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Archive for July 18th, 2012

At the beginning of this past Sunday’s Gospel reading (St. Mark 6 : 14-29) Herod Antipas hears the news of Jesus’ Name becoming well known.  Herod Antipas heard theological discussion on the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. 

Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” (Mark 6)

In a similar fashion, Jesus asked for the same discussion over His identity in Mark 8: 27-30 and received similar answers from His disciples:

 And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” (Mark 8) 

The similarity of these responses seem to reflect the theological scuttlebutt. The theological answers are about the same except here in chapter 6, Herod Antipas reaches a theological conclusion, but Peter made his confession:  “You are the Christ.”   Herod Antipas concluded:   “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”  

A conclusion and a confession  are  not the same.  A conclusion may reflect an intellectually settled opinion but that’s all.  A confession involves one’s whole person.  A person will not risk martyrdom for a conclusion but risk one’s life for a confession. Peter’s Confession comes by the revelation of the Father (St. Matthew 16:17). Herod’s confession comes from his own estranged head and heart.  Herod Antipas’ conclusion is his own ‘theology’ which seems to come from his need.    

Herod Antipas’ conclusion was factually incorrect, but why would he have reached such a conclusion?  Herod Antipas had John in his palace to preach.  He kept John safe, we are told.  Maybe Herod Antipas reached his conclusion because he could assuage himself in the guilt of his sin of killing the prophet by the lie  that John was actually alive, resurrected!  Very convenient!

We really  do not know because the text does not say so but never the less, ‘Jesus-is-John- raised- from- the-dead” is blatantly a false theology.  With many blatant false theologies, men and women assuage themselves  of their guilt from Scientology to Mormonism to works righteousness to all sorts of spiritualities, thereby skirting the real thing:  forgiveness of sinners in the Lord, true repentance, day by day, in His grace, mercy and peace. Confession of His holy Name for sinners is repentance and forgiveness. Herod wanted to be excused not forgiven because forgiveness would have meant Herod leaving his sinful way of life.   Herod Antipas wanted to be excused of his guilt by this false and heretical teaching but there are no excuses before the living God:  In Him there is only forgiveness.  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of ourinheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1)  

O Lord, You granted Your prophets strength to resist the temptations of the devil and courage to proclaim repentance. Give us pure hearts and minds to follow Your Son faithfully even into suffering and death; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

(Opening Collect, 7th Sunday After Pentecost)

In this Medieval masterpiece, the Isenheim altarpiece, John the Baptist is to the right of the Cross, pointing as he was called to preach: Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world–St. John 1: 29

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