“It Is Not Lawful”
Who said that?
To whom was is said?
Why was it said?
What was the outcome?
“It is not lawful.” — Who said it? John the … Baptist. Matthew 14:4
I have really grown in my appreciation of this man of God. It seems that he is almost glossed over when the “Greats” in the Bible are considered. But I consider him to be one of the greatest. As did Yeshua. Consider what His testimony was about John …
“But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matthew 11:9-11 — This is high praise, indeed.
However, I think what diminishes John’s role in the eyes of some people is the last part of verse 11 — “notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Generally, Christians like to suggest that the Torah ended with John and Grace began with Yeshua. After all (they suggest) isn’t that what Luke 16:16 means when it says, “The law and the prophets were until John?”
Perhaps John was considered to be “more than a prophet” because he, unlike all former prophets, announced that Yeshua was in fact the Messiah. The prophets could only proclaim He WAS to come. John could, and did, announce that He truly indeed HAD come. No other prophet before John could have done that. Something to think about??
“It is not lawful.” — To whom was it said? Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee.
Can you imagine the guts it took to walk up to this political leader and point the finger of accusation? What did the scene look like? How did he say it? Did Herod’s face flush with rage?
Somehow, I don’t imagine John going in and meekly informing Herod of his indiscretions. To me, I picture Lester Roloff with his booming voice exclaiming to Herod’s face what a wicked sinner he was in the eyes of God. However, you don’t just march into the office of the head leader and denounce him to his face — or, do you? John did! Amazing stuff.
“It is not lawful.” — Why was it said? Herod did what was unlawful to do according to the law.
But, by what law? Man’s law or God’s Law? I submit John charged Herod (a non Jew) with violating God’s Torah. Man’s laws are always subject to change. God’s Torah/Law never changes. Or does it?
Could John utter this same accusation today? I can hear someone now: “But, the Law has been done away with by Jesus.” Poor Herod. If only he had been born under the Dispensation of Grace.
So many things, when allowed, fall into place by accepting that the Torah is always relevant. And not only that but, it is always relevant for the one people of God in Yeshua — Jew and Gentile alike.
To me, what John did is so important for us to grasp. As God’s people, we live under, and are obligated to, a Higher Law. And this Higher Law goes all the way to the top. Nobody is exempt.
If we do away with the Law/Torah of God, then what are we left with? Man’s laws? The Jesus Law of Looooove? We look like a bunch of schizophrenic idiots tossed to and fro by our failure to simply apply basic logic to what we say we believe? It’s embarrassing, to say the least.
Settle it. The Torah (Genesis to Malachi) and the Torah (Matthew to Revelation) is one Torah. God is not schizophrenic, even if His people appear to be.
“It is not lawful.” — What was the outcome? It cost John his head.
John didn’t walk up to Herod and tell him how much Jesus loved him. He didn’t try to “win” him to Jesus. He didn’t give him chapter and verse. He didn’t appeal to “case law” to strengthen his accusation of sin. He didn’t promise to absolve him if he would just come to the “Confessional” and ask for forgiveness. John went straight for Herod’s jugular.
Would John be an embarrassment to us today? Would today’s Evangelicals distance themselves from John? Would it be too risky, cost too much to be identified with him? Why should we ruin our ministries just because John did? Think how much more he could have done if only he had lived longer! What was he thinking?
What are we thinking?
John’s Ministry Building Strategy wouldn’t sell very well in local church bookstores. Can you imagine a book entitled: How To Successfully Build Your Local Congregation, by John The Baptist? Perhaps John had realized that the “ministry” isn’t dependent upon man but rather upon God. John literally decreased so that Yeshua could increase. (John 3:30). Try to market that strategy.
We need to re-look at John. His life and approach to ministry are still applicable for us today. We don’t need to keep coming up with the latest and greatest methodology for doing God’s work. It’s all right there in the Bible. It just isn’t too effective … according to the results man wants.
After all, who want’s to be known as the preacher that lost his congregation and his head too?
I guess John … the Beheaded.