Summary: St. Thomas Acquinas said, "All of society is based on promises and trust." We must therefore be careful about the promises we make and our intentions to keep them.
Mark 6: 14 – 29 / Be Careful What You Promise
Intro: An Irishman had been drinking all night at a pub. The bartender announced the pub was closing so the Irishman stood up to leave and fell flat on his face. He tried again to stand with the same result; so, he decided to crawl outside and get some fresh air. Once outside, he stood up and again fell flat on his face. He decided to crawl the 4 blocks to his home. When he arrived at the door, he stood up and again fell flat on his face. He crawled through the door into his bedroom. This time, when he tried to pull himself upright he managed to fall into bed and was sound asleep as soon as his head his the pillow. When he awakened the next morning his wife was standing over him, shouting, “So, you’ve been out drinking again!” “What makes you say that?” he asked, putting on an innocent look. “The pub called --- you left your wheelchair there again!” --- Sometimes our attempts to rationalize and cover-up our sins makes about as much sense as the behavior of the Irishman. (“Don’t Hang Around With A Truth-Teller!” by James Westmoreland on SermonCentral.com)
I. I want to look at three people in this passage and how they dealt with the temptation to sin. Let’s look at Salome.
A. She is both a step-daughter and niece to Herod. She is a part of the royal family, probably a princess of the kingdom, a person of position who should be respected and admired.
B. She is encouraged to do a vulgar, solo dance for her step-father/uncle and his male guests. From the language we know it was not just any dance. It was a dance normally done by prostitutes and usually culminated in sexual activity.
C. When summoned to do this dance, Salome was faced with a choice: 1) she could have just said no. 2) Instead, encouraged by her mother, she dances. --- I once had a student whose parents provided beer for parties given in their home for their teenage children’s friends then years later wondered what went wrong when their son developed a drug problem that ended two failed marriages.
II. Herodias is the mother of Salome who encouraged her daughter to sin.
A. Herodias was married to Philip, Herod’s brother. She allowed herself to be seduced by Herod who murdered his brother, divorced his wife to marry Herodias. What did Herod say to her to get her to marry him after he had murdered her first husband, his own brother. What could she have heard that would encourage her to be a party to these acts.
B. Herodias was a vindictive woman who hated John the Baptiser because he told the truth and called her to answer for her sins. What John said was the truth; but, Herodias just didn’t want to hear it.
C. Sometimes the truth about us hurts. We don’t like to have our sins pointed out to us. When confronted by our sinfulness we might claim that it wasn’t our fault, that we were lead astray by something or someone. The plain and simple fact may be we did it and at the time didn’t care or even think about the consequences. My grandmother used to say, “Be sure your sins will find you out.”
III. The main character in this story is Herod, the guy who killed his brother, murdered his own sons, seduce his brother’s wife.
A. The text tells us that Salome’s dance REALLY pleased Herod. He was probably so drunk that he promises anything to Salome. His lust and drunkenness lead him to make a prideful promise.
B. When Salome returns asking for the head of John the Baptiser, he feels pressured to follow through with his oath. To “save face” before his guests, he does what he knows is wrong.
C. Herod could have admitted he was wrong in making his promise. He could have refused saying that what she asked was wrong. But Herod would never admit he was wrong. Why is it so difficult for adults, parents, people in authority to admit they were wrong? Often, like Herod, we would rather keep our promises by sinning than loose face by admitting our sinfulness.
Conclu: As Christians, we place a lot of emphasis on promises: baptismal promises, confirmation promises, ordination promises. Thomas Acquinas said that the whole of society is based upon the honoring of promises and trust. Therefore, we must be careful about the promises we make.