"Meanderings in Mark"
Series on Mark, Lesson 23

Lessons From A Tragedy

Read: Mark 6:14-29


Theme: God has a lesson for us, even in tragedy.


QUESTION - What are some examples of tragedies that we have recently heard about? (NOTE - Guide this discussion more toward personal tragedies in our church, and away from sensational international tragedies such as Princess Diana.)

QUESTION - Do different believers respond to tragedy in different ways? What are some examples of these varying responses? Why do believers respond differently?

ILLUS. (Personal) I knew an individual who was diagnosed with cancer. He was a marvelous and amazing testimony in his last days, seemingly getting closer and closer to God with each passing moment.

ILLUS. (Personal) I knew another individual who was diagnosed with cancer. This person also claimed Christ as Savior. Yet, the diagnosis brought bitterness and anger. She turned away from the church and died bitter and angry at God.

I. Thoughts From A Wicked Woman

QUESTION - Who was Herodias, and why did John say it was unlawful for her to be married to Herod?

QUOTE - "Herod did this (imprisoned John) because of Herodias, an ambitious woman who was his second wife. Herod had first married a daughter of the Arabian king, Aretas IV. Then he became enamored with his half-niece Herodias (daughter of his half-brother, Aristobulus) who was married to Herod's half-brother (brother means half-brother) Philip (her half-uncle; cf. Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.1-2). They had a daughter, Salome. Herod divorced his wife in order to marry Herodias who had divorced Philip. John had repeatedly denounced this marriage as unlawful (cf. Lev. 18:16; 20:21)" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament Edition, pg. 129)

QUOTE - "Notice who Herodias was: (a) she was the daughter of his half-brother, Aristobulus, and therefore his niece; and (b) she was the wife of his half-brother Herod Philip, and therefore his sister-in-law." (Barclay)

QUESTION - What do you think of the following quote from William Barclay?

QUOTE - "There is nothing in this world as good as a good woman, and there is nothing as bad as a bad woman." Barclay

QUESTION - Is there a Bible name that comes to mind when you think of "the epitomy of evil"? Who? (ANSWER - Looking for Jezebel)

QUESTION - Are there parallels between Herodias and Jezebel? How are they alike? Different?

QUESTION - What lessons do we learn about tragedy from this wicked woman, Herodias?

QUESTION - What of Salome? Are there lessons to be learned from the wicked daughter? Is there anything significant about her behavior? Does it relate in any way to the character of her parent(s)? (i.e. primarily her mother)

QUOTE - "Solo dances in those days in such society were disgusting and licentious pantomimes. That a princess of the royal blood should so expose and demean herself is beyond belief because such dances were the art of professional prostitutes. The very fact that she did this is a grim commentary on the character of Salome, and of the mother who allowed and encouraged her to do so." (Barclay)

A. Justice will not always be served here on earth.

ILLUS. Naboth's vineyard (1 Kings 21)

ILLUS. Joseph imprisoned by Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39)

B. John was not her target.

1. The MAN was not the problem.

2. The MESSAGE was the problem.

QUESTION - Herodias was no doubt pleased as she gazed into the lifeless eyes in the head of John. She was no doubt thrilled to observe the silent lips, which she believed would never condemn her again. But had she actually silenced the message?

QUOTE - "She forgot that while she need no longer meet John, she still had to meet God." Barclay

C. Jesus was her target.

1. When we are reproached, Jesus is reproached.

2. When someone rejects our witness, they are rejecting the message of Jesus Christ.

(Luke 10:16 KJV) He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

D. From this wicked woman we learn that tragedy is often the result of the enemy trying to get at God.

ILLUS. Satan's intent in attacking Job was to GET AT GOD.

II. Thoughts From A Wonderful Prophet

(Mat 11:11 KJV) Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

QUESTION - Did John deserve what he received? Was God being fair here?

QUESTION - What do you think went through John's mind when the executioner walked into his cell?

QUESTION - Do you think John would have agreed (at this last moment in his life) with Evander Holyfield, who said after his fight with Michael Moorer, "God is good, He is good all the time, even with the lumps and the bumps"?

A. He fearlessly testified before small and great.

1. Not too big to preach to the common man.

2. Not too small to preach to the uncommon man.

(Religious leaders, political leaders)

B. He stayed true, and was not a quitter.

1. When faced with imprisonment.

(Must have been particularly hard on someone so used to the wide-open freedom of the desert.)

ILLUS. Got discouraged, but didn't quit serving.

(Mat 11:2-3 KJV) Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

ILLUS. Paul and Silas sang in prison

(Acts 16:25 KJV) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

ILLUS. Joseph continued to serve in prison.

ILLUS. Paul wrote several epistles from prison

2. When faced with death.

QUOTE - Dr. Tom Malone, "Never, never quit."

(There is no reason good enough for quitting on God.)

C. From this wonderful prophet we learn that tragedy can be triumphed overÖ we have VICTORY IN JESUS.

(Imagine the scene in heaven when John strode through the gates!)

III. Thoughts From A Weak King

NOTE - Herod was not really a king, rather a tetrarch, but was popularly referred to as King Herod.

NOTE - Holman's Bible Dictionary gives following definition of TETRARCH - "A political position in the early Roman Empire. It designated the size of the territory ruled (literally the "fourth part") and the amount of dependence on Roman authority. Luke 3:1 names one of the tetrarchs who served in the year of Jesusí birth. The position became less powerful with time, and the limits of authority narrowed. When Herod the Great died, his kingdom was divided among his three sons, one of whom was called "ethnarch" while the other two were named tetrarchs."

QUESTION - Where did Herod go wrong in this passage?

QUESTION - What lessons can we learn from Herod here?

A. The danger of rash vows.

1. This was a rash vow.

(Probably induced by drink.)

cf. (1 Cor 6:12 KJV) All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

2. Greatest example - JEPHTHAH

READ Judges 11:29-32, 34, 39

QUESTION - Are vows ever a good thing? If so, when?

3. Vows have a place.

ILLUS. Paul - shorn head - vow

ILLUS. Jacob (I will give thee the tenth)

4. Vows should not be taken lightly, though.

(Num 30:2 KJV) If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

(Deu 23:21 KJV) When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.

(Eccl 5:4 KJV) When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.

B. The danger of fearing men.

(Acts 5:29 KJV) Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

C. FAMILIARITY is just not enough.

1. Herod HEARD the message often (vs. 20).

2. Herod was GREATLY CONVICTED by the message.

(NOTE - "he did many things" in KJV would be more accurately rendered "he was greatly puzzled" or "he was very perplexed" or "he was very disturbed.")

QUESTION - How was Herod like all of us?

QUESTION - Do you agree with the following quote?

QUOTE - " It is incredible that Herod could hate the message and yet admire the messenger. It is almost beyond comprehension that he should incarcerate the preacher and still go out of his way to hear more of the message he disliked. Yet such was the case, and let us admit there is a little bit of Herod in us all." (Mark's Superb Gospel)

QUOTE - Poor Herod seems to fit perfectly into the picture described in the lines of Studdart Kennedy, the poet of World War I. He wrote:

Thereís summat that pulls us up;

And thereís summat that pulls us down;

And the consequence is that we wobble,

Twixt muck and a golden crown.

3. Herod did not RESPOND to the message, though.

QUOTE - "In Greece, hundreds of years before Christ, the philosopher Plato speculated that if only a person knew "the good," he would do it. Herodís act showed how wrong Plato was. It is not enough to know what is good. It is not enough to believe the right things. A person must commit himself to what he knows is right. A person must trust God enough to believe that He exists, and that it is Godís opinion that counts; that His will must guide ours.

Herod believed that John was a prophet. He even liked to listen to Johnís teachings, just as the people of Israel believed that Jesus was a Prophet and crowded around to hear Him speak and to witness His miracles.

But when the time for decision arrived, mere belief must be transformed into faith. There must be commitment! A person must not look around, and try to please those who are watching. A person must face the fact that only Godís opinion counts, and in the firm conviction that God is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him, that person must commit himself to what is right." (From The Teacher's Commentary)

4. Herod lost the opportunity to hear the message.

QUOTE - "We meet Herod Antipas one more time in the Gospels, when he 'tried' Jesus and hoped to see the Lord perform a miracle (Luke 23:6-12). Jesus would not even speak to this adulterer and murderer, let alone please him by doing a miracle."

(Luke 23:8-9 KJV) And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.

(NOTE - Dr. Tom Malone said this was Jesus saying to Herod, "You didn't want to hear when John spoke, and now you will never hear again. You said no, therefore I accept your answer of no.")

(Prov 29:1 KJV) He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

D. From this weak king we learn that often tragedy is of our own making.

1. The tragedy of hell is of the lost person's own making.

2. The tragedy of a ruined testimony is of the backslider's own making.


Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright © 1997 William E. Johnson.