Summary: When we take pleasure in sinful things we weave the very web that ensnares us
Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave! Mark 6:14-29
In our undergraduate years at the University of Maryland I was taking classes like business law and statistics, while my wife Kay was a philosophy major. It got to the point that we spoke two different languages. Kay just sounded a lot smarter than me. For instance, I might say something like, ‘why’d you make such a big stink about that?’ Whereas she would say, ‘me think thou dost protesteth too much.’
Her favorite quote was from Shakespeare, and every time she thought I wasn’t being truthful she’d whip this one out. “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.’ She drove me crazy in college. But the first thought that came to mind when I read Mark 6:14-29 was, ‘oh what a tangled web we weave, when we seek pleasure in sinful things.’
It’s really a sad sight when you see someone completely trapped in their own web of sin. Now I don’t mean to bash former president Clinton, I think he did some good things, but I can’t think of anyone more publicly ensnared in their own web of sin. You remember, he started the web of sin by having an illicit relationship with his intern. Then when he was accused, he continued to weave the web by publicly lying about it, ‘I did not have sex with that woman.’ Then when he was clearly caught and everyone knew it, the reporters where all over him. We were living right outside of DC at the time, and I have to admit I watched the news daily with a certain morbid curiosity to see just how this fully ensnared president would try to escape his own web. And do you remember what he said when he was fully ensnared in his own web of sin and lies? He was asked something like, ‘is there a sexual relationship between you and Monica Lewinski?’ And his answer was, ‘it depends on what the meaning of the word is, is. You have to hand it to the guy, He was fully wrapped in the web he created but he was still trying to spin more web! Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we seek pleasure in sinful things.
In our passage today we’re going to learn how Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, wove a web of sin that eventually ensnared him. He’ll serve as a reminder to us that we must not weave webs of sin in our lives by seeking pleasure in sinful things. Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 6:14-29. This passage comes on the heels of Jesus and His followers performing many miracles that had become well known.
14-16 All kinds of wrong ideas were floating around about who Jesus was, and by what power His miracles were taking place. But Herod believed that Jesus was John the Baptist arisen from the dead, and that notion scared him to death, because Herod was the one that had John killed. Vv. 17-29 explains how Herod got trapped by his own web of sin, eventually leading to the murder of John the Baptist.
Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave, Seeking pleasure in all the wrong places (17-18):
Herod Antipas sought delight in a sinful relationship. Herodias was Herod’s second wife. His first wife was the daughter of an Arabian king. But Herod divorced her to marry Herodias who was actually the wife of his half brother, Philip. And she was also the daughter of another half-brother, Aristobulus. So picture the extent of Herod’s sinful desire. He was willing to divorce his wife because He was lusting after a woman who was both his sister-in law and his niece! What a dog!
Herod was a spineless man seeking pleasure in sin, but John the Baptist was a man who lived out his burning convictions. John walked up to one of the most powerful men in Israel and said, you’re sinning, stop it!
I read a great book on vacation written by John Piper, entitled ‘Desiring God.’ The fundamental principle of the book was this, it’s not that our desire for pleasure is too strong, but too weak. We’re too easily pleased by temporal, even sinful things. True lasting pleasure comes when we delight in the Lord. The message that needs to be shouted from the houses of high finance is this: Secular man, you are not nearly hedonistic enough! In other words, why be satisfied with the measly fleeting pleasures of temporal or sinful things when you could feast on the pleasures of the Lord?
Now lets make sure we paint the full picture. Sin often feels good for a time. It wasn’t as though Herod missed out on all pleasure. I’m sure Herodias was a beautiful woman. Herod was a man of power and wealth, he would have no trouble getting a wife, but he wanted Herodias. She must have been a beautiful woman. I’m sure Herod found temporal sensual pleasure in that relationship. But when we look at the long-term effects of his entanglement with her we’ll find it was gruesome and personally tragic for Herod.