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The Death of John the Baptist

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
March 18, 2021 8:00 am

The Death of John the Baptist

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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March 18, 2021 8:00 am

We may take offense to rude comments, unwanted advice or controversial opinions, but the story of John the Baptist reminds us that it’s the simple truth of God’s word that is often most offensive to our sinful hearts. Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll learn how a determined prophet, a crazy party and a hasty death sentence all feature in Matthew’s gospel.

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We may take offense to rude comments unwanted advice or controversial opinions of the story of John the Baptist reminds us that it's the simple truth of God's word that's often most offensive to our sinful hearts today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will learn how I determine profit a crazy party in a hasty death sentence. All feature in Matthew's gospel welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. John the Baptist played an important role in preparing the way for Jesus ministry on earth. Let's listen in as Dr. Boyce teaches on this important figure, a man who spent his entire life pointing others to the Messiah. I don't listen to the radio very much not even to myself, believe it, but sometimes I don't. Especially when I'm driving and Yvonne driving between noon and three in the afternoon I sometimes listen to Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh's outrageous this Monday and one of the most outrageous lighting also funny things he says is the way you still introduce the program after they come back from one of the hourly commercial breaks come back on them. He would say this is a Rush Limbaugh program and I'm Rush Limbaugh on loan to you from God.

Let her know about Rush Limbaugh were studying John the Baptist and John the Baptist was on loan from God. And when his work here was done on looking back to heaven quickly and water people begin to read the gospel for the first time, especially if I do it superficially as most people do the gospel seem to be just collections of stories and teachings. Put together without any particular meaning or order except for general following of the sequence of events in the life of Jesus Christ.

And even then, there seem to be problems is far more to the arrangement of the gospel material in this and when we study this particular story of John the Baptist.

We soon find that is the case story tells of his deficits.

The way the 14th chapter begins and at first glance, when we come to when it doesn't seem to have much to do with the ongoing story of Jesus and even worse names seem to be in the right place story of the death is here. But the story itself indicates that it could happen sometime before this because in verse three. There's a past tense of the verb Herod had arrested John all that really happens here in terms of the ongoing flow of the action is that Karen had been hearing about Jesus and so he surmised that this was actually John, whom he had killed returned from the dead because he said that's wise able to do these miraculous powers. The best arrangement of this material.

If you think in terms of the data suggest that John the Baptist was probably killed about a year before this would been in about 29 A.D. now as I said, there's more to it than that and will begin to think of it in the context of the ongoing development of the chapters we see what it is pretty clearly. First of all, we just come through a chapter in which Jesus was prophesied opposition to the kingdom was very clear in the matter of the parable of the tares in the weeks that the farmer sews the tears. Then along comes the devil doing everything he can undermine the work so that tears placed there in the middle. Even the first story you will have the birds are the messengers of Satan that snatch the good seed away and if I'm right about the story that comes a little bit later begins to talk about the yeast in the small seed to grow up to be a big tree by interpretation of that is right there, you have more insidious opposition of the kingdom. So that's what we have here in the last chapter, and what we find. Of course, is that's exactly what begins to unfold the very end of the chapter in which Jesus gives these parables, we find that even his own pounds people rejected were offended by the fact that this was little local boy it's truly had lots of power apparently but was he that Gottman try to teach them anything and so you have that kind of a rejection amount here in the 14th chapter you find that Jesus forerunner John the Baptist was rejected even though the point of being killed for his convictions of this point we begin to say this is the way John the Baptist was treated, what is to make us think that Jesus is going to be treated any differently.

And of course he isn't, because by the time you get to the end of the story. He also is executed. So that's one thing we notice. Secondly, we begun to notice a change in Jesus teaching is turned away from the public teaching of the crowds speaking now in parables, even when he speaks to them, but actually doing most of his teaching in private with the disciples 14th chapter alone is an indication about the first four of the parables were spoken of the crowds, but they didn't understand the explanation was given to the disciples within the last of the parables were spoken to the disciples owns what we have here is an important transition. Reason Matthew includes the death of John the Baptist. At this point becomes clear at the end of the story were told in verse 12, is that after the disciples of John it buried John the Baptist. They went and told Jesus, after which we read in verse 13 when Jesus heard what happened. He withdrew by boat privately to solitary place. I call these chapters. The withdrawal of the King because of that verse. What this is really saying is that after the death of John the Baptist. The handwriting was clearly on the wall and so Jesus responds by withdrawing beginning privately to teach those disciples that is going to be behind to carry on his work after he is taken back to heaven unless the context let's begin the think of the story itself. First the story and the characters that are involved is a story about apparently. When asked who he was. There were several Harrods in the New Testament. The best known of them is Herod the great, who was the king at the time Jesus Christ was born. He was the one responsible for the murder of the innocence in Bethlehem. This is not the same. Herod is man.

His current intimacy is called King of the story in verse nine but he wasn't actually a king called the king sort of an honorary way was actually a tetrarch and is introduced that way. Tetrarch is a word but it really means ruler of the fourth because our cone is a ruler Tries the Greek word for four and it would mean literally that this is a man whose ruler over the fourth of the kingdom was always literally that, but it does mean this is a ruler was somewhat less than the king's territory was the territory of Galilee in Paris on and since John the Baptist worked at been carried on, mostly in Paris and Jesus work at been carried on, mostly in gallantly. Both of them came under Herod's official jurisdiction only room for more than 30 years was the time he ruled from Tiberius city on the Sea of Galilee toward the southern end of the Western side, below Capernaum, which was toward the north, but at this particular time. He seems to love bin Laden.

Tiberius put in the fortress of Mark arrest, which is where John the Baptist been imprisoned interesting and a little bit about his family. His first wife was the daughter of Marie Chesser was an Arabian King of the abatis ends. This was land that ordered Herod's territory. Of the South. Herod divorced this woman order to marry Herodias who is the wife who appears in the story radius had been married to Herod's half brother and when Herod divorced his first wife, daughter of abatis and getting in order to marry erroneously created an explosive political situation. The matter of fact, it eventually led to a war between Herod and the retest in which Herod was defeated soundly and would've been eliminated as a power in the near east of it hadn't been for the Romans came in to rescue them in his kingdom. So any criticism of the second marriage and that kind of a situation would be like throwing sparks on dry tinder, and it explains in some measure why Herod was so sensitive to John's words about his immoral behavior. When John announced Herod for this immoral behavior. It's probably had very little to do with the fact that he had divorced his first wife because I was allowable under Jewish law. Also under Roman law.

The real problem was Herod's incestuous second marriage to Herodias was his half brother's wife was very clearly in the Old Testament you find it in the book of Leviticus 1 of the great books of the law on the 18th chapter verse 16 and in the 20th chapter verse 21 or over. As we read the story we find that John didn't merely speak out against Harry's immoral behavior once he did it again and again, which is what the tense of that verb to say in verse four really means is an imperfect tense means he was constantly speaking out against them. We can create the situation. We can imagine that rumors of this began to get the Herod.

Herod invited John the fortress in order to talk to women. When John was outspoken, even in the presence of the king, denouncing him in this way. Simply put them in the prison camp that Molly wanted to kill it were told is afraid to do it because even kings are worried about their popularity didn't want to do anything that would offend the people because the people thought the John the Baptist was a prophet that enters into the story here is Herodias. Herodias was furious against John. She hated it was any woman is married.

She was criticized this way would be furious against one who was criticizing it and we can picture how this is going on. Herodias would've been urging the king to do away with John Herod, for political reasons would've been resisting it than one day. Her opportunity came Herod through party for his birthday invited all his friends to come and Herodias sent her daughter by Herod by her previous marriage to his brother, Herod Philip the dance before Herod and his guests, the New Testament doesn't tell us this girls name that Josephus does save as the Jewish historian.

He said this girls name was Salome and she would probably have been very young is put the dates together should probably have been in her early teens that the latest and just wasn't proper for this sort of thing to be done. For one thing, he would not send a young girl to do that kind of dancing.

Above all, not one of high birth were women who danced before kings and others.

This kind of a setting that they were slave girls. They were available for whatever the desires of the men might've been.

It was not the kind of thing that you would go out of nothing in the Gospels either says that her dance was immoral. But we would expect it to be rather sensuous because of the setting is a rather bold to do this because Herod presumably being his daughter of his wife on his own child, but his daughter could have been offended, but Herodias was a pretty shrewd judge of man, and she reasoned that Herod and his drunken friends would be aroused by the young girls dancing on the course is exactly what happened is pleased Herod and his guest so much that Herod in a rash moment promise the girl anything she wanted and even confirmed it with an oath he took the oath before God would give her anything she wanted up to the half of his kingdom girl. It was prompted by her mother said to me right here on a platter that had John the Baptist. Herod made a very foolish Bobby should never made it. Having made it. He should never have kept wanted to say face you say was there with his friends. So in order to save face. The day then send soldiers down to be had John the Baptist in their he was beheaded in the prison so died last of the Old Testament prophets in the old age ends and violence stages set for the new age of God's love and grace through Jesus Christ displayed in his sacrifice on the cross. Let's talk about the characters involved. We've already learned a lot about John how he dressed what he preached from earlier mentions of John and the gospel. But here the story we learned several things about his character. First of all, we learn that John was a righteous man. Mark makes this point explicitly in his telling of the story tells of the greater length.

Six.

Chapter explains Herodias first grudge against John and wanted to kill him, but she was unable to because Herod feared John and protected him going into be a righteous and holy man means although Herod was far from being righteous and Sofiya recognize that John was righteous, so we had a certain amount of respect for them. Now Matthew doesn't use that word explicitly, but he implies the same thing indirectly when he points out that Herod feared that after having executed John when he heard the words about Jesus that maybe Jesus was actually John resurrected from the dead seat was imagining that God vindicated John by the fact that he now had miraculous powers. John was righteous. Secondly, he was also outspoken is one thing to be righteous, quite another thing to be outspoken about especially when you're standing before the great and powerful of the world as John was withdrawn was both. It was not only righteous was outspoken to when I come to the story. I have recalled something that Charles Colson is written in one of his books about the days when he would bring visitors to meet Richard Nixon when Nixon was President of the United States of Colson was a special legal counsel to the president also to gather the gas preparation room outside the Oval Office and he would describe when they were there they be talking to each other about what they were going to tell the president when I got into CM I saw him face-to-face cousins that it was always the same in the reception room and rehearse their angry lines and reassure one another.

I'll tell them what's going on. Gotta do something when the aide came to escort us in Colson wrote they'd set their jaws and marched toward the door, but once it swung open the eight announcing the Pres. will see you it was as if they had suddenly sniffed some intoxicating fragrance. Most became almost self conscience even about stepping on the plush blue carpet which was sculpted the great seal of the United States and Mr. Nixon's voice and Pres. like any presidents filled the room. Invariably, said Colson.

The liens of the waiting room became the lambs of the Oval Office and sadly he says that it was even more true of religious figures by all peoples of the been most outspoken, but they worked they to wilted in the face of worldly power. That's really all Majesty that high office folks but John the Baptist drew prophet of the Lord and cower before he spoke out boldly and he continued to do so.

Repeating words he said that Herod, it is not lawful for you. However, now. Thirdly, he was a courageous man because he could live failed to know the danger he was placing himself in kings do not like to be confronted and moreover he certainly knowing people would have been well aware of that hatred that Herodias would've had toward him.

John knew what was happening, but he continued to speak out boldly and eventually died because of his convictions. I drastically reminds us of the kind of world we live in this world that rejected Jesus and is going to reject his followers and those who will come before to announce is coming to its world click kills the prophets. This world is a want to be told that it's sinful want to be told that it needs a Savior. Just this week someone was telling me about a witnessing situation about a small granola woman about her need of a Savior, and the fact that she was a sinner. That was the offensive thing be told that she was a sinner wasn't like that those who walk in the footsteps of Jesus was John the Baptist did not hesitate to speak other human beings about things as they really are. How are any people to be saved. We don't tell them the truth about their sin and their need of a Savior. Now the story doesn't really tell us about John also tells us something about Herod and what it tells us about Herod is that he was the exact opposite of John and every point Herod was wicked. John of course was righteous, but Herod was an evil man.

Even though the history books tell us he wasn't particularly bad as kings go, he betrayed his corrupt nature only by his own evil acts requires guilty conscience he had seduced his brother Philip's wife had wrongly imprisoned John and now he consented to John this murder with any kind of a trial or defense was clearly a weakened drunken moment. His action was an outrage against Roman as well as Jewish law, but he did it anyway. Furthermore, after he had done that, he was troubled by his conscience interesting to know that he was a San Jacinto Sadducees didn't believe in resurrection, but Herod's guilty conscience reduce his skeptical cream dust Guild, a righteous man is troubled by it and Zoe trembled at the thought of a final judgment on him by God for this as well, as what certainly was. Many other evil actions. Tracy Riley's English commentator Ernie wrote about conscience at this point I think what he said is worth quoting. He said there is a conscience and all men by nature and forget that fallen lost and desperately wicked. As we all our God has nevertheless taken care to leave himself a witness in our bosoms the poor blind God without the Holy Ghost can save no one. It leads no one to Christ. It may be seared and trampled underfoot, but there is such a thing as a conscience of every man, accusing him or excusing him in Scripture and experience like the Clarence conscience can make even kings miserable when they have willfully rejected this advice and can fill the princes of this world with fear and trembling as it did Felix before whom Paul preached God's witnesses may be put out of the way but there testimony often lives and works on long after they are dead. God's prophets do not live forever, but there words survive them Apparently here's another point Herod was also sly. John was outspoken by Herod was crafting shrew deceptive, hypocritical, deviously wanted to kill John but was afraid to do it for fear of the people in Mark even tells us of the like to listen to John so we can supposedly talk often, Herod would invite John up on all Saturday evenings and John undoubtedly would speak about righteousness, self-control and judgment to come, just as Paul did. Before Felix and Herod would've trembled.

Hearing it justice Felix that I suppose he want to try do agree with John to some extent that's mostly to carry on the conversation but also perhaps because of his troubled conscience.

He said things like this, I see what you're getting at, John, you certainly have the point to preachers or work being heard from time to time, and I suppose that I would think as you do. I might even speakers your speaking. If I were in your shoes. Good man. I admire you. Matthew tells us is that he actually wanted to kill John would've done it except for the people in the course eventually he did is another thing. Herod was also weak. John was courageous. Herod was feeble, as many are more concerned with their own reputations and they are doing right in the John was a righteous man he knew that ordering his execution was an evil act to do the deed blundered promising Salome something you should never promised because he was infatuated with her dancing, but he was too weak to admit his mistake into frightened of his wife's temperaments to uphold the law. You could take a firm stand on wrong things, but he was too weak to take a firm stand on right things and even the standard torque here was actually an indication of his weakness say one more thing about me was also superstitious to say many people reject God's truth but are nevertheless somehow deep in their hearts believe that we must live in a moral universe where there are some fine all the counting.

In the end for deeds both good and bad become superstitious. Really pushed the true God out of the picture so because I have a guilty conscience somewhere down below they consult horoscopes and follow almost any other bizarre spiritual idea that comes their way. Sad, but that's what happens when people do away with God. GK Chesterton said it one time when people stop believing in God. They don't believe in nothing.

I believe everything and so they do. We see it everywhere today only can these characters collection characters we found in the story. This Herod with his weak, good and evil conscience. There's erroneous, evil and vengeful woman. The Salome already corrupted by her mother at a young age.

There are all the sensuous friends of Herod and over against all of them there is John the Baptist righteous, upright, outspoken, courageous man that is one more character. We haven't talked about. And he's the most important character of all. Even though he doesn't think you're much in the story that's Jesus is actually nares there at the beginning the very first verse where we are told about him and he comes in the air again. In the end, where they went.

Told Jesus is been pointed out by numerous commentators on the New Testament that anytime in the New Testament when you find somebody being scandalized or offended by some person words used their story. The person with whom the defendant is always Jesus Christ never noticed a great example of it here. The citizens of Nazareth were offended with Jesus erroneous was offended with Jesus. Herod was offended with Jesus offended with Herod even though he was a very wicked man is a very good reason for that. Sinners are not offended much by other sinners because they are sinners themselves kind of nice to have other sinners around especially bad ones because you can point to the bad ones and say well I'm certainly better than they are somewhat comforting to be in the company of other sinners, but not company of the righteous. That's what John was is why they got rid of them is what Jesus Christ was and is why the government him well comforting to have sinners around not very helpful to make you feel good but I don't deal with your sin, I don't enable you to live in upright life.

Only Jesus does not. Only Jesus can all of which means you say that in the final analysis the real contrast in the story is not between parent and John the Baptist is interesting is that in between King Herod and King Jesus interesting to follow the story through to the end but were not told here what we know what is it that eventually happened to Herod. Kill John a few years after this, Herod's brother Agrippa is another error that appears in acts 12 was appointed King by the Emperor given the former tetra Arcadia. Philip is a fruit of his friendship with the Emperor Herodias was always ambitious, pestered her husband until he went to Rome with her to see if he could perhaps himself also be appointed to King. Fortunately, Agrippa wrote to Caligula using Herod a treasonable dealings with the Parthians and the Senate being made. King Herod was deposed and banished to Gaul where he died. Interesting.

Did what those in power do those in power use power to stay in power. But in the end he lost it when he died a pauper's death. Jesus, on the other hand, that all power. But he laid his power aside in order to die for his people, and having redeemed. Great company now rules with God the father, Herod was a petty king but he looking like it would've been impressive at the party would award his crown and his beautiful robes. Jesus was the real getting the King of Kings, but he didn't look kingly at all. He just appeared on earth is poor, Galilean present deceiving you look only at the outward appearance, but if you look beyond the outward appearance to the heart of it and you listen to Jesus words and hear his claims study what it is he actually did you make the same judgment.

The John did when he talked about them John the Baptist. This time job looked at him and said I have seen and testify that this is the sum of God and the added speaking to his disciples, look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John trusted in Christ and stood for righteousness and died for it, but today is in heaven. The King of Kings awaiting the day when the Lord will return and John along with all the righteous will rule with first Corinthians 118 we read about the foolishness of the cross foolish to fallen men and women that trust is actually the power of God, of the salvation those who are being saved sprayer father.

We bow before you. At the conclusion of the study ask that your word I the palm of your spirit might find a firm place and are thinking on in our hearts were confronted in this world by many false appearances. People sometimes were among them are swept away by what seems to be important or powerful or grand or famous or wealthy.

We tend to pass by that which alone is of lasting value is a story that calls us up short father granted it might have that way in our hearts and we might be strengthened to live on for the values of this world before eternal values, and above all those listening of much trust in Christ as Savior that they might by your grace turn from all of this worlds vanities and instead reside in him who alone is the Savior and the King of Kings Jesus. You are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place.

Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us online@alliancenets.org for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON, and one scene 2Y9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study


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