So Close, Yet so Far Away

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Mark 6:20 (ESV) 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.

This is a side of Herod not often discussed. Herod has become synonymous with evil. However, in this verse we see how God was working through John to reach Herod. Some might even say that God used Herod to protect John for a time.  Herod was an inconsistent man, and was continually the victim of a conflict between the good and the evil within him (1). But he wasn’t unsavable. How sad that in the end Herod gave in to the evil.

The story of Herod reveals the damage a treasured sin can have on ones life. Maybe we are a little hard on Herod. I think if we look at ourselves we might find that our story isn’t too different from his.

According to Mark 6:20 Herod kept John safe. He enjoyed listening to John. The fear Herod had of John kept him in check, for a little while. If he had feared God he would have remained in check. What destroyed Herod in the end was that he was unwilling to let go of a treasured sin. And because he was unwilling to let go of his treasured sin he came near the kingdom of God, but he didn’t step in. If you are near the kingdom of God now, take the advice of a friend and step into it.

As we step into 2013 give all of yourself to God. Don’t let a treasured sin keep you from going all in with Christ. Don’t be satisfied with just getting near to the Kingdom. Christ said to the young ruler, “Thou art not far from the kingdom,” but he failed to get there (2) If we miss out on heaven, we miss out on everything. We might have came close, but close isn’t far enough. We came so close, yet we were still so far away.

Throughout scripture you see the price people sold out for. The pay off is never worth it. Herod sold out for an illicit affair with his brother’s wife. Esau sold his birthright for some soup. Ahab sold out for a garden of herbs. Judas sold out for thirty pieces of silver—less than $17 of our money. What price are you willing to pay? Any price is too high. “It’s not enough to turn to Christianity simply because it meets some perceived needs. Christianity is not a consumer good. (3). You can’t take what you want and than leave the rest. Your either all in, or your not in at all. Either Christ is your savior, or something else is.

Maybe your savior is a habit or an emotion like anger. Maybe your savior is that you always have to be in control, you need people’s approval, your moral record, or your bank account. Whatever you depend on for purpose, satisfaction, fulfillment other than God is acting as a savior to you. The problem is they take more than they give; and they don’t save you from anything.

Treasuring a particular sin will destroy someone spiritually. It eats away at you  and you never know when the the devil will try to use it to destroy you. Like he did with Judas, Esau, Cain, and Herod. Because Herod was unwilling to listen to John the Baptists’ warning, continuing to treasure his sin, when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.”(Mark 6:22–24 ESV). Herod’s treasured sin cost John his head, and Herod his soul. Was the pay off worth it?

So how can we surrender all to Christ? How can we let go of those sins that have become so ingrained in our daily life? How can we let go of that treasured sin today? John the Baptist saw it. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ (John 1:29–30 ESV)

The only way we can let go of those treasured sins is to let Jesus, the Lamb of God, take them away. It isn’t us, but Christ who liveth in us, who removes those treasured sins. We have to give a greater part of our heart to Him. Herod might have listened to John gladly, but this changed when John began preaching things he did not like. It became too personal, too difficult, too life altering. If only Herod had given more of his heart to God, instead of to his brothers wife. According to scripture, Herod was very sad with the request to behead John but he did it anyway. God doesn’t want our “sorry” so much as He wants our heart. Until God has our heart we may feel bad about something but we will still do it. Herod may have felt bad, but he had to obey his master, and his master wasn’t God. Our response to whatever, or whoever, has our heart is always, like Herod’s: Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you. How sad that Herod came so close, yet was still so far away.

In 2013 let’s just not just come close, let’s go all the way. Let’s say: All to Jesus I surrender! It doesn’t mean that we increase our “do’s and don’ts list” it just means we give all of ourselves to Jesus and allow Him to live out His life of victory in us. The gospel reveals that though we were all far away, Jesus brought us near. And not just near but all the way! Herod’s sin might have cost John his life, but our sin cost the Son of Man His. If you see Him high and lifted up ask Him to be both your savior and king. Today, let us say to Jesus what Herod said to Herodias’ daughter: Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you. Heaven didn’t spare anything for you. God laid everything on the line. Herod might have told Herodias’ daughter I will give you, up to half of my kingdom. However, Jesus said: I will step down from my Kingdom, suffer your punishment, so that I can give you all of my Kingdom. Not just half of it, but all of it! He did this so that we are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:7 ESV)

Copyright 2012 Richie Halversen

(1) St. Mark Vol. I. 1909 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.). The Pulpit Commentary (246). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

(2) Dwight Lyman Moody. “Men of the Bible.” iBooks.

(3) Keller, Timothy (2012-12-04). The Skeptical Student (Kindle Locations 4-5). . Kindle Edition.

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