle your ears kind of preacher.  He preached heaven sweet and hell hot.  We have the same mentality today—people come to hear the preacher, but not the message.  If the message doesn’t make you mad, make you think, or make you change, that it isn’t really a message. 

2.  Herod is forced to make a decision.  Herodias sends her daughter to dance before the king.  I do not want to go into to much detail, but these dances were designed to arouse the passions of the men.  I think it is a pretty poor society where parents use their children to get their wicked work done.  Herod says whatever you want—it’s yours.  She asks her mother, and comes back asking for John’s head in a charger.  Herod could have said no.  Herod could have sided with right and decency.  We even see that he knew he was doing wrong, but he could not change his mind.  I wonder how many people miss an eternity in the presence of God because they were afraid what the crowd would say.  If I accept Christ, my friends will make fun of me.  This is not conviction, it is guilt, and that is formed in the recesses of our conscience.  How do we know it was guilt?  Because Herod took all the blame on himself(16).  Conviction on the other hand, leads to repentance, and asking for forgiveness.  There are some in this room this morning that need to make a decision for Christ, or in the home, or at the workplace.  Do not put it off any longer.

2 Corinthians 6:2 (behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

3.  Herod is dealt the final blow (Luke 23:6-11).  Here we have the last mention of Herod in the Word of God.  Jesus had been arrested and Pilate sends Him to a hearing before Herod.  There is this little glimmer of hope because Herod is glad that Jesus is coming.  We get our hopes up sometimes when we get a friend to come to church, or a lost loved one listens to the gospel.  All Herod wanted was to see a miracle.  He was looking for entertainment, when he needed spiritual healing.              The Lord Jesus refuses to even speak to Herod. God has finished with him and there will be no more calls for him to repent. God has nothing more to say to King Herod! There will be no more opportunities for him to be saved. He has sinned away his day of grace and he is doomed.

            Herod’s conscience is so scarred that he has no compassion for a condemned man. He and his men mock Jesus. They adorn him in a king’s robe and send Him away. Thus ends the story of Herod Antipas! He has ignored the truth and killed his own conscience. There will be no hope and no salvation for Herod forever.

Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Conc: The death of a conscience is a tragic event because the death of a conscience usually leads to the death of a soul. When you refuse Jesus and the Gospel, there remains no hope for your salvation. There is nothing in your future but the terrible effects of sin and the horrors of Hell.

      Has the Lord been speaking to you? Has He been calling you to come to Jesus for salvation? Has He been calling you to get before Him and get your spiritual life back in order? Has He been calling you to turn away from some sin in your life? If He is calling you, please do not do like Herod. If He is calling you please come to Him today and do what He us calling you to do. The time for obedience is right now.

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