What John the Baptist’s Confession Cost Him (Mark 6:14-29) Pentecost 7
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Lutheran Church
15 July 2012 Murdock, NE
St. Mark 6:14-29
Word about Jesus – His ministry of forgiveness, teaching, preaching repentance, healing the sick, casting out demons, making the lame to walk and raising the dead – has been leaking out all over the place. Word of Jesus has even reached the inner sanctum of the royal palace. The name of Jesus has become so well known that even the naughty adulterous King Herod has heard.
Word on the street is that this Jesus must be like one of the great prophets of old. Like Elijah perhaps. But others place their bets that this Jesus is John the Baptist come back from the dead. Yeah, that’s the spin. That’s the ticket. After all, what else could explain the fact that this Jesus could do so many miraculous deeds? Herod himself believes it. He keeps repeating to himself: “John, whom I beheaded, has risen! That’s who this Jesus is!”
Now if Jesus is indeed John the Baptist come back from the dead, Herod, Herodius, and Herodius’ lap dancing daughter better get ready for a heavy dose of sermons calling them to some big time repentance.
Repentance for their sick, twisted, freakish immorality and idolatry. After all, the king acts like he’s God. Takes his brother Philip’s wife to be his very own. Steals her and beds her right out from under his own flesh and blood!
Repentance for being a drunken show off at his blowout birthday bash by making the ridiculous oath that he’d give his pole dancing niece anything she wanted – up to half of his kingdom. That intoxicated idiot beat his chest before all his friends! His Mafioso, big shot promise cost incarcerated John the Baptist his head! Then the severed head was brought up from the dungeon to be put on a platter for all the party animals to see, to cheer! Then more drinks to chug! And more cocaine to sniff! Talk about out-Hollywooding Hollywood! Out-soaping the soap operas! Stuff like this is evil. Very evil.
The last thing in the world Herod and company want to hear is another sermon from the Baptist calling them all to: “Repent you brood of vipers! The kingdom of God is at hand!”
Jesus, however, isn’t John the Baptist back from the dead, head reattached and vocal chords resurrectedly mended. Herod is mistaken.
Jesus is Jesus. The Savior of sinners. Even sinners who reject Him just like the prophet Amos who was sent packing! Told to go home and to never come back – OR ELSE! In this Jesus sinners “have redemption through His blood.” And through His Calvary blood sinners have the forgiveness of sins “according to the riches of His grace.”
Word’s leaked out about this Jesus who has come to forgive sinners right here at Trinity where we worship. We go to church to confess this Jesus who died for us. We are happy to repent, that is to say, we have great joy in Savior Jesus who shed His blood for us: sick, twisted, curved in on ourselves sinners. We know that we’re no better than Herod, Herodias and all the rest. We’re all rotten, dead in our trespasses sinners apart from Jesus.
But we are gathered every Sunday in Jesus’ Name to use Jesus and His Blood against all our sin. After all, it’s His Blood that is the detergent in our Baptisms to wash us clean and provide us the new birth from above. There’s no sin too big for Jesus! No sin for which His Blood didn’t atone! Consequently, we don’t hold any of our sins outside of Jesus’ forgiveness. To do that is to make ourselves into our own saviors! What foolishness! Jesus is the Savior who took all our sin in His Body. Yours. Mine. An entire world full!
Your sins don’t belong to you any more! They really don’t! They belong to Jesus! And He’s buried them forever in the black hole of His tomb!
There are worse things in life than being made shorter by a head. The worst, of course, is unbelief. Unbelief: purposely holding on to your sin – outside of Jesus’ forgiveness — buys you a one-way ticket straight to hell.
John the Baptist preached to Herod and all of us sinners like him so that he and we would repent of our sin and believe in Jesus the Savior. John the Baptist endured mockery, prison, and finally a hasty in-prison beheading. Why? For confessing Jesus. For confessing Jesus. The Savior! For sinners!
So do you! You confess Jesus. As the Savior! Savior for all! Savior for you! You confess what He’s done for all and for you. He’s given Himself totally into death – death on the cross – for all and for you. For the world’s salvation. For your salvation!
That’s what you joyfully confess. Faith only speaks about what it has been given. Given to by the Lord Himself through His Word.
Therefore, Christians renounce the devil, all his works, and all his ways. The Holy Trinity is confessed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who gave Himself totally for you with His Name in Holy Baptism.
What the Lord’s given to you is certain and sure brothers and sisters. Heaven is yours. “Blessed you in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” the Epistle states. “Chose you in Christ before the creation of the world.” “Predestined you to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ.”
Jesus gave His life for you and your salvation. Who knows what this confession and faith in Jesus will bring to you in this life. After all, it appears that the world in which we live contains many like Herod and his grudge holding wife that can’t wait to bear their teeth against you. And then the promise you made at your confirmation to “continue steadfast in this confession [of Jesus] and His Church and to suffer all, even death” may just stare you in the face quite soon.
Come what may Jesus remains Jesus. Savior of sinners. You are redeemed through His Blood!
In the Name of Jesus.