Faithful John the Baptist Mark 6:14-29

Text: “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”

Mark 6:20.

Good morning, faithful and just Christian!  You are known as faithful, because of your faith in Christ Jesus, and at all times seeking to be obedient to His inspired Word and principles.

You are known as just, because - by God’s free and Sovereign grace alone - you have been justified (just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned) by the Crucifixion, Death, and resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living Lord God Jehovah. 

Praise God for faithful and justified Christians!  Glory to the Lamb Who was slain, but now lives FOREVER!  Hallelujah!  Amen.

J.C. Ryle Comments:

John the Baptist: 

“These verses describe the death of one of the most eminent saints of God. They relate the murder of John the Baptist. Of all the evangelists none tells this melancholy story so fully as St. Mark. Let us see what practical lessons the passage contains for our own souls.

“We see, in the first place, the amazing power of truth over the conscience. Herod “fears” John the Baptist while he lives, and is troubled about him after he dies. A friendless, solitary preacher, with no other weapon than God’s truth, disturbs and terrifies a king.

“Everybody has a conscience. Here lies the secret of a faithful minister’s power. This is the reason why Felix “trembled,” and Agrippa was “almost persuaded,” when Paul the prisoner spoke before them. God has not left Himself without witness in the hearts of unconverted people. Fallen and corrupt as man is, there are thoughts within him accusing or excusing, according as he lives, thoughts that will not be shut out, —thoughts that can make even kings, like Herod, restless and afraid.

“None ought to remember this so much as ministers and teachers. If they preach and teach Christ’s truth, they may rest assured that their work is not in vain. Children may seem inattentive in schools. Hearers may seem careless in congregations. But in both cases, there is often far more going on in the conscience than our eyes see. Seeds often spring up and bear fruit, when the sower, like John the Baptist, is dead or gone.” (J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels 1816-1900)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they might see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

Note what happened when the evil king Herod heard about the Lord Jesus, and how He was travelling around the country healing the sick; preaching God’s truths; and casting out many devils from all He encountered.

“And king Herod heard of Him; (for His Name was spread abroad :) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.”  (V.14)

This vile king who had cruelly martyred the faithful and just John the Baptist, by having his executioner cut off John’s head – immediately, yet wrongfully, identified the Lord Jesus Christ as the resurrected John!  Even the unbelieving Herod had enough discernment to see that John, the servant of Christ, God’s messenger prophesied for thousands of years, closely resembled in spirit His Lord Who had come into “…His own country.” (Mark 6:1)

The same Spirit of Holiness pervaded both Christ and His messenger servant, John.  John possessed all the traits of Christlikeness, that every genuine Christian believer should manifest to the unbelieving world of sinners: John was both faithful to His Lord, and John was clearly justified by Christ, in the Holy sight of the Living Lord God Jehovah.

“Follow peace with all men, and HOLINESS, without which no man shall see the Lord.”  (Hebrews 12:14)

The faithful and just John the Baptist’s ministry was a clear fulfilment of long-time established Biblical prophecy, and John’s message from the Lord God Almighty was delivered by this Christian martyr.

“Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, Whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the Covenant, Whom ye delight in: behold (look, and clearly understand) He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”  (Malachi 3:1) 

“In those days (New Testament days) came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”  (Matthew 3:1-2)

J.C. Ryle Comments: “We see, in the third place, how boldly a faithful minister of God ought to rebuke sin. John the Baptist spoke plainly to Herod about the wickedness of his life. He did not excuse himself under the plea that it was impru­dent, or impolitic, or untimely, or useless to speak out. He did not say smooth things, and palliate the king’s ungodliness by using soft words to describe his offence. He told his royal hearer the plain truth, regardless of all consequences, — “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.”

Here is a pattern that all ministers ought to follow.” (J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels 1816-1900)

Thought: Christ’s ministers ought to be faithful and just to speak God’s truth!

Shaking Off the Dust! Mark 6:7-13

Text: “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them.  Verily (truly) I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgement, than for that city.”

Mark 6:11.

Good morning, publicly scorned Christian!  You know, in a most personal way, how much it hurts to be publicly scorned; openly ridiculed; and blatantly ignored – as you live a Christ-honouring life before men, and as you seek to share the Gospel message of Christ and Him Crucified for the sins of “His people”. 

Your heart’s deepest desire is to see the souls of fellow sinners all around you – in your home; in the workplace; or in the town/city in which you abide - hearing the Gospel of Eternal Salvation in Christ and being glorious delivered from all sin.

“The fruit of the righteous (made righteous in Christ Jesus) is a tree of life; and he/she that winneth (wins, and continues to win) souls is wise.”  (Proverbs 11:30)

However, as we seek to fulfil our God-given ministries as Christ’s servants, so often we are confronted by ignorance and unbelief; hardened hearts; and outright Satanic oppositions to the Gospel message of Salvation we are tasked to preach/teach.  This is merely an observable fact of a serving Christian’s life; and all who will try to serve the risen Lord Jesus, shall face such hurtful oppositions.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try (prove, test) you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the Name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.”  (1 Peter 4:12-14)

Personal Testimony:

The author of Marching In Mark’s Gospel, was a “…chief among sinners…’ indeed; a political terrorist that no man could tame; a militant servant of Satan for 32 years of my life.

Then, within a maximum-security prison here in Northern Ireland, UK, in 1979, the Lord God quickened my dead spirit, called me to Salvation in and through the Atonement Sacrifice of Christ Jesus; and during the 42 years since then, I have been seeking to serve my Lord and Saviour, in the preaching and teaching of His inspired Word.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).”  (Ephesians 2:1;5)

As I sought to share the Gospel one day in a prison workshop, as we waited to return to the main section of the H Blocks – one prisoner began to deride my Christian faith.  I persevered with this prisoner, in the sight and hearing of many other terrorist prisoners, but he continued on in showing vile and utter contempt for my Christian faith, and the Gospel message I was trying to share with him and the others.  He was becoming more and more bitter and vocal with his ridicule and cursed and swore at me in denouncing the Gospel truth.  So, the Lord guided me to take an extreme course of action towards this inmate’s foul opposition.

As the rest of the terrorist inmates looked on - interested in how I would deal with this crude and blatant detractor - I calmly sat down in the sawdust of the joinery workshop floor; slowly took off my prison boot; and, looking all the while straight and unwavering into the belligerent detractor’s eyes, proceeded to shake the sawdust out of my prison boot.

“What are you doing!”, the guy said.  So, I told him in no uncertain terms: “I have loved you enough to share the Gospel message of forgiveness of sins through the Cross of Christ Jesus; even as you have cursed me; and poured contempt upon God’s message of Salvation.  By your public detractions and refusal to accept the Word of God concerning your sins; and according to the Word of Christ contained in my Bible; I hereby shake off the dust of my feet for a testimony against you.  You shall NEVER ever again hear the Gospel of Salvation in Christ from my lips, until you come to me in full repentance of your unbelief and scorn.  May the Lord have mercy upon your sinful soul.  Amen.”  

“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them.  Verily (truly) I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgement, than for that city.”  (Mark 6:11)

The belligerent inmate, and all those other terrorist onlookers, suddenly turned pale, as the Spirit of God brushed by their souls with a knowledge of Eternal doom.  I slowly put my boot back on, and made my way out of the prison workshop.

“And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man…”  (Genesis 6:3)

J.C. Ryle Comments:

“We have the Bible in our houses. We hear of the salvation of the Gospel fre­quently every year. But have we received it into our hearts? Have we really obeyed it in our lives? Have we, in short, laid hold on the hope set before us, taken up the cross, and followed Christ? —If not, we are far worse than the heathen, who bow down to stocks and stones. We are far more guilty than the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. They never heard the Gospel, and therefore never rejected it. But as for us, we hear the Gospel, and yet will not believe. May we search our own hearts, and take heed that we do not ruin our own souls!” (J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels 1816-1900)

Thought: Public reproof is an integral part of serving Christ Jesus.  Receive it as a gift.