Notes On Mark’s Gospel (55)

“On Your Mark”

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

Murder & Adultery, Partners in Crime (Chapter 6 Verses 14-29)

We must however beware of becoming cynical. The constant need to resist evil and to counter moral decay and popular trends in our society can produce in us a very sour error-finding habit, and turn us into sour critics of other people’s sins. Without charity, without love. The problem is that the cynic is usually right, spot on, sound. Yet pathetically wrong. Because they are right, they descend into a state of chronic bitterness (Hebrews 12.15). It is only the cultivation of an inner spiritual attitude of love and grace, overflowing thankfulness to God (Colossians 2.7), that will keep us from such cynicism. To say Herod’s fancy woman nursed a grudge (v19), puts it rather mildly, she was filled with a murderous hatred, she was totally unscrupulous. It seems that murder and adultery go well together. The only problem was her lover had a conscience (v20), and deep down he knew John was right. But his lust overcame his reason, which is not uncommon. There are many today confronted with the claims of the gospel, who like what they hear, reason it to be right and proper, but? When it comes to parting with their former way of living, or their pet lusts, it is just too much. They are attracted but not enough, how does that hymn go? Almost persuaded….? But almost is not enough, a full and firm assurance of the gospel and its requirements are needed, and to be willingly acted upon.

The woman was a schemer, she waited and her opportunity came (vv21-25). It was a party and everybody who was anybody was there. The wine flowing, excitement generated, the young girl dancing exotically, no doubt well-instructed by her mother. Herod was easy meat. His speech is way over the top, probably to the extent that it would not have been if he were sober. Drink in itself is not evil, and the Bible places no prohibition on the consumption of alcohol, but it well warns of the dangers of excess (Proverbs 20.1; 21.17; 23.20; 23.30-32; 31.4-6). Should Christians abstain altogether? In our day with so much alcohol abuse is that a better witness? Or is it better to clearly display the ability to enjoy within the bounds of self-control? I only ask. But even had he made the oath in a drunken stupor, it was neither morally nor legally binding, it should never have been kept. It should have been confessed as sinful folly and retracted immediately (Leviticus 5.4-6). The woman Herodias, had Herod right where she wanted him. Herod had started digging his own hole back when he first heard the Baptist, it was getting deeper by the minute.

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)

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