On Sunday, March 13, it was my privilege to preach Mark 6:1–56, “The Difference Between Jesus and Herod,” at Kenwood Baptist Church. It was daylight savings time spring forward Sunday (a pox on the time change). The combination of the time change and my sister’s family being in town made for an exciting morning on which I forgot to put my sermon manuscript with my things! But the Lord stood by me, all glory to his name. He will never leave or forsake those who call on him and trust him.
Israel’s true king confronts sin, conquers demons, feeds the hungry, and walks on water, while the imposter won’t stand for righteousness against a girl.
The people of Nazareth are like the family of Jesus (Mark 3:20) and the people of the region of the Gerasenes (Mark 5:1, 17). The true king is willing to do what is right even if it offends those closest to him (not that he’s being offensive about doing what is right). He loves them by doing and saying what is good for them (Mark 6:1–6).
Jesus offended the people of his hometown (Mark 6:1–6), but rather than keep those closest to him nearby for his own comfort and security, he sent them out to bless others (Mark 6:7–13). The disciples are told not to take money in their belts for the journey (Mark 6:8), but later in Jesus’ ministry they’ll be back with Jesus and they are traveling with money (John 12:6; 13:29). This shows that poverty and simplicity are not ends in themselves but only periodic situations embraced in service of the mission. The disciples are to seek first the Kingdom, whether that means they travel without money, as in Mark 6, or with it, as in John 11 and 13.
Herod does not understand Jesus and gloms onto a comfortable, preposterous explanation (Mark 6:14–16).
Herod has taken his brother’s wife and married her. He is not his brother’s keeper. When the adultery is exposed, rather than acknowledge what is right and repent, his adulteress holds a grudge against the Baptist. Herod, in verse 20, is troubled by John, but he has not the moral courage to do the right thing (Mark 6:17–20).
Herod makes a rash oath, and rather than break it he beheads John the Baptist, whom he knows to be holy and just (Mark 6:20–29). He commits the unjust atrocity of beheading the last old covenant prophet because he is concerned about losing face over a silly oath he swore to a girl at a dinner party! So to save face Herod shows his profile in all its reproachful ugliness.
Herod is an ignorant, immoral coward.
Praise God, there is a true king.
Do you want to serve a king who does not need your money so he will never impose taxes on you?
Do you want to serve a king who will do whatever it takes to meet your greatest need—even if it costs him his life?
Do you want to serve a king who will never perpetrate injustice against anyone?
Do you want to serve a king who deserves to be king? The rightful king?
Back in Mark 6:15 some were saying that Jesus might be one of the prophets. In 6:31–44, Mark shows us that Jesus is a new and better Moses.
Then Jesus walks on water in Mark 6:45–52.
Jesus plants his feet where no one else can. He treads paths no other feet trod. The elements do for him what they will do for none other. Particles that give way under the weight of all other humans, spread out, splash around, receive, and must be resisted lest the weightier object sink, now uphold Jesus; they do not separate, splash, and receive him, but, as if holding him with hands lifted high, they bear up the son of man, son of David, seed of the woman, new Adam.
The water now serves the one for whom the ages have waited, before whom the demons bow and flee, healer of the sick, teacher with authority, the man who has now shown himself bold even in his home town, willing to send out those closest to him to advance the cause: he is the multitude feeder and the wave walker.
This Jesus is the true King of Israel, heir to the world, servant of all and master of the universe. Could he be more different than Herod the immoral, ignorant coward?
If you would like to hear more about Jesus in Mark 6, I give you this link.