Summary: This sermon uses Herod as an example of how even in today’s world people give in to the pressure of the world instead of being careful to live as Christ commands.
Mark 6: 14 – 29 – Be Careful
Intro: My grandmother was fond of saying, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” --- I used to think she was quite a philosopher until in college I read William Shakespeare and discovered she wasn’t a philosopher. She was just quoting Shakespeare. Regardless, the words are true no matter who wrote them. It is really sad when you see someone completely trapped in the web of sin of their own making.
I. When I read this story about Herod, I think of that saying because he was attempting to deceive others and himself. In this situation, Herod had 2 choices.
A. He could please his wife, Herodias and put an end to John’s humiliating assault on her and on their relationship. To do this he would have to kill the very man he had imprisoned for protection.
B. Herod’s other choice was to do what was right by putting an end to his sinful relationship with his niece/sister-in-law/wife, Herodias. By imprisoning John, he was hoping to find another solution to the problem. Instead of giving up his sinful relationship, he looked for another way.
C. When confronted by sin in our lives, don’t we do the same? Maybe it’s sinful thoughts, indulgence, or habit. Maybe its gossip, greed or gluttony. We, like Herod, look for any other solution before we are willing to give up our sinful ways. Be careful!
II. Another of my grandmother’s sayings was, “Be careful what words you use, you might have to eat them someday.”
A. We’ve all said things we’ve regretted later. Things like: “Of course I love you. The check’s in the mail. This won’t hurt a bit. It wasn’t my fault. God, if you give me this I’ll never ask for anything again.”
B. Herod discovered the problem with spouting platitudes and empty promises. They can have serious consequences. He promised something that wasn’t even his to give. He didn’t have a kingdom.
C. How like Herod we are to rush into empty commitments, make shallow promises, strike bargains we have no intention of keeping. A child asks you to do something for them and your answer was, “In a minute.” You really want to say, “I’m busy. Go away.” Be careful.
III. All of these empty promises and unmet commitments lead us into experiencing great stress and pressure.
A. A husband once said, “My wife is never satisfied. Whatever I do, no matter how much money I make, it is never enough. Life with her is like living in a pressure cooker with the lid sealed shut and the heat on high.” --- A secretary once said to me pointing to her phone, “That little black thing is driving me crazy. At the other end are people who make impossible demands and think they are the only people in the world with a problem.”
B. Verse 26 – shows how entangled in human relationships and people-pressure a person can become and can be pushed into doing something they really don’t want to do. --- Herod thinks more of the drunken oath he as made and his honor before his assembled guests than he does the life of John.
C. What about those guests? They could have stopped Herod from making a fool of himself. No one spoke up. The remained silent in the face of something they knew was morally wrong. --- How often have we done the same. Be careful!
Conclu: Often we have been lukewarm Christians when what the world really needs is for us to be people who respond to the call of God rather than to the pressures of other people or of the world. Jesus knew what it was to endure the pressures of people. Jesus always sought the will of His heavenly Father and did it. He never worried about what people thought. He knew his mission was to do God’s will. That was not his top priority; but his only one. As Christians in today’s stressful, pressure-filled world we must be careful to always do God’s will following in the example of Christ Jesus.