These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Following Jesus is a call to be different. It’s a call to have different values than the world. It’s a call to believe differently than the world. You view life and meaning of life through a different filter. Your decisions are different. Your purpose is different. Following Jesus is about loving God and loving others. Following Jesus is about honoring God and honoring others. To be like Jesus is to live like Jesus and to love what He loved.
For the past several weeks we have been looking at the people surrounding the beheading of John the Baptist.
- We looked at John the Baptist and saw a life that lived for Jesus and died for Jesus.
- We examined Herod and saw a life that ignored his God-given conscience.
- We saw a bad example to avoid in Herodias, Herod’s wife and saw a life that lived only for herself resulting in bitterness and manipulation of others.
- Today, we are going to take a brief look at Herodias’ daughter and see a life that had become shaped by the culture she lived in rather than shaping that culture for Christ.
Mark 6:14 says,
Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because everyone was talking about him. Some were saying, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. That is why he can do such miracles.” 15 Others said, “He’s the prophet Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.” 16 When Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead.” 17 For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip’s wife, but Herod had married her. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod’s approval she was powerless, 20 for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him. 21 Herodias’s chance finally came on Herod’s birthday. He gave a party for his high government officials, army officers, and the leading citizens of Galilee. 22 Then his daughter, also named Herodias, came in and performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod and his guests. “Ask me for anything you like,” the king said to the girl, “and I will give it to you.” 23 He even vowed, “I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom!” 24 She went out and asked her mother, “What should I ask for?” Her mother told her, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist!” 25 So the girl hurried back to the king and told him, “I want the head of John the Baptist, right now, on a tray!” 26 Then the king deeply regretted what he had said; but because of the vows he had made in front of his guests, he couldn’t refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner to the prison to cut off John’s head and bring it to him. The soldier beheaded John in the prison, 28 brought his head on a tray, and gave it to the girl, who took it to her mother. 29 When John’s disciples heard what had happened, they came to get his body and buried it in a tomb. (NLT)[i]
From her negative example we are reminded of four positive characteristics.
Number one, be pure. We live in a very sexually free culture. During Herod’s time the sexual culture was at a peak. Men had multiple wives, many of the pagan religions had temple prostitutes, and sex outside of marriage was very common with multiple partners and various genders. A common practice at parties was to have attractive people dance and strip for the guest. In the context of Herod’s birthday party in verse 22 we are told, Then his daughter [actually step-daughter], also named Herodias, came in and performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod and his guests. Her dance was very sensual and seductive. It not only “pleased Herod,” but it “greatly” pleased Herod.
As a follower of Jesus, you are called to be different. You have a higher standard. Let’s take a look at what God’s Word says about this.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says, “God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.4 Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— 5 not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways” (NLT). If you are asking yourself, “What is God’s will for my life?” then I have an answer for you. Part of His will is for you to be sexually pure. If you are young let me encourage you to save yourself for marriage. Give yourself to the one you vow to live with and love for the rest of your life. Be different than the world. Have different value when it comes to purity and marriage.
- Colossians 3:5 says, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires” (NLT). God’s Word tells us to “have nothing to do with sexual immorality.” Have nothing to do with pornography, sleeping around, strip clubs, or anything associated with sexual immorality.
- Ephesians 5:3 says, “But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints” (NLT). As a follower of Jesus you want your reputation to be one that honors God. You want a reputation of someone who is pure, committed to God, and has a different standard for sex. When people think of you, they think of someone who is pure and controls their lust rather than their passions controlling them.
Be pure. Herodias embraced the standard of the world around her, you embrace the standard of the world above you. You have set your heart and mind on things above, not on things of this earth.
Number two, be wise. The daughter, Herodias, was not wise and neither was her mother. Verse 24 says, She went out and asked her mother, “What should I ask for?” Her mother told her, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist!” Not all advice parents give is wise advice. I believe most parents care about their children, but Herodias’ mother cared only about her and used her daughter for her on selfish gain. Instead of asking for something noble and honorable or for something that would benefit her daughter she suggested that she ask for the “head of John the Baptist.” Both her and her mother acted foolishly here. They did not demonstrate wisdom in this act.
God wants his people to be full of wisdom, insight, and understanding.
- James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere” (NLT). Wisdom is God’s truth applied in life’s situations.
- When wisdom shows up it doesn’t show up with information, but application.
- When a person understands how to build peace in a relationship they are demonstrating wisdom.
- When someone is rude, sharp, and unkind to you and you respond with gentleness you are displaying wisdom.
- When you recognize the authorities in your life and you submit to them you are revealing wisdom.
- Wisdom is seen in acts of mercy, not brutality.
- Wisdom is seen when you bless someone, and when you treat people equally.
Herodias and her mother did not have wisdom.
- Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (NLT). True wisdom comes from God. The knowledge and understanding that really matters comes from His mouth, His Word. If you are to grow in wisdom you must be in God’s Word. One of the reasons why life is so hard for some people to understand is because they are not in His Word. God’s Word brings God’s wisdom.
- Ephesians 5:15, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (NLT). A wise person already knows that we live in “evil days.” It’s not going to get evil, it already is. However, a wise person will “make the most of every opportunity” to bless, love, show mercy, share the gospel, and the like in the context of these “evil days.” A wise person finds a way to be light in the midst of darkness. Herodias and her mom added more evil to the “evil days.” As a follower of Jesus you bring hope and comfort to those living in these “evil days,” not more unnecessary pain.
As a follower of Jesus, you will follow the path of wisdom. You will be different.
Number three, be compassionate. Both Herodias and her mother were not compassionate people. They were selfish and uncaring people. Verse 25 says, So the girl hurried back to the king and told him, “I want the head of John the Baptist, right now, on a tray!” Even though Herod saw John as a good and holy man (v. 20), these two people had no concern for him. John was a problem and this was an opportunity to get rid of the problem. They had no compassion, no sympathy, no empathy, and no understanding. As a follower of Jesus, you are going to be different.
- Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another”(CSB). You are going to “put on compassion.” You are going to choose to care and be concerned about your family, friends, and enemies. You are going to have compassion for those you go to school with, work with, and live with. You are going to be careful with what you say and how it impacts others.
- 1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble,9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing” (CSB). Instead of getting even, you are going to bless them. Instead of hating them, you are going to love them. Instead of being insensitive, rude, and prideful, you are going to be sympathetic and compassionate. You are going to be different. You are going to be like Jesus.
Herodias and her mother chose the easy way, the selfish way, and the world’s way. You are going to choose the Jesus way.
Number four, be ready. It doesn’t matter if you die at the hands of a wicked person or of old age while sleeping. Be ready. Look closely at verse 28 which tells that after John was beheaded they brought his head on a tray, and gave it to the girl, who took it to her mother. Obviously, the party was not far from the prison. Herod sent word to have John’s head cut off, it was done, they found a platter, and brought his head to the girl. This point is not really about Herodias, but about John the Baptist.
As I was thinking about John’s death, I thought of two things.
- First, you should be ready to die. Romans 14:7 says, “We don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves.8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (NLT). When you come to the end of your life, may you have lived a life that obviously belonged to the Lord.
- Second, live life as to win a crown. 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown” (NLT). On earth John’s head was placed on a platter, but in heaven a crown was placed on his head.
As a follower of Jesus be ready. Be ready to live and be ready to die.
Be different. Follow Jesus. Following Jesus is a call to be different. It’s a call to have different values than the world. It’s a call to believe differently than the world. You view life and meaning of life through a different filter. Your decisions are different. Your purpose is different. Following Jesus is about loving God and loving others. Following Jesus is about honoring God and honoring others. To be like Jesus is to live like Jesus and to love what He loved.
[i] The story of Herod’s family was fascinating to the Romans, like the stories of the Roosevelts and the Kennedys are to Americans. History records that Herodias’ (her mother’s name was also Herodias) life was filled with tragedy. She moved back to Rome where she went through several failed marriages. According to Cassius Dio, Herodias died tragically when she was vacationing in the Northern Alps. She and her party were crossing a frozen river when the ice cracked. In the efforts to extract her from the frozen water, a jagged piece of ice severed her head from her body. Herodias’ life is a sad reminder of the principle of Galatians 6:7 which says, “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”