Summary: Second in a series of sermons dealing with the primary characters in the beheading of John the Baptist. This sermon looks at Herod.
A MAN CAUGHT IN A WEB
Can you visualize anything more breathtaking than a dew covered spider web glistening in the early morning sunlight?
A spider’s web is remarkable even without the woven words of Charlotte’s Web, “Some Pig” embroidered in it.
It is made of silk woven from a liquid manufactured within the glands located on the abdomen of the spider.
The strands of a spider’s web are very fine, frequently measuring 1/100,000 of an inch in diameter.
They are so thin that in the past they were often used as line markers in the lenses of certain optical instruments.
We can also find a spider webs to be a nuisance.
They make the corners of our rooms look unsightly.
Everyone knows there is nothing more appalling than walking through a web and getting it all tangled in our hair.
But the spider’s web is necessary if the spider is going to survive.
The web serves as a net to capture food for the spider to eat.
Along comes an unsuspecting insect, buzzing along, minding its own business when wham! It flies into the web.
Its wings become entangled.
The insect flaps its wings; it twists and turns, desperately trying to free itself.
The more it struggles to be free, the more trapped it becomes.
When the creature is completely caught, down drops the spider and wraps the insect up with a few jets of silk, bites it to knock it out, and well—dinner is served.
In the person of King Herod Antipas, we see not a fly or an insect knotted in a web, but a human being.
Herod allowed certain things to happen that caused him to be trapped in a web of destruction.
The more he struggled to find a way out of his dilemma, the more entangled he became.
It all began with an alluring web of the forbidden.
Last week, we said that this story had more plots, more twists and turns than most mystery novels.
I wasn’t kidding!
The sin that John the Baptist was referring was Herod’s marriage to Herodias.
Why was this so scandalous?
Well, to start with, Herodias was the daughter of a man named Aristobalus who just happened to be Herod’s half-brother, which meant that Herodias was Herod’s niece.
Herod met Herodias while visiting his brother in Rome.
At the time, she was married to Philip, another one of Herod’s brothers which meant Herodias was also Herod’s sister in Law.
While there Herod seduced Herodias and persuaded her to leave her husband and marry him.
This was a deliberate act on Herod’s part.
But there was one small problem.
Herod was already married.
Therefore he had to divorce his present wife.
Thus, we find that Herodias was Herod’s niece, sister in law, and now his wife.
Have you heard the phrase, “I’m my own grandpa?”
But the web of missing the mark does not stop here.
Herod becomes even more entangled.
We are told that a banquet was being held in honor of the King’s birthday.
After the King and his chief officials were basically drunk, Salome, Herodias; daughter came out and danced.
Now we must understand that the dance she performed was not of the ballroom nature.
It was too steamy even for Dancing With the Stars.
It involved nudity, with a variety of suggestive acts.
Herod was so filled with lust for Salome—who was his niece, grand niece and now his step daughter, that he made a stupid vow to her.
He promised her anything she wanted up to half of his kingdom.
The web of sin closed tighter and tighter engulfing its victim.
We may not want to admit it but we often find ourselves entangled in a similar web.
Perhaps it is not as flagrant as Herod’s, but nevertheless it is there.
In our minds; or hidden away in a dark corner of our heart, is some secret sin that is lurking like some hidden spider.
We tell ourselves that it doesn’t affect us, or we convince ourselves that if it doesn’t hurt anyone, it should be ok.
But before we realize it – we’re trapped.
We are caught in a self defeating web.
We suddenly feel as if we are lost from God, that God is miles away from us.
Instead of letting it go – we hold onto it.
We won’t let go.
We feel like we have been tricked where we place our hand into an opening, grasp something that we long for, yet as long as we grasp it we cannot get it out.
Unconsciously we find ourselves praying the prayer of St. Augustine when it dawned upon him that as a priest he probably shouldn’t have that mistress.
Thus, he prayed: God, Take her away from me – but not yet!”