In Mark 6 we read the story of the death of John the Baptist. Herod’s wife, Herodias, was furious at him because he kept reminding Herod that marrying her was a sin. She had previously been married to Herod’s half-brother, Philip, but they divorced. The Law of Moses was very specific about this: Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother. (Leviticus 18:16) AND “‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless. (Lev 20:21)
Herodias hated to hear these verses. She nursed a grudge against John that consumed her and pushed her to kill him. Herodias is the Jezebel of the NT and Herod the Ahab of the NT. Herodias plotted. She planned. She contrived. She manipulated Herod. She was going to get her way no matter what. That’s what happens when you harbor hatred & bitterness & anger in your heart. Hatred & bitterness will consume you. They will drive you to do things that you can’t believe are in your heart. Hatred & bitterness are the devil’s work and if you nurture that, you allow the devil to create a stronghold of sin in your heart. Ravi Zacharias posted this last week on facebook: “Hate and death are the language of the Enemy of our souls. Love and life are the language of our Savior.” We have certainly seen how racism, bigotry, hate and bitterness can drive a person to murder dozens of innocent people like most recently in El Paso, TX. Once again this raises the gun debate in our country. But, no matter what your stance is on guns or the 2nd Amendment, we must all take responsibility to defeat hate and bitterness with forgiveness, love and grace. That’s not a political statement. That’s a Biblical statement. That’s the message of the Gospel!
In all likelihood “Herod”, means “scaredy-cat”. (http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Herod.html#.XUwydPZFzIU) And that is exactly what we see here in Mark 6 – he was scared of making a fool of himself embarrassed and afraid of going back on his promise even though that meant the death of John. When you’re sick, you might need to take medicine that doesn’t taste good or feel good, but it’s necessary to get rid of your illness. In the same way, when you make a mistake or when you say something mean that you later regret, you need to do something about that – even if it means eating humble pie and asking forgiveness. Humble pie may not taste good at the time, but it’s the right medicine for your soul. Don’t let your pride get in the way of doing what is right. That was Herod’s great sin. Herod knew that John spoke the truth. He even protected John and listened to him even though John’s preaching perplexed him. But Herod’s pride kept him from repentance. Don’t let your pride keep you from setting things right, reconciling with someone, stopping yourself from doing something wrong, asking forgiveness. This story of Herod here in the NT – that echoes the story of Ahab in the OT – are here to warn us how pride can drive us to sin. Your pride must be placed on the altar of sacrifice. Give it up. There’s no place for arrogant pride in the Kingdom of God. Paul talks about crucifying our sinful nature. Pride will lead to your downfall if you don’t kill it off. Instead of quelling his pride, Herod killed John the Baptist instead. Don’t let your pride… or hatred… or bitterness… or anger… destroy you or those around you. Hatred, rage, pride and death are the work of the devil. Love, life, grace, repentance and forgiveness are the language of our Savior.