Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mark 6:14-29 July 16, 2006 Lectionary Gospel Text

Joe’s Research Notes and Comments on the

Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Text for July 16, 2006 (Proper 10) Year B
             Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Kingdom tide)

Mark 6:14-29 (Amplified Bible from: www.biblegateway.com )

JOHN THE BAPT IST PREPARES THE WAY FOR JESUS IN LIFE AND IN DEATH

Text Background:  Jesus is on His last preaching and healing tour of Galilee in the north. He is in His third and last year of ministry and the opposition of civil and religious leaders are growing. He finally comes to the attention of Herod Antipas, ruler of this territory under Rome.   He is a son and part of the dynasty of the infamous Herod the Great, which so cruelly murdered all the children in Bethlehem in an attempt to get rid of Jesus in His infancy.

Mark 6:14-15 “King Herod heard of it, for (Jesus’) name had become well known.  He and they (of his court) said, John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why these mighty powers (of performing miracles) are at work in Him. (But) others kept saying, It is Elijah! And others said, It is a prophet, like one of the prophets (of old). ”
Comments:  Jesus tremendous impact on the area had created many rumors and speculation as to who He was.  The people’s guesses tended to His being a prophet and not the Messiah since there was no kingly grandeur that the people associated with the coming Messiah   (McGarvey 370).
Topics:  Dealing with fame.  Christ’s powerful works. Christ true identity unknown.  How the prophecy of Elijah was fulfilled.  Christ’s role as the Prophet. (Thompson 43)
Self Examination:  Have I just heard about Jesus through others speculation or do I know Him personally?  Who is Christ to me—a prophet, great teacher, or God’s Son?

Mark 6:16 “But when Herod heard (of it), he said, (This very) John, whom I beheaded, has been raised (from the dead).”
Comments:  Herod appeared to be haunted by a guilty conscience over murdering an innocent man.  Mark went on to explain why this was so in a flashback below.
Topic:  The workings of a guilty Conscience. (Thompson 43)  
Self Examination:  Do I have an accusing conscience over some misdeed from the past that I need to repent of?

Mark 6:17-18  “For (this) Herod himself had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he (Herod) had married her.  For John had told Herod, It is not lawful and you have no right to have your brother’s wife.”
Comments:  Herod visited his half brother, a private citizen in Rome, and took his wife who also happened to be the daughter of another half brother and so was his niece.  He then sent his own wife back to her father and married his brother’s wife and his own niece. (Pfeiffer 1000) This was against God’s law according to Leviticus 18:16; 20:21.  This marriage was both adulterous and incestuous.  John the Baptist was faithful to his duty and reproved these sins despite the risk to his own life.  Even pagan kings were accountable under God’s law and needed to be reproved when they broke the law. Herod, afraid of his new wife’s vindictiveness and popularity of John with the multitudes, protected John by putting him in prison (McGarvey 371).
Topics:  Persecution for the faith. Results of the fear of man. The risk of imprisonment.  Boldness and courage of rebuke the sin of rulers. The results of adultery. (Thompson 43)
Self Examination: Do I have the courage to reprove others about their scandalous sins?
Do I fear my wife so much that I have to work around her?

Mark 6: 19-20  “And Herodias was angry ((enraged) with him and held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him; but she could not, for Herod had (a reverential) fear of John knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and (continually) kept him safe (under guard).  When he heard (John speak), he was much perplexed; and (yet) he heard him gladly.”
Comments:  Herodias was convicted of her sin by the Holy Spirit but instead of repenting she sadistically sought to punish her accuser. This exemplifies the proverb Rebuke a fool and he will hate you for it (Proverbs 9:7-8).  John the Baptist was the forerunner of being persecuted for his faith that some Christians ever since have been receiving.  John had a strong impact on this wicked family because his life and character was holy.  Herod made John the Baptist his chaplain and heard his counsel.  He was weak and vacillating between his respect for John and his sinful passions (Davidson 818).  He was a hearer but not a doer of the Word (Matthew 7:26).
Topics:  Causes and consequences of hatred and vindictiveness.  Influence of an evil woman.  Respect for the godly.  The king’s favor.  Different types of hearers (Thompson 43).
Self Examination:  Do I fantasize sometimes about getting even with that one that hurt me?  Do I respect and fellowship with the godly or have I fallen in with evil companions?
Do I put into practice what I learn at church or do I forget most of what I hear?

Mark 6:21-23  “But an opportune time came (for Herodias) when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and the high military commanders and chief men of Galilee.  For when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased and fascinated Herod and his guest; and the king said to the girl, Ask me for whatever you desire, and I will give it to you.  And he put himself under oath to her, Whatever you ask me, I will give it to you, even to the half of my kingdom.”  
Comments:  Herodias in her hatred bides her time for revenge and finally sees an opportunity.  She will go to any lengths to satisfy her revenge even sacrificing the modesty of her own daughter for the drunken pleasure of the king’s court.  Instead of sending a slave girl to do a striptease, she sends her own daughter who had been shamelessly trained for such an occasion.  Herod would never degrade his own daughter to perform like this, but this was Herodias’s daughter by her former marriage. Herod is trapped into a wicked, rash and drunken oath to a wanton young girl that is characteristic of sin’s foolishness (McGarvey 371).
Topics:  Drunken feasts.  Pleasure-seekers.  Dirty dancing.  Temptresses.  King’s promises.  Rash promises.  Infatuation. (Thompson 43)
Self Examination:  Do I have a plan to get even with someone?  Do I enjoy mixing with those who take drugs or alcohol?  Do I protect the modesty of the women in my life?
Am I easily infatuated and make a fool of myself?

Mark 6: 24-25 “Then she left the room and said to her mother, What shall I ask for (myself)?  And she replied, The head of John the Baptist!  And she rushed back instantly to the king and requested, saying, I wish you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
Comments:  The plot to seek revenge on John the Baptist for his fearless preaching unfolds.  Mother and daughter move quickly before Herod has time to change his mind about the price of a few moments entertainment.  Here is a great crime proposed to murder an acknowledged prophet of the lord to gratify the malice of a wicked woman (Barnes 152).
Topics:  Evil counsel.  Power of parental influence for good or evil.  Evil choice observed.  Saints hated.  Cruelty in action. (Thompson 43)
Self Examination:  Do I influence my children for good and help them avoid temptation?

Mark 6:26-28  “And the king was deeply pained and grieved and exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests, he did not want to slight her (by breaking faith with her).  And immediately the king sent off one (of the soldiers) of his bodyguard and gave him orders to bring (John’s) head.  He went and beheaded him in the prison.  And brought his head on a platter and handed it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.”
Comments: Herod’s conscience gave him a severe check but not strong enough. Here is an example of pride causing a fall into humiliation (Proverbs 11:2; 29:23).  Herod did not want to lose face in front of the dignitaries. We see here the tyranny inherent in a monarchial government. Power corrupts because there is no division of authority to provide a check and balance.  There was no rule of law here only the rule of one man and    his arbitrary whims, which breeds tyranny.  God’s providence here appears to go against His promises but His plan permits and uses man’s sin to be overruled by Grace (Romans 5:20-21).  God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).  How callous the daughter was to bring such a gory trophy to her wicked mother to satisfy her cruel revenge.  John paved the way for Jesus in life and in his death.
Topics:  The misery sin brings.  Fear of man brings a snare.  Martyrs for the faith.(Thompson  44)
Self Examination:  Have I ever made a hasty decision on the spur of the moment?
Do I let my pride override my common sense?  Have I been in a position to rule others by my foolish whims?

Mark 6:29 “When his disciples learned of it, they came and took (John’s) body and laid it in a tomb.”
Comments:  Some heroes of the faith experience great affliction and deliverances and some leave an example of faith in suffering and martyrdom (see Hebrews 11).  God’s plan for my life could include either.  I must trust and obey knowing God knows what is best for His glory and my good. The disciples were loyal to the end and acted as pallbearers.
Topics:  Faithful discipleship.  Taking risks to do right.  
Self Examination:  Am I faithful in helping my pastor?  Would I be a pallbearer?

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

McGarvey, J.W.; Pendleton, Philip Y.,  The Fourfold Gospel—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (Cincinnati: The Standard Publishing)
Thompson, Frank Charles, compiler and editor, The New Chain-Reference Bible (Indianapolis: B.B. Kirkbride Bible Co., Inc.,1964)
Pfeiffer, Charles  F.; Harrison, Everett F., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago:  Moody Press,  1990)
Davidson, F. The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co)
Barnes, Albert; Barnes Notes on the New Testament: Matthew – Mark, (Grand Rapids:           Baker Book House 1966)

Joe Sturz
joesturz@earthlink.net
www.sturzchristiancounseling.com  






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