Intro: We need to hear the truth everyday, because the human conscience can get seared. Simply stated, people can be guilty before God and not feel guilty. For this reason, we must stay in the Word of God, so our words and actions align. Sin should bring a feeling of shame, but when we choose to ignore the truth we no longer hear the “voice” telling us our behavior is wrong or sinful.
In our passage today, we are introduced to Herod Antipas who was made Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea when his father Herod the Great died in 4 BC. Although he was positioned as a Jewish ruler from 4 BC to 39 AD, Antipas saw himself above Jewish law most of the time. For example, Antipas talked the wife of his brother Phillip into violating the Jewish law by leaving her husband and marrying him (Lev 18:16). He was guilty before God, but he did not feel guilty.
John the Baptist was determined not to let Antipas forget he was to govern God’s people. John was focused on repentance and righteousness, so he condemned Antipas for adultery when he married his brother’s wife. For John, sin was sin, so he did not shy away from warning Antipas or his wife about their sin against the laws of God.
Antipas hated the truth John proclaimed; but his wife, Herodias, took the necessary action to silence John. Because Antipas cared more about his image with people than pleasing God, he order the execution of John. In fact, this ruler was known for his duplicity—the practice of working to people’s disadvantage behind their back. Antipas was a deceiver and liar; even Jesus referred to him as “that fox” (Luke 13:32).
Matthew 14:1-12 NLT The Death of John the Baptist
1 When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about Jesus, 2 he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.”
3 For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). 4 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.
6 But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, 7 so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. 8 At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” 9 Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. 10 So John was beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. 12 Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.
Prayer: Lord, from the beginning you used human shame to help your people turn away from sin and toward you. Help us, as believers, to never silence your voice in our conscience; we need to hear you everyday in order to live in a way that pleases you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.