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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : LXII. Herod Antipas Supposes Jesus to Be John.

The Four-fold Gospel by J. W. McGarvey

LXII. Herod Antipas Supposes Jesus to Be John.

^A Matt. XIV.1-12; ^B Mark VI.14-29; ^C Luke IX.7-9.

^b 14 And ^c 7 Now ^a 1 At that season ^b King Herod [Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. See page 63.] ^c the tetrarch heard of all that was done ^a heard the report concerning Jesus, ^b for his name had become known: ^c and he was perplexed, because that it was said by some, that John was risen from the dead; 8 and by some, that Elijah had appeared; and by others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. [The work of Jesus impressed the people as prophetic rather than Messianic, for they associated the Messiah in their thoughts with an earthly kingdom of great pomp and grandeur. Jesus, therefore, did not appear to them to be the Messiah, but rather the prophet who should usher in the Messiah. Their Scriptures taught them that Elijah would be that prophet. But the Apocrypha indicated that it might be Isaiah or Jeremiah (I. Macc. xiv.41). Hence the many opinions as to which of the prophets Jesus was. If he was Elijah, he could not be properly spoken of as risen from the dead, for Elijah had been translated.] 9 And Herod said, ^a unto his servants, ^c John I beheaded [For the imprisonment of John, see pages 138, 139. The mission of the twelve probably lasted several weeks, and the beheading of John the Baptist appears to have taken place about the time of their return. See page 374]: but who is this, about whom I hear such things? ^a This is John the Baptist; { ^b the Baptizer} ^a he is risen from the dead; and therefore do these powers work in him. [John had wrought no miracle while living (Matt. x.41), but there was a prevalent idea among the ancients that departed spirits were endowed with superhuman powers, and Herod therefore supposed that the risen John had brought these powers with him from the spirit world.] ^c And he sought to see him. [Jesus purposely kept out of the reach of Herod, knowing the treacherous cunning of his nature (Luke xiii.32), and Herod's curiosity was not gratified until the day of Christ's crucifixion (Luke xxiii.8-12), and then its gratification was without sanctification.] ^b 15 But others said, It is Elijah. And others said, It is a prophet, even as one of the prophets.16 But Herod, when he heard thereof, said, John, whom I beheaded, he is risen. [Some thought that Elijah might have returned, as the Scripture declared, or that Jesus might be a prophet just like the great prophets of old. Matthew, by introducing what follows with the word |for,| gives us the reason why Herod clung to this singular opinion of Jesus. He did so because this opinion was begotten in the morbid musings of a conscience stained with the blood of John.] 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, ^a and bound him, and put him in prison the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. ^b for he had married her. [Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, who was the half-brother of Herod Philip I. and Herod Antipas, and these two last were in turn half-brothers to each other. Herodias, therefore, had married her uncle Herod Philip I, who was disinherited by Herod the Great, and who lived as a private citizen in Rome. When Herod Antipas went to Rome about the affairs of his tetrarchy, he became the guest of his brother Herod Philip I., and repaid the hospitality which he received by carrying off the wife of his host.] 18 For John said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. [The marriage was unlawful of three reasons: 1. The husband of Herodias was still living; 2. The lawful wife of Antipas (the daughter of Aretas, king or emir of Arabia) was still living; 3. Antipas and Herodias, being nephew and niece, were related to each other within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity.] 19 And Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him; but she could not: 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was much perplexed, and he heard him gladly. ^a 5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. [Herod feared both John and his influence. His fear of the man as a prophet caused him to shelter John against any attempts which his angry wife might make to put him to death, and led him to listen to John with enough respect to become perplexed as to whether it were better to continue in his course or repent. At other times, when the influence of Herodias moved him most strongly, and he forgot his personal fear of John, he was yet restrained by fear of John's influence over the people.] 6 But when Herod's birthday came, ^b 21 And when a convenient day was come [A day suited to the purposes of Herodias. The phrase refers to verse 19], that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, and the high captains, and the chief men of Galilee; 22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself [the language seems to indicate that others had first come in and danced] came in and danced, ^a in the midst, ^b she pleased Herod and them that sat at meat with him [This dancer was Salome, daughter of Herod Philip and niece of Herod Antipas. The dancing of the East was then, as now, voluptuous and indecent, and nothing but utter shamelessness or inveterate malice could have induced a princess to thus make a public show of herself at such a carousal]; ^a 7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she should ask. ^b and the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. [The rashness of the king's promise is characteristic of the folly of sin. Riches, honors, kingdoms, souls are given for a bauble in the devil's market.] 24 And she went out, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? [She may have known beforehand what to ask. If so, she retired and asked her mother that the brunt of the king's displeasure might fall upon her mother.] And she said, The head of John the Baptist. ^a 8 And she, being put forward by her mother, ^b came in straightway with haste unto the king [she wished to make her request known before the king had time to put limitations upon her asking], and asked, saying, { ^a saith} ^b I will that thou forthwith give me ^a here on a platter the head of John the Baptist. [She asked for the prophet's head that she and her mother might have the witness of their own eyes to the fact that he was dead, and that they might not be deceived about it.] 9 And the king was grieved; ^b was exceeding sorry [because the deed went against his conscience and his sense of policy as above stated]; but for the sake of his oaths, and of them that { ^a which} sat at meat, ^b he would not reject her. ^a he commanded it to be given [The oath alone would not have constrained Herod to grant Salome's request, for if left alone he would rightly have construed the request as not coming within the scope of the oath. The terms of his oath looked to and anticipated a pecuniary present, and not the commission of a crime. But Herod's companions, being evil men, joined with the evil women against the man of God, and shamed Herod into an act which committed him forever to a course of guilt. Thus, a bad man's impulses are constantly broken down by his evil companions]; ^b 27 And straightway the king forth a soldier of his guard, ^a and beheaded John in the prison. ^b and commanded to bring his head: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head { ^a his head was brought} ^b on a platter, and gave it { ^a and given} ^b to the damsel: and the damsel ^a brought it ^b gave it to her mother. [To the anxious, unrestful soul of Herodias this seemed a great gift, since it assured her that the voice of her most dangerous enemy was now silent. But as Herod was soon filled with superstitious fears that John had risen in the person of Christ, her sense of security was very short-lived. The crime stamped Herod and Herodias with greater infamy than that for which John had rebuked them.] 29 And when his disciples heard thereof, they came and took up his { ^a the} corpse, ^b and laid it in a tomb. ^a and buried him; and went and told Jesus. [Herod had feared that the death of John would bring about a popular uprising, and his fears were not mistaken. As soon as they had decently buried the body of the great preacher, John's disciples go to Jesus, expecting to find in him a leader to redress the Baptist's wrongs. They knew the friendship of John for Jesus, and, knowing that the latter intended to set up a kingdom, they believed that this would involve the overthrow of Herod's power. They were ready now to revolt and make Jesus a king. See Matt. xii.13; John vi.1, 2, 15. But Jesus would not aid them to seek the bitter fruits of revenge, nor did he intend to set up such a kingdom as they imagined.]

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