< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Mark 6:14 – 18

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mark 6:14 – 18

Mark 6:14 – 18 14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”

16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Jesus had just sent out the 12 disciples and Herod heard about all their healings and miracles. He also heard about Jesus, but had never seen Him. He thought Jesus was John the Baptist back from the dead!

John’s background is covered in Luke 1:5-24; 57-80. John was a relative of Jesus’ and brought to earth to bring the message of Christ’s coming.

Matthew 3:1-4 tells of his spartan lifestyle. He lived in the wilderness and ate locust and honey. The wilderness was mostly in the area of Perea along the Jordan River where he baptized people. There was nothing in this area; yet it’s been estimated that one million people made the trip out there to hear his message of repentance.

Luke 3:7-9 7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Luke 3:18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

His was a call to God! He told the Jews it didn’t matter that they were part of God’s chosen race; it was their individual heart that mattered. He exposed their sin and didn’t beat around the bush while doing it! “If you desire to draw near to God you must repent of all sin, which keeps you from Him.” His was a single focus – God!

John also reprimanded Herod because Herod had married one of his own brother’s wives. So Herod threw him in prison. At first he doesn’t kill him mostly because of John’s wild popularity, but later we’ll see that he does.

Herod was a family name so there are several Herods in the Bible. Herod the Great was the father of Herod Antipas (the Herod in our Mark story.) The father’s rule ended in 4 BC and it was he who had ordered the slaughter of all the baby boys when he heard that a king had been born. He was a wicked man and a descendent of Esau. He was made a king of the Israelites by the Romans. The Romans had one Caesar, but lots of kings. These were lesser rulers with no true authority. They were really magistrates who called themselves kings to seem more important then they were. The Romans could dethrone them on a whim.

Herod the Great built a lot, including the great temple. And he had many wives and LOTS of children! He was totally paranoid, even killing family members because of his paranoia. He “ruled” many years, but died a horrible death, his body filled with disease, probably caused by his lifestyle.

Before he died he broke down his kingdom into four sections; one for each of his four favored sons. He had two different sons named Phillip. One got a section, but the one that Herodias married was just a regular citizen. Herod Antipas got Perea where John the Baptist was and also Galilee where Jesus was. Herod actually lived in Tiberius in Galilee, but he also had both a palace and a prison in Machaerus in Perea.

Herodias was also both her husbands’ niece so the situation was also incestuous! And she had great ambition! Philip, the regular brother, wasn’t good enough. Herod divorced a woman to marry Herodias which caused a huge problem with her people too, but that’s another story! Herodias’ brother was another Herod you may have heard of; Herod Agrippa. In the end her ambition gets them exiled to Gaul. They would lose everything.
But not yet: we'll continue in tomorrow's post.

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