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The Martyrdom of John the Baptist (Mark Sermon 27)

Series: Mark

The Martyrdom of John the Baptist (Mark Sermon 27)

October 02, 2022 | Andrew Davis
Mark 6:14-29
Sinful Nature, Martyrdom

 Pastor Andy Davis preaches on Mark 6:14-29 unfolding the account of the martyrdom of John Baptist by Herod the Tetrarch.

             

- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -

Introduction: God's Painful Use of Martyrs to Advance Christ's Kingdom

Turn in your Bibles to Mark 6, verses 14-29. As we come to this passage, as we do, I think every week, I ask this question, why did the Holy Spirit want this section of scripture in the Gospel of Mark? Why is it in the Bible? It's a good question to ask. "King Herod heard of it." Heard of what? We're right in the middle of a thought. What he heard of was the miracles of Jesus and now they're spreading as the apostles have been given miraculous power. They've come back now, and it's starting to spread and that's what King Herod had heard of, so he is responding to that. Then the dialogue is recorded right away in which Herod says, "I think John the Baptist has been raised from the dead.”  Then Mark breaks off and gives us the story. It's unique because this is, by one scholar's accounting, and I've not line by line tested out, but I think it's true. This is the only section of Mark's Gospel that doesn't directly have to do with Jesus. The only one. Every other passage in these 16 chapters is either directly about Jesus or spoken by Jesus. It's directly connected to him except this one. So it is good for us to try to understand why is it here. Why is it here? I wrote down three words in the outline. 

These are the three words that I wrote: realism, warning, and worship. That's why it's here.  First realism. We are called on to be ambassadors and emissaries of the kingdom of God. We are called on in the pattern of the apostles to go out and share the gospel. What kind of response can we expect? This is part of the answer. We need to be ready to lay down our lives. Christians over twenty centuries have been willing to lay down their lives, even to the point of martyrdom. We have to be realistic. So there's a realism here. If we are going to be fishers of men, there's going to be a cost to us, and that cost might be very high. God wants us to know ahead of time.

Secondly, a warning. It's a warning to all the world concerning what some would call lifestyles of the rich and famous. Those who desire to get rich pierce themselves with many a pain. We have here an exposure of a rich man, a powerful man, and how corrupt he is in that wealth and that power. How evil. It's a warning to rich, powerful rulers, rich, powerful people about the dangers of that lifestyle. We're going to get a closer look at how trapped and fearful and wicked this man really was. So a warning, and it's a warning to all of us to not desire that. The number one idol in the world is money. It's what people go after, they want it. Don't yearn for it, don't desire. It's corrosive, it’s destructive.

Thirdly, worship. We get a direct contrast between two kings here. Though it's not talking about Jesus, Jesus should be on our minds. What kind of king is Herod and what kind of king is Jesus, and what a beautiful contrast we get here. There is opportunity for us to praise and worship. We are going to an eternal kingdom with a perfect king who's nothing like this wicked man, Herod. So those are my reasons, that's why it's here.

Let's walk through it and we're going to begin with the aspect of realism; God’s painful use of martyrs to advance Christ's kingdom. For twenty centuries, the gospel is advanced through a trail of blood, through a trail of blood. Early history of the church was filled with martyrs whose blood was shed to spread the gospel. In our time, statistics show that over 100,000 Christians are killed every year for their faith. It’s hard to get an accurate number because people die and they don't always know the circumstances. But 100,000, probably even more.  It is especially stunning. How frivolous are the ways and the means by which some rulers take out godly people, how frivolous the reasons, how corrupt they are to please the whims of tyrants. There's a story from the early days of the Roman persecution. The emperor, Nero, smeared combustible oils on the skins of Christians and ignited them for a dinner party he was having, to light a dinner party. What a corrupt and wicked man Nero was. We know the story of martyrs whose lifeblood wet the sands of the coliseum. The Romans would come and find entertainment in it until they realized there really wasn't much entertainment in a godly family, godly father and mother and godly children kneeling in prayer while lions mauled them.

The lingering question for us is how can a loving father allow his children to die like that? This becomes even more acute when there are passages of scripture that talk clearly about God's power to save, to intervene and to save his servants. David wrote about it in Psalm 18 and he talks about God coming down from heaven to earth to rescue him in very powerful language.  In Psalm 18:6-9 David says, "In my distress, I called to the Lord, I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice, my cry came before Him into His ears. The earth trembled and quaked and the foundations of the mountain shook. They trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils. Consuming fire came from his mouth. Burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down.”

Yet throughout history, redemptive history, God generally doesn't part the heavens and come down, it’s not that way. Rather time and time again, his servants, their blood has been poured out like a drink offering to serve his purposes. This is extremely perplexing, especially when you consider various doctrines and teachings like Luke 18. Remember the parable of the persistent widow? Jesus is saying we should always pray and never give up. She's before an unjust judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And Jesus closed with these words. Luke 18:7-8, "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice and quickly." Wow. And yet Jesus himself cried out from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" His enemies stood around the cross and said, “He's calling on God. Let's see if God comes down and rescues him.” And he didn’t.  To put two verses from Romans 8 together, "He who did not spare his own son, would he not also consider us sheep to be slaughtered?" The answer is yes, yes. But we know that Christ has risen. Martyrs are in glory for all eternity. There's nothing ultimately to fear, to live is Christ and to die his gain. We know that Christ has removed the sting forever from death and see it that way.

So we come to Mark 6 and we come to the martyrdom of John the Baptist with trembling hearts, struggling to understand how such a holy man, an otherworldly figure could die like an animal, really, slaughtered like an animal. In such sorted circumstances, this was a man of whom Jesus said, "Among those born of women, there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist." We're going to circle back to that statement. It's very important. That's who John was. How could such a faithful and pure servant of the living God be executed because of a lust filled promise made by a corrupt, probably drunken king at a birthday party to a seductive dancing girl in front of all of his dinner guests? How could someone so high and holy be brought down in such a low and sorted way? 

In our present day, how can God allow Sudanese Christians to be murdered systematically by the Islamic government for 50 years? Year after year after year? How can God allow Chinese house church pastors to be arrested and harassed by the government, incarcerated, harshly treated? How can God allow a Muslim family to murder their own son because he has professed faith in Christ? Where is God in all of that? That's a question we ask. That's what we need to understand. These are questions that come in connection with the text we're looking at today.

In the account today, we're going to see very clearly depicted the life of fear versus a life of faith. We put it this way, if you fear God, you don't need to fear anything else, but if you don't fear God, you have reason to fear everything else. We see a pure holy fear of God in John the Baptist, maybe the purest there had been up to that point versus a man who didn't fear God by the way he lived, he's just enslaved to fear. He's a man of fear in every respect. So two different ways to live, fearing God, fear nothing else. Refuse to fear God, you need to fear everything else.


"We put it this way, if you fear God, you don't need to fear anything else, but if you don't fear God, you have reason to fear everything else."

I. John the Baptist: A Lamp Burning Bright and Shining for Awhile

We come to John the Baptist, a lamp burning and shining for a while. Who was this man, John the Baptist? That statement Jesus made about him and John 5:35, "John was a burning and shining lamp and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light." He's one of the few people in the pages of scripture whose life was predicted before he was born. Most of those predictions are about Jesus. But John was predicted, and there's two different passages that predicted his coming and his ministry, Isaiah 40 and Malachi 4. Isaiah 40:3, "He is the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straighten the wilderness a highway for our God.'" That passage again and again is ascribed to John the Baptist. But then Malachi 4, the very last chapter of the Old Testament in our English Bibles, I think the last statement in the Old Testament. Malachi 4:5, "Behold I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes." So Elijah is coming. We're not going to go into that, later in Mark we can walk into that more carefully.  Now, Jesus, as I said, made this amazing assessment, "Among those born of women, there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist." That's 39 books of the Old Testament, the entire Old Testament era, no one, none of those people was greater than John the Baptist. It’s an incredible statement. 

Now, what was the nature of his ministry? In Mark 1:4-6, we already saw this a number of months ago as we walked through Mark 1, "John came baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, the whole Judean countryside and all the people that Jerusalem went out to him, confessing their sins. They were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist and he ate locust and wild honey." So that was his ministry, practically.

A number of years ago I heard John MacArthur give a three part summary of John the Baptist's ministry. I never forgot it. I think it's very helpful. I'll commend it to you again, John the Baptist came, number one to prepare the way, number two, to proclaim the way, and number three, get out of the way. I think that's helpful. First, prepare the way. John prepared the way by heightening expectation. He was clearly a prophet of God. He did no miracles, but by his bold preaching, by the water baptism he was doing, by the amazing popularity that he had, tons of people were coming and so hearts were heightened and expectations raised by John's ministry. He got the hearts of the Jewish nation ready for the coming king. He called on people to repent of their sins and he was water baptizing them for that repentance. There was expectation, a lot of that to prepare the way. 

Now with that, he was very clear, he was not the Messiah, but he got everyone ready for the Messiah. He made amazing, amazing statements about Jesus to heighten expectation. Mark 1: 7-8, "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandal I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Boy, that heightens expectation. “Who's coming? Someone greater than you?” “Yes, I don't deserve to touch his shoes. That's how great he is. Prepare the way.”

Secondly, to proclaim the way. John did this on one fateful day when Jesus came to be water baptized. There with the rest of the crowd, there is Jesus. John said, "I wouldn't have recognized him except the Spirit came down and remained on him like a dove, and I realized who he was." He began that day when he pointed at Jesus and said, "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." That's proclaiming the way. “Look at him, behold him. The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world. And I have seen, and I testify, that he is the son of God." It's incredible statements. “The Lamb of God, the Son of God” pointing at a specific man and saying, "There he is.” 

But then thirdly, his job was to get out of the way. That was necessary because of how popular he was. He was incredibly popular. Masses of people went out to John. He's so well known that for a time, people in the Jewish diaspora around the Mediterranean Sea knew John and they didn't know Jesus. You meet up with some of those people in the Book of Acts as Paul is spreading the gospel. We've heard of John, who's Jesus? “Let me tell you. John would want me to tell you.” And John himself said of Jesus, "He must increase and I must decrease." So who do you think is more famous today on planet earth? Jesus or John? It's easy, and wouldn't John want it that way? The Holy Spirit's not going around in every tribe, language, people and nation sending out messages in the name of John the Baptist. He's along for the ride. When you learn about Jesus, here we are learning about John and that's fine. But Jesus must infinitely increase and John is who he was.

That's what John the Baptist came to do. He was truth on fire. He was a lamp burning and shining for a while. What was his preaching like? Wow. What would it be like to hear this man preach? We have a sample of his preaching in Matthew 3: 7-12. This is what it sounds like. "When many of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to where he was baptizing, he said to them, 'You brood of vipers. Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? And do not think you can say to yourselves, we have Abraham as our father. I tell you out of these stones, God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the tree and every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water. But after me will come one greater than I, the thongs of who sandals I am not worthy to stoop down on untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering up the wheat into his barn, but burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’"

Wow. Imagine hearing preaching like that. Part of that bold preaching was something he said to King Herod about his marriage,  and it got him into trouble. Look at verse 17 and 18, "For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested and had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother, Phillip's wife, whom he had married. For John, had been saying to Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.'" So the Greek verb tense there implies he'd said this multiple times, this was a daily feature. Let me tell you something. Most kings don't like to be told they need to repent. Most people don't like it. But God has consistently raised men who will tell mighty potentates the truth, fearlessly tell them the truth. Moses before Pharaoh, "This is what the Lord the God of Israel says, 'Let my people go.'" Pharaoh's not used to being talked to that way.  Samuel said to King Saul, "To obey is better than sacrifice. To harken is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination. And arrogance is like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king." The prophet Nathan said to David after telling him a story that brought him to the brink of conviction, pointed his finger at him and said, "You are the man. You have sinned." Elijah said to wicked King Ahab, "This is what the Lord says, 'Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?' Oh, this is what the Lord says, 'In the place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your blood. Yes, yours.'" Christ said to Pontius Pilate, "You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above.” Peter and John said to the Sanhedrin, "The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree." It's a kind of boldness. Paul spoke boldly to Felix, who is governor of Judea and in charge of his fate. Paul spoke boldly to him about righteousness, self control and the judgment to come, and when Felix heard it, he was afraid and said, “Let's talk later.”  So courage and boldness on the part of a prophetic voice to government leaders is part of our heritage. And John the Baptist did that, it got him into trouble. John was no reed swayed by the wind back and forth with public opinion. Not at all. He was an oak of righteousness. Fearing God, John feared nothing else and he paid for it with his life. 


"Most kings don't like to be told they need to repent. Most people don't like it. But God has consistently raised men who will tell mighty potentates the truth, fearlessly tell them the truth. ...  So courage and boldness on the part of a prophetic voice to government leaders is part of our heritage. "

II. King Herod: A Black Hole of Sin

By stark contrast, secondly, we see King Herod who is a black hole of sin.  Jesus said John was a lamp burning and shining for a while and you rejoiced in his light. Well, if John was that, then Herod was a black hole of sin. It’s a star collapsed in on itself, with such a powerful gravitational pull that light can't escape it. Herod is like that,  he just sucks in the light of God's goodness to him, the light of the truth of the word and darkness resulted. He was a dark person. Herod was prideful in his power. 

Who is this man? Herod the Tetrarch, usually called Herod Antipas. He was the son of Herod the Great. His father ordered the execution of all the boy babies in Bethlehem and its vicinity who are two years old and under to protect his own insecure reign. That was Herod the Great, his father. The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. This is a corrupt man from a corrupt family, very wicked.  After the death of Herod the Great, the Romans divided his kingdom among his three sons. “Tetrarch” means a ruler of the fourth part. I don't know why four not three, except that maybe Rome is the fourth and it's watching over the whole thing. The idea was to keep any of these Herods from being too powerful. Herod was thus a ruler, but not really. He's a petty mid-level manager basically. He wasn't that powerful, and he just lived a life of luxury and self indulgence. That's who he was.  He also is characterized by lust. He set his eyes on his brother Philip's wife, Herodias, and he wanted her. She, for her part, is a thoroughly evil woman’s Jezebel again. We're going to circle back on her later, God willing, in Mark's Gospel. There's a strong connection between Herodias and Jezebel, just as there's a strong connection between John the Baptist and Elijah. And that's what she's like. The story of Mark 6 is typical of the way such evil, conniving women manipulate their powerful husbands to get them to do what they want. This is a regular story in the history of the world. Herodias left her husband, Philip, her uncle, to be married to another of her uncles. That's what he was to her, her Uncle Antipas. It's incestuous.  But why did she do it? Her motivation must have been power. That seemed to be what she was about. His motivation I think was lust. And lust is a character flaw not satisfied at all by getting what it seeks. It's like giving a thirsty man salt water, the more you drink, the thirstier you get. We see Herod's lust again, I believe in this story, if you know what to look for. It's not hard to find. 

Herod is also complex in his relationship with John. What did Herod think about John? Matthew 14:5 says Herod wanted to kill John. Herod's conscience did not stop him from stealing his brother's wife. He had no fear of God in that direction. When John tried to convict him of sin, Herod's prideful anger stirred and he arrested John. But his view of John is complicated, more complicated in Mark than it is in Matthew. So the text we're looking at here shows some of the inner workings of what's going on in this man's twisted brain.  Look at verse 19 and 20, "Herodias, his wife, nursed a grudge against John and want to kill him." She's not complicated in her view toward John. There's no, “I don't know what to do about John.” She just wanted him dead. Very straightforward with Herodias. But she's not able to because she's not in charge, Herod is. 

Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled, but he liked to listen to him. He was a weird man with a weird relationship. John would tell him truths of the kingdom and truths of the Messiah and all that. He listened and he wouldn't get it. Oh, it doesn't make sense. Puzzled. It's puzzling. It's confusing. But he like listening to him. There was something in John's message that was appealing to him, but most of it he didn't understand. Herod's the ruler, so he could kill John.  He could set them free, he's in charge. Theoretically, but he's got dueling fears. Lots of them. He's boxed in by his fears. He was definitely afraid of John. He's a holy man. So he's afraid of what would happen to him. But because he's afraid his behavior is one of anger motivated by fear, he's afraid of him so he wants to kill him. 

But he has other fears besides. Matthew 14:5 says he feared the people. Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people because they considered him a prophet. So violent and cruel tyrants are usually that way because of fear and insecurity. “Uneasy lies a head that wears the crown.” He feared an uprising of the people if he killed John. Then he's got Herodias who wants him dead. No doubt about it, and I'm sure she communicated that to her wicked husband. So he's trapped. He's trapped like an animal by his corrupt character, trapped by pride, trapped by his power, trapped by his lust, trapped by his anger, trapped by his fear. He's trapped by all of those things, even before his birthday party. Little did he know that he would be trapped openly before his dinner guest by his cold-hearted, clever and conniving wife.

III. Herodias’ s Trap Springs

So the trap springs, look at verse 21 and following, "Finally the opportune time came." Now that's an interesting statement, isn't it? Opportune time. Opportune for what? Opportune to kill John. Opportune for who? Not for Herod, he wasn't thinking that's what's going to happen on my birthday. It was Herodias's moment. This is Herodias's time. "Finally, the opportune time came. On his birthday, Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came and danced, she pleased him and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, 'Ask me for anything you want and I'll give it to you.' And he promised her with an oath, 'Whatever you ask, I will give you even up to half my kingdom.' She went out and said to her mother, 'What should I ask for?' 'The head of John the Baptist,' she answered. At once, the girl hurried into the king with the request, 'I want you to give me right now, the head of John the Baptist on a platter.' The king was distressed, greatly distressed. But because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an execution with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, brought back his head on a platter, presented it to the girl and she gave it to her mother.”

It was a birthday party to remember, wasn't it? I mean, birthdays can be a time of encouragement, given to a loved one, or they can be lavish, selfish, materialistic, gluttonous, lascivious, orgies of self-indulgence in the pleasures of the flesh. They could be that. That's what this one was. Herodias baits and springs the trap, like that old poem, "'Will you walk into my parlor?' said the spider to the fly, and in he goes." Knowing Herod's lust, Herodias arranged to have her young daughter, maybe teenage daughter, dance for Herod at the party. She is the bait to trap Herod into the execution he didn't want to give. It seems obvious to me that the girls' dance was lascivious. Friends, this is not a ballet recital. I don't sense that at all. It's an alluring, enticing dance meant to appeal to Herod's lust filled eyes. Think of the corruption of Herodias doing this. Verse 22-23, "When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guest. The king said to the girl, 'Ask me for anything you want and I'll give it to you.' And he promised her with an oath. 'I swear, whatever you ask, I'll give you, up to half my kingdom.'" That was such a good dance. That's weird. This kind of lavish oath probably meant to impress his dinner guests. “See how generous I am, how powerful I am.” But out of his own mouth, he's trapping himself. Little did he realize it would cost him his soul, stained by the blood of God's choice servant. 

 So the girl went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" "The head of John the Baptist," she answered. "At once the girl hurried into the king with her request, 'I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.'" This is sick. It's twisted. The details are particularly gruesome. Herodias is undoubtedly motivated by a deep seated hatred of this man who has called her an adulterer. She wants him to suffer and die. She's woven this whole trap like a spider, and he just walks into it, and Herod then just cowardly surrenders. Herod honored and respected John, as we said. He feared him, but he honored and respected himself more. He honored and inspected his dinner guests more. He's trapped. Verse 20 says, "He's greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests…” He's an animal in his snare so he agrees to the dastardly request, and John's head is severed from his body. Verses 27 and 28, "He did not want to refuse her so he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl and she gave it to her mother." Did you ever stop to think what did this do to her? The girl, I mean? Imagine having this on your conscience the rest of your life. She was a pawn in her wicked mother's game. I can hardly imagine how she must have been in anguish over her role in John's death. The blood of an innocent man staining her soul.

So we go back to the original, the beginning of the account. Herod has a guilty conscience. Look at the beginning of the account, verse 14-16, "King Herod heard about this," namely the miracles, Jesus' miracles. And now the apostles are doing the miracles for Jesus name had become well known.  Some were saying John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That's why miraculous powers are at work in him. Others said he's Elijah, he’s a prophet like one of the prophets of long ago." Verse 16, "But when Herod heard this, he said, 'John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead.'" Now I hope you realize how impossible that is. They met each other, they talked together. Herod's just not thinking and he's just guilty. He's got a guilty conscience. He's haunted about what he had done and that's what he thinks is happening.

IV. Lessons

What are the lessons that we take from this? Three lessons that I gave at the beginning and maybe some others beside realism, warning and worship. First of all, realism. God has called us to be fishers of men. Mark 1:17, this gospel and all the gospels, indeed the entire New Testament, get us ready to do our job, get us ready to share the gospel with lost people. Get us ready to go on mission trips, to stand before unbelievers and testify about Christ, His death, His bloody death on the cross, His bodily resurrection. And that repentance and faith in Christ will forgive you of all your sins. We are to tell it to anybody, including rulers, potentates, kings, emperors, and the lowly. People who are not powerful, people who are not wealthy, to anybody.  That telling may well get some of us into deep trouble. We should not imagine that that wasn't expected. We should not think something like that could never happen. Realism, like Jesus says the night before he was crucified, "People are going to arrest you. They're going to haul you before the authorities. You're going to have to stand before governors and kings. And when they arrest you, don't worry about it. I'm going to give you what to say. Don't be afraid. But I'm telling you ahead of time so that when it happens, you will keep believing in me and not lose your faith." So realism, we're going to have a hard time sharing our faith.  So this week, God may well lead you to share the gospel with your boss. I don't think your boss, he or she, will respond as badly as Herod here or Herodias, sure hope not. But they may give you some a hard time. You may get passed over in your company. You may not get promotions. You may have a hard time at work. Don't think something strange is happening to me, and don't be afraid to share your faith because of the impact it might have on your career. Be bold, be courageous. Realism. Realize you stand in a line of brothers and sisters in Christ, courageous men and women of God who are willing to die for the gospel. Let's step up into that. I think it's going to get harder and harder for us to witness in our culture to the government, to rulers in our world, to bosses. It's going to get harder and harder. To professors, we're going to have a harder and harder time. Let's be courageous. Realism. Realism.

Secondly, warning. Do not desire the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Do you see this twisted corruption here? Power corrupts, money tends to corrupt. Power doesn't have to corrupt. It didn't corrupt Jesus. Money doesn't have to corrupt. Godly people can use money well, but it has that tendency. Don't set your heart on it and be ambitious after it and go after it like it's going to solve all your problems. It didn't solve Herod's problems, so be warned.

Thirdly, worship. See the greatness, the infinite greatness of Jesus. He is not a king like this. He's a glorious king. We're going to spend forever studying how beautiful and radiant he is in his person, in his works. He is a perfect king. And I just urge you, in the spirit of John the Baptist, if you're not yet a believer, flee the wrath to come. There's a storm coming greater than any hurricane that's ever been on earth. And that storm is judgment day and it's going to test everything you've ever built in your life. Your house is built on a rock or it's built on sand. And if it's built on Jesus, it will stand. But if it's not, it's going to come crashing down and great will be that crash. I'm asking you flee to Christ.

If you are a sinner, all you need to do for full forgiveness of sins is repent of your sins, look to Christ, crucified and resurrected, and trust in him and you'll be part of his kingdom. And when you do, you'll find that his yoke is easy in his burden is light. He's a beautiful king, delightful to serve. Nothing like this corrupt man that we've studied today.

Close with me in prayer.  Lord, thank you for the time we've had today to walk through this twisted and sorted tale. And we have an instinct of why you told it to us. Through the powerful work of Mark, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit help us to embrace these themes, the realism of knowing that in this world we will have trouble. The exposure and warning about the dangers of wealth and power, the corrupting dangers that we see, that we'd not lust after that kind of life thinking it's going to be a wonderful life with no problems. But instead, help us to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness. Thirdly, just the beauty of Christ the king. Nothing like these wicked kings, but pure and perfect in all respects. Help us to love you and serve you with all of our hearts. In Jesus name, Amen.

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