Summary: Herod’s Folly was not making a rash promise-- it was his refusal to REPENT!

Herod’s Folly

Mark 6: 14-29

1. Because of His Guilt- Herod was ready to believe the worst!

Some said that Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead!

Other People said he was Elijah (See Malachi 4),

Others said he was a prophet.

From these choices- Herod chose the worst—and was probably paranoid that the ghost of John the Baptist was going to come to get him.

Let’s take a moment and look at Herod’s sin—first it was a violation of Leviticus 18:16, Leviticus 20:21--- The thing that makes this even more despicable, is that this women is Herod’s NIECE!

Herod’s Sin, even in Roman society was shocking. Herod sins by stealing his brother’s wife and also by involving himself in an incestuous relationship--

Herod’s sin also showed a lack of concern for the area he was ruler over. Why? Because in order to marry Herodias he had to divorce the daughter of the king of the Nabataens, one of the only people to never be conquered by the Romans. When Herod spurned the daughter of this king, eventually war broke out and Herod didn’t do so well in the War. The Romans eventually were able to restablish peace.. but Herod’s actions put self above others.

There was an old song that the cowboy western star Roy Rogers sang. It was called Good news--bad News! It weas told from the point of view of a man who was talking to a woman he’d been having an affair with- the good news was that his wife was ready to set him free.. the bad news was that as he started to leave, he saw his children and he knew he could not walk out on them.

People need to recognize that their sin hurts others around them.

2. Herod chose to persecute John (by imprisonment) rather than to deal with his own personal sin.

Herod is one of those people that nobody can talk to.—instead he persecutes John.

Another Biblical example of persecuting someone for their righteousness instead of coming to full repentance would be Cain and Abel. Cain is so distressed by his sin, but refuses to repent, and he takes it out on his righteous brother by killing him.

3. Herod enjoyed listening to John, but still did not come to repentance

There are people who enjoy listening to preaching, but refuse to properly apply what is being preached.

James 1:22 reminds us of how important it is to put into practice what is preached rather than enjoying it.

While Pastors need to be careful that they are not crafting “enjoyable” sermons, but rather preaching the Word of God in its fullness, we must note that it was Herod’s refusal to repent rather than John’s message that was the problem. John preached repentance without apology—

When people refuse to repent over their wrongdoing they won’t listen to anybody.

I Samuel 25:17 speaks of Nabal’s wickedness— One of his servants spoke to Abigail, his wife about him--

“Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him."

Can you imagine someone being so wicked that they refuse to listen to anybody? I can, because I have seen some people like that.

4. Herod refused to stand up for what was right!

Herod’s niece dances and Herod makes his rash promised. When his niece came and asked him for John’s head on a platter, he was DISTRESSED! Note that the Greek Word translated in verse 25 “Greatly Distressed” is the same phrase used to describe Jesus’ distress in the Garden of Gethsemane.

However, Herod wasn’t so troubled about what was being asked of him that he stood up and said “no! I won’t do that!”

Are you TROUBLED when you do wrong? Troubled enough to stand against sin in your own life?


Herod’s Folly was not making a rash promise.. His folly was refusal to repent—over and over and over again. His folly was to realize that he could kill the messenger, but the message would continue to echo in his own conscience for years to come.

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Johnny Wilson

commented on Feb 13, 2009

David shared this sermon with me right after he preached it. It spoke to me then and it spoke to me again as I read it just now. Too often, we focus on the symptoms (actions) rather than the disease (lack of repentance). Thanks for the reminder.

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