THE BEHEADING OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
THE BEHEADING OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Sermon of the Week #200920 for June 07, 2009
Herod the king is the name of three men in the New Testament who had the name of King Herod, and all three were enemies of the Lord and His Church. The first is Herod the Great, and he was the Herod who tried to kill the infant Jesus. The second Herod, the son of the first Herod, is the one who beheaded John the Baptist, and had one of the trials of Jesus. Jesus would not speak a word to that Herod because he had beheaded the voice that cried in the wilderness, and was not allowed to hear the Word; the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. And then the third Herod was the nephew of the second Herod, and the grandson of the first Herod.
The third Herod is the one mentioned in Acts 12:1, “Now about that time Herod the king put forth his hand to afflict certain of the Church, and he killed James the brother of John with the sword.” He was also the same King Herod according to Acts 12:23, where an angel of the Lord smote him, and he was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost.
PERSECUTION FROM HIGH PLACES
And so it is evident that not all the troubles of the Lord and His Church were caused by the religious fanatics known as scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees; but much of the trouble was caused by enemies in high places.
The enemies of the Lord and His Church still go on from high places today. Letters from various areas testify to this fact. An excerpt from one tells us, “Don’t send us Bibles in boxes, but in normal paper, because if they are in boxes they may detect them, but if they are wrapped in paper, no problem at all; otherwise they may detect them and take them from us. Pray for us.”
Another writes, “The situation in this country has not changed. Many Christians are in prison. Please pray for our country.” Then another writes, “One thing I know, many Christians are put in prison because of their faith. Now they are not allowed to worship openly, but in secret, but I am sure God will open the doors one day, and we can worship freely.”
Another writes to say, “Please pray for our country; the government has declared for closing of all
THE BEHEADING OF JOHN
The beheading of John the Baptist is related in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Luke gives the shorter version of it, and makes reference to his beheading as a past event. According to Luke 9:9 Herod said, “John, I beheaded: but who is this, about whom I hear such things?” Jesus had been carrying on His ministry for two years, and was one year from the cross, and Herod is just beginning to hear of Him. The beheading of John took place just before the feeding of the 5000, and John notes in John 6:4, “The time of the Passover was at hand.” There would be one more Passover a year later, when Jesus died on the cross.
This is no great mystery that Herod did not know Jesus when there were many then, and now, who don’t know Jesus. In John 1:10, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him and the world knew Him not.” Then in Acts 13:27, Paul in his sermon at
Paul explains how this could happen in 1st Corinthians 2:14, “For the natural man knows not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Modern man has time for every area of learning except the most important of all.
Just listen to some of the wise people of this world on television and radio who seem to be so knowledgeable on everything, and anything, and yet, when they open their mouths to comment on matters regarding the Book that has been available for two thousand years, they reveal an abysmal ignorance of the Word of God that has been with us for 2000 years.
John the Baptist had a message when he preached as a voice crying in the wilderness. John did not mince words, and it was reported to Herod that John said he had no right to live with Herodias his wife, for he had stolen her from his brother Philip. So Herod had arrested John, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias his wife, who hated John, and wanted to kill him; but Herod feared the people for they took him for a prophet.
Herod feared several things; he feared the people and what they would think, he feared John because he was a righteous man, he feared his conscience when he remembers how he murdered John, he feared the opinion of his guests at the feast if he went back on his word when the daughter of Herodias asked for the head of John. Herod feared everything except what he should have feared and did not; namely Almighty God. He did not know that Jesus said in Matthew 10:27, “Be not afraid of them that kill the body but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear Him who is able to kill both body and soul in Hell.”
While Herod kept John in prison, he heard him gladly. Herod was like many people who gladly attend gospel meetings; but it has no effect on their life style, even though they may enjoy the singing, and the preaching, nothing changes. They may be members of the Church, and their life style is the same as it was before. Isaiah 5:20 gives us the reason, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” What used to be right is now wrong, and what used to be wrong is now right.
Many now like Herod hear the message gladly, they rejoice in the singing, the message, the fellowship, and nothing changes as they live the same devilish lives they always lived.
THE SUPERSTITION OF HEROD
Now notice the superstition of Herod. Some who reject the Word of God are superstitious like Herod. Herod concluded that Jesus was John risen from the dead. His guilty conscience troubled him and he concluded that the Lord must be John the Baptist risen from the dead, and therefore, do these powers work in him. Actually, the resurrection of Jesus would be the best way for anyone today to account for the life of Jesus. However, in the case of Herod, he did not regard Jesus as risen from the dead; it was John whom he had beheaded who had been raised, and his conscience gave way to superstition. He did not only hear about Jesus, he wanted to kill him. Luke 13:31 tells us, that Herod would fain kill Jesus, and Jesus said, “Go tell that fox, Behold I cast out demons, and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am perfected.”
That same superstition is popular among all unbelievers in the Word of God. While they may reject the inspired Word of God, we hear them ask, “And what sign were you born under?” as though their lives are guided by the arrangement of stars in the sky. Astrology was one of the great sins of Israel according to Acts 7:42, when Israel worshipped the golden calf, they declared, “These are the gods who brought you up out of the land of Egypt,” and Stephen reminded them that God gave them up to serve the host of heaven, they took up the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of the god Rephan, the figure which ye made to worship them: And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
So what sign were you born under? Personally when they ask me, I give them my standard answer, “I was born again under the sign of the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world; and many years ago I went into orbit around the bright and morning star, and have been in orbit ever since.”
JOHN DID NO SIGN
According to John 10:40-41, “Later on after John had been beheaded, Jesus returned for a visit to where John the Baptist at the first was baptizing, and the people came to Jesus, and gave John the Baptist the greatest compliment any preacher of the Word could possibly receive. They told the Lord that John indeed did no sign. John never spoke in tongues, he never raised the dead; he never cured the leper, or restored sight to the blind. But they said, “All things whatsoever John spoke of Jesus were true.” When he said in John 1:23, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord,” as said Isaiah the prophet; that was a true statement. When Jesus came to John for baptism he looked upon Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world,” and that was true.
And when John said, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” that was true, because Jesus continued the same message after John was put in prison in Matthew 4:17, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The
It was also true when we hear John say in John 1:26, “In the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not.” This reminds us of the incident in Genesis 28:16-17 regarding Jacob’s ladder. Jacob dreamed he saw a ladder stretching from earth to Heaven, and when he awakened he said, “The Lord was in this place and I knew it not ,” and then he said, “How dreadful is this place? This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven.”
That statement of John was true then and now. Jesus is always nearby and people know it not. Jacob was right, it is a dreadful thought to think that a person can be so close to Jesus, any time and every time the gospel is proclaimed and those who hear it are standing at the gate of Heaven, and know it not.
On that day when the trumpet sounds and that number that John saw in Revelation 7:9, a number that no man can number out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, standing before the throne arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands, crying with a loud voice, “Salvation to our God who sitteth on the throne and unto the Lamb.” And on that day may it be that a great number among them will report to the Father, “There were no signs, nor miracles worked, and no speaking in tongues on the God Is Just A Prayer Away radio program, but all things that were said were true.”
AND THEY WENT AND TOLD JESUS
And then there was the final report of the death of John when his disciples came and took up the corpse and buried him, and they went and told Jesus. That was a good choice of words; they did not take up John, and bury him, it was the corpse they buried. They could not bury John, or his soul; all they could bury was the corpse.
There is not a single soul of man or woman buried in any cemetery in the world. The only thing a casket contains is a corpse. The disciples of John buried a corpse, not the man. And then they went and told Jesus. That was a wise decision on the part of John’s disciples. They went and told Jesus. There are many times in life when that is the best advice that can be given, “Go, and tell Jesus.”
Lazarus of Bethany was sick unto death, and in John 11:3, his sisters Mary and Martha, sent to Jesus and said, “Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick.” When a loved one has a terminal disease, what better advice, “Go, and tell Jesus.”
When we have questions about the Word of God, it is good to do as the Apostles in Matthew 24:2. When they came to Jesus privately, and asked Him saying, "When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?” Whatever the spiritual question may be, go, and tell Jesus.
When a person is in great physical danger, do as the Apostles in the boat ready to sink, in Matthew 8:25 when they cried out, “Save Lord, we perish.” Go, and tell Jesus.
In Luke 10:17 the seventy had just returned from a successful evangelistic campaign, and they said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Thy name.” Is it not good that we also should go and tell Jesus when leading a lost soul to the Lord, or is some great triumph of the people of God? Go, and tell Jesus.
In Matthew 17:15, a man brought his only son to Jesus and pleaded for mercy for one who was thrown in the fire and then in the water. We hear of thousands of similar situations now of blasted young lives, and what better advice for the parents to go, and tell Jesus.
Luke 24:18 is a great reminder in a time of disappointment. Cleopas and his companion had the greatest let-down of their hopes and dreams when Jesus was buried in the tomb. On the day of the resurrection they told their sorrow to a stranger. And the stranger was Jesus, arisen from the dead. Unknowingly they went and told Jesus.
The gospel song encourages us.
“Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?
Tell it to Jesus; tell it to Jesus;
Are you grieving over joys departed? Tell it to Jesus alone.
Do you fear the gathering clouds of sorrow?
Tell it to Jesus; tell it to Jesus.
Are you anxious what shall be tomorrow? Tell it to Jesus alone.
Do the tears fall down your cheeks unbidden?
Tell it to Jesus; tell it to Jesus.
Have you sins that to men’s hearts are hidden?
Go, and tell it to Jesus.”