The Beheading of John the Baptist
“For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, it is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: For Herod feared John, and knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday, make a supper for his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he swore unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and give it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother” – (Mk.6:17-28).
The gruesome beheading of John the Baptist is not a story for weak stomachs or weak Christians. It shows man at his very worst. It reminds us that the more one is favored of God, the more unkindly he is likely to be treated by the world.; and the more holy a person is, the more hated he will be by the world. The world’s hatred is especially aimed at God’s preachers who speak with the two-edged spiritual sword of God’s Word coming out of their mouths. And the devil attacks with the physical sword of earthly power and cuts off the head that speaks God’s truth. John the Baptist was the first Christian witness that was beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God – (Rev.20:4). He was the first Christian martyr that lost his head for Christ. He lost his head over a woman – not by committing adultery with her, but by preaching adultery to her.
John was killed by another Jezebel queen named Herodias. John stood before King Herod in the spirit and power of Elijah, just as Elijah did before Ahab and Jezebel. Certainly Herod and Herodias had much in common with Ahab and Jezebel. Jezebel’s will always take away a man’s headship as the Jezebel feminists are doing today. “For the husband is the head of the wife…” – (Eph.5:23).
John spoke against a number of Herod’s sins, and the one which rankled Herod and Herodias the most was John’s speaking out against Herod’s unlawful marriage to Herodias. It was the indictment of this particular sin which eventually led to the beheading of John. Therefore, in plain, simple, everyday terms, the reason John was beheaded was because he preached against divorce and the remarriage of divorced people.
Many sermons have been preached on John’s beheading, but few of them spend much time on the reason for it – the divorce and remarriage issue. It takes some clever side-stepping to avoid that fact, but many preachers are very gifted at doing so – and for obvious reasons – their congregations are filled with divorced people, and they do not want to upset them. Many have been married several times in our churches and the Jezebel spirit runs rampant through the church and society. Preachers lack the courage to preach the truth lest a Jezebel or Herodias turn on them in wrath. Let any preacher dare to oppose divorce and remarriage as John the Baptist did, and heads will roll – his particularly. The preaching of the divorce-remarriage sin will bring more heated and hated reaction from the average church congregation than just about any other kind of sin. In our days with churches full of divorce, it is obvious that precious few preachers stand like John the Baptist for God’s truth
The story of how Herod ended up with Herodias, his brother’s wife, should not be difficult for our generation to accept. It’s the same story one can read in the news about the famous people today who are wicked and famous and it’s a common practice of the ordinary person as well. The famous are just the idols that common people worship today.
For Herodias, the marriage greatly elevated her in the social world because now she was a queen. She had wealth, rank, magnificence, and fame. She was a very arrogant, headstrong, ambitious woman with the Jezebel feminist spirit and ruled her husband like Jezebel of old. Changing husbands fed her ego and gave her power. So she left Philip and took her daughter with her and became Herod’s wife.
And the Roman law of the land made it very legal, but it was against
God’s laws. Today
Lust dwells hard by hate – sexual crimes and cruelty are closely akin. Adultery and bloodshed go hand in hand. It’s the news every day. David and Bathsheba illustrate that truth as well as Herod and Herodias, for their adultery led to the death of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. Adultery and fornication also causes murder to millions of babies. When folks do not respect the beginning of life, they will not respect the ending of life. We see life and death as Herod’s birthday became John’s death day. But now John has eternal life and Herod has the second death in the lake of fire – (Rev.20:14,15). For every born again believer – to die is gain. In the Old Testament it is written – “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness” – (Lev.18:16). Again “If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is un unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless” – (Lev.20:21).
Thank God for John the Baptist and for preachers who are not afraid to preach against sin especially in high places. I believe a preacher should name sin and point it out – all of God’s truth and not just some of it. We are commanded to – “Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” – (2 Tim.4:2). It’s definitely out of season today to preach on marriage and divorce. The church members turn into game wardens and go after the man who dares to preach out of season.
Also in the N.T., Paul condemned divorce and remarriage when he said – “For a woman who hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So, then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress…” – (Rom.7:2,3). Hardhearted people get divorced – “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” – (Mt.19:8). Divorce is a result of hard hearts. Divorce manifests a lack of love – a hard heart is not a loving heart. Their hard hearts don’t care about the ‘hard ship’ that divorce brings upon the children. Divorced people are ‘hard’ to get along with, with each other or others. Hard hearts are indifferent to other people’s feelings and needs.
Divorce and remarriage is acceptable to
You cannot defend divorce by ‘loophole’ passages in scripture.
Preachers need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and preach the Word of God with boldness like John the Baptist who was “Filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” – (Lk.1:15) – “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” – (Acts 4:31). At birth John was filled with the Holy Ghost and each of God’s born again saints are baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost also – born of God. We need to shun the things of this world and live a holy life like John and love the Word of God, because this is the power of God.
Have you been saved and born again? You need to repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus in your heart by faith and become a new creature in Christ. Like John the Baptist we preachers need to prepare people for Christ by preaching repentance. Jesus said – “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name...”- (Lk.24:47). Again – “repent ye, and believe the gospel” – (Mk.1:15).
Soon after the translation and rapture of the church will come two witnesses preaching to the world – two John the Baptists with the spirit and power of Elijah. Many of the tribulation saints will be beheaded for refusing to get the mark of the Beast – (Rev.20:4). The two witnesses will confront head on the same Jezebel – feminist spirit of today that is so strong. After 3 ˝ years of preaching, the Beast will kill them and then after 3 ˝ days God will resurrect them.
Don’t just be an unsaved church member - on your way to hell. Don’t spurn the grace and mercy of God in His dear Son on the cross. Receive eternal life instead of eternal death in the lake of fire – “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” – (I Jn.5:11,12).
Pastor Mike Storti
5000 N. LaCholla-