Summary: Fear is a normal abnormality, something we are very used to in our world. Here is the story of the execution of John, and the fear that was behind it.
Passage: Matthew 14:1-12
Intro: Fear is the negative emotion we are most comfortable with.
1. it is a normal abnormality, something we have gotten very used to in our world.
2. fear is a hugely powerful force; a vast majority of the things we do, or don’t do, are motivated by fear.
3. there are 530 recognized “phobias” in our vocabulary.
4. my favorite is “homilophobia”, the fear of sermons
5. it has become normal in our sinful world, but it is the absolute enemy of faith.
6. we spend our lives being afraid of rejection by others, of death, or poverty or financial ruin, of disease, of all kinds of disasters we hope we can control, (global warming), of insecurity and vulnerability of every kind.
7. there is a lot to worry about, many things to try and control.
8. decisions made out of fear are dangerous, and here is a classic example.
9. let’s begin by looking at where Herod ended, and then look how he got there.
I. Illogical Insanity
1. Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great.
2. Herod the Great had nine wives, killed many, as well as their (his) kids.
Il) he was responsible for “the Slaughter of the Innocents.”
3. Antipas here was ruler over ¼ of the area, (Galilee and Perea)
PP map of Antipas kingdom
4. Roman appointee, was Jewish
5. he was a drunken, depraved man
6. and here in v2 we find him making a really bizarre statement upon hearing about Jesus’ miracles.
7. THIS (emphatic position) is John the Baptist resurrected.
8. this was his explanation for the miracles of Jesus.
9. was this logical?
10. As we will see, John was absolutely and very publically dead.
11. Jesus’ parentage was well- established, he had lived for about 30 years by this time.
12. he and John had known each other, been seen in public as two people.
13. so in order for this to have happened, John’s spirit had risen and possessed Jesus’ body, and then done miracles through him
14. we have seen many “interpretations” of Jesus; people, Pharisees. But this is the wildest.
15. but if we examine the path Herod took to end up here, we will understand and be instructed by his story.
II. Fear Seems Logical at First
1. vv3-4 describe a rather normal situation in the world.
Il) read from margin of Matthew 14:3 NIV Study Bible
2. John the Baptist had some things to say about this arrangement, and acc. To v4, he “kept on saying” it
3. it was incestuous, forbidden; a tangled web of illicit relationships
4. and when the prophet of God called for repentance, Herod had some options.
5. one was to repent. Another was to do nothing and let John talk. A third was to kill him, and the 4th was to arrest him.
6. now watch how fear makes the choice.
7. v3, he chose door number 3, because he was afraid of his wife’s disapproval.
8. now she clearly would prefer him to be dead, but there was another fear factor.
9. v5 “he was afraid” of the people, who were hungry for a word from God after 400 silent years.
10. so the trap was slowly closing because fear is relentless. It is the flesh response!
Il) I would like to see a slow trap set for people who stay in the ending lane until they force you to let them in. A slow and imperceptible curb rises until they are caught behind a concrete barrier.
11. fear seems logical, looks for and finds “the path of least resistance” without regard to what is right or wrong.
12. for Herod the People pleaser, it was how to keep everyone happy, except God.
13. fear does not factor God in the equation.
III. The Trap is Sprung!
1. decisions made from fear take us down a bad path
2. Herod had a birthday party, and many people were there.
3. there was a dance performed by his wife’s daughter, who was a “little girl,” perhaps 12-14
4. don’t know how lascivious it was for sure, but the effect on Herod was powerful.
5. foolish, drunken promise made in full hearing of a large and important crowd.
6. Herodias spring the trap! Listen to the details of this request!
7. “Give me” not just a report or a promise
8. “here” right in front of everyone, so there are a lot of witnesses.
9. “the head of John the Baptist”…easily identifiable, and clearly meaning John was dead.
10. “on a platter”= “flat wooden plate” so everyone can see it, absolutely no question.
11. well-thought out instructions, leaving no “wiggle room” for a man used to pleasing everyone
12. fear works in compromises; compromising the truth, the facts, the motives, right and wrong, until it finds a way.