Mark 6:16-34 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study

Mark 6:16-34

  • Mark 6:16-29
  • 16 When Herod heard of it, he said, “John, the one I beheaded, has been raised!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to arrest John and to chain him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing he was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him he would be very perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him. 21 An opportune time came on his birthday, when Herod gave a banquet for his nobles, military commanders, and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When Herodias’s own daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 He promised her with an oath: “Whatever you ask me I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” “John the Baptist’s head,” she said. 25 At once she hurried to the king and said, “I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head on a platter immediately.” 26 Although the king was deeply distressed, because of his oaths and the guests he did not want to refuse her. 27 The king immediately sent for an executioner and commanded him to bring John’s head. So he went and beheaded him in prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When John’s disciples heard about it, they came and removed his corpse and placed it in a tomb.
  • This story has all the simplicity of tremendous drama
    • First, the scene
      • The scene was the fortress of Machaerus.
      • It stood on a lonely ridge, surrounded by terrible ravines, overlooking the east side of the Dead Sea
      • It was one of the loneliest and grimmest and most unassailable fortresses in the world
      • To this day the dungeons are there
      • It was in that bleak and desolate fortress that the last act of John’s life was played out.
    • Second, the characters
      • The marriage tangles of the Herod family are quite incredible, and there inter-relations are so complicated that they become almost impossible to work out
      • Herod the Great was in power when Jesus was born. He was responsible for the massacre of the children in Bethlehem
      • Toward the end of his life, he became almost insanely suspicious, and murdered member after member of his own family
        • A Jewish saying became popular; “It is safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son”
      • He married Doris
        • Had a son named Antipater
        • He murdered this son
      • He married Mariamne (Hasmonean)
        • Sons Alexander and Aristobulus
        • Murdered both
        • Herodias from our passage was the daughter of Aristobulus
      • He married a second Mariamne (Boethusian)
        • Son Herod Philip
        • Herod Philip married Herodias, who was the daughter of his half-brother Aristobulus, and therefore his niece
        • Herod Philip and Herodias had a daughter, Salome, who is the girl who danced before Herod of Galilee in our passage
      • Herod the Great then married Malthake
        • Archelaus and Herod Antipas
          • Herod Antipas is the Herod of our passage
      • Herod Philip who married Herodias originally, and the father of Salome, inherited none of Herod the Great’s dominions
        • He lived as a wealthy private citizen in Rome.
      • Herod Antipas visited Herod Philip in Rome
        • There he seduced Herodias and persuaded her to leave her husband and marry him.
          • Note who Herodias was
            • She was the daughter of his half-brother, Aristobulus, and therefore his niece 
            • She was the wife of is half-brother Herod Philip, and therefore his sister-in-law
          • Previously Herod Antipas had been married to a daughter of the king of the Nabataeans, an Arabian country
            • She escaped to her father, who invaded Herod’s territory to avenge his daughter’s honor and heavily defeated Herod
      • Herod the Great finally married Cleopatra of Jerusalem
        • Had a son called Philip the Tetrarch
          • Philip the Tetrarch married Salome
            • The daughter of Herod Philip, his half-brother
            • The daughter of Herodias, who was the daughter of Aristobulus, another of his half-brothers
            • Salome, whom he married, therefore at one and the same time was his niece, his great-niece, and his wife
  • By marrying Herodias, his brother’s wife, Herod had broken the Jewish law (Leviticus 18:16, 20:21) and had outraged the laws of decency and morality
  • Because of this adulterous marriage and because of Herod’s deliberate seduction of his brother’s wife, John had publicly rebuked him
  • It took courage to rebuke in public a despot who had the power of life and death
  • In spite of John’s rebuke Herod still feared and respected him, for John was so obviously a man of sincerity and of goodness
  • But with Herodias it was different
    • She was implacably hostile to John and determined to eliminate him.
      • Herod held a feast for his birthday
      • Into that feast, came Herodias’ daughter Salome to dance
        • Solo dances in those does in such society were disgusting and licentious (promiscuous and unprincipled in sexual matters) pantomimes (an absurdly exaggerated piece of behavior)
        • Such dances were usually the art of professional prostitutes
        • This is a grim commentary on the character of Salome, and of her mother, who allowed and encouraged her to do so
        • Herod was pleased though
          • Offered her any reward
          • Herodias got the chance she had plotted for so long
          • Through her spite and desire for revenge, John was executed
  • Herod
    • He was an odd mixture
      • At one and the same time he feared John and respected him
      • At one and the same time he dreaded John’s tongue and yet found pleasure in listening to him
      • Herod could fear John and love him, could hate his message and yet not be able to free himself from its insistent fascination
      • Herod was simply a human being
        • Are we so very different?
    • He was a man that acted on impulse
      • He made his reckless promise to Salome without thinking
      • Let us take care
      • Let us think before we speak
      • Let us never by self-indulgence get into a state when we lose our powers of judgment and are liable to do things for which afterwards we will be very sorry
    • Herod feared what others might say
      • Many have done things they afterwards bitterly regretted because they had not the moral courage to do the right
      • Many have made themselves far worse than they might otherwise have been because they feared the laughter of their so-called friends
  • Salome and Herodias
    • There is a certain greatness about Herodias
      • Years after this, her Herod sought the title of King.
        • He went to Rome to plead for it, but instead of giving him the title, the emperor banished him to Gaul for having the insolence and the insubordination to ask for such a title
        • Herodias was told that she need not share this exile, that she could go free, and she proudly replied that where her husband went she went too
      • Herodias shows us what an embittered person can do
        • The trouble with Herodias was that she wished to eliminate the one man who had the courage to confront her with her sin
        • She wished to do as she liked with no one to remind her of the moral law
        • She murdered John that she might sin in peace
        • She forgot that while sh need no longer meet John, she sill had to meet God
  • John the Baptist
    • He was a man of courage
    • John preferred death to falsehood
      • He lived for the truth and he died for it
        • Those who bring to others the voice of God act like a conscience.
        • Many would silence their consciences if they could, and therefore those who speak for God must always take their lives and their fortune in their hands
  • Mark 6:30-34
  • 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, 33 but many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things.
    • When the disciples came back from their mission, they reported to Jesus all they had done
    • Jesus told them to come with Him to a lonely place on the other side of the lake that they might have peace and rest for a little time
      • Here we see what might be called the rhythm of the Christian life
        • The Christian life is a continuous going into the presence of God from the presence of people and coming out into the presence of people from the presence of God
      • There are two dangers in life
        • First, there is the danger of a too constant activity
          • We cannot work without rest; and we cannot live the Christian life unless we give ourselves time with God
        • Second, there is the danger of too much withdrawal
          • Devotion that does not issue in action is not real devotion
          • Prayer that does not issue in work is not real prayer
          • We must never seek God’s fellowship in order to avoid human fellowship but in order to fit ourselves better for it
        • The rhythm of the Christian life is the alternate meeting with God in the secret place and serving one another in the market place
      • The crowds saw Jesus and the 12 going away
        • Here, it was four miles across the lake by boat and ten miles around the top of the lake on foot
        • When Jesus and His disciples stepped out of the boat, the very crowd from which they had sought some little peace was there waiting for them
        • He looked at them
          • They were so desperate in earnest
          • They wanted so much what He alone could give the
          • To Him they were like sheep without shepherd
            • A sheep without a shepherd cannot find the way
              • Life can be so bewildering
              • We can stand at some crossroads and not know which way to take
              • It is only when Jesus leads and we follow that we can find the way
            • A sheep without a shepherd cannot find its pasture and its food
              • We can gain strength for lie only from Him who is the living bread
            • A sheep without a shepherd has no defense against the dangers which threaten it
              • If life has taught us one thing, it must be that we cannot live it alone
              • No one has a sure defense against the temptations which assail us and from the evil of the world which attacks us
              • Only in the company of Jesus can we walk in the world and remain untainted by it
              • Without Him we are defenseless; with Him we are safe.

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