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The Strangest of All Gifts: A Beheading, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
June 30, 2021 7:05 am

The Strangest of All Gifts: A Beheading, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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June 30, 2021 7:05 am

The King's Ministry: A Study of Matthew 14–20

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When someone calls out a flaw in your life, how much better it would have been in your case when that person offended them. Before long, we feel resentful. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll describes that human dynamic as we examine the complicated jealousies represented in Matthew 14.

You likely noticed that today's message was originally delivered on September 11th. And before we venture into this passage, we'll begin with prayer. Our Father, on this tragic day of remembrance, it's appropriate that we witness in the Scriptures another tragedy. A death that need not have been had there only been restraint.

But oh, the power of a grudge. Today on this anniversary, as a nation, we pause and remember the great men and women who did their best to save as many lives as possible. Some in collapsing buildings. Some in burning buildings.

And some in an airplane on a downward spiral. We remember the families of those who grieve as this cyclical journey returns. And they recall how much their mother or dad, son or daughter, brother or sister, relative or friend, meant to them.

And how much they are missed. We still live in this nation, our Father, and we still are not learning the lessons. And we, therefore, plead for your grace to be applied to us, protecting us, taking care of us, the undeserving. And by your grace, giving us leadership that will give attention to truth and lead accordingly. On this day, as we mourn and remember, remind us that you, our sovereign God, are in charge of it all. And it all does, in fact, work together for good to those who love you. Now minister, Lord, to others through our gifts as we give them those we will never meet, who live in places we will never visit. And because of our gifts, they'll be able to continue and some even survive. Thank you for the privilege of hard work in our occupations, being able to make a living from that we give our gifts full of gratitude. In the name of the God of all grace, even the Lord Jesus Christ, our matchless Savior. And everyone said, Amen.

You're listening to Insight for Living. To study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scripture studies by going to insightworld.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck that he titled, The Strangest of All Gifts, A Beheading. The story begins in the biblical account of Matthew 14 with a rather, well, shall we say, lucky son. He survived his father.

He lived on and ultimately became the ruler, as we read here, of the region of Galilee. His name is Antipas, Herod Antipas. He's haunted by guilt. His hands are stained by the blood of the baptizer, whom he had murdered in the dungeon of the palace of Herod. When he hears the man Jesus named as the one working miracles, Herod Antipas is haunted, haunted by the thought that John the baptizer must have risen from the dead since such miracles were being performed.

He must have come back. And beginning at verse 2, we have a flashback as we return to the account that occurred sometime earlier. If you really want to see it in full clarity, you need to read it alongside Mark chapter 6. Understand that what we're reading has already occurred, but the lessons to be learned from it are yet to be learned.

The account. Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife, Herodias, the former wife of Herod's brother, Philip. It's a good time to turn quickly and look at Mark chapter 6, and you'll see the account that Matthew does not include. Verse 17 of Mark 6, Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip's wife, but Herod had married her. And they lived in open sin, which in that day was known as adultery, and in that day it was a shameful act.

Among the Jews, it was scandalous. John the baptizer decided not to keep his mouth shut. So we read in verse 18, he had been telling Herod, it is against God's law for you to marry your brother's wife. So Herodias, look at this, remember it, Herodias, that's the wife, bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. And without Herod's approval, she was powerless. For Herod respected John, and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him. We read in Mark 6 21, we'll go back to Matthew in a moment, Herodias' chance finally came on Herod's birthday. Now back to Matthew 14.

Verse 6, and we read, at that party for Herod, Herodias' daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him. The Greek term is the word for sexually aroused him. He was lost in his lust, his brain full of alcohol, his heart empty of morals. He suddenly in his lustful moment blurts out a stupid statement. It says to her, I vow to give you whatever you want, tell me what you want, Mark adds, up to half my kingdom.

She didn't know what to say. By the way, Josephus tells us her name is Salome. Salome, who had greatly pleased him, heard this request and his vow to give her whatever she wanted. And notice verse 8 at her mother's urging. If you go to Mark 6, you'll read that she went back to her mother to find out what she should ask for. And she hears her mother make this request, I want the head of John to baptize her. Please observe in verse 9, a little late, but at least the moment is there, he regretted what he had said. So Herod, because of the vow he had made, notice how it reads, in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. At this point you have to take a deep breath, because here the scene is brutal.

There's no warning. Suddenly his door is open and in walks a man with a blade. And off comes the head with a swish. As the man is beheaded and his head is brought on a tray, please observe not given to Herod Antipas who made the request, but given to the one who was the reason for the request, she took the head on the tray to her mother. It's almost impossible to believe a man as good and godly as John would meet that kind of fate. But the disciples heard of the beheading, and we read at the end of verse 12, they came for the body and buried it, and then they went and told Jesus what had happened. What a terrible moment for our Lord.

And we read words that describe grief. As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone, remembering and mourning, thinking back to those great moments they shared together and the great ministry the baptizer had had. Boldly proclaiming of Christ against all odds and in front of whomever. Rank never intimidated him, as we see in this very case, for the one who is in charge of the entire province of Galilee is confronted by John. More than once, it isn't right.

You're doing wrong. This kind of thing displeases God and God's people. The mourning ends, as we will see next time, as a huge crowd comes and Jesus moves into another scene. We've looked back and we've rehearsed the setting. We have seen this event in all its lewdness and ugliness. Now there are lessons to draw from it. Believe it or not, Herodias, the wife, Herod Antipas, the husband, Salome, the dancer, all teach us something we can take with us from this day on. Even the whole story makes a statement to everyone by way of application.

Listen carefully as we all look within. Herodias, the wife, teaches us how dangerous is revenge. How wrong is holding a grudge. It led to murder. Shameless, senseless, needless murder. You didn't flinch. You nurse a grudge long enough, there is no limit to which you will go to get even or to get back.

It's like an aggressive cancer growing within your mind and within your emotions. How much better it is to accept the reproof that someone gave you, that you at the time resented. How much better it would have been in your case when that person offended you for you to forgive them.

Even though they may never ask for it, I mean the alternative is you suffer the consequences. Read Matthew 18 for yourself where Peter asks his Lord, how many times do I forgive another, seven times? Jesus' answer is seventy times seven. He's not saying 490 times. Don't take that literally.

He's saying an infinite number of times. For every offense there must be forgiveness. For everything wrong done against you, you must be able to be big enough to get past it.

If you do not, read the end of Matthew 18 and you will read that you will be turned over to torturers. The inner torturerings that eat away like an acid on your peace and contentment. Herodias is eaten up with the torturerings of her grudge.

She teaches us how dangerous is revenge. You holding a grudge? Any of you? Against someone you once worked for? Against one of your parents? Against a former mate? How about your current mate? You holding a grudge?

How miserable you're making your own life, not to mention the lives of others? Herodias was hell to live with. Antipas by now must have wondered why on earth that he eloped with her.

But they're in deep, now really deep, because of the power of revenge. Let it go. Let it go.

If you have trouble doing that, remember what our Lord has done for you. He knows everything. No one else does. He knows everything you have done that was wrong. And as far as East is from the West, he removes those transgressions from us. God doesn't carry a grudge.

How foolish of us to do so. Herodias teaches how dangerous is revenge. Herod Antipas teaches us something else. How powerful is peer pressure?

How powerful is peer pressure? You know why he didn't go back and correct his statement? You know why he didn't stop so long before she left the room? The people around him, fearing what they would think or say, not realizing that folks respect you more when you acknowledge a foolish statement or a wrong act. And you know who loses in it? Herod Antipas himself. There's an old English couplet that is said of Judas Iscariot.

It goes like this. Still as of old, man by himself is priced. For 30 pieces, Judas sold himself, not Christ. To borrow from that, for fear of what others may say or think, Herod sealed his own fate, not John's. John's eternity is secure. As soon as he stopped breathing on this earth, he took up residence in the presence of the Father. Same with us when we die.

Herod Antipas teaches us how powerful is peer pressure. This tangled web of complicated relationships delivers a shocking outcome, and we hope you'll join us again tomorrow when Chuck Swindoll concludes his message about the strangest of all gifts, a beheading. You're listening to Insight for Living, and to learn more about this ministry, please visit us online at insightworld.org. Because today marks the final day in the ministry year, Chuck is prepared to share an important closing comment, so please stay with us.

First, I want to point you to one of the most helpful resources offered by Insight for Living. Nothing will accelerate your ability to understand the remedy for resentment, to overcome betrayal, or stand up to peer pressure any more than spending time in God's Word. And you likely own a favorite Bible for this purpose, but you may not have one that includes insightful commentary from Chuck Swindoll. The Swindoll Study Bible represents decades of personal study by Chuck, preparing for sermons and writing books, and it's all contained in this helpful study tool that belongs in your personal library.

To discover the different options available to you and to purchase a copy of the Swindoll Study Bible, go to insight.org slash offer. Well, Chuck, in the first book in the New Testament, Matthew spent a lot of time describing a group of first-century religious leaders. The Pharisees were a lot like Herod's family, emotional bullies who intimidated those who followed Jesus. The Pharisees were spiritual outlaws.

They were bandits like bank robbers. They had a way of ripping off the treasury of joy. These religious thugs made up all sorts of untenable rules and tight regulations that were impossible to follow.

And then they looked down their noses with pride and disgust when people failed to keep those rules and regulations. Legalism, their first love, is an exhausting lifestyle. Plus, it sucks the joy right out of anyone who aspires to a grace-filled life. Well, in Matthew chapter 11, Jesus specifically targeted an audience of battle-weary warriors who found the legalistic lifestyle impossible to sustain and exhausting when they tried. Jesus opened his arms and said to them, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and you will find rest for your souls. The rest that Jesus offered that day and still offers to you and me today is different than you might think. He's not talking about wiping sweat from your brow after your morning jog. He's not offering a vacation or a good night's sleep.

It's far more than that. Jesus pinpointed your soul. You see, his invitation penetrates your inner self, that mysterious, all-important place within us that represents the spiritual core of our being. This is the focal point of everything we do at Insight for Living Ministries. Our goal is to teach the Word of God so that the Spirit of God can accomplish what no one else can do. We want to see Jesus liberate all who listen to Insight for Living, liberate from the tyranny of religious legalism. And so today, I'm appealing to your shared vision to bring men and women around the world to this same place of freedom and grace in Jesus that you and I enjoy. You've heard us mention the importance of June 30th.

Well, it's far more than an accounting deadline. God could use your generous donation to deliver his message right into the heart and soul of individuals right now. And I can assure you everything you give will allow us to share the good news of Jesus, who said, Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and you will find rest for your souls. And to respond to Chuck right now, give us a phone call at 1-800-772-8888. You can also give a donation at Insight.org.

This is the final day Chuck will mention this special need. Your donation today, sent before midnight tonight, will make all the difference in helping us reach the goal. Once more, you can also give a donation by using our convenient mobile app or by calling us.

If you're listening in the U.S., dial 1-800-772-8888 or give a donation at Insight.org. In March 2022, Insight for Living Ministries is hosting an unforgettable journey to Israel. Carefully plan to deepen your understanding of the Bible and draw you closer to God.

Chuck Swindoll. For thousands of years, no place has been more meaningful to God's children than the land of Israel. The rugged landscape reminds us to find refuge in God alone. The fertile valleys invite us to follow our shepherd. Jerusalem's position at the very center of the world announces the good news of Christ to every nation. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries March 6 through 17, 2022. Every time I've visited the Holy Land, I've returned home with a refreshed heart for God and a renewed vision for the world.

Really, I mean it every time. And so I want you to have the same life-changing experience. To learn more, go to Insight.org slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. Join us again when Chuck Swindoll continues our study in Matthew's Gospel, Thursday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, the strangest of all gifts, a beheading, was copyrighted in 2016 and 2021, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-25 22:42:22 / 2023-09-25 22:49:54 / 8

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