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Matthew 14:3-12

The Seed of Sin

3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. 4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. 5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. 6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. 7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. 8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. 9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. 10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. 11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.


Soap opera writers should read the Bible, for, while it is the inerrant word of God, it also hides no evils that are done by its characters. This intriguing passage is a perfect example of the tangled web that evil can weave in the lives of men.

Look at the characters and their situations. Herod had fallen in love and had an affair with his brother Phillip's wife, Herodias. She was the niece of both of them. Although Phillip did not divorce her, he insisted that Herod marry her. Herod respected his wish, and this resulted in the divorce from his own wife, who was the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia Petraea. The divorce caused a war between their two countries.

John the Baptist was the most prominent preacher at that time. Having an opportunity to speak to Herod, he advised him of the immorality of what was going on. It was unlawful for Herod to marry Herodias. This landed John in prison.

Herod was outraged at John, who had dared to shine a light into the darkness of the king's soul. In fact, he wanted to have John killed, but public opinion would not allow it. His throne could have been in danger, if he had harmed this popular prophet. Therefore, he simply left John to rot in prison for the next year and a half.

Later, at Herod's birthday party (Birthdays were only celebrated by pagans.), Herodias' daughter (from her previous marriage) came to dance for Herod, and the story leaves the type of dance to our imaginations. It must have been something out of the ordinary, however, because Herod promised to give her anything she asked for in return. She asked for John the Baptist's head.

The story tells us that Herod was sorry that he had to do this, but we should not think that this was out of concern for John. He was only sorry, because of the political cost of killing him. Nevertheless, Herod would be a man of honor, at least on this one occasion, and deliver John the Baptist's head to Herodias' daughter, who gave it to her mother as a gift.

Wouldn't this sickening story make the perfect soap opera? It has all the ingredients ...scandal, sex, love, hatred, violence, power, the dysfunctional family. Modern TV viewers would love it. They would love it, because it is real and because it would make them feel more comfortable with their own sins. The world loves the darkness.

Christians, however, should get something different out of it. We should see, first of all, what yielding to temptation, even one time, can do to our lives. Herod lusted after his brother's wife, and everything else in the story grew from that small seed, one sinful thought. As aresult of that thought, Herod became an adulterer, was divorced, caused a war, imprisoned and murdered God's greatest prophet, and probably had considerable political problems afterward.

No person is immune from repeating this train of events or similar ones. We must do battle with the temptation of our flesh every minute of every day. Once the seed of sin begins to grow, it is very difficult to stop. Our faith in Jesus Christ is the only weapon we have in this battle, so we must learn to bring our temptations to Him in daily prayer.

Secondly, there is the lesson of what happened to John the Baptist. John did what was right in this story. Telling a tyrant like Herod that it was not lawful for him to have his beloved wife and that He was in an adulterous relationship took courage and great faith. Certainly John knew the risk, yet he was willing to do what God asked of him and to accept the consequences.

Christians are called to do much more than merely live a sinless life. It is our duty to inform the world of its sins and to declare that the wages of sin is death. People must be convicted of their sins and believe in the eternity of hell before they can appreciate the wonders of grace. This will put us at risk, but our faith must be in Jesus Christ.

Before The Throne:

Pray that God would keep you from temptation. Confess your sins and pray for the strength to overcome them. Ask to be made a champion in spiritual warfare. Pray for the courage and faith to speak out against sin. Seek a clear direction from God as you change the course of your life to conform to His will.

For Further Study:

(v.3)
** Herod. Matt 4:12; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:19-20, 23-24; ** Herodias'. Lu 13:1;

(v.4) ** Lev 18:16; Lev 20:21; Deut 25:5-6; 2Sam 12:7; 1Kgs 21:19; 2Chr 26:18-19; Prov 28:1; Isa 8:20; Mark 6:18; Acts 24:24-25;

(v.5) ** when. Mark 6:19-20; Mark 14:1-2; Acts 4:21; Acts 5:26; ** because. Matt 21:26, 32; Mark 11:30-32; Luke 20:6;

(v.6) ** birthday. Gen 40:20; Esth 1:2-9; Esth 2:18; Dan 5:1-4; Hos 1:5-6; Mark 6:21-23; ** the daughter. 22:24; ** danced. Es 1:10-12;

(v.7) ** Esth 5:3, 6; Esth 7:2;

(v.8 ) ** being. 2Chr 22:2-3; Mark 6:24; ** Give. 1Kgs 18:4, 13; 1Kgs 19:2; 2Kgs 11:1; Prov 1:16; Prov 29:10; ** a charger. Num 7:13, 19, 84-85; Ezra 1:9;

(v.9) ** the king. Mark 6:14; ** sorry. Matt 27:17-26; Dan 6:14-16; Mark 6:20, 26; Luke 13:32; John 19:12-16; Acts 24:23-27; Acts 25:3-9; ** the oath's. Num 30:5-8; Judg 11:30-31, 39; Judg 21:1, 7-23; 1Sam 14:24, 28, 39-45; 1Sam 25:22, 32-34; 1Sam 28:10; 2Kgs 6:31-33; Eccl 5:2;

(v.10) ** and beheaded. Matt 17:12; Matt 21:35-36; Matt 22:3-6; Matt 23:34-36; 2Chr 36:16; Jer 2:30; Mark 6:27-29; Mark 9:13; Luke 9:9; Rev 11:7;

(v.11) ** and given. Gen 49:7; Prov 27:4; Prov 29:10; Jer 22:17; Ezek 16:3-4; Ezek 19:2-3; Ezek 35:6; Rev 16:6; Re 17:6;

(v.12)
** took. Matt 27:58-61; Acts 8:2;

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