The Tragedy of Herod

It is a picture of the church. Read Mark 6:17-20 and see the American church in the tragedy that is Herod. Here’s the passage:

17 For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; 20 for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.

Let’s put a microscope on that last verse (v. 20).


  1. Herod was afraid of John.
  2. Herod knew John was a righteous and holy man (yet, he imprisoned him).
  3. Herod kept John safe (though imprisoned).
  4. When Herod heard John speak, he was perplexed.
  5. Herod used to enjoy listening to John.


  • Herod was not pleased that John confronted him over his adultery.

But here’s the thing that caught my eye, “. . . he used to enjoy listening to him.” Herod enjoyed listening to John the Baptist. That is stunning to me. This man, ruler from the first century, killer of John the Baptist, man who tried to say that he was guiltless and washed his hands of the murder of Christ, enjoyed the teaching of John the Baptist despite his criticism of Herod’s lechery.

It makes me wonder how many people sit in our churches, and enjoy the teaching, enjoy the preaching, love the association with righteousness and holiness and yet have no real part in the very things they are hearing, even enjoying, and with which they are living in such close proximity. The thought reminded me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Terrifying words. But words designed to cause true followers of Christ to live in a radical and real dependence on Jesus. The question is, will the church hear the warning.

Will the church listen.

Will the church wake up from its slumber and recognize that the Christian life is either everything or nothing. 


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