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.
God’s Word gives us example after example of how to live and how not to live. Listen to 1 Corinthians 10:11 which says, “These things happened to them [people in the OT] as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age” (NLT). Some examples we are to follow. Some examples we are to avoid. Often times we see someone in the Bible that we should follow and be like. But sometimes God will place in front of us a person who is the opposite of what He desires for our lives. God says don’t be like them. Someone once said, “Everybody has value; even if to serve as a bad example.”
Today, we take a look at an example to avoid. We are going to take a look at a horrible person. She is wicked. She is evil. She is selfish. She doesn’t care about anyone other than herself. We get a glimpse of this person in Mark 6:14-29. Her name is Herodias.
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)
Herodias is not a likable lady at all. You don’t want to be anything like her. She is an example to avoid. God tells her story for a reason and I think there are some valuable lessons to learn here.
To understand what’s happening you need to understand the Herod family tree.
- Let’s start with Herod the Great. He had three sons: Aristibulus, Herod Phillip and Herod Antiphas.
- Aristibulus had a daughter named Herodias! She is our villain in the story.
- When Herodias grows up she marries her uncle Herod Phillip.
- Then one day Herod Antiphas and his wife come to visit Herod Phillip and his wife Herodias. Herod Antiphas has an affair with Herodias. They divorce their spouses and marry each other. Now Herodias is married to her other uncle.
- Her marriage relationship was considered incest and that’s what John was addressing and that’s what made Herodias mad. She didn’t like being called out.
There are some important things we see about life in Herodias, that we all should pay attention too. I may not tell you anything you haven’t already heard, but I may be saying something you need to hear today.
Bad family legacies don’t have to continue with you
First of all, I want you to see that bad family legacies don’t have to continue with you. Herodias was the granddaughter of Herod the Great (not to be confused with her husband king Herod). Herod the Great (her grandfather) is the same Herod that wanted to kill the baby Jesus (Matt. 2:13). He is the one that had all the baby boys that were 2 years old and younger murdered in hopes of killing Jesus. Herod the Great’s solution to his problem was to kill.
Now his granddaughter, Herodias, sees the same solution to her problem by killing John the Baptist. She was following in the footsteps of her grandfather.
The people who raised you and maybe influenced your life early may have been good people, but some of you were influenced by bad people. You don’t have to be like them. Just because your parent was an alcoholic, doesn’t mean you have to be one. Just because someone abused you, doesn’t mean you have to abuse others. Just because you were raised around drugs doesn’t mean you have to use them. Just because you were raised in an environment of lies and decent doesn’t mean you have to lie and deceive. You can be different. You can choose another path. You can walk another route. Maybe your children will follow you. You can begin a new legacy. Your bad family legacy does not have to continue with you.
Be a person who receives correction
Number two, be a person who receives correction. Herodias was not able to receive correction. John the Baptist had pointed out a sin in her life. This was a dangerous sin. Herod was supposed to be representing the Jewish people as a ruler, but he and Herodias was violating Leviticus and committing incest. On top of that it violated a treating between kingdoms. It was creating spiritual unrest along with political unrest.
John confronted her sin. Herodias hated him for it. She would ignore the correction.
No one likes to be corrected. No one likes to give loving correction, either. But let me ask you? How well do you receive correction from others? If a Christian came to you in love, concerned about you and addressed a dangerous sin in your life how would you respond? Let’s say your spouse lovingly corrects you about an attitude you have or a habit you have that is creating tension in your marriage or family, how would you respond to them. What if your parents addressed something in your life that needed corrected? Do you listen? Do you think about what they say? If you get angry, why do you get angry? Do you try to turn it around on them in some way? How do you respond when you are corrected?
Most of us don’t receive correction or discipline very well. We want to do what we want to do in the way we want to do it. This was obviously a huge issue for Heordias.
- Proverbs 15:32 says, “If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction you grow in understanding” (NLT). If you reject discipline and correction you will not grow in understanding. You will always think you are victim and people are out to get you. You will not understand true friendship. You will not understand what real love is. Your understanding of right and wrong will be messed up. In the end, when you reject correction you only harm yourself. Rejecting correction hinders understanding.
- Proverbs 12:1 says, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction” (NLT). See discipline and correction as an opportunity to learn. Listen to those who are correcting you. Ask them good questions. It is stupid and foolish to hate correction.
- Hebrews 12:11 says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (ESV). Being corrected is not fun. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. The consequences hurt. Privileges are taken away. You have to ask for forgiveness. Accept that you did wrong. It’s humbling. Everything in us wants to fight any discipline or correction that comes our way. We want to defend ourselves and not make it as big of a deal. But if you learn from the correction it will produce a peaceful life that is filled with all kinds of right decisions. Herodias didn’t learn from her correction by John.
Be a person who listens to correction. Don’t be like Herodias.
Do not hold grudges
Number three, do not hold grudges. According to verse 19, Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. Hatred ruled her heart, which in turn ruled her decisions. That’s what a grudge will do.
What is a “grudge”? To hold a grudge is to have and maintain a feeling of anger, bitterness, or resentment toward someone for something they did, especially a wrong that you think they committed against you. A grudge is prolonged anger toward someone that results in bitterness.
When someone corrects you, it’s going to make you angry. You will get upset. If you correct someone, expect them to get upset. But the Bible is very clear.
- James 4:26 says, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you” (NLT). When you let anger control you a grudge has developed within you. When bitterness and resentment control you your decisions toward that person will be one of revenge. The way you look at them, the tone of your voice, your actions toward them, and conversations about them will be filter through hatred. It may be subtle or it may be very blatant.
- Colossians 3:13 says, “Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudge Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (LB). The remedy to grudges and resentment is forgiveness. We are told to be “ready to forgive.” When you get up in the morning ask yourself, “Am I ready to forgive people today?” You need to be ready to forgive your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends, your enemies, and other people in your life. You are either ready to forgive or ready to hold a grudge. Be ready to forgive.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 says, “Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, 5 never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. 6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out” (LB). Part of loving others is not holding a grudge against them. If you resent them you don’t love them.
Herodias had a grudge against John for speaking the truth. Her grudge had grown so large and went so deep within her that when she saw an opportunity to have him killed she did it. Grudges will take you where you don’t want to go. Grudges will cause you to make poor decisions that not only hurt yourself, but hurt others.
Don’t use people
Number four, don’t use people. Herodias used people. She saw people as a tool to get what she wanted.
- She tried to use her husband to kill John the Baptist. She wanted John dead but she could execute him without her husband’s approval. This is what verse 19 is referring to when it says, But without Herod’s approval she was powerless. If she would have had it her way she would have had Herod issue an execution. She had tried to use Herod to get what she wanted.
- Since her husband would not do what she wanted, she seized another opportunity at Herod’s birthday party. Herodias used her daughter to get what she wanted. I don’t think Herodias cares at all about her daughter. Her young daughter is dancing seductively before all these people and when Herod offered her anything up to half his kingdom her mother ask for the head of John the Baptist. Instead of asking for something that would benefit her daughter, she asked for something that would feed her anger and grudge.
Herodias was a user of people. She didn’t love the people in her life, she used them.
The bottom line is Herodias was selfish. It was all about her and what made her happy. If you got in her way, you became an enemy. You don’t want to be like her.
Following Jesus requires that you receive correction. Remember, the gospel of Mark is teaching us how to follow Jesus, what it looks like and what it does not look like.
Colossians 3:13 says, “Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (LB).