Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly. (Mark 6)
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen. The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. John is preaching the Word of God. He preaches to sinners. Herod was one to whom John came to preach God's Law to show Herod his sin so that he would repent. Herod like to listen to John, even though the message made Herod uncomfortable.
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.” (Mark 6) Herod, you are sinning against God, you are sinning against God's Holy institution of marriage. Herod, you need to repent. But Herod did not repent. Herod continued in his sin of adultery and rebellion against God. Herod had John the Baptist thrown into prison. John, now in an ice cold cell, does what? Continues to preach God's Word from the cell. God's Word is not bound.
Herod was hearing the Word of God but not believing. He loved other things more than the truth. Herod loved his sin. Our Old Adam loves sin as well. Herod was perplexed by John's preaching because he could not dismiss God's Word.
Herod throws a party for himself. The stepdaughter dances for him. Herod would give her what she wanted. She ran out to ask her Mother (the one who was not Herod's wife)--what to ask for? Answer--the head of John the Baptist. She wanted to silence the preacher.
Sin is ugly. When sin is left unchecked, it is dangerous to others. But John, even in his death, pointed to Jesus. John’s message is one of Repentance and Forgiveness for the repentant sinner. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1) What did Jesus do with your sin and mine? Jesus hung it on the Cross. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—(Galatians 3)
John was not abandoned but instead he is living today because of Jesus--reigning in heaven in the Kingdom of God that has no end. The Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22)
Our world today is much the same. Mocking marriage and ridiculing Christians. A Supreme Court much like Herod closes ears to the Word of God and speaks against God. But you, my Church, fear not. Repent and believe the Good News. The Lord Jesus Christ has defeated your sin and has risen from the grave for you. Life everlasting living in Christ. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16) In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.
Our thanks for John the Baptist
Who, till his dying day,
Made straight paths for the Savior
And heralded His way!
In witnessing to Jesus
Through times of threat or shame
May we with faith and courage
The Lamb of God proclaim. (LSB 518:24)