Summary: A look at how we should not just listen to the Word, but also obey it.
Title: Herod’s Choice
Introduction: There is an epidemic loose in our world today. It’s not a physical disease, but an epidemic far worse. It is the terrible reality that many people in our country know what God expects, yet stubbornly refuse to listen and obey. People in this country know that adultery is wrong, that murder is wrong, and stealing is wrong, yet they chuck God’s word to the side and pursue their own desires. God’s moral and righteous laws have become comic fodder for late night comedians. God’s standards are constantly being eroded away by people unwilling to live by his ways. One reason for all this mess is Christians. More accurately, Christians that enjoy listening to God’s Word, but allow it to go no farther than their ears. Many Christians have shown the world by their lifestyle that “Christianity” is just something to listen too, and not really something to live. To those types of people, God has some strong words. They have deceived themselves. If you have your Bible, open it with to James chapter 1 and verse 22.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
God’s Word is the most incredible thing in this entire world. In it’s pages, God has chosen to speak to the human race. He has shown us the height’s from which we have fallen, the helplessness of our attempts to save ourselves, and the answer that he has provided in his Son Jesus. If the world only had one book, it would have to be the Bible. Yet for all its greatness, the Bible is powerless unless people believe and put into practice what they hear and read. I believe that there are many Christians in this world that know what the Bible teaches. On Sundays they may even be in church proclaiming they live by it. However, their life through the rest of the week denies it. What good is it to raise our hands on Sunday if we raise hell the rest of the week.
The end result of anyone that listens to the Word but doesn’t obey it will be the same as a person that flat out refuses to hear it. To illustrate this tonight, I want us to look at the life of a man that enjoyed hearing God’s Word, but never once thought about obeying it. I want us to look at Herod. If you still have your Bibles open, turn over to the gospel of Mark chapter 6. I want us to start by reading verses 16-20. Now as our passage begins, word has been spreading about Jesus and all the incredible miracles he has been doing. Many people believed Jesus was a prophet of old .
16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”
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. (NIV)
I. He listened to the message
The Herod story is one of the great soap opera stories of the Bible. With so many Herods in the Bible, let’s get his story clear. The Herod alive at the time Christ was born was known has Herod the Great. After his death his kingdom was divided among three of his sons: Philip, Antipas, and Archelaus. All of these sons went by the name Herod. For less confusion, we’ll call them Herod Philip, Herod Antipas, and Herod Archelaus. Now Herod the Great also had another son named Aristobulus. This is where the story begins to play like a daytime drama. Aristobulus had a daughter named Herodias. This daughter went and married her Uncle Herod Philip. During this time, Herod Antipas married the daughter of powerful king within the region. On a trip to Rome, Herod Antipas met Herodias. Supposedly they fell in love and both promptly divorced their spouses in favor of pursuing this new interest. So in this story, we have a niece marrying her uncle, only to divorce him in favor of another uncle.
It was because of this adulterous relationship that John had strong words to say against Herod Antipas and Herodias. John fearlessly preached against their relationship. First, they were closely related and that was forbidden. Second, they were both married to someone else. Without any moral grounds for divorce, they were both living in adultery. With these strong words, John preached the message that we see him preaching in the opening chapters of the gospel. His message was one of repentance and turning away from sin. John was calling on people to lives of righteousness in expectation of the coming Messiah. And John expected Herod Antipas and his lover Herodias to do the same.