The Scriptorium

One Sorry Murderer

The lie makes you stupid, and in some cases, dangerous. Matthew 14.6-12

Matthew 14: Son of God (2)

Pray Psalm 53.5, 6.
There they are in great fear
Where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you;
You have put them to shame,
Because God has despised them.
Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When God brings back the captivity of His people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

Sing Psalm 53.5, 6.
(Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
The wicked flee in shame; their ways our God rejects.
Renew Your people in Your Name with great effects!
Let great rejoicing sound once we renewed have been,
and let salvation’s Word resound from us again!

Read Matthew 14.1-12; meditate on verses 6-12.

Prepare.
1. Why was Herod “sorry”?

2. Why did Herod have John murdered?

Meditate.
Herod was “sorry”, all right, and not just because he no longer had John the Baptist to amuse him. Herod is a study in the blinding power of sin. Sin takes us captive to the lie, which says there is no God, and we all just have to do the best we can with whatever truth works for us (Rom. 1.18-32). The lie then makes us stupid, and stupidity can make us dangerous.

The lie makes a person serve himself. Under the influence of the lie, people do whatever they think will gratify their needs or be in line with their interests. If they have to use or impress others, well, no matter. Herod wanted to impress his pals, so he used his wife’s daughter to excite their prurient interests. Then, to further impress his guests, he made an outrageous promise to his step-daughter, without thinking of any consequences that might ensue. He had to be well into his cups, I’m thinking, even to offer the girl “whatever she might ask” (Mark adds, “up to half my kingdom” – Mk. 6.23).

This was a moment Herodias had been waiting for; now she would get her revenge on John. Having consulted with her mother, therefore, the daughter returns and asks for John’s head on a platter.

Well, Herod certainly wasn’t expecting that! But, what’s a guy to do? He had to save face with his guests, after all. And John, well, he wasn’t exactly indispensable. So Herod sent an executioner to behead John and to give his head to the girl.

“And the king was sorry…” You can say that again. He was one of the sorriest people in all of Scripture, and so is everyone who chooses to follow the lie of Satan rather than the truth of God, His Law, and our Lord Jesus Christ. All around us are people just like Herod – trapped in the lie, calculating how to advantage themselves and further their interests, and one step away from doing the next stupid – and possibly dangerous – thing.

But don’t despise them; pray for them. Show them the love of Jesus. Tell the Good News of the truth that sets us free (Jn. 8.32). But don’t be surprised if some of them do or say something outrageous in reply. Just keep on keeping on in Jesus and the Good News. Some of these lie-bound, stupid people are going to believe. Just as you and I did (Rom. 5.10, 11).

Reflect.
1. Are Christians susceptible to being drawn aside to the lie? Explain.

2. How can we know when the lie, rather than the Law of God, is directing our choices and decisions?

3. What are the best ways of keeping from falling prey to the lie?

But when Herod saw the evil actually ensuing, “he was sorry,” it is said. Yet in the first instance he had put him in prison. Why then is he sorry? Such is the nature of virtue. Even among the wicked admiration and praises are its due..
John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 48.4

Lead me in the paths of truth and righteousness today, O Lord, so that I…

Pray Psalm 53.1-5.
Pray for the lost people in your Personal Mission Field, that what they know about God – and they all know something (Rom. 1.18-22) – will cause them to seek Him and open them to hear the Good News.

Sing Psalm 53.1-5.
Psalm 53.1-5 (Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God at all!”
Corrupt are they in whole and part, unjust and small.
Not one of them does good; God sees their wicked ways.
None understands the Word of God or gives Him praise.

Have all these wicked men no knowledge of God’s grace?
The Church they hate with passion and seek not God’s face.
Lord, strike their hearts with fear, where fear was not before.
And scatter all who camp so near Your holy door.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore