As I look at this passage, Herod is a puzzle to me. He apparently wasn’t happy with John the Baptist when John condemned him for taking his (that is, Herod’s) brother’s wife and marrying her. It’s possible he would never have done anything, even arrest John, if Herodias, his wife, hadn’t prodded him too. She actually wanted Herod to kill John, but even Herod refused to go that far, although he had apparently wanted to at first. Part of his refusal was his fear of the people (Matthew 14:5), but perhaps as time went on, he gained a respect for this prophet who was anything but a “yes-man” to the king.
It says in Mark that Herod had come to recognize that John was different, that he was a righteous and holy man. And for some reason, he liked listening to John. You have to wonder why though, because John probably drilled him for his sin time and again. Whatever John said, it “perplexed him.” Whether it was John and his courage to condemn the king to his face that perplexed Herod, or whether it was something else that John said, I don’t know. But one thing that never happened was that Herod never repented.
And the day came when, on his birthday, his daughter danced in front of him, probably a very lewd one, and he was so pleased that he promised her up to half the kingdom if she asked. On consultation with her mother, she asked for John’s head.
Her request “distressed” Herod, but out of his pride and unwillingness to look bad in front of his guests, he gave in to her request and killed John.
I don’t know if it happened, at a guess not, but I can just imagine his final conversation with John. “Sorry about this. Nothing personal, you understand. I really do respect you, and I don’t want to do this, but my daughter asked for your head, so…”
It’s easy to condemn Herod for his actions, but how often do we take that same attitude with Christ. We hear his words. Something in them stirs our hearts. But instead of following his words, we ultimately turn our back on them and Him. Rather, we put priority on our pride, our family, or other things in our lives.
What about you? Do you go to church and listen to the message, or do you read the words of this blog, and say, “There’s something there. Something about it feels strangely good even though it stings to hear it. I really respect this messenger. He really is someone to be admired.
And ultimately turn your backs on what God is telling you?
It’s not enough to respect the messengers God sends you. It’s not enough to admit they are (hopefully) godly men. But insofar as they proclaim the words of God, you need to take action. To let those words penetrate your heart and cause repentance and change. Because God will hold you accountable for what you have heard and know.
What do you do with what you hear?