Herod was conflicted about John the Baptist


Mark 6:20 is an interesting verse. The best manuscripts of this verse tell us that Herod was conflicted about what to do with John the Baptist. Herod’s wife, Herodias, wanted John dead, but Herod feared John and was at the same time intrigued and confused by John. (Note that the KJV and NKJV tell us that Herod “did many things” rather than “he was perplexed,” There is strong manuscript evidence for the latter reading and this reading makes more sense in the context.)

To fulfill the mission of the church to make disciples, the church will interact with those who know nothing about God, the Bible or Jesus Christ. When we do, there will be times when, like Herod, they will be perplexed by the message, but hopefully drawn to it at the same time.

There is quote that has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi which says, “preach the gospel always, when necessary, use words.” There is something to this, we are called to live in such a way as to make the gospel attractive to those who have not yet heard it. Yet we also know that living out the gospel is only the means to earning the credibility to share the gospel in words.There was something about John the Baptist the Herod feared and liked at the same time. John earned the right to be heard by Herod by the integrity by which he lived.

That being said, John the Baptist did in fact use words. He preached an unequivocal message. He did not compromise his message for anyone, not even King Herod. We should do the same despite the pressure from outside, and sadly, inside the church to tailor the message to our post-Christian, post-modern society. The world needs to hear the straight truth about their need for a savior and that there is “one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5)

At the same time, we should not be dismayed if the world, like Herod, is perplexed by our message. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that those who are not in relationship with Jesus cannot understand spiritual truth. So we should not be dismayed.

On the other hand, Paul also tells us in Romans 10:17 that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Therefore, we need to preach knowing that some will be perplexed by the message, yet hopeful that God will use the preaching to bring salvation and enlightenment to those who hear the message.

If we are faithful in accurately conveying the message of the gospel, God is able to break through whatever perplexity the hearer has. It is not our prerogative to make it more palatable. Dilution of the medicine renders it ineffective in curing the disease.

What do you think about this? Do you agree?