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The beheading of John the Baptist Mark 6
The death of John the Baptist
Mark 6:14-29

I come this morning to you with a measure of trepidation for the text we are going to consider will spare none of us- as it regards the call to live for Christ and to be holy. My prayer is that each of us would come under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, that might be a people holy unto the Lord.

Please turn in your Bible to Mark 6:14ff. In this section of Mark we are told of the death of John the Baptist

INTRODUCTION: John the Baptist was a big deal

Jesus said of him "I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist." Matthew 11:11a.

What made John great? He was the last prophet of the Old Testament era. He was the forerunner of Christ. He was the herald of Christ. He walked before Jesus and announced "The King is coming!" By his preaching and calling people to repentance and holy living, he prepared the way for Jesus

FYI: John was known as "John the Baptist" because at his preaching people repented of their sins and so he baptized them as a sign of their repentance and commitment to God and holiness.

READ TEXT noting...

The lead in to Mark's account of John's death is quite fascinating as it features a man named Herod Antipas convinced that Jesus was John the Baptist back from the dead.

The question of "Who is Jesus?" is a big question that the Gospel of Mark raises

People confused by Jesus and so note Mark's presentation of Christ "Power and authority over nature, to forgive sins, to raise the dead, power and authority over sickness and disease and over evil spirits (big emphasis in Mark)

What conclusion does Mark want people to draw as it regards Jesus' identity: Jesus is God in the Flesh

Some info on Herod Antipas

-Herod Antipas was a Tetrarch which meant that he ruled 1/4 of a Roman province.
-He ruled for 43 years
-Imprisoned John in AD 30
-Put John to death in AD 31
-Participated in Jesus' trial, Pilate sent Jesus to him, Antipas hoped to see a miracle, Jesus refused, Antipas mocked him and then sent Jesus back to Pilate

For his role in having John killed, Herod had great guilt and this made him fearful when he heard of a man doing many great and powerful miracles-- a man called Jesus-- who in his guilt and fear, Herod thought was John the Baptist--- perhaps come back from the grave to get him


I. Guilty consciences do something to our minds see Mark 6:14-16

Alexander Maclaren (a preacher from the past) said "A man who has a sin in his memory can never be sure that its ghost will not suddenly start up. Trivial incidents will rouse the sleeping conscience. A chance word, a scent, a sound, the look on a face, the glow of an evening sky, my bring all the foul past up again"

GOT GUILT? Take it to Jesus-- and then take God's Word at face value as it regards your being forgiven and cleansed

GREAT NEWS! When we confess and repent of our sins, Jesus takes our sin and guilt away (1 John 1:9) and the only one left to accuse us is Satan--- who is the accuser and father of lies.

What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

II. The capacity for evil on our parts is almost limitless- save for the restraining work of the Holy Spirit and the transforming power of Christ in the hearts of His followers. See Mark 6:26-27 and Romans 7:24-25

Jeremiah 17:9 says; ""The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

Note the wickedness of Herod

He liked John. He enjoyed listening to John. He was afraid of John. He respected John-- knowing that he was a good and holy man AND YET because he didn't want to look bad in front of those under him on his birthday and because he lacked the courage to do what he knew was right, he John's head cut off to satisfy the hate of his wife for John

WE ARE NOT TO BE COMPROMISERS. We are not to live like those around us who do not know God and Christ as Savior

Every day in our lives we fight a battle for holiness as the followers of Christ. Paul spoke of this battle saying in Romans 7:24-25 "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord

When it comes to following Christ we must daily say "no" to the flesh and "yes" to God for the pressure to compromise and join in with the world is not going to go away.

III. We are not to be grudge holders v.19

In Mark 6:19 in the NIV it says; "So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him."

Herodias nursed a grudge against John because he had the courage to publicly denounce her and Herod as it regarded there being together. Herodias was once the wife of Herod's brother. Herod convinced Herodias to divorce his brother and to marry him. This was evil in the sight of God according to the laws of Leviticus 18 and so John called them out to repentance.

Application: Love keeps no record of wrongs (I Cor 13:5). We are not to be grudge holders. We are not to be of the sort who bide our time to get revenge. This is the way of the world-- it is not the way of those who are the followers of Christ.

We are to forgive our enemies. We are to love those who persecute us. We are not to be grudge holders.

Are you holding on to a grudge? Let it go. Remember that you have been forgiven your sins by Christ and so forgive.

IV. Just because something is legal (or you can get away with it) doesn't mean that it is right in the sight of God. See Mark 6:18

-We live in an age downloading and file sharing and a blurring of copyright laws
-We live in a time when the law says a man can marry a man and woman can marry a woman.
-It is perfectly legal for unmarried people to have sex and live together
-It's completely legal to gamble your life savings away, drink oneself into oblivion, and chain smoke oneself into the ground
-The law says that in Canada that it's legal to kill your unborn child (whether conception has just happened or the baby is days away from delivery)
-Various advocates are pushing for the legalization of marijuana, prostitution, and euthanasia (sadly they may win)

Roman law considered the marriage of Herod and Herodias to be completely legit. John had the courage to point out and condemn Herod and Herodias' relationship. John in fact told Herod that what he did was "Not lawful".

John did not recognize Herod's marriage

On what basis? The law of God, this is why Herod's marriage was not recognized and likewise why the Bible does not recognize homosexual marriages today.

The law of God supercedes all other laws*********

1. As for Herod's marriage to his brothers wife

Leviticus 18:6 says; "Do not have sexual relations with your brothers wife"

2. As for downloading music, games, and movies without paying for it

Exodus 20:15 says; "You shall not steal"

If it doesn't belong to us we shouldn't take it

3. As for living together and having sex before marriage

Deuteronomy 22:20-21 in a shocking fashion speaks of the importance of being a virgin on ones wedding day (text does not just apply to women either) The text also reminds us an important truth that applies to all sin against God "The wages of sin is death" -- and now the good news "The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus"

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us of this; "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

4. As for what our culture refers to as marriage

The Bible affirms that marriage is to be between a man and woman exclusively saying. See Genesis 1:23-24 and the laws of Leviticus 18

Further: The Bible condemns the practice of homosexuality (Leviticus 18, Romans 1)

5. As for the killing of the unborn and euthanasia

Exodus 20:13 says; "You shall not murder"

6. As for recreational drug use

Ephesians 5:17-18 says; "So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

When it comes to right and wrong we always need to be asking "What does the Bible say?" We are not merely to go by the laws of the land.


When we are in the wrong, we need to repent and change our ways - that we might have the forgiveness of our sins and experience His blessings

The wrong response to this message is to point your finger at someone else. The call of God's Word right now is that you examine yourself, confess all known sin, resolve to change, and come to the cross of Christ where there is forgiveness and restoration.

An example of repentance from Acts 2:37-38 "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

VI. When it comes to following Christ we need to have unflinching courage -courage enough to risk our heads

No matter the cost to ourselves, we must be willing to stand up for and do what is right.

While we are to love those around us, we must not be afraid to call sin what it is- in the home, on the street, in the work place, from the pulpit on a Sunday morning.

John did and Herod respected him for it. Note what Mark 6:20 says "Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him"

In the 1500's Hugh Latimer -Chaplain to the King- denounced Henry the 8th. Latimer was particularly bold. Latimer was raised to the bishopric of Worcester in the reign of Henry VIII. It was the custom of those days for each of the bishops to make presents to the king on New Year's Day. Latimer went with the rest of his brethren to make the usual offering; but, instead of a purse of gold, he presented the King with a New Testament, in which was a leaf doubled down to this passage, "Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." His preaching in another occasion had offended the King, and Latimer was expected to apologise the next Sabbath Day. However, after reading his text, the bishop thus began his sermon:-"Hugh Latimer, dost thou know before whom thou art this day to speak? To the high and mighty monarch, the king's most excellent majesty, who can take away thy life if thou offendest; therefore take heed that thou speakest not a word that may displease! But then consider well, Hugh, dost thou not know from whence thou comest; upon whose message thou art sent? Even by the great and mighty God! who is all present! and who beholdeth all thy ways! and who is able to cast thy soul into hell! Therefore, take care that thou deliverest thy message faithfully." And he was even more pointed than before. Henry VIII commented: "Blessed be God, I have so honest a servant."

We must not forget that we have an essential task-- to call people to repentance from sin and to faith in Christ.

-John's message was repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.
-Jesus' message was repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near
-What other message do we have?

While the message we have is stern and counter cultural- it is a message of love for the goal is the reconciliation of rebels to God and the forgiveness of sin.


Ezekiel 22:30 says; "I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one."

Will you be that one. Will you be like Daniel who stood up against the edict of the King of Babylon. Will you be like John who told Herod that what he did was wrong. Will you stand in the gap. Will you stand for the Lord?