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Scripture Reading: Mark 6:14-20

It is Not Lawful

(Matthew 14:1-12)



1.   While Jesus was “in His own country” (Matt 13:54), Herod Antipas (tetrarch of Galilee and Perea) heard about Jesus.

2.   Jesus would later call him a “fox” (Lk 13:32); sly and cunning.

3.   Herod embodies lust for power and pleasure at the expense of truth, justice – and even life itself (not to mention eternal life).


I. HEROD’S FEARS. (He feared the wrong things.)

   A.   Afraid of Jesus, Matt 14:1-2; Lk 9:7-9; 13:31.

      1.   Acknowledged His powers, but misinterpreted them.

      2.   Thought Jesus was John! (Herod believed in resurrection and in miraculous powers, although neither persuaded him to have faith in Christ or in his forerunner’s message! Matt 13:4, 19

   B.   Afraid of the Multitude, Matt 14:5.

      1.   Though short-lived, they held John to be a prophet, Jno 1:6-8; 5:33, 35.

      2.   To secure power, Herod did not kill John (political strategy).

   C.   Afraid of John, Mk 6:20. (The truth he preached.)

      1.   John rebuked sin and commanded repentance, Matt 3:2; Lk 3:1-3, 7-8.

      2.   John made personal application: John rebuked Herod’s sin and commanded him to repent, Matt 14:3-5 (Mk 6:18).

      3.   Imprisoned John although he wanted to kill him, Matt 14:5.

   D.   Afraid of the People around Him, Matt 14:9.

      1.   When faced with a moral decision he selfishly chose to please Herodias and guests rather than truth and justice.

      2.   His oaths and pleasing others was his excuse, Matt 14:7, 9.

      3.   App: Is “I gave my word!” our excuse to sin?



   A.   He was not Afraid of Sinning against God.

      1.   Lust, adultery and remarriage, Matt 14:3-4; Mk 6:17-18.

         a.   Lusted for Herodias.1 cf. Matt 5:28

         b.   Contrived with Herodias to divorce his wife (daughter of Aretas, cf. 2 Cor 11:32) and marry Herodias (who divorced his brother Philip).1, 2

         c.   App: Do you fantasize about another man/woman (“married crush”)?3 Do you give inappropriate time, attention and conversation to someone other than your spouse? (Setting yourself up for temptation and sin!) Prov 4:23

      2.   Lustful revelry, Matt 14:6-7 (Mk 6:21-23). App: What kind of parties do you attend?

      3.   Murder, Matt 14:8-10 (Herodias, Mk 6:19). App: Do we hold hate in our hearts like Herodias? 1 Jno 3:14-15

   B.   He was not Afraid of Hardening his Heart against the Truth, Mk 6:20. (cf. Matt 13:14-15; 15:7-9)

      1.   John was just and holy: Herod protected John (from his wife’s hatred?); but it was not due to faith, but the result of personal and political expediency.

      2.   Herod heard John gladly, but not from conviction (Acts 24:25-26).

      3.   App: Why do we listen to gospel preaching? Ezek 33:30-33

   C.   He was not Afraid of Making Rash Vows, Matt 14:7-9.

      1.   Tongue control may mean retracting our words rather than proceeding further into sin, Jas 3:10.

      2.   App: Pride, selfishness and peer pressure prevent humble repentance of rash statements (home, church, work, etc.).

   D.   He was not Afraid of God.

      1.   The power (works) of God, Matt 14:1-2 (Mk 6:14); Lk 23:8.

      2.   The word of God, Matt 14:4-5.

      3.   The judgment of God, Matt 14:10; Lk 23:11.


III. BEWARE THE LEAVEN OF HEROD, Mk 8:15 (Matt 16:6, 12).

   -Herodians noted for irreligion, sensuality, and corrupt living.

   -By his conduct Herod left an influence that said …

   A.   “Marriage is not for Life”, cf. Matt 19:4-6.

      1.   “Divorce is an option”: cf. Renewable marriage contracts4

      2.   “It is not lawful”, cf. Mark 6:17-8 with Rom 7:2-3.      

   B.   “Worldliness is Acceptable”, 14:6 (Mk 6:22); 1 Jno 2:15-17; 1 Pet 4:2-3; Rom 13:11-14. (Sensuality of the flesh)

   C.   “Political Expediency Overrides Morality”.

      1.   Caiaphas, Jno 11:49-50, 53.

      2.   Pilate, Matt 27:22-24.

      3.   App: Do we manipulate people for personal advantage?



1.   A preacher lost his head because he dared to condemn adultery, because of a rash vow and because of a dancing daughter; while Herod, Herodias and her daughter lost their souls!

2.   Tale of how people react to truth: Courageous conviction without compromise, perplexed, vindictive, unbelief and unrepentant rejection.




1 Herod and Herodias Agree to Divorce and Marry Each Other


Herod the tetrarch had, married the daughter of Aretas*, and had lived with her a great while; but when he was once at Rome, he lodged with Herod (Philip, jrp), who was his brother indeed, but not by the same mother… However, he fell in love with Herodias, this last Herod’s wife, who was the daughter of Aristobulus their brother, and the sister of Agrippa the Great. This man ventured to talk to her about a marriage between them; which address, when she admitted, an agreement was made for her to change her habitation, and come to him as soon as he should return from Rome: one article of this marriage also was this, that he should divorce Aretas’s daughter. (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.5.1)


2 Herodias Divorced Philip


“…Herodias took upon her to confound the laws of our country, and divorced herself from her husband while he was alive, and was married to Herod [Antipas], her husband’s brother by the father’s side…” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.5.4)


3 “Married Crush”


“Thumbing through the pages, I went directly to the “Family Matters” column to see what the culture was teaching these days. The title? “Why You can Love Your Husband and Brad Pitt Too.” I turned back to the cover to make sure I had not inadvertently picked up Cosmopolitan or The National Inquirer. Nope it was a magazine for families — targeted at wives and mothers. 

This is some of what the author had to say.


“Last spring I found myself applying a pretty shade of pink lipstick before heading off to the nursery to buy annuals. Why the fuss? I hoped to run into the handsome gentleman who worked there. According to experts, married crushes are natural and common. As long as you don't let them develop into full blown fantasies or consider acting upon them, these minor attractions can actually help you appreciate your spouse more. Infatuations offer a safe break from the marital routine. Everyday life is a bit humdrum, making it hard to maintain a passionate connection all the time.


“Looking at another man with a flirtatious eye is such a serious offense that Jesus went on to say, “If you right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.” (Matthew 5:28).


“The truth is, I’ve never know one woman who had an affair which did not begin with a toying glance or flirtatious “innocent” bantering.

Every sin begins with a thought and every spiritual battle is won or lost at the threshold of the mind.” (
Can You Love Your Husband and Brad Pitt Too?, Sharon Jaynes, growthtrac.com, http://tinyurl.com/ktrtqo)


4 Renewable Marriage Contracts?


“The idea for five-year renewable marriage contracts has been floated by a marketing consultant Down Under. Helen Goltz believes lifelong marriages are becoming “a thing of the past,” she writes in a Queensland newspaper.
“We have fixed-term contracts for the buying of property, cars, and insurance, but there is only one contract available for marriage -- and it is for life,” she states. “Is it time to consider introducing fixed-term marriage contracts?”


“Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America obviously does not care for the idea.
“You know, if it doesn’t work you just move on, and if you want to renew it, fine -- if you don’t, that’s fine too,” Crouse says in reference to attitudes at the end of the proposed marriage term. “So, the whole concept of the sacredness of marriage is completely blown -- as is the whole idea of marriage for life and for better and worse.” (
‘Renewable’ marriages a bad idea, May 28, 2009, http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=544520)