A troubled conscience? (Mark 6:14-29)

Jesus was dividing opinions. Some as we’ve seen loved him and wanted to follow him and be close to him, others rejected him outright. A lot were bewildered by him and trying to make sense of him. Who was this man who could heal the sick and calm the waves?

So, they tried to make sense of what was happening and who Jesus was by reference to what they already knew.  They went back to historical precedent and one person Elijah stood out as a prophet endued with miracle working power.  Had Elijah, who went straight to heaven returned? There were hints and allusions to this in the Scriptures. Herod had other ideas. His conscience was troubling him.  Had John the Baptist some how come back from the dead? Was he being haunted?[1]  This would also no doubt reflect the view that one with such power wasn’t a normal, flesh and bone human being. So, whilst all the speculation is going on, Herod is certain that this is John and if it’s John, that means trouble. 

Mark gives us the back story.  Herod had been rebuked by John for his adulterous relationship with Herodias his sister-in-law (this would also be counted as incest) and so had the prophet imprisoned. Herodias wanted John dead but there was something about John that unnerved Herod, he knew that John was holy, he was righteous and so he was afraid to touch him and bring judgement on himself. So Herodias bided her time and waited for an opportunity. This came one day when Herod threw a party, Herodias’ daughter danced for him and Herod enjoyed the dance so much he offered her whatever she fancied. Under her mum’s guidance, she asked for Herod’s head, served up as the main dish of the supper.  Herod was cornered now but he had to keep his word.

So, here are three things for us to consider:

First, Do we attempt to find explanations for what is happening and especially what God is doing that are far more complex and convoluted than they need to be because the obvious is staring us in the face?

Second, John’s example and witness is incredible.  I wonder whether people would sense that there is something different about you and me, would they see Christlikeness? Would they see his righteousness?

Third, Herod and Herodias wanted to silence John but their true aim was to silence God’s voice.  How do we respond when we are confronted and challenged? Do we seek to have our sin dealt with, removed and forgiven? Or do we seek to silence our conscience? Do we seek to muzzle those who speak from God?  Are we prepared to let God’s Word disagree with us?

[1] This Herod was the son of Herod the Great who was the King visited by the Magi. Strictly speaking, a Tetrarch not a king, like all rulers he held his position from the emperor. A tetrarch was a ruler of part o a province. This Herod is the one who would participate in the trial of Jesus.

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