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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: F.E. Marsh :: Readings 201-250 (Incorruptible - Kept)

F.E. Marsh :: 237. John and Herod

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MARK 6:14-29

LET us note a few contrasts between John and Herod.

  1. John was a faithful man; Herod was a faithless man. The faithfulness of John is seen in that he rebuked Herod for living in sin (Mark 6:17-18). John was a man who had looked in the face of God; hence, he did not fear the frown of men. He who can speak with God in holy communion, will not fail in faithfulness to God, to tell men of their sins.
    In contrast to John’s faithfulness we have Herod’s faithlessness. In Mark 6:20 we are told that Herod feared and observed John, heard him gladly, and did many things, but after all Herod was only a stony ground hearer (Mark 4:16-17). Spurgeon says of Herod, “Herod was a foxy man. We sometimes meet with these foxy people. They want to go to heaven, but they like the road to hell. They will sing a hymn to Jesus, but a good roaring song they like also. They will give a guinea to the Church, but how many guineas are spent on their own lust. They try and dodge between God and Satan.….Herod was like a bird taken with lime-twigs; he wanted to fly; but, sad to say, he was willingly held, limed by his lust.”
  2. John was a blessed man; Herod was a burdened man. John was blessed in many ways. John was a blessed man because of his character. He was pure in heart, like a cleansed vessel, free from all contamination. He was holy in life, like the tabernacle, he was set apart for God’s indwelling and use; and he was righteous in action like an even balance, he did that which was right between men and God, and men and men. John was a blessed man because he suffered for the sake of truth. Those who suffer for the sake of Christ are blessed, as He Himself says (Matt. 5:11-12); their very shame is an occasion for rejoicing, as it is illustrated in the early Christians (Acts 5:41); and when any are called to seal their testimony with their death they are blessed indeed, for they receive the martyr’s crown of life (Rev. 2:10). Herod was a burdened man. Herod was burdened in many ways. He was burdened with his sins. He was living a shameful life and he knew it, but for all that he would not quit his sins. A load of guilt was upon him, and his iniquities hung about him like a mill-stone. Herod was burdened with a troubled conscience. When he heard of the miracles that Christ was doing, he thought that John had risen from the dead, and was troubled in consequence (Mark 6:14-17). When a man’s sins haunt him, he has a host of ghosts which make him afraid, and well they may. Joseph’s brethren could not forget the sins they had committed against their brother. Twenty years after the memory of their action is still fresh (Gen. 42:21), yea, even later than that (Gen. 50:17). Shakespeare represents, in a striking manner, the accusation of a guilty conscience in his scene in “Macbeth,” when he pictures Lady Macbeth trying to wash out the stain of blood from her hands. There is one stone in the floor of an old church in Scotland which stares out at you blood-red from the grey stones around it. The legend tells of a murder committed there, and of repeated fruitless attempts to cover the tell-tale colour of that stone. Morally the legend is true; every dead sin sends its ghosts to haunt the souls of the guilty. Committed sin is a scar that cannot be effaced, a diamond-cut that cannot be obliterated, a mark that cannot be rubbed out, a stain that cannot be washed out, an impression that is indelible, a leak that cannot be stopped, and a burden that cannot be removed-that is, from the human standpoint. All thing are possible with God, through faith in the atonement of Christ.

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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