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Summary: If Jesus is our King, then we need to take a bold stand for the Lord. John the Baptist certainly did, and John’s story can help us take a stand today.

Stand Up for Our Savior

Matthew 14:1-12

Sermon by Rick Crandall

McClendon Baptist Church - Oct. 26, 2008

*Last Tuesday night, Greg Wilton asked a great question: “Who’s your King?

-If Jesus is our King, then we need to take a bold stand for the Lord. John the Baptist certainly did, and John’s story can help us take a stand today.

1. First John teaches us not to be surprised by growing opposition.

*When John the Baptist stood up for the Lord, he ran into a buzz saw of opposition. -- And the same thing can happen to us. John took his stand against Herod the Tetrarch, and was consequently murdered in cold blood.

*Jerry Shirley gives us this important background:

-The Herod family looms large in your New Testament. First of all there was Herod the Great, who had at least 9 wives. Too bad they didn’t have 9 lives, because he thought nothing of killing them or his own children if they got in the way of his plans. Herod the Great is the one who slaughtered all the infants in Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth.

*Then there was his son, Herod the Tetrarch that we look at tonight. His title “Tetrarch” simply means “ruler over the fourth part of the kingdom.” This Herod was well known for living in luxury and materialism. Jesus once warned of the dangers of the “leaven of Herod,” which I believe is materialism and fleshly appetites. This Herod was a drunken, depraved man. His son was Herod Agrippa, who imprisoned Peter and killed James. And his son was Herod Agrippa II, who tried the Apostle Paul. What a wicked family! -- The mafia of the 1st century. (1)

Vs. 1-4 begin to look back at the fierce and growing opposition John faced from this family:

1. At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus

2. And said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.’’

3. For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.

4. For John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her.’’

*Herod had John in prison, but the opinion polls were running against the Tetrarch. So in vs. 5 we read that: “Although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.”

*Then in vs. 6-8 we see behind the scenes conspiracy and intrigue:

6. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod.

*This was most likely a very lewd and seductive dance from a girl who was no more that 12 to 14 years old.

7. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

8. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, "Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.’’

*Behind the scenes conspiracy and intrigue... If we really knew all the dark things being plotted in our world we might be completely overwhelmed.

*Then in vs. 9-10 we see the deadly poison of pride:

9. And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him at the table, he commanded it to be given to her.

10. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.

*And in vs. 11, we see the bottomless depths of depravity, because John’s “head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.”

*That’s how bad it was in the first century. Could it get that bad here in the 21st century? -- I hope not, but in many places around our world it already is that bad.

2. We must not be surprised by growing opposition, and we must strive for total devotion to God’s standards.

*John the Baptist was devoted to God’s standards in vs. 4. John confronted Herod about marrying his sister-in-law, and he plainly told Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”

*A.T. Robertson wrote that the tense in the original language here “probably means that John said it repeatedly.” Robertson added, “It was a blunt and brave thing that John said. It cost him his head, but it is better to have a head like John’s and lose it than to have an ordinary head and keep it.” (2)

*John the Baptist was devoted to God’s standards. Now we live in a world of shifting standards. But you keep your heart fixed on God’s standards. Evil is evil and God’s way is right. Ask the Lord for the strong courage you need to stand up for His way. And it will take courage. Sometimes it will seem like you are standing alone. All through the Bible we see people who were willing to stand alone.

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