53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, 2 and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, 4 because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. 6 But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, 7 so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9 And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus. (ESV)
Hometown Hero or Villain?
Bringing the Gospel Home
1. It is hard because of our expectations.
2. It is hard because it is more emotionally charged.
Sin and PTSD Matthew 14:1-2 Proverbs 13:15
A Flashback Explanation Matthew 14:3-8
Herod was vacillating.Exodus 8:8-11
Root of sin is pride. Matthew 14:9-12
Pride VS. Humility
July 10, 2011 – Herod’s Guilty Paranoia – Matthew 13:53 – 14:12 – Pastor Will Stoll
Good morning. How are you today? Well, you just heard about the 353 kids signed up for this next session of 5 Daze of Fun. We had 300 in the first session and there are a bunch of walk-ups who will be coming tomorrow, too. This is one of the reasons that we give you the opportunity to give every week; you are supporting the life of youth in this community. We have our own kids who come, then there are kids from the community getting drawn in, and families that are getting drawn in – we’re excited about that. We’re excited about 5 Daze of Fun. So I hope you understand that even if you are not doing the teaching, you are a part of it, but Bernie really appreciates the teachers and helpers in each classroom.
How many of you are in transition right now in some part of your life? Retiring, moving, have a child in transition? Transition is a difficult time. You might even – Amen! Someone said ‘Amen’ – I like that. Even if you have worked on a job for 40 years, haven’t always enjoyed it, but you are retiring now, transition is still going to be tough. Some transitions are not positive ones – right? Some of you are just getting older and transitioning from lots of vitality and mobility to less; that’s another transition – but it does make you think about heaven more often, which is a good thing – part of life, part of your Christian experience.
The reason I bring up transition is because as we are looking in the Book of Matthew, there are some transition Jesus, Himself, went through. Today we’re going to look at two stories that talk about this - one where He is opposed and rejected at home and another where He is opposed and rejected abroad. We’ll be going to a different part of the Book of Matthew where pretty much no one likes Jesus and he is going to say, “Everyone has left. The crowds are gone.” Turn to Matthew, Chapter 13, verse 53:
“When Jesus had finished these parables, He moved on from there. Coming to His hometown” – He was going home, this was a great thing – “He began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed.”
Now when it says “they were amazed” it’s not like, “Wow, this is cool, I love this!” No, it’s more like, “I’m amazed! Who do you think You are? Where do You get off?” And we know that because of what it says next. They ask:
“’Where did this Man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers’” they asked. ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s Son?’”
He’s not the son of a rabbi or a priest; He didn’t have this great education from somewhere. He’s a carpenter’s son, He makes tables and chairs and stuff!
“’Isn’t His mother’s name Mary, and aren’t His brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all His sisters with us?’”
He’s not from a noble family – it’s not “Sir Jesus” – it’s just Jesus, from Nazareth, a Podunk town in the middle of nowhere! Where does this guy get off? And they took offense at Him. Why? Because they’re saying, “You’re presenting Yourself as this holy Man? This powerful guy? This great teacher? But there’s no reason for it – we don’t think.”
“But Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’”
What He did not do – in fact, Mark says He could not do many miracles, because of their lack of faith. These religious leaders had been out-stripped by Jesus. They were doing the teaching, but no one wanted to hear it because it didn’t involve miracles also. They weren’t interesting like Jesus; He had actual wisdom from God. So they didn’t like Him much.
By the way, this actually debunks the apocryphal books that are out there. There are some books that aren’t part of the Bible, but people say should be part of the Bible, and they teach that Jesus did these great miracles when He was 8 and 9 years old; He took a pile of rocks and they were made into birds and they flew away. But He grew up very normal – except He didn’t sin. And they wondered who He was because they knew He had a normal childhood.
Now, some of you have experienced this same thing almost. Because normally you go home and you are loved the most at home – it’s your home town, it’s your family – they love you! Unless you go home with an elevated position. Now they have to bring you back down, they think. They have to remind you, “Hey, you’re the kid that pulled the fire alarm. Remember that?” It underscores a couple of things – first of all, unbelief is a problem for believers and unbelievers. These people didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
If you’ve ever been to one of these faith-healer rallies, which I don’t recommend by the way, they have a lot of sleight of hand, lots of things they do. But if you went to this faith healer with a tumor the size of a golf ball coming out your neck, and they pray for you, lay hands on you and proclaim, “You are healed, brother!” Then two months later you go to the doctor and it’s the size of a pumpkin. You say to the faith healer, “What happened? You told me I was healed and everything was going to be okay.” And what is his fallback? “You didn’t believe.” Yeah. “It would have happened, but you just didn’t believe. You didn’t have enough faith. That’s why I couldn’t heal you.”
Don’t think Jesus was saying that here. He was not. In fact, the people in Nazareth, they believed He could do miracles. That’s why they said, “Where did He get these miracles from?” They knew He could do miracles – they just didn’t believe He was the Messiah. They didn’t believe He was God, and so He refused to do very many things. Partly because they didn’t like Him, but more than that, it would have violated His mission. He could have done miracles, but it would have violated His mission and made His mission more of a side show. Jesus said, “I’m not here to impress skeptics, I’m not here to wow you guys and do a trick. I’m here to save you from your sins. The miracles accompany Me so that you will know I am the Messiah. Now that you’ve seen them, and you still say you don’t believe, then you are left to your own unbelief.”
Unbelief is also a problem with believers. Do you realize that every time we sin, we disbelieve God? If you are a parent of a teenager, you get this. How many of you have teenagers or have had teenagers? What’s the one commonality with all teenagers? They always rebel. I mean, at some point there is going to be some rebellion in their lives. Even after I got saved and wanted to witness to everybody, I still rebelled. There were places my parents did not want me to go to witness because they were dangerous - and I rebelled against that! They are going to rebel. But why do teenagers rebel? Because what they are saying is, “Mom and Dad, I do not believe that you have my best interests at heart.” Because if you did believe that Mom and Dad had your best interests at heart, you would say, “Well, I like me, too; I want the best for me; so I’ll go along with that.” In the same way, whenever we disobey God, it’s because we’re saying, “God, I just don’t think You are right on this one. I mean, You’ve been right many times, I’ll give that to You – creating the world, sunrise this morning was nice – but I think on this one, I’m right.” We literally disbelieve God. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But we think we know what’s better for us and so we rebel – we don’t believe.
Now the other thing we learn from this passage is just how hard it is to bring the gospel home. A guy named Randy Newman wrote a book called “Bringing The Gospel Home.” What he says in his book is that there is no drama like family drama. Isn’t that true? And the reason is because the stakes are so high. God wants your family for Himself. But the devil wants your family for himself; he wants your family to be generationally evil. God wants your family to be generationally good and gospel-driven. So there is this battle. There’s a co-worker who has told you about Jesus, you get saved, you go to church, and you get all excited. You look at this thing and say, “This is going to be so easy. I know this is great because I received the gospel and it was so wonderful. I know my mom and I know my dad and how they think - alright? I know my siblings – piece of cake.”
Here’s why bringing the gospel home is hard. Number one, because of our expectations. Our expectations are “no problem!” Think how dumb it would be for Paul (Mavrogeorge) and I to say, “You know what? We’re going to get into shape. We were pretty athletic back in the day – played football – let’s just go run a marathon next weekend. This will be easy.” How many of you think that Paul’s going to finish? It is not going to happen! I won’t ask you what you think about me. But you don’t think that Paul will finish – and I agree with you. Truthfully, I won’t finish either because if I haven’t trained and eaten right and all that stuff, it’s not going to be easy – and I’m going to fail.
In the same way, if you bring the gospel home and think, “No problem” – you’re probably going to fail. Then we give up. We drop out of the race. We stop trying to witness to Mom and Dad and brothers and sisters.
The second reason why it is so difficult is because emotions are very high. It isn’t like witnessing to your friends and they reject you, and you think, “Oh, no problem – maybe later.” Witnessing in your own home is emotionally charged and usually two things come into play – guilt and anger. There is a lot of guilt in witnessing to people at home because you feel like you’re not being clear enough or bold enough or maybe being a traitor because you’ve abandoned the family religion in some way or another. So you feel guilty. Then you feel angry. Angry because they marginalize you. They don’t understand you; they don’t understand the gospel; maybe they’re sarcastic with you – so it’s a very difficult thing. That’s what Jesus was dealing with when He got home, too.
Next story – again, transition; again, people resisting Jesus. Chapter 14, verse 1:
“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus,” (this is Herod Antipas who is the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea) “and he said to his attendants, ‘This is John the Baptist;’ (talking about Jesus) ‘he has risen from the dead!’ (he believed in the pagan idea of reincarnation – the Bible doesn’t teach that anywhere) ‘That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’”
Now, John the Baptist had been killed by Herod Antipas – we’ll get a flashback as an explanation why in just a bit. But this guy killed John the Baptist, so he feels guilty over it. He feels paranoia, he says Jesus is John the Baptist. John the Baptist never did any miracles, but Jesus is doing miracles. So in Herod’s twisted, illogical thinking, John has come back from the dead and now he is doing miracles and Herod is in trouble. There is a close relation between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and sin. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, oftentimes you don’t have anything to do with it, it happens to you. In a war, something was inflicted upon you, and you dealt with a trauma that was so emotional and so difficult that you didn’t have the capability of dealing with it. It doesn’t go away with the normal passage of time. Symptoms come up over and over again. Herod was dealing with that.
I was reading this week about Post Abortion Stress Syndrome – P.A.S. And the reason I bring it up is because we all live in society where, statistically, one in three of us in this room has had some part in an abortion. There is grace and forgiveness and it is abundant for any sin we commit that we confess to the Lord, but sometimes it doesn’t get dealt with very well. The way you know it is not dealt with very well is if you have symptoms. I want to read you some of the symptoms that clinical psychologists say come with Post Abortion Stress Syndrome: Depression, suicidal thoughts, sad mood, sudden uncontrollable crying, deterioration of self-esteem, disruption of interpersonal relationships, disruption of sleep, appetite problems, sexual disturbances, reduced motivation – these are things that happen when it is not dealt with properly, emotionally and spiritually. There may be some conversations that need to happen. A lot of times we avoid things that are problematic. It would be akin to getting shot and you think it’s going to be fine as long as you bandage the wound. But that bullet is still in there and it needs to come out. We want to help you if you are dealing with anything like that. Whatever is in the past, if it’s been dealt with, praise the Lord, it’s under the blood and it’s all taken care. But if you’re thinking it’s is not okay, it’s not good inside me, it can be. We have our counseling center that is available and you can call and talk with them any time. The Pregnancy Care Center here in Fresno also deals with that.
But it is not just one thing in our life, it can be any sin that is unrepented that can cause this post traumatic stress syndrome it is also things that people do to you. Take a guy who is having an affair. When he comes home from work, his wife is just asking normal questions about his schedule – he can be pretty defensive about that. Every question seems like a personal attack on him. Why? Because we get defensive about anything that is a problem area in our lives. This is where Herod was in his life – very paranoid about this, didn’t want to even think about John the Baptist because he had killed him!
So, now, how did he kill him? What happened here? Let’s flashback – let’s look at
“Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet. On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.’”
So here was their relationship. John the Baptist was a guy – we looked a few weeks ago at this – who was a steady guy, he would never compromise. Herod was like – “You know what? I live in a world of ‘yes’ people and they tell me what I want to hear. I like you. You tell me the truth.” Then he pauses a moment, “Wait a minute. I don’t like you, you just brought up the Ten Commandments. You just brought up adultery. I don’t like that at all! In fact, I think I want to kill you!” And he would have killed John, but he was also a politician and serving at the behest of Rome. If he causes political problems, then Rome says he is out – and he might be dead, too! So he couldn’t afford to offend Jewish sensibilities - they thought John was a prophet. So instead of killing him, he just throws him into prison.
So let me give you kind of a taste of what is going on here. If you look up on the board here – my buddy Ben created this cool graphic. There you have Herod; Herod is a good guy – he’s wearing a suit there. Herod the Great. You know where he got that name, Herod the Great? He thought of it himself. No inferiority problems. But he has this problem with killing his wives. He had 9 or 10 or them – they don’t really know how many because if they irritated them, he would just kill them. He killed his kids, too. Caesar said that you would be safer to be Herod’s dog than to be his son! In fact, this was the Herod that, when Jesus was born, had all the babies killed because he didn’t want anyone to come and challenge his status. He has some wives – I want to show you four of them here. These women were married to Herod at some point and at some point some of them were killed by him. They had sons; I’m going to show you some of his sons here.
Aristobulus was the first son, then Herod Philip II, then Herod Antipas - and that’s who the story is about that we’re looking at today. Herod Antipas was also the one Jesus would go before in His trial. Then you have Herod Philip the First. Aristobulus had three kids, one of them is Herodias. Herodias falls in love with Herod Philip the First and they get married – why not marry your half uncle? So they get married and live in Rome. They have a daughter named Salome. Things are going just great until Herod Antipas goes and visits Rome. Now Herod Antipas is married to an Arabian princess – they formed a great alliance and she was pretty and things were great until he goes to Rome and sees his brother and realizes his niece is married to him and he falls in love with Herodias. They have an affair and they run off to Judea together. Herodias doesn’t like the fact that Herod Antipas is married to an Arabian princess, so he kills her. That causes a political problem with Petra, too.
Things are fine until John the Baptist comes along and says, “Okay. This is a little bit of a tangled web here, but I’m pretty sure you’ve committed adultery and I’m pretty sure you’ve committed murder – and it’s wrong!” And Herod doesn’t want to hear it; wants John to talk about something else. Well, he doesn’t. Now Herodias is ruthless, alright? She is not like Herod, vacillating back and forth – she is sure that she wants John the Baptist dead. So it comes about that it is Herod Antipas’ birthday, so she says to her daughter, Salome, who is 12 to 14 years old, “My husband is a pervert. It would be great if you would dance in front of him, almost naked, when he and his friends are drunk. He is also rash – he will probably say to you, ‘I’ll give you whatever you want.’ Here’s what you want to ask for – John the Baptist’s head on a platter.” She’s a real peach. She’s going to train Salome well in the art of murder, inter-marriage – all kinds of things. Salome dances in front of her step-father; he is loving this sensuous dance; says he’ll give her whatever she wants – “the head of John the Baptist on a platter” is her reply – and when she says that, Herod is sunk. He knows, politically, this is not a good thing. “If I go ahead and give her what she is asking for, politically I’m in trouble. If I don’t do it, I’m shamed in front of these guests.” So he goes ahead and he does her bidding – he has John the Baptist killed and his head brought out on a platter to be presented to Salome.
Now, if you continue the family tree, Salome – this girl in training – ends up marrying her half uncle, Philip Herod II; and in marrying him, she becomes her mother’s sister-in-law and aunt. Then Salome kills her husband and marries one of the brothers of Herodias, Herod Antipas II, becoming her mother’s sister-in-law again and niece. So, you can see this web of sin and how it gets so complicated. This is what sin does in our lives. It just does not get untangled until there is real repentance.
So, Herod is in a pickle about what to do. “I’ve said this vow, it’s a rash vow – what do I do?” Look at verse 9:
“The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.”
At some time you are going to say something that is wrong. What do you do? You’re going to make a promise that’s wrong. What do you do? Normally, you should keep your vows; you should keep your word - unless your word is evil; unless your words are going to hurt other people. In this case, Herod was trying to decide – do I kill an innocent man, or do I let myself be shamed because I don’t keep my word? What is the right thing to do? Break your word, obviously. But his pride wouldn’t let him do it. What you really see here is a picture of humility versus pride. John the Baptist who is humble and says, “I’m not even worthy to take Jesus’ shoes off; He must increase, I must decrease.” This is a humble guy. Then you have Herod who is proud – Herod Antipas who is extremely proud. So – look for a minute at pride versus humility and see where you fall in this continuum.
I’m going to give you eight quick statements on pride. These are not my thoughts. Mark Driscoll came up with some, some church fathers, popular theologians also. First, John Stott said this, “Your greatest enemy is pride.” That’s a powerful statement; it’s not a person; not an organization - it’s pride. Something inside of you is your greatest enemy. Conversely, then, your greatest friend is humility. That’s your best friend.
The second thing I need to tell you about pride and humility is that pride, at its heart and core, are demonic and satanic. Satan was an angel created by God. He was doing good stuff until one day he said, “I can be like God. I can be like the Most High God.” Very satanic – the very first sin that happened was pride. The devil tempted Adam and Eve, and the very first sin that humans committed was based on pride. “You can be like God - knowing good and evil – just take this fruit.” On the flip side of that, humility is Christ-like. When Jesus is described in the Bible, He is humble. For a person to do anything that is humble, or be humble in any way, it is an absolute miracle. Do you understand that? For any one of us to be humble, is a miracle and it is an evidence of God’s grace in our lives.
Number three, pride always compares. You will always look to compare yourself to people who are less than you to bolster your pride. Less intelligent, less successful, less attractive, less affluent – you will compare yourself to them. But humility always compares itself to Jesus. You will always come up short when you do that. When you look at other people, you can think, “Oh, yeah, I’m better.” When you look at Jesus, it’s “Oh, man, I’m in trouble.”
Number four, pride is jealous of other peoples’ success. How do you respond when other people do good? They outstrip you; they’re better than you. Humility celebrates that.
Fifth, pride is always about me and what I want, what I need, what I think, what I feel, what I deserve – about my glory. Do you know what I’ve done? Do you respect me? Do you honor me? Do you like me? Do you want to be like me? Pride is always about me.
Number six, the point of pride is independence. I don’t need anybody; I don’t need God. Satan wanted to be independent of God; pride always strives for that. Humility says, “I’m nothing without God. I need God. I’m so dependent on Him. I need You for everything.” It acknowledges dependence on others as well.
Number seven, Augustine said, “Pride is the mother of all sin.” Now, that in itself is a pregnant statement. What it says is that pride is pregnant with this brood of little vipers. These are some of the sins that flow out of pride – greed, because I deserve everything! Ambition – because I’m the most qualified for the position, I should get it. Boasting – because everyone needs to know about my exploits and what I’ve done. Contention – because I feel superior to everybody else, I’m going to fight with them about their positions. Ingratitude – because I deserve everything I get. Selfishness – because no one else deserves what they get, I should get it. Judgementalness - because other people’s sin is worse than mine. Gossip – because I feel better when other people are worse than me, so let me tell you about how bad they are. Complaining – because God didn’t consult me before He made decisions about my life, I’m going to complain about it. Hypocrisy – because I must hide the truth about myself so you don’t really know what I am, so I can continue to be proud. The mother of all sin.
The last thing I can tell you about pride is this – pride is achievable in this life. You can accomplish pride, you can be proud. Humility is not achievable. It is only something you can pursue. You can never say, “I’m proud to tell you today that I have achieved humility.” Can’t do it. Yet some of us do. Some people I have heard say, “I am humble.” Really? That is fantastic! And you are stupid, too! And so am I forever thinking I have achieved humility. All we can do is say, “God, I need You because in my self and my flesh I think I’m great – which means I’m actually blind because I haven’t been seeing Christ and comparing myself to Him.”
So, Lord, help me to be realistic about who I am and pursue humility; pursue dependence on You because I need You so much. Pride always ends in death. Have you ever read Shakespeare? Have you read Othello? Othello had a wife named Desdemona; Othello was proud and became convinced that she was having an affair – which bothered him because of the emotional part, but it wasn’t the emotional part of rejection that bothered him the most; it was the pride of what others would think about him that really drove him crazy. He was afraid he wouldn’t look competent and strong if his wife were having an affair – so he killed her. Innocent Desdemona. Pride always ends in death. It ended in the death of John. But humility always brings life. As soon as John the Baptist is dead on earth, he is alive in heaven.
Our pride kills the people around us. Kills all the work God has done in your life; all the work that God wants to do in your life. It just says to us that we have got to humble ourselves for this great King – Jesus Christ. As you look at this passage, there are so many issues going on. I can’t even imagine what God might be poking at you about today. I’ve been poked quite a bit this week as I studied this and thought about it, but I want you to know that whatever it is, say ‘yes.’ Say ‘yes’ to the Lord. In just a moment we’re going to pray and have an invitation – an opportunity for you to come and pray at the altar if you want to. If you want to pray with someone or talk with someone, that opportunity is available. Jeff is going to lead us in some hymns of invitation. If you want to just stand there at your seat and sing along, you can and maybe just do some business with the Lord – that’s appropriate, too. Would you join me as we pray?
Father, we come into Your presence and we just want to say thank You for Your Word. I pray that Your Holy Spirit would have free reign in our hearts this morning, to do whatever You want to do in our lives. I pray we would be willing to humble ourselves before You and say “yes.” We pray this in Jesus’ Name. Amen