Lesson 180 -April 7, 2019 and Lesson 181-April 14, 2019
Lesson: “Beware When Satan Throws the Party”-Part I and Part II Scripture: Mark 6:14-29
Lesson Goal: To gain a better understanding of the sacrifice and service of a faithful Prophet.
Introduction: During the months of February and March our Life Focus Lessons focused on Jesus’ prepar- atory instructions to the twelve prior to sending them out to share His message and mission. Having received Jesus’ words the training period is complete and the learners become laborers in the field. Please read Mark 6:12-13, Luke 9:7-9, and Matthew 11:1.
The disciples witnessed in their own lives the empowerment of God. They went from place to place declaring the message (preaching) of Jesus. The results of their mission were told by the gospel writers. Many respond- ed to their message. John Phillips describes their work as “a threefold attack on Satan’s Kingdom: darkness was expelled, and people repented; demons were cast out, and people were set free from nightmare bondage; and disease was healed, and people experienced, even on the physical level, newness of life.” Just as the disci- ples had gone from village to village, Jesus too continued to preach and teach in the towns of Galilee.
For just a moment try to put yourself in the day and time of this ministry. As the news spreads concerning Je- sus, now for the first time the ministry of His disciples is also noted. No doubt many of the villages were ablaze with eye witness accounts of those whose lives had been forever changed by the power of God. The news of Jesus and this band of disciples was spreading and gaining a listening audience throughout the villag- es, cities, and countryside. How could this be explained?
Matthew and Mark as they write give us a literary flashback to help us better understand the explanation and response of Herod Antipas to the growing ministry and popularity of Jesus and His disciples.
Mark 6:14-29 and Matthew 11:2-15.
Very soon after Jesus began His public ministry, John the Baptist was imprisoned (see Mark 1:14). Mark un- der the inspiration of the Holy Spirit pauses his narrative of Jesus’ ministry to give us some of the details of John the Baptist death (see Mark 6:14-29). Mark will resume his narrative in Mark 6:30.
Mark takes the spirit lead opportunity of Herod’s responses to what he is hearing about Jesus to offer us insight and details that surrounded the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod.
When Herod heard of the message and miracles of Jesus, he had only one explanation. An explanation tem- pered by guilt and superstition.
(v14) Now King Herod heard of Him, for His name had become well known. And he said, “John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers work in him.”
Question: Why would this possibility trouble Herod?
(v15) Others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets.” The ones that declared, “It is Elijah” misinterpreted the prophecy of Elijah’s return in Malachi 4:5 applying it to Jesus. A true interpretation would have identified the one of Malachi’s prophecy being John the Baptist. Jesus himself would later tell His disciples the true interpretation of Malachi’s prophecy (Mark 9:13). Luke would also offer
the proper identification of Malachi’s prophecy in Luke 1:17.
(v16) But when Herod heard, he said. “This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead.” Question: Why was Herod so fearful of John the Baptist?
Herod could not deny the mighty miracles of Jesus but yet Herod’s knowledge of Jesus, and even the miracles of Jesus did not lead him to faith. He still missed it!! In Herod’s deceitful, evil mind the explanation was that John the Baptist had risen from the dead and was coming for revenge.
Question: Why would Herod track the way of revenge in his mind?
“The tetrarch had taken Herodias as his own wife after seducing her away from his half brother Philip while on a visit to Rome. In order to marry her, he had to divorce his present wife, the daughter of King Aretas, with whom the marriage of his daughter had sealed a political and military alliance. Aretas ruled Nabatean Arabia, whose capital was the formed fortress city of Petra, located about fifty miles southeast of the Dead Sea, Aretas was so angered by the treatment of his daughter that he destroyed most of Herod’s army and would have slain the tetrarch as well had not the Roman army intervened.” Mac Arthur
(v18) Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife,”
Fearless John the Baptist, the wilderness prophetic voice had confronted and denounced the King for his sins. Truly with a godly boldness John had called the King out for his sin. John did not let the position, power, au- thority, or clout of Herod cloud his message of truth.
(vv19-20) Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
Even in his evil and warped thinking, Herod had a fear of John and a recognition of him as a “just and holy man.” John’s boldness and truthfulness was obviously a bitter point of resentment for Herodias. Herodias’ bitterness grew to outright hate for John because of his message of truth. Herodias had the mindset if you don’t like the message just silence the messenger.
Question: Please prayerfully answer. What are some of the responses and reactions of people when their hearts are convicted of sin?
Question: Do people still respond/react negatively toward the messenger of truth when they don’t like the message of truth? Please explain.
(v21) Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee.
It helps us in our understanding of the “opportune day” to reference back to verse 19, the words “held it against him and wanted him killed.” These words literally mean Herodias had it in for him. The words (verbs) of verse 19 are in the imperfect tense which shows her abiding, continuing hatred for John. She contin- ually wanted John dead. She was relentless in her dogging Herod to have John killed. Herod feared John and even protected him from the vengeance of Herodias (v20). Although in prison, Herod kept John safe from the hands of Herodias. Herodias like a predator lurking in the shadows of the tall grass waits for the right time to pounce. Finally that moment came!
The occasion was Herod’s birthday and a party was given. All the “Who’s Who” came to the extravagant cel- ebration for the wining, dining, and extra entertainment provided by the King. It all began with a party!
Parties– Parties can be wonderful times of joy and celebration. Parties can be great times of fun and fellow- ship honoring unto God and festive for man. In fact Jesus attended parties on occasion. But with all that being said, how many times have parties turned into dangerous affairs. “Many a person has lost his soul at a party, when drinks are flowing, bawdy jokes are flying, passions are inflamed, morals are lowered, and restraints are removed.” Phillips
How many compromises have been made at parties? How many heartaches have been recognized the day af- ter the party? Under the spell of alcohol or drugs how many young lives of innocence have been forfeited at the party?
Question: Has the “guard dog” of the Holy Spirit ever barked in your heart saying to you, “You Have No Business At This Party” or “You Do Not Belong Here?”
Question: Have you ever known the heartache of the party?
(vv22-23) And when Herodias’ daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the King said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” He also swore to her, whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my Kingdom.
Please explain this statement: “Sin makes you stupid.”
Using verses 21-23 give some examples of that fact that “Sin makes you stupid.”
“Forgotten now, drowned by drink and buried at last by lust, was all thought of John.” Phillips
The provocative, seductive dance was more than Herod could take. Carried away by sins stupidity, Herod of- fers “half my Kingdom.”
Question: What has sin’s stupidity cost you?
While the party is revving up John is in the prison cell. God’s prophet, the voice of one crying in the wilder- ness, John, is alone with his thoughts, memories, and desire to finish well in the palace prison cell. There’s no party in the prison cell.
Verse 23 is a continuation of verse 22 but in verse 23 Herod’s swears an oath to her to extend the boundaries of his word. If his word alone was not enough he would seal it with his oath. For whatever reason, to impress the “Who’s Who” next to him, a brain inebriated by alcohol, a passion aroused by seduction, or the plan ole fact “Sin Makes You Stupid”, Herod swears by oath to give away up to half of his Kingdom to this woman.
The devil’s trap had been sprung!!!
(v24) So she went out and said to her mother (Herodias). “What shall I ask?” Quickly Herodias’ response came-”The head of John the Baptist.”
(v25) Immediately she came in with haste to the King and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
With urgency, no time for any changing of the mind; the trap had been sprung. No time to sober up or change his mind. No time for rational thought to occur. Forever in Herod’s drunken stupidity and words, “Ask me whatever you want and I will give it to you” and “up to half my Kingdom were ridiculous promises within themselves because even his Kingdom was under authority and ruled by Rome and Rome would be the final say on any such transaction. And doubtless to say, Rome would have put the kibosh on Herod’s drunken gen- erosity.
(v26) And the King was exceedingly sorry, yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not refuse her.
Even for Herod it seems his heart said no but his pride said yes. Herod had rather have an execution of a holy and just man than to be embarrassed in front of this impressive gathering of influential dignitaries from the Kingdom.
Question: Has your fear of embarrassment ever cost you something?
Question: Has your prevailing pride ever cost you something?
Question: Has your sinful stupid moment ever cost you something?
(vv27-28) Immediately the King sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.
(v29) When his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb.
Some of those that had responded in repentance and faith to the Prophet’s message came and with honor and respect buried the body of this great man of God. See Matthew 11:11.
Please, please take time and read one final verse of this lesson-Matthew 14:12. Matthew adds one other im- portant point of detail, “and went and told Jesus.”
Question: Have your ever been at a place in your life and the only thing you could do was go and tell Jesus?
I must tell Jesus all of my trials,
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me, He ever loves and cares for His own.
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.
I must tell Jesus all of my troubles,
He is a Kind, compassionate Friend;
If I but ask Him He will deliver, Make of my troubles certainly an end. What must I do when worldliness calls me? What must I do when tempted to sin?
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me Over the world the victory to win.