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Summary: Herod and Herodias will do anything to protect the sin they love so dearly, and we will too. Stop protecting your sin, repent, and receive healing from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Because of a minor infraction, a sailor aboard the USS Reeves, bound for Japan, was busted one rank, fined and given extra duty for three weeks. He was looking forward to celebrating his 21st birthday on July 22, and so he consoled himself every night during his extra duty by reciting this phrase to himself, "They can bust me, they can fine me -- but they can’t take away my birthday", and as July 22 approached, his excitement increased. When he went to bed on July 21, he happily repeated his self encouraging phrase, "They can bust me, they can fine me -- but they can’t take away my birthday." The next morning when he awoke, he found out that the ship had crossed the international date line -- and it was July 23.

Birthdays can be a big deal, some people just love them. It is a time to celebrate, to have a get together with loved ones and thank God for his grace an d mercy in your life. Why do folks like birthdays so much? I think there are a variety of reasons some noble and some very self centered – a neighborhood kid expressed it well, when on her birthday this summer you could hear her shouting at the other kids in the neighborhood, “You have to do everything I say, because today is my birthday!” – This sounds like a birthday in the Herod household.

Mark takes a quick detour from Jesus’ ministry to explain what had happened to Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. On the surface in this passage, we see soap opera like intrigue culminating in the wrongful death of an innocent man. At the root of these dysfunctional lives, we see a deep sin that blinds this family to the evil they are involved in to the point that they will sacrifice dignity, reputation and life to continue their sin. In fact we see one of the family members even listening and enjoying teaching from God’s word but, to no effect upon their lives. This passage is not just about a morbid ancient birthday party, no, it is about you and I, it is a warning of how the sin we hold onto blind us to the validity of God’s word. In fact we can fool ourselves, because like Herod, we hear God’s Word often, we discuss it, we analyze it and are fascinated by it, but all those things do not in of themselves constitute belief. They constitute interest.

Greg graduated with me from Seminary with his Masters and went on to a major University to work on his PhD in theology. Greg is a very gifted and intelligent man and he did extremely well in his studies, pretty much at the top of his class in every area of study. So he was taken by surprise when he was called into his supervisors office to be told that he was being removed from the program. Greg wasn’t being removed because of his academics, his academics were excellent, in fact better than most. The professor explained to Greg that he was on a different “wavelength” than the rest of the students and also the professors. The professor had received so many complaints, that for the peace of the department he had to ask Greg to leave. For the life of him, Greg couldn’t, understand exactly what the difficulty could be. and so he pressed the professor, “What exactly do you mean”? “Well”, said the professor, “the problem is you actually belief this stuff. You take the contents of the bible as true and really believe everything in it about Jesus.” Greg pushed even further, “Of course I believe I’m a Christian, why is that a problem”? It turns out that both the professors and the others students didn’t want to have to deal with a believer.

These men and women at this university that studies with Greg, found Scripture very interesting and Christian theology fascinating, so much so that they dedicated their life to studying it – but with all the love for Scripture when it came right down to it – they still could not believe a word of it. In other words the Seminary was seen as another department of philosophy or sociology. They were comfortable with the theoretical, but not the practical. What that really means is this: To read about the bible, to hear about the bible and discuss the bible is one thing, but to put what the bible says into practice is quit another. This is Herod, and this could easily be any one of us.

Now the New Testament speaks of several individuals called Herod, so hold on to your seat, because this is unbelievably confusing. First there was Herod the Great. He was King when Jesus was born. He is the one who massacred the young children of Bethlehem as he sought to kill the Jesus. Herod the Great had several marriages and had produced had a number of sons. Among them were: Antipater who was executed, Aristobulus and Archelaus who were murdered, and also, Herod Philip and Herod Atipas, the Herod in our passage. These men were all half-brothers. One of the half brothers Aristobulus had a daughter named Herodias. Herodias married Herod Philip. Herodias, was in fact, Philip’s niece. So Herod Philip had married his own niece. They had a daughter whose name was Salome. So within these complicated relationships, Herod Antipas then, creates more confusion.

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