Summary: Are we offended when repentance is preached? Do we want to kill the messenger? Let’s look at the murder of John the Baptist in Mark 6:14-29.


Are we offended when repentance is preached? Purpose: Do we want to kill the messenger? Let’s Plan: Let’s look at the murder of John the Baptist in Mark 6:14-29.

Who is Jesus

Mark 6:14 Now King Herod heard of Him [Jesus], for His name had become well known. And he said, “John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.” 15 Others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets.”

This is Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great. Jesus also appeared before Herod, who wanted a miracle and mocked him, but Jesus had nothing to say to him (Luke 23:6-12).

The opinions of who Jesus is or was are many even today. Was He just a man, Michael the archangel, two persons (one divine, the other human), or only one of three modes in which God appears? As God did He really die, or did He only appear to be human? All of these are considered to be heresies. Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christianity is more logical because it includes the whole testimony of Scripture, that Jesus was God with us, a member of the Trinity, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but willingly subordinate in authority to the Father.

John’s Criticism

Mark 6:16 But when Herod heard, he said, “This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. 18 Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Jesus also denounced Herod as a fox (Luke 13:32), perhaps for his cunning and cowardly attacks behind Jesus’ back. God’s message of repentance is not always popular. John and Jesus were crucified for similar reasons. The church’s message is “good news” (Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:1; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 6:15; Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18; 7:22) but bad news for those who profit from this dog-eat-dog Babylon (Revelation 18). Just as then, the church has a message: repent (Matthew 3:2).

John was right about adultery, but we pretend it is not. Jesus told a woman caught in adultery to sin no more. Elijah criticized Ahab for marrying Jezebel (1 Kings 21) and his life was threatened. Nathan criticized David for his affair with Bathsheba, but David repented. Calling for repentance can be a dangerous thing.

Herod’s Indecision

Mark 6:19 Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

Rather than repent, Herodias wanted to kill John. Many have paid dearly for preaching repentance. Do we hate being told to repent? Do we also seek vengeance on those who dare?

Herod’s Oath

Mark 6:21 Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. 22 And when Herodias’ daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” 23 He also swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”

Flavius Josephus named her as Salome. One possible implication is that Salome danced lewdly, and that Herod had drunk way too much.

Salome’s Request

Mark 6:24 So she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist!” 25 Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

John the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, was a relative of Jesus. He prepared for Jesus, preaching repentance in the wilderness, and followed by multitudes. He lived an ascetic lifestyle. He called Jesus the Lord, the Lamb of God, the Son of God. He challenged King Herod who put him in prison. Would we begin a protest march? Jesus did not. John had a crisis of faith and was executed. Jesus said that none was greater than John yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

John’s Death

Mark 6:26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb.

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