Summary: Make up your mind to stand firm on what is right and resist the pressures to be popular or to conform. Pray and draw strength from God to resist pressure to compromise God’s truth.
(Taken some pointers from David Hoke’s sermon “Herod’s Folly”)
We face pressures in life – different pressures, different degrees, at different stages of life.
• From school projects, workload, meeting datelines, and others.
• You faith in God – no matter how strong it is – will not take away the pressures of life.
• In fact, sometimes, being a Christian only increases the pressures we have to face.
We face pressures from people too – from our teachers, bosses, even friends (peer pressures)
• People-pressure can be most difficult to deal with – far more difficult than pressure from circumstances or schedules or work.
• We feel compelled to respond - because people expect us to do something.
• Like pastor-pressure – you feel compelled to do something because pastor says so.
How do you respond to pressure? We can’t run from them all the time.
• We have to learn to handle it – and yet please God in the process.
• Herod did not do such a good joy handling pressure. We’re going to learn from this event.
Mark was recalling an event that has taken place. He stops at this point in his chronology to update us on what happened to John the Baptist.
• John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod. Jesus came onto the scene and some thought that he must be John, who had been raised from the dead.
• Herod felt that way too. For him, it was the cry of a guilty conscience – somehow he felt that John the Baptist was a good prophet of God.
• Yet he killed him.
That is why this historical sketch is written - to give us insight into the kinds of pressures which caused Herod to act against even his own conscience.
• Apparently Mark deviated from this regular flow of events to tell us all these details, so that his readers would understand the folly of Herod’s decision and learn from it.
• As we seek to understand this story, we must keep before us this truth - what happened to Herod can also happen to us.
Have you ever been pulled or pushed in every direction?
• Do you allow yourself to be manipulated by the pressures of other people’s expectations and demands?
• Are you able, in the midst of that pressure, to think clearly and make the right decisions?
• Did you ever end up doing what you would not want to do?
Herod felt the pressure. 6:26 “The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her.”
• People-pressure forced Herod to do what he knew was not right; yet he did it anyway.
( I ) Beware of Pressure-Pushers
Herodias is a pressure-pusher. She is actually the wife of Herod’s brother Philip, whom Herod had taken unlawfully and married.
• John the Baptist confronted Herod: "It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife."
• That’s why Herodias was not happy – John had embarrassed her. 6:19 “So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him.”
• 6:19-20 But she was not able to, 20because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
• Somehow Herod was unwilling to remove John. He liked to hear him.
But the Herodias is waiting for the right moment to get him to remove John.
• 6:21 “Finally the opportune time came…”
• She is a pressure-pusher - who seeks to achieve her ends by whatever means necessary.
• A manipulator - who acts out of her own personal ambition and plot.
The stage was set. She decided to give Herod a birthday banquet.
• She made the guest list out and invited just the right people.
• She used her daughter to dance before Herod and his guests.
• In the spur of the moment, probably half drunk, Herod made a very foolish promise.
• He promised to give her whatever she wanted, up to half of the kingdom.
Salome the girl then went to her mother to ask what should be her request.
• Her mother, without hesitation, said, "The head of John the Baptist."
When Herod heard this, he was greatly distressed.
• He was put in a spot – the King has to honour his word, and before so many guests.
• As the governor, it’s important that he please the people and keep the job.
• He felt compelled to do what his conscience said otherwise. He gave in.
TODAY we face similar pressure – (1) the pressure of being popular.
• Everyone wants to be liked. We like to be popular. That’s why we give in to peer-pressures.