Harmony of the Gospels

 Harmony of the Gospels

-AD 28-
(35) Herod Beheads John
Matthew 14:1-12, Mark 6:14-29, Luke 9:7-9

-Matthew-(Matthew 14.1-12)


1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,

Herod was no doubt informed of Christ’s miracles and preaching.  At the same time He was being insulted by His countrymen for His unimportance and obscurity, He was becoming famous throughout Judea and in Herod’s court.  His fame would cause the rulers and religious leaders to become more vigorous in their attempts to discredit Him and to eventually kill Him.  His disciples were now being sent out in His name to preach the Gospel and they also did miracles, so this worked to spread His fame even faster.

2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

John never did any miracles, but Herod believed that Christ must Be John resurrected, and that now he has more power than he had before.

Herod thought that by getting rid of John, he would no longer be confronted by his sins, but now there is Jesus preaching the same message that John did, and He is becoming very popular with the people.  Even His disciples were validating His greatness by their miracles, which they did in His name.  Herod probably suffered from a guilty conscience, and thoughts that John had come back to life terrified him.  In Proverbs it says, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth:….” (Prov 28:1 (KJV)  Jesus did not intend to criticize Herod, like John did, because He had come to save men, but Herod was paranoid at this point and saw Him as an enemy.  Note that Herod believed that John was a prophet and a great one and that he had power from God, but he was not sorry that He killed him.  With just a little investigation, he could have discovered that Jesus was around long before John was beheaded.  Herod was a madman, and his whole family was like the first century Mafia.

3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her

Mark explains the connection between John and Herod, “And Herod respected John, knowing that he was a good and holy man, and so he kept him under his protection. Herod was disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so he liked to listen to him.” (Mark 6:20 (Living)  John may have been bolder with Herod, since he knew him so well.  The sin that he reprimanded him for was marrying his brother Philip’s wife, who was not a widow.  He got her by deception and kept her.  This marriage involved adultery and incest, beside the wrong done to Philip, who also had a child by this woman.  And it was for this sin that John admonished him in plain language saying, “It is not lawful for thee to have her.”

Herod had John arrested and thrown into prison, partly to satisfy his need for revenge and partly to please Herodias, who was even more incensed against John than He was.
5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

He would have put him to death, but the thing that hindered him was his fear of the people, for they thought he was a prophet; it was not his fear of God.  It is believed that John spent a year and a half in prison, which was about the length of his public ministry.

6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.

Herodias planned a method to bring about the murder of John, so that Herod would save face.  On his birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before him and his court; during the festivities held in honor of the occasion.  Her dancing pleased Herod and put him in a jovial mood.

7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.

And now he made a foolish promise to her and confirmed it with an oath; that she could have anything she wanted.

8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.

Her mother, knowing that Herod would make such an offer, had instructed her on what to say; or perhaps Herod was in on the plot, all along.  She asked for the head of John the Baptist.  It was to be brought on a platter, the same as the other entries at this feast.  So John was beheaded; becoming the first of many to die in this fashion.  Many dying by even more horrible methods.

9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.

The king appeared to be sorry, but it was not for his sin; it was because blood would be shed on his birthday.  He complied with her request for John’s head, because all his guests had heard his oath, and he could not take it back without breaking his word.

10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

The prison must have been close to the palace, because the evil deed was done quickly, to satisfy her request.  He was beheaded in prison to avoid provoking the people; not in public which was the usual practice,.

11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.

The girl brought the head to her mother in triumph, as a trophy of their victory and revenge.  The disciples buried John and then brought the news tearfully to Jesus.  They wanted the comfort that Jesus could give them, and hoped to be taken in to His group of disciples.  Actually, John had already turned his disciples over to Jesus, but they stayed with him out of respect and love.  He was the first New Testament Martyr, and Stephen was the second; but there was no enshrining of their bones or belongings.

-Mark-(Mark 6:14-29)

14 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 shew forth themselves in him.

Herod believed that Jesus was John the Baptist, raised from the dead. 

15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.

The people who heard Jesus were divided as to who they believed Him to be.  Some thought He was Elijah, while others believed He was one of the prophets.  They thought that He was a prophet, rather than the Messiah, because they associated the Messiah in their thoughts with an earthly kingdom of great pageantry and splendor.  Therefore, they thought of Jesus as that prophet, who would usher in the Messiah.

16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.

Herod believed that John the Baptist had risen from the dead and that he was now preaching and calling himself, Jesus.  Today, we would call Him paranoid.

17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her.

Herod did not get his brother Philip’s wife in a legal way, and it was obviously well known to even the common people.

18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.

John denounced Herod in front of all the people.  He said that his marriage was unlawful for three reasons:
1. Herodias’ rightful husband was still living.  In Leviticus, it says, “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.” (Lev 18:16 (KJV) 
2. Herod’s lawful wife was still living.
3. Herod and Herodias, were nephew and niece, and therefore their relationship was too close for marriage, for it says in Leviticus 18:14, “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.

19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:
20 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.

Herod feared both John and his influence with the people.  This fear caused him to shelter John against any attempts his angry wife might make to put him to death.  He listened to John with enough respect to cause him to be perplexed and wonder if he should continue in his way of life, or repent.
21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;

The convenient day refers to the time that suited Herodias’ purposes.

22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.

From the language, it appears that others had already danced.  But the dancer here is Salome, the daughter of Philip, and the niece of Herod.  Dancing at that time in the mid-east, was just like today; it was indecent and shameless, and only hatred could cause a princess to display herself in this manner.

23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.

This was a very rash promise for a king to make.  I am sure that he expected her to ask for property or jewels.  When he realized what he swore, he may have been thankful that she asked for John’s head, instead.

24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.

There was a conference between Herodias and Salome.  She may have already been instructed as to what to ask for, and by going to her mother was making sure that if Herod became angry, that her mother would receive the brunt of his displeasure.

25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.

Salome made her request known quickly, so that Herod would not have time to relent or to put restrictions on her request.  She asked for John’s head, so that she could see with her own eyes that he was dead, and so that there could be no deception by Herod.

26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.

He may have been sorry, because the deed went against his conscience.  He probably would not have beheaded John just for the sake of his oath.  He could have said that the scope of the present did not include committing a crime.  But Herod’s friends were evil men, like him, and they joined with these evil women, against this man of God, and shamed Herod into ordering this horrible act.

27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,
28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.

This was a great gift for Herodias, because it assured her that the voice of her most dangerous enemy was now silent.  Actually, the crime accorded them greater infamy than that for which John had rebuked them.29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.


7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;
8 And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.
9 And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.
  Luke 9:7-9 (KJV)

Herod and his court had heard of all the miracles that were done by Christ; and more recently by His disciples who had gone throughout Galilee, at Christ’s direction.  This was Herod’s jurisdiction, so both he and his court were informed of their activities.  He was disturbed by the reports, because he believed that Jesus was John the Baptist, raised from the dead.

The common people also held different views about Jesus.  There were some who believed He was Elijah, who was translated, and who was also expected to return a little before the coming of the Messiah.  Others believed that He was one of the old time prophets.

At this point Herod began to desire to see Jesus, so that he could ascertain if He was John, raised from the dead.  He knew John personally and could have discovered if He was John by talking with Him.  But as far as we know, he never saw Christ, until He was sent by Pilot to him at Jerusalem.

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