Summary: Two kings, two feasts – one who thought he had everything had nothing, another made everything from nothing.
Don’t you love a big barbeque? I remember as a kid going to Hooker Oak Park for barbeques and seeing all the people playing and having a good time and smelling the steaks and stuff.
Well, today, we are going to attend two feasts, two large get-togethers. And we’re going to see two kings preside over these events. One thinks He has life under control and has everything he wanted – only to see his inner weakness and depravity come back to haunt him. The other king will start out with nothing, but turn to his subjects to partner with Him in providing everything they need, and more. And we’ll learn lessons about how we can be feast-givers too.
14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, "This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him."
Notice how many people misunderstand Jesus? The Pharisees thought he was a demon, others demanded a sign, His family thought he was crazy, and even the people of his hometown rejected Him. Now Herod thinks He is the resurrected John the Baptist.
People will say all kinds of things about Jesus without really understanding Him. Our job is to go back to the basics – Son of God, born a man, died for sins, resurrected for life.
Just because someone says the name of Jesus doesn’t mean they understand Him, so don’t take that for granted. There’s a lot of God-talk going around, but very little of it is correct. You can be sincere, and be sincerely wrong.
What Herod said might seem ridiculous, but this man was so full of sin and lies that his guilt and shame might have actually brought about delusion. Herod, if you remember, is the son of Herod the Great. He is also known as Herod Antipas. He was well known for his political ambitions and his debauchery. He married his brother’s wife who was also his sister in law and niece.
Herod apparently liked John – which is unusual because John publicly criticized Herod for marrying Herodias. But John was probably one of the only people that spoke the truth to Herod.
You know people like that – people in places of power that when they say “jump” you say “how high.” Your boss, a policeman, a judge, a powerful politician – all hold authority and are thus honored and feared. So of course most people would tell Herod what he wanted to hear – that he was wonderful, magnificent, wise – etc. But John laid the cards right out on the table.
We should be that kind of people – no, not blasting everyone’s sins in public, but willing to speak the truth, even if it means retribution. Being straight with someone – saying “you know, there really is only one way to God and it’s through Jesus” doesn’t mean you judge them – it’s a matter of fact.
By the way, how good are you at hearing the truth – from God’s Word, from other believers? Do you react defensively when called on the carpet or even reminded of a truth? We need to practice accepting the truth – not lying down like a door mat to get stepped all over – but taking it to God and seeking His forgiveness and healing for those things that are true.
Anyway – Herod was very conflicted because John spoke truth, but it was a truth that hurt – so eventually Herod put him in prison to shut him up and probably to keep him alive – or so he thought.
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: "It is not lawful for you to have her." 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet.
So this sets the stage for us – a politically charged situation with a life at stake. Herod has a political enemy that he wants to destroy, even though there may be some admiration there too. So Herod puts John in prison.
Kings in those days could do such things – when they wanted someone arrested, they were arrested. As I’ve mentioned before – Herodias was both Herod’s sister-in-law and his niece. Marrying her wasn’t illegal under Roman law – but it was certainly against God’s law.
Lev 18:16 "’Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother.
But since Herod didn’t really care about the Jews that much, even though he claimed to be one – he tried to hide his political adversary away in a prison – Josephus tells us it was Machaerus, a fortress (combination palace and prison) near the barren northeastern shore of the Dead Sea in the region of Moab.