The Monster and Resurrection Belief
Seduction, adultery, a sensuous dance, guilt, vengeance—all ending in a beheading. This is not what one expects to hear in a Sunday morning sermon, but Matthew used the facts about the beheading of John the Baptist (like he used Jonah’s three days and three nights buried in the stomach of a fish) to foreshadow that his plot was moving toward a gruesome death. Ironically, Matthew places the possibility of resurrection in the mouth of a monster who beheaded John the Baptist.
“At that time Herod the Tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus and said to his servants, ‘He is John the Baptist raised from the dead. This explains the powerful miracles He is doing.’” Matthew 14:1-2
Herod’s own words testify that one of Jesus’ first century enemies had no doubt about the reality of the powerful miracles and that His fame was spreading. Herod speculated about the source of the power and concluded that it was John the Baptist, his nemesis, come back from the dead to haunt him. Matthew uses all this to prepare us for the climax when Herod Antipas will play a role in the crucifixion trial of Jesus –only this execution won’t end in death but in a real resurrection.
After foreshadowing where the plot is headed and building the tension between Jesus and his political and religious enemies, Matthew takes us back in time to remind us about the birthday party that ended with the Baptist’s head on a platter. (Matthew 14:3ff)
I hear almost daily that two consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want between the sheets in their bedroom, but Matthew tells a different story about breaking the seventh commandment. Adultery is wrong, and it often leads to broken marriages, a guilt that seeks to attack anyone daring to expose the guilt, and a plan to destroy this person. The passion of vengeance can lead to the murder of the innocent. It did in the battle between John the Baptist and Herodias.
Lord, raise up preachers who will have the courage to actually trace the story that Matthew tells so that especially our kids and grandkids, will know the truth, not just about the immorality –murder connection, but also about the historical fact that because of Jesus’ resurrection not even the beheading of a righteous man ends in the victory of evil. Use me to help many to discover the forgiveness in Christ’s death and the hope because He did rise.
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