Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Was greatly Perplexed, but heard him gladly
Mark 6:14-20 (ESV) King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some said, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him."  But others said, "He is Elijah." And others said, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old."  But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised."  For 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."  And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not,  for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly. “When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.” These are the kinds of people that occupy my prayers and keep me up at night. Sometimes I don’t know. There is law and there is gospel and they are in tension. I guess the phrase is “open and manifest sin” it can’t be ignored. And it bugs the hell out of me. I want to ignore it. I’m no less a sinner than they are. On my part, I can’t bring myself to do it. It’s the people who come to church Sunday after Sunday, but don’t come to communion because they are shacked up with boyfriends and girlfriends, and aren’t planning on marriage. Sometimes, it isn’t up to them anymore, they made a bad decision a while back, perhaps the only decision they saw open. Like the Samaritan woman at the well, been divorced and the man she now lives with is not her husband. (Theologians these days, it seems, don’t pay enough attention to that story and what it means for the Biblical concept of marriage, enough of this b.s. about being married to every girl you have sex with. Yes a one flesh union has occurred there, but it isn’t marriage.) Perhaps the man they are dependent on now for financial reasons doesn’t want to get married. I’ve seen the reverse be true too. I really don’t know what to do there. I think I’m as perplexed as they are, maybe more so. I see them as victims of another’s sin. Tell you the truth, given that they have been instructed, should these individuals come forward for the Lord’s Supper, I think I would not have the heart not to commune them. That is I think I’d commune them. Of course, then I wonder what that would mean for others. We are in communion, we who partake of the one loaf are one body, what one does, does not effect them alone. I pray for the younger generations, sometimes I pray that they show better wisdom than those in the older generations, refrain from these mistakes. Would we be condoning, encouraging these bad choices if we gave the wink, causing more grief, more broken homes, fatherless, children? Well it is somewhat the same position I think Herod was in. I don’t think he was a very strong man. I wonder what blackmail Herodias had over his head. I wonder why he didn’t just put her away. He heard John gladly. He was torn. In the end John dies. In the end the gospel loses. He gladly heard john. He knew John was right, knew he was correct. Knew he was sinful. But he was unwilling to do anything about it. Perhaps, in the end, that describes all of us to some degree. Forgiveness. Repentance.