Notes On Mark’s Gospel (54)

“On Your Mark”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

The Faithful Servant (Chapter 6 Verses 14-29)

When the word of God is declared in the power of the Holy Spirit (vv1-13), it affects people, even in high places, and palace walls do not hinder it. But you can also guarantee there will be a reaction to it, sooner or later (vv14ff). John the Baptist was a fearless, Spirit-empowered preacher, and as a result of John’s effective ministry here is a king with a guilty conscience, the man’s soul is haunted (vv14-16). In spite of the opinions of others Herod’s conviction is that John has been raised from the dead (at least he believes in the resurrection of the dead) (v16), and no doubt come to trouble him. He himself beheaded John, and that knowledge will never depart from him, in this life or the one to come. His evil conscience will burn eternally (Mark 9.48). But of course behind all this speculation about the person of Jesus, is unbelief, a refusal to accept who he really is, the Messiah.

The reason for Herod’s murderous act (vv17-20), was the result of John’s courageous, unbending moral stand against the king’s unlawful marriage. The Baptist was no bending reed. Faced with the monarch’s undoubted wrath, John knew the king’s sin was a public outrage, but more serious, an offence before almighty God. The consequence of this sin, was two marriages disrupted, there is no mention of any children involved but they would not matter anyway, and the new union was an adulterous affair, not a marriage. The Baptist condemned the king’s sin. Why is it we do not hear this straight talking from people with both the opportunity and responsibility today in our own land? I mean recently the State Church in England held a Synod to discuss as to whether homosexual and gay clergy are acceptable in the Church. What is there to discuss? I mean, what does the Bible say, (Leviticus 18.22; 20.13; 1Corinthians 6.9-10; 1Corinthians 6.18; Romans 26-32), is that not clear enough? What about the growing acceptance of divorce within evangelicalism (Matthew 19.9)? In the case of Herod’s actions, John knew there was nothing to discuss, what he was doing was sinful, contrary to the revealed word of God, and John told him so. It cost John to be faithful to God, Herod would not be the only one who hated him, but ultimately it cost him his life. Do we weary the Lord when we ask him to direct us in circumstances which we know only too well to be contrary to his will (Joshua 7.10-12)? How does our faithfulness match up to that of John the Baptist?

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)

Sermon Audio


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