A message from Pastor Berndt
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. Herod is conflicted by the preaching of John. Herod feared John because he proclaimed the truth. John was not concerned about opinions or ideas. John stood on the Word of God.
John preached the Law of God in its wrath and furry. He preached the Law against the religious. You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3) He preached it against the mighty (Herod). “It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.” (Mark 6) John preached God's Law against sinners. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3)
The world hates the preaching of the Law. Herod is breaking the 6th Commandment. Rather than repenting he makes excuses for his sin. "Everyone does it. It is no big deal. I am not hurting anyone." All of these are lies. God hates sin and His wrath burns against sin.
Herodias's daughter came in and danced for Herod. He gives his word on an oath before his guests. “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” Her answer: “The head of John the Baptist.” (Mark 6)
Giving out an oaths without a purpose is dangerous. Herod did fear John to a point. But his fear of John would not go beyond his fear of what others thought of him. Herod's reputation. (Self preservation.)
Herod's law-breaking continued. The cost of discipleship is great. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16)
John was made shorter by a head. John's death satisfies a foolish wish granted by Herod. Jesus’ death is the Father's will to rescue sinners. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1)
Sinners like us hear the Law proclaimed against our sins. Rather than excuses, God brings us to repentance – turning away from sin and to Jesus Christ the Lamb who shed His blood for you.
John is the last of the Old Testament preachers and the first of the New. The faithful preaching of Law and Gospel is for sinners to escape the wrath of God to come. Jesus has died, Jesus has taken the wrath of God and Christ has risen. Jesus is reigning on His throne.
I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3)
You are baptized. Your sins are washed away. You are set free to live in Christ, free from your sin, death and the Devil. John was free from the grave through faith in Christ. So too are you. Do not fear those who can hurt your bodies. Repent of your sins and believe the Gospel. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
By All Your Saints in Warfare LSB 518:24
The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
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.