17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. Mark 6:17-20

There is something about Herod that fascinates me. He was a tormented man, caught between two worlds and torn between two compelling forces in his life. His fleshly appetites were powerful, pulling him towards the woman who temporarily satisfied his lust; but there was another equally strong pull in him towards a higher spiritual dimension triggered by his own conscience. He had a love/hate relationship with John. He was drawn by John’s powerful godliness and integrity and loved to listen to him but, at the same time, John’s words drove home his guilt and aroused fear of its consequences which he chose to ignore. He would not turn from his immoral behaviour and chose, rather, to suffer the pangs of conscience his choices provoked.

To make matters worse, his relationship with an evil and conscienceless woman, whose hatred for truth brought to the surface her true nature, tipped him towards fearing her rather that fearing God. Herod’s first step towards the evil deed he became embroiled in was to have John arrested to satisfy Herodias’ persistent nagging. He was not strong enough to stand by his conscience. He was not the perpetrator of this sequence of events but, at the same time, he did not have the strength or resolve to withstand Herodias. He chose to silence John rather than Herodias and that poor choice eventually had serious consequences for him.

My mind takes me to Moses who also had a significant choice to make. Where Herod was driven by the physical and the present, Moses saw something in the unseen realm that became more compelling than the pull of his human appetites. “He persevered as seeing Him who is invisible.”

There are huge benefits that go with the choice to deny the flesh and to pursue the prize that is only handed out at the finish line. Along the way, which demands self-discipline and self-denial, and sometimes a lot of pain and suffering, my heart is being sustained by Jesus’ gifts which cannot be bought with money – His love, His joy and His peace.

Categories: Bible Study Tags: , ,

Luella Campbell

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