“But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘ John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.'”
The world will either steal your heart or take your head, if you are a follower of Jesus. The world took Herod’s heart, and removed John’s head. Christian, which of these has the world taken from you?
It’s an ugly thing when truth, once rejected, raises its head again. Herod was so tormented by his deeds that guilt became the backdrop of his life. Everything seemed to remind him of what he had done. Have you ever been there? Herod had beheaded John the Baptist. The life of a righteous voice was snuffed out, all because of Herod’s sinful pride, and the bitterness of Herodias, with whom Herod had been having an affair. John spoke the truth boldly, telling Herod, that his alternative lifestyle was sinful, and it landed him in prison. There was no pandering to popular opinion, or cowering to political forces, as we see today, with John. He preached the word of the Lord with no fear of repercussions. It cost John his life, but cost Herod his soul. John said to Herod, in essence, “You can have my head, but you can’t have my heart. It’s already taken.” We need more people willing to look the world in the eye and say the same thing. “You can have my head, but not my heart.”
Poor Herod. Like so many in power today, he thought he could silence the truth by removing it’s voice from the public square. But he found out that such vain attempts only make the voice of truth louder. When Jesus began his ministry, people began to talk. They wanted to know who this Nazarene was. Speculations buzzed around the royal palace like bees. “Some say he’s Elijah,” “Others say he’s one of the other prophets.” But for poor Herod, there could be only one answer. “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” He knew, when he killed John, that he was attacking a righteous voice. But what he didn’t know was the power behind that voice. He had taken John’s head, but not his heart. Now, everything that happened in Herod’s life seemed to scream out John’s name. He couldn’t sleep without John invading his thoughts. He couldn’t eat a meal without thinking about John’s preaching. He couldn’t even look at Herodias without the nausea of guilt rising up like a snake from the pit of his stomach. This man was tormented in a bad way. No wonder, when he heard about this Jesus of Nazareth, he could only assume that John had come back to haunt him.
There are those in our day who see our gospel as a threat to their power. They want to silence the voice of truth in the public square. They vainly hope if the message of Christ can either be watered down into a generic message of goodwill, with no moral imperative, or completely removed from society, then they can go on about their business with no restrictions. What they fail to see is, that you may be able to behead the voice of truth but you cannot silence it’s heart. While many people pleasers give in to societal pressure and preach a gospel, with no cross, no repentance, no need for salvation-which really is no gospel at all, and others may slip quietly into the dark corners of the church house, hiding the light under a pew, there will always be those few precious voices, who will not be silenced. You can lock them up and remove their heads, but they will not be silent. You can have our heads on a silver platter, but you cannot have our hearts. Our hearts belong to the Nazarene.
Then, as Herod discovered, they will see that truth has a nasty way of raising its head in the most inconvenient places. Are you being haunted by the truth? You have locked it up and thrown away the key more than once, you’ve even attempted to remove its head. But still everywhere you turn you’re being reminded of your need for God. I believe if Herod had ever listened to the voice that kept him up at night, even at this late hour in his life, he could have been saved. If he had ever been willing to face his past sins, and come to this mysterious Nazarene for help, he surely would have found it. The reason truth keeps raising its head, is that God is still calling us. He says to a nation who wants to remove his head, “Come back to me.” He says to the cynic who rejected God long ago, but still hasn’t escaped that awful emptiness, “come back.” He says to the one who hates him, “But I still love you. Come back.” He says to the professor, who has dedicated his life to eradicating God from the minds of future generations, but has to convince himself that God isn’t real, and is finding his own theories harder and harder to believe, “Stop kidding yourself and come home.” He says to the scientist, who can’t bring himself to admit publicly that the universe isn’t as random as he once thought. “Come home.” He says to the preacher, who gave his heart to the culture, in order to save his head, “Come home.” Friends, the truth is all around us. It’s voice will not be silenced. Let’s not make Herod’s mistake. Let’s come home to our Lord Jesus and find the life we were meant for. Christians, let us stand firm for the truth and say with John, “You can have my head, but not my heart. That belongs to Jesus.”