Archive for June 24th, 2015

St. John the Baptist is portrayed on the right, pointing, preaching to Christ and Him Crucified (from the Isenheim Altarpiece)

St. Mark 6: 17-18:

“…it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

John the Baptist, or the Forerunner was born to preach and that this is the reason the Lord sent him.  John is noted for his short sermons:

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’

Even shorter is the sermon above to Herod Antipas and his wife and court:  “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife”.  The verb in Matthew’s Gospel about John’s preaching is that he “kept on saying”.  Herodias, Herod Antipas’ wife, divorced Antipas’ brother Philip to marry Philip’s brother.  This is against the Law of Moses, Leviticus 18: 16 and 20:21.  John preached the sanctity of marriage as he saw growing up the solid exampel of the Godly marriage of his old parents Zechariah and Elizabeth. John preached the sanctity of marriage  to the government.  The government did not want to hear and so he was beheaded. The Scripture is clear for the reason of John’s execution. 

This Gospel lesson has clear implications for us today in the wake of dishonoring of marriage in serial divorce and remarriage, pornography, adultery of both will and fact, and now pseudogamy, that is false marriage between two people of the same sex.  I am not suggesting that beheading and execution of faithful pastors, ministers and priests  for preaching the sanctity of marriage is in the works, but societal pressures of false witness and ridicule will increase, and if the Supreme Court makes pseudogamy the law of the land, then legal pressures such as litigation, even undending litigation. Yet, as John, the Church and her pastors, ministers and priests must also keep on preaching to this wayward world the Word of the Gospel to sinners:  “Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” 

 Our Lord said of his kinsman, John:

“Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

Luther called preachers shaken by a reed, by popular opinion in order to “…temper the truth to the sensitive fastidiousness of fashionable hearers”, ”reed preachers”.  John was no reed-preacher. John also did not preach his own deeds.  He preached the Creed, the Word of God in the darkness as he pointed to the Light of world. Herod Antipas’ father, Herod the Great massacred all the male children in Bethlehem to stop the Messiah.  His son and his illegitimate wife killed John to stop the preaching.  Neither father nor son could stop the Word of the Lord.  Pray that all pastors, ministers and priests are creed preachers like John during this time of societal storms.  Pray that the Church remains steadfast in the Word and to the Word and does not bend with the times. Pray that many repent of the lusts of pseudogamy and pornography and divorce and adultery and are cleansed in Christ Jesus.

John also baptized so the Lord could give us in His death and resurrection our Baptism in Him (see Romans 6: 1 and following): 

1 Corinthians 6: 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

If you would like to read more on John the Baptist, read this.

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