Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Showdown (Luke 3:19,20)

But when Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by him because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and because of all the wicked things which Herod had done, Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison. (Luke 3:19, 20 NASB)

Herod Antipas was the youngest son of Herod the Great, who, in his will, divided his kingdom among his sons. He left the job of Tetrach of the region of Galilee and Perea to Herod, where he ruled for 42 years.  Herod had antagonized the Jewish people many times, but his marriage to Herodias was particularly heinous. He had traveled to Rome to visit his brother, fallen in love with his brother's wife, and the two of them had left their spouses and married. Not only was his new wife the former wife of his brother, she was also his niece (which made the marriage incestuous).

John could not be silent, and denounced the marriage. Herod arrested and imprisoned John. Undoubtedly John knew the risk he took in speaking out against Herod, but fear of consequences did not stop him from speaking truth. John's job was to preach "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin" and he did not hesitate to call sin when he saw it.

John was extremely popular and had attracted crowds of people by his preaching. Herod may have feared that a revolt would be triggered by John's denouncement. His father had killed all male babies under the age of two in response to the magi's questions about a newborn king. In their family, threats to their power were not tolerated. John's family had had enough of silence. A showdown was inevitable.

John's passion for truth and righteousness led him to a decision point. Speak or be silent. When we remember that John's ministry was not about denouncing sin but calling people to recognize their sin, repent, and receive forgiveness, his need to speak out is understandable. In the end, his need to speak truth superseded his need to preserve his life.

Ours is a country founded on the premise of individual rights, which includes the freedom of speech. There are people on both sides of every issue speaking out, but how do we respond personally to the evils we see around us? Is there a point to our words? John did not just denounce evil. He had a solution for sin and was eager to share it. Repent and be forgiven. He told everyone he met, no matter how important or powerful they were.

The question for us is this: How committed are we to sharing the good news of the forgiveness and cleansing that only Christ can give? How committed are we to bringing light to a dark and lonely world?

Today, pray that the faith we claim and the words we speak will match, and that we will not hold back when truth needs to be spoken. Pray too that the believers our loved ones encounter will be bold as lions and gentle as lambs as they speak the words of life to them.

Repent and be saved. Four words that are filled with life. Speak them today.