Herod and John the Baptist

The Life of Jesus Christ - Chapter 5 - Jesus tells people the good news and cures people in *Galilee - Part 8

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An online Bible Study course by Barrie Wetherill about the life of Jesus. This book is in EasyEnglish Level B. Use the links below for other online Bible Study books and commentaries that will help you. Or go to the Word List, which explains words with a *star.

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Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9

The family of Herod

King Herod Antipas heard about Jesus. The family of Herod were not really Jews. They came from Edom. Other people had forced them to become Jews in the centuries just before Christ. The family of Herod was an important family in Edom. And, they were clever at politics. They became friends with the Romans and married people from the Jewish royal family. When the Romans ruled Israel, they chose ĎHerod the Greatí to be king. Herod was a son of this family from Edom.

Why Herod arrested John the Baptist

Two of Herodís sons were Herod Philip and Herod Antipas. Herod Philip married a woman called Herodias. When Herod Antipas visited his brother, he wanted Herodias for a wife for himself. So Herod Antipas divorced his own wife, and married Herodias. She, of course, had to divorce Herod Philip first. The Jewish law does not permit such behaviour (Leviticus 18:16 and 20:21). John the Baptist said this was wrong. When he did this, he made Herodias very angry. So Herod Antipas ordered John's arrest.

Why Herod murdered John the Baptist

On one occasion when the king had a party, Herodiasí daughter danced for his guests. The king was very pleased with her. He foolishly promised to give her anything that she asked for. The girl asked her mother what to say to the king. Her mother told her to ask Herod to kill John the Baptist. The king did not know what to do. He could have given two sensible answers to her:

  I promised to give you a gift. I did not promise to do a crime.

  I was wrong when I made this promise. I cancel it.

However, Herod considered that the good opinion of his guests was more important than his duty to obey God. This was Herod's greatest error. Herod thought that the opinions of people were more important than the words of God. So, Herod ordered John's death.

These were the results of Herod's evil deeds:

  He murdered John the Baptist. John had been a loyal servant of God. He prepared people for Jesus.

  Herod's conscience was not right. Herod felt guilty. His actions were terrible.

  He made the Jewish people very angry.

  He made the father of his first wife very angry. This man then attacked Herodís army.

Afterwards, the Romans sent Herod away for the rest of his life, together with Herodias.

Herod had listened to John the Baptist. But Herod did not obey.

In fact Herod thought well of John. Mark 6:20 says that Herod liked to listen to John! People had often seen Herod as he listened to John. John always said what God had told him to say. But it is not enough only to listen to Godís word. It does us no good, if we do not OBEY. Herod refused to be sorry for the wrong things that he had done.

The Bible records that other men have also done this. They have listened to some very powerful speaker who has spoken Godís words. But they have not changed. Acts 24:26 tells us that the Roman governor Felix liked to listen to Paul. He sent for him often. But it did not change his attitudes or his behaviour. When his time to govern was over, he left Paul in prison.


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