Summary: 7 steps on the road to hell illustrated by Herod Antipas (Material adapted from Ray Pritchard at: http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/2001-04-08-The-Man-Who-Would-Be-King-Christ-Speaks-to-the-Problem-of-Frivolous-Curiosity/)
The April 12, 1993, issue of Newsweek unknowingly reported the signs of the times. Bill Wyman, of The Rolling Stones, married his son’s wife’s daughter, a woman 34 years his junior. Her mother married Wyman’s son, Stephan, a man 16 years her junior. That makes Stephan his father’s son-in-law and his mother-in-law his stepmother.
Crazy but many of the Herod’s had similar affairs
Three facts that will help us put this part of the trials of Jesus and Herod Antipas in perspective.
1. Herod Antipas is the son of another Herod; the man history calls “Herod the Great.” His nickname more correctly should be “Herod the Butcher.” He was a cruel, vindictive, bloodthirsty man who put a low value on human life. He is the Herod who ordered the slaughter of the baby boys of Jerusalem (Matthew 2). When he died, his kingdom was divided into four parts. His son Herod Antipas ruled over one of those four parts.
2. Herod Antipas is the man who ordered the beheading of John the Baptist.
3. Jesus refused to speak to him. That last fact is the one that should catch our attention. Think for a moment. We often speak of our Lord as the friend of sinners. Let a prostitute wet his feet with her tears and he pronounces that her sins have been forgiven. Let a blind man cry out for mercy and Jesus stops his journey to heal him. Let a tax-collector crawl up a tree to watch him and Jesus not only bids him to come down, he goes to that man’s house for dinner. Yet Jesus refuses to speak to Herod. As G. Campbell Morgan puts in his book The Great Physician, this story is both solemn and appalling. We have heard of the love of Jesus. But this is a story about the wrath of the Lamb. Campbell notes that Jesus’ dealing with Herod can be summarized in three simple statements:
1) He avoided him. 2) He sent him a message of rebuke. 3) He would not speak to him.
We associate Herod Antipas with two episodes—the death of John the Baptist and the trial of Jesus a few hours before he was crucified. Taking these two incidents together, a picture emerges of Herod that contains a strange mixture of qualities. The story of Herod Antipas is a cautionary story of seven steps on the road to hell.
Thesis: 7 steps on the road to hell
Step #1: Divided Loyalties - Mark 6:17-20- Read this
The story of Herod’s self-destruction begins not with Jesus but with John the Baptist. Here are two men who would seem to have nothing at all in common. Herod was a typical ruler—powerful, egocentric, and centered on his own personal pleasure and wealth. John the Baptist was a strange preacher who wore rough camel’s hair clothing, and ate locusts and wild honey. Great crowds flocked from all over Israel to hear him preach. Evidently one day Herod Antipas went out to hear John and from that day there was a connection between them.
Herod liked John but he had an eye for his brother’s wife—a woman named Herodias. To make matters worse, she was also his niece. Disregarding all appearance of decency, Herod took Herodias as his wife, thus committing both adultery and incest. John confronted him to his face, telling him that what he had done was wrong. And he seems to have repeated the message over and over, which would have been a sure sentence of death for anyone else, but Herod listened and considered his words. He even had John put in prison to protect him from Herodias.
Here is the very picture of a tortured, troubled, tormented soul. One part of him realizes that John speaks the truth. John was concerned about truth and righteousness. So Herod listened and listened again. The other part of him desired what God had said he could not have—a woman married to another man.
So Herod does what many men before and after him have done: He tried to have it both ways. He put John in prison so he could protect him and he took the woman as his wife to fulfill his fleshly desires. But no one can live in the middle forever. Eventually, we have to make a choice. Herod evidently knew the truth when he heard it. He made the mistake of trying to keep the truth in a little compartment where it wouldn’t bother him too much. But that never works. Truth demands a decision. What will he do now?
Step #2: Foolish Promises - Mark 6:21-28
Herod would not give up Herodias, but he would not put John to death. He is the proverbial “double-minded man,” unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). He knows the truth but will not obey it. He wants this woman but knows he should not have her. What will happen? The answer comes at a birthday party. Read Mark 6:21-28.