Overcoming The Challenge

Herod’s story helps us to understand several things. First, that John’s message was for everyone. Second, not everyone who hears the message of repentance will be committed to it. Third, for those who hear and receive it, they will make the choice to prepare themselves so that God can enter in and live according to God’s will and not the will of the self. By doing so it doesn’t make us perfect and we won’t always make the right decision but the spirit that condemns us will lead us back to John’s message of repentance of the heart. What story would we be telling if Herod chose not to honor his daughter’s request? How many decisions have we made in our own lives simply for our own self-preservation out of pride, arrogance, selfishness and fear? How many times have we in hindsight, with knowledge of Christ, wish we had made a different decision, not for things in which we have no relationship like the color of carpet, but rather in those matters that reflect our relationship to others? However, in spite of our selves and out past, God chooses to be in relationship with us, as blameless before him according to his love, which is revealed to us through Christ. As we strive to live according to God’s love, a Herod’s dilemma becomes less prevalent in our lives as we travel this journey.

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A Herod Dilemma

We all know the story (Mark 6:14-29). John had been speaking the truth about Herod and John being who he was just couldn’t keep quiet about it. This of course today is not always the most popular thing to do (publicly airing other peoples’ dirty laundry) but John’s charge was a message of repentance and Herod claiming himself to be Jewish (by his family conversion) had blatantly defied Jewish law. John could have ignored this ruthless Edomite “Jewish” leader of Galilee and Perea and simply stayed focused on the ever popular “brood of vipers” living as Pharisees (Matthew 12:34). However, it seems clear that was simply not God’s plan, and not John’s destiny and he intended to follow his destiny. The message of repentance was for any one who had ears to “hear”, regardless of the polity in which they happen to align themselves. Everyone has fallen short and the time of preparation for God’s grace and mercy has come. It would cost John his life, but not before it cost Herod his integrity. This I believe is at the heart of finding our selves in a Herod’s dilemma. We all claim to be something but when the integrity of the something we claim to be is challenged, it doesn’t matter what we say or how loud we speak, our actions will speak louder. If you’ve ever been to the edge of your own integrity and fallen, you know it is a very difficult place to be, but it’s not necessarily the end, for a sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart God will not despise (Psalm 51:17).

Matthew 12:37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.’ 

Mark 6:20, 24-26 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.

She (Herodias) went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’ Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.