Behind the Scenes at a Beheading
Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: Anger. It is one of the most powerful and vitriolic of emotions. It causes brawls in the bedroom and fights in the middle of the street (hence the well-worn phrase, “road rage”). Unbridled, it can even lead to murder. What is striking about the story of Herod’s birthday and the anger that both he and his wife shared toward John the Baptist is not so much what it led to, although that’s shocking, it is what prompted this hateful fury.
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. Herod wanted John the Baptist dead, as did his wife, Herodias. And both for the same reason. What was it?
2. How does Herod’s hasty promise come back to haunt him (verse 9)? When have you made brash statements or impetuous promises that have caused you grief? How will you grow in patience?
3. Both Herod (and in the previous section, the Nazarenes) had misguided thoughts about Jesus. Why is a correct understanding about Jesus critical to our faith and practice?
4. What are some “false gospels” of our day? How do you gently and lovingly confront them in your family and social circles, when God gives an opportunity?
5. What does it mean to “preach the gospel to ourselves daily”?
1. “Where dancing is there is the evil one. For neither did God give us feet for this end, but that we may walk orderly; not that we may behave ourselves unseemly, not that we may jump like camels, but that we may join the choir of angels.” – John Chrysostom
2. Read Matthew 14:1-12.
3. Read Matthew 14:3-5.
4. Read Matthew 14:8.
5. 01. When personal sin is exposed, by whatever means, the human response tends toward defensiveness and anger.
6. As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount. … Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledge-hammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure.” – C.S. Lewis
7. “If I could remember, each day of my life, that the way to grow stronger is to grow weaker, if I would accept that each day’s frustrations, obstacles, and accidents are God’s ways of making me acknowledge my weakness, so that growing stronger might become a possibility for me, if I did not betray myself into relying on myself— my knowledge, my expertise, my position, my skill with words, and so on—so much of the time, what a difference it would make to me!” – J.I. Packer
8. Read Matthew 14:1-2.
9. “When Herod heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.” – Mark 6:20
10. 02. When we impose our own ideas and presuppositions on Jesus and the gospel, we end up with an interesting but powerless “religion.”
11. Moralism, Formalism, Legalism, Activism, Biblicism