Summary: Herod had a birthday party, but ended up paying for it instead of receiving. It's a story of unforgiveness, a seductive dance, and a well-intentioned man who by compromise was pulled into grave sin.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY HEROD!
A. HUMOR: PLAYPEN
1. A young mother complained to her friend about the difficulties of child rearing, especially the lack of peace and constant pestering by her small children.
2. Her friend smiled and said, "What you need is a playpen to separate the kids from yourself!" So the young mother bought a playpen.
3. A few days later, her friend called to ask how things were going. “Awesome! I can't believe how nice it is" she replied. "I get in the pen with a good book and the kids don't bother me one bit!"
17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. 21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered. 25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother.” Mk. 6:17-28
1. Now this whole story arises because of the guilty conscience of Herod, who is plagued with the feeling that Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead, because Jesus is exercising miraculous powers.
2. Mark then goes back to recount what had happened to John.
3. So we’re going to look at the Unique events surrounding the death of John the Baptist, notice the good that was spoken of Herod, but at last see the things that brought about his downfall into an especially heinous sin.
4. The title of this message is “Happy Birthday Herod!”
I. UNIQUE STORY OF JOHN’S DEATH
A. IDENTITY OF THE PERPETRATORS
1. This Herod, Antipas (B.C. 4 – 39 A.D.), was a son of Herod the Great who inherited one-fourth of his kingdom – Galilee & Perea.
2. He was married to the daughter of King Aretas, an Arabian King, but intrigued with Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife while he was a guest in his house.
3. Herod & Herodias eventually eloped together, though both were still married. She herself was a granddaughter of Herod the Great and a daughter of Herod Agrippa I. Her husband Philip was also her uncle!
4. Herodias was also the daughter of Simeon, the High Priest. She was a Jewess, which even more greatly aggravated the Jews.
5. She had a daughter by Philip, Salome (Josephus, Ant. 18.5.4), which more strongly made her his proper wife.
B. INVOLVEMENT OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
1. John Baptist had rebuked Herod for this scandalous affair. This public rebuke ignited the hatred of Herodias. “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn!”
2. To placate Herodias, Herod had John arrested and put into prison. Herodias bided her time.
3. Then came Herod’s birthday. A lavish party was thrown. Herodias allowed her evidently vivacious daughter to dance for the throng.
4. It was no ballet dance that gained such plaudits so that Herod would offer her up to half his kingdom. It “pleased” his drunken dinner guests. We’ll leave it at that.
5. Half drunken Herod showed his magnanimity and endless wealth by offering up to half his kingdom to Salome. 6. She went and asked her mother, who prompted her to ask for the one thing Herod wouldn’t give her – the head of John the Baptist.
7. What a bloody woman. Can you imagine a human head on a platter, at a party? Such was the wickedness of this Jezebel and her manipulated husband.