One wonders if the word horrid and all other forms of the word comes from the name of a wicked, manipulating and easily manipulated leader named Herod. Horrid and Herod are not related, I looked it up. But the two terms can be used interchangeably! He was called “Herod the Great”. But this “great” man who let evil of all kinds control him, was extremely afraid of losing his power and leadership to Jesus. He did everything he could think of to stop God in human form from taking the lead in his kingdom. Herod ordered the horrendous act of killing all babies under the age of two in an effort to kill Jesus. When that didn’t work he aided the religious elite in nailing Jesus to a cross.
Another horrendous act was to cut the head off of God’s prophet who prepared the way for Jesus Christ, John the Baptizer. It is amazing to read how John affected Herod. John repeated called Herod out on the sin of adultery and other sins in Herod’s life. Herod was “greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.” What would have happened if John could have persuaded Herod to turn from evil and the sin that resulted to come to God?
But Herod did not. He was a weak man who was easily tempted and manipulated by evil who worked through his brother’s wife whom he took to be his own. Together, in an unholy relationship, they performed horrendous acts of evil that took the life of John. John, whom Jesus said, “there will no other person born of a woman who is greater than John”.
Mark – God is On Our Side!
Mark 6, NLT
The Death of John the Baptist
14 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.
GOING DEEPER STILL…
The reports of Christ’s ministry, augmented by that of His disciples (Luke 9:7), even reached into the palace of Herod Antipas. Mark called him “King,” which is what Herod wanted to be called, but in reality, godless Herod was only a tetrarch, the ruler of a fourth part of the nation. When Herod the Great died, the Romans divided his territory among his three sons, and Antipas was made tetrarch of Perea and Galilee.
Herod Antipas had married the daughter of King Aretas IV and then had divorced her so he could marry Herodias, the wife of his half-brother, Herod Philip. It was a wicked alliance that was contrary to the law of Moses (Lev. 18:16; 20:21), and the fearless John the Baptist had denounced the king for his sins. When Herod heard about the wonderful works of Jesus, he was sure that John the Baptist had come back from the dead to haunt him and condemn him! Herod’s conscience was bothering him, but he was unwilling to face his sins honestly and repent.
At this point, Mark shifted into a flashback to explain how John the Baptist had been cruelly and unjustly arrested and slain. Even in this brief account, we sense the tension in the palace, for Herod feared John, privately listened to him preach, and was in a state of perplexity over what he should do. “Queen” Herodias, on the other hand, hated John, wanted to kill him, and patiently waited for the most convenient time. In their evil character and lawless deeds, these two remind us of Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 18—21).
The “strategic day” came (Mark 6:21 nasb) for Herodias to put her plan into action: the celebration of Herod’s birthday. Royal feasts were extravagant both in their display of wealth and in their provision for pleasure. The Jews would not have permitted a woman to dance before a group of men, and most Gentile mothers would have forbidden a daughter to do what the daughter of Herodias did. (History informs us that the girl’s name was Salome.) But the girl was a part of the mother’s plan to get rid of John the Baptist, and Salome played her part well.
When Herod heard the girl’s macabre request, he was “greatly distressed” (see Mark 14:34, where the same verb is used of Jesus), but he had to be true to his promise or lose face before a group of influential people. The word oath in Mark 6:26 is actually in the plural—“for his many oaths’ sake”—because Herod had repeatedly declared his desire to reward the girl for her performance. This was one way he had of impressing his guests, but it backfired. Herod had not been courageous enough to obey John’s word, but now he had to obey his own word! The result was the death of an innocent man.
Herod had feared that John’s messages would stir up a revolt among the people, something he wanted to avoid. Also, he wanted to please his wife, even though it meant the murdering of a godly man.
John’s disciples were permitted to take the body of their leader and bury it, and then they went to tell Jesus what had happened (Matt. 14:12). No doubt the report of John’s death deeply stirred our Lord, for He knew that one day His own life would be laid down.
We meet Herod Antipas one more time in the Gospels, when he “tried” Jesus and hoped to see the Lord perform a miracle (Luke 23:6–12). Jesus would not even speak to this adulterer and murderer, let alone please him by doing a miracle! Jesus called Herod a “fox” (Luke 13:31–35), an apt description of this crafty man. In AD 39, Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1), nephew of Herod Antipas, denounced his uncle to the Roman emperor, and Antipas was deposed and sent into exile.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Are we manipulating or manipulated by evil?
How do we overcome?
What or to whom do you have the temptation to lose your soul? It is important to consistently evaluate our walk with God in this way. Daily ask God what stands between you and your growing relationship with Him. Then ask for His Holy Spirit to help rid yourself of anything that would cause you to lose your soul.
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
We read of this evil and we know this and other horrendous acts of evil still exist today all over the world. We pray for the victims and survivors. We pray for those executed and the the families who were forced to stand by and watch. There are many of Your people who are persecuted. Be their strength today. Be their courage. Protect them.
Protect us. Help us to be alert to the manipulation of evil in our own families and among our friends. May nothing stand in the way of our relationship with You. I Love you, Lord with all my heart, mind and soul. YOU are on our side for eternity. Continue to transform us.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.