14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
II. Sin is devastating because it leads you to do disgusting things. (vv. 17-18)
In addition to distorting your thinking, sin is devastating because it leads you to do disgusting things. Look at vv. 17-18. This is where Herod’s distorted view of Jesus began. In these verses we see the events that led up to the death of John, and consequently we see the process by which Herod’s thinking became flawed. It all started with a sinful lust that led him to do disgusting things. Vv. 17-18 explain, “For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Here we see why John was in prison. It was because he had preached against Herod’s marriage to Herodias. And rightfully so! Herod had literally stolen his brother’s wife. One commentator explains:
For Herodias” sake, his brother Philip’s wife” – Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, a half-brother to Antipas, thus his niece. She had married her uncle here called Philip, and they had had a daughter named Salome. Philip had been disinherited by his father, Herod the Great, and lived with Herodias in Rome as a private citizen. While visiting his brother in Rome, Antipas became enamored with Herodias, who, as an ambitious woman, agreed to marry Antipas on the condition that he would divorce his wife, a daughter of the Nabataean king Aretas IV.
This was a disgusting love triangle and it all started with Herod’s lust for his brother’s wife.
Herod’s actions were certainly sinful when he married Herodias. This is why John preached against it. Herod had claimed to be a convert to Judaism, for political reasons, and Leviticus 18:16 & 20:21 clearly prohibited this. Thus, it was politically damaging for Herod to have John out there preaching against his sin. This is why Herod had John arrested.
In these verses we have an example of how sin leads you to do disgusting things. It was Herod’s lust for Herodias led him to marry her. So it all started with one little sin. In his heart Herod’s lusted for her, and this is where that sin took him. In Matthew 5:28 Jesus explains this in a bit more detail: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Herod did not deal with this and look at the disgusting things it led him to do. He married his brother’s wife, and then unjustly imprisoned John when John revealed his sin.
This is how sin works. If you do not deal with the sin in your lives it will lead us to do disgusting things. When we understand this principle it is a little easier to understand why, in Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus went on to say,
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
At the very first hint of sin we must deal with it! We must flee from it! Because if we don’t it will lead us to do some disgusting things.