Friday, June 09, 2006

Notes on MATTHEW 14:1-12

(Pictured: Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist, oil on canvas, Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota)
Key Verse: 14:33 – His identity. Those “with Him” understand.

Personal Application: Don’t expect others to see the miracles God performs for you. Believing is seeing.

Outline: Unbelievers like Herod misinterpret miracles. The disciples, who believe, understand the evidence and realize who Jesus is.

John the Baptizer Beheaded (14:1-12): Foreshadowing of the King’s Execution

Birthday party is Roman/Greek custom. This happened at the palace in Perea where John was held.

Herod Antipas: Acting on fear of what others think rather than on personal conviction is always foolish and wrong.

Follow Matthew’s line of thinking to show John as a precursor of Jesus:

John introduces Jesus and proclaims Jesus’ same message (3:2; 4:17)

· Jesus promises persecution and speaks of prophets (10:17-42)

· John is rejected; Jesus praises John as an ally (11:2-19)

· Narratives follow about those who reject Jesus (11:20-24; 12:1-14)

· If Jesus is a prophet without honor among his own people (13:53-58)

· Climax: What is to keep Him from a fate like John’s? John’s death prefigures Christ’s (14:1-12; 17:12)

Herod Antipas was son of Herod the Great (2:1) and a Samaritan mother, hence he was Archelaus’ full brother (2:2). He had functioned as tetrarch of Galilee and Perea since 4 B.C. He had a political marriage to a Nabatean princess, but divorced her to take his brother’s wife. This angered the Nabatean king Aretas IV (2 Corinthians 11:32-33) and provoked a war and humiliation for Antipas Josephus Antiquities 18.113-114, 124-125). He violated Jesus’ teaching on marriage’s indissolubility (5:3-32) and Mosaic law on incest (Leviticus 18:16; 20:21). John publicly called Herod out on his adultery as a moral issue, but Antipas saw it as a political statement instead. Christians taking a moral stand against abortion, exploitation of poor or racism, but many will see it as political even though it is not meant as such.

Principle: Those ensnared in adultery (or any sin) often become blind to common sense, including warnings of those close to them.

Principle: When you speak out on a moral issue, even sometimes in the local church, it is often seen as political even when it is never meant as such.

Herodias was daughter of Aristobulus (not mentioned in NT), one of the 15 sons of Herod the Great. She was married to her uncle Herod Philip I (not Philip the tetrarch of Luke 3:1), a private citizen living in Rome. He and Herodias bore Salome (v. 6- name not in NT but known from Josephus). Herodias left Philip to be mistress to his half-brother Herod Antipas. Herodias was always in the background managing and manipulating things, seemed to be calling the shots. She got Antipas to get rid of Aretas IV’s

Principle: A woman behind a man can make that man great or can make that man a fool.

Aretas’ defeat of Antipas was seen by many as divine judgment for John’s execution (“Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man,” (Josephus Antiquities, 18:5:2).

Antipas probably heard of Jesus’ ministry at his capital of Tiberias, only eight miles from Capernaum, from Cuza, his steward, who wife was part of Jesus’ apostolic band (Luke 8:1-3).

They were in the palace at Machaerus fortress, near the hot springs of Calirrhoe. The remains of a majestic peristyle court rising to an ornate triclinium (banquet room) have been excavated, indicating lavish entertaining.

John’s disciples risk their lives to bury his body, then they have nowhere to go. Therefore, they go to Jesus. Principle: May our lives be the same, that we lay such groundwork that when we are gone those around us may look to the Lord we proclaimed.