Our passage today is from Mark 6:14-29.
 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus'[a] name had become known. Some[b] said, “John the Baptist[c] 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.
 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.  For 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.”  And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”  And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.  And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s[d] head. He went and beheaded him in the prison  and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.  When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
There are two types of parents and the way they bring up their children.
The first type of parents are the overprotective types, they are also called the ‘helicopter parents’, it refers to a parent who constantly hovers over their child physically, emotionally and mentally – these parents think they are helping their children but overprotecting parenting can squash the child’s autonomy.
They create a loving environment for their children and only expose them to the good things, they teach their children how special and unique they are, provide them with the best of resources, best of toys, best of everything.
They tell their children to stay away from bad company, stay away from children who are from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They teach them to stay and play only with their type of children.
This type of parenting look good for a period of time but the problem arises when these children are taken out of the boundaries of their loving and caring homes into the real world – to work, to interact and to make a living.
The children all of the sudden learn that they are no more special. That they don’t always get the best of things as they used to get from their parents.
They have to now interact with the same kinds of people from whom their parents told them to stay away.
They realize that the world is a cruel place, selfish, sinful and mean, and they were never told about it or even trained for it.
This is one of the greatest problems with the current generation of millennials today. The result is many of these kids turn out to be lazy, depressed, lonely and even suicidal.
The second type of parents are those who create a loving and caring environment for their children but also educate and prepare them for the real world. They teach them how bad the outside world is.
They tell them and prepare them for situations where they will be treated badly, bullied and made fun of.
But they also teach them how to guard their hearts, how to fight their emotions and stay strong in those most difficult hours.
Even during the hard and difficult time, they encourage their children to be different and continue to do the right thing, to love the most undeserving people on earth and become role models and torchbearers for the good of humanity.
We read stories about these great heroes who changed the world and brought a positive impact on humanity, some managed to do it and some sacrificed their lives trying to make it. You will know difficulty they had to face, the pain they had to undergo, the hardships they had to endure to stand and fight for what they believed.
In the same way, I believe even our churches can be like these two parents.
One where the leaders are only in the business of gathering people and trying to create a safe environment for them. Tell them how special they are in Christ and that it is all about them, what they need, what they desire – health, wealth & prosperity. They make Jesus look like a Santa Claus who doesn’t have any other business other than to meet and provide for their needs.
The congregation is told to keep a distance from the world, form their own little believer’s group in college, in offices, in businesses and to stay close to each other.
But eventually, we all know that we have to face the world one way or the other and when the world gets us it gets us hard. It has the potential to crush our souls and kill us from the inside. And all of a sudden we realize that we were never told about it or prepared for it.
But when I read the Bible, the life and words of Jesus, the churches in the Acts of Apostles, this is not the kind of church I see.
In pain, in hardships, in persecution, in death, the church grew and flourished.
Because they were prepared to face the world, to take all the hatred, yet show love even to the point of death. To them obedience to God was everything and they were prepared to pay any cost.
I believe in our passage today that is what the author is trying to highlight by telling us the story of John the Baptist and his cruel death at the hands of a foolish and ignorant king.
Mark, a good leader, like a good parent is giving us the true picture of how the world is and by giving the example of John and his obedience to God shows us what a faithful response looks like.
On one hand, King Herod is this perfect example of a foolish and an ignorant world who even though acknowledges John as a man of God, a righteous and holy man, yet ends up killing him under the pressure of Herodious, her daughter and the people around him.
Also because his sinful lifestyle mixed with the cultural pressures ends up doing a foolish thing.
Isn’t that how the world is – a foolish, cruel, sinful. Blinded in human cultures and traditions, waiting to pounce on the righteous ones who don’t fit their ideas, lifestyle, and pursuits.
Brothers & sisters! As a good parent and as a servant of the Lord I want you to know that as the children of Light, you will be hated and rejected, tortured and insulted by this cruel world because of your obedience to Christ.
In Mark 13:13 Jesus said “Everyone will hate you because of me”
John 3:19 – “Even though the light has come into the world, men love the darkness rather than light and their deeds are evil because of that”
But on another hand, we have John the Baptist, the hero of our story, the one who willingly paid the cost of his obedience to God the Father who sent him to the earth.
John could have withdrawn himself from speaking the truth to Herod about his affair with his brother’s wife. He could have avoided this punishment and death by keeping his mouth shut, but he didn’t.
He glorified God through his death and set himself up as a role model for many.
Not just John but even Jesus had to pay the cost of obedience to his Father, the disciples of Jesus paid the cost of being the followers of Christ. The early church leaders, many of them died a terrible death because of their faith in Christ and their obedience to Christ in spreading the Gospel all around the world.
In the light of what we’ve heard so far my question to all of you this morning is “Do you really love Jesus as you say and sing?”
If your answer is “YES” then Jesus would say
If you love me, you will obey me,
If you love me, you will do what I say,
If you love me, you will keep my word,
If you love me, you obey my teaching.
Remember, we don’t obey so we are accepted by God, In Christ, we are already accepted and loved.
The reason we obey is because of his great love, we are obligated to his love that he poured out on us at the cross of calvary, redeeming us from eternal death and damnation to a new hope and life with him in heaven for eternity through his life, death, burial, and resurrection.
Guess what? We already know in what areas in our lives God expects obedience.
From small things to big things God expects us to walk in obedience every single day of our lives, to the point where we are willing to pay whatever cost it takes.
To some of you God will ask you to stop using social media and stay away from the internet, so you can devote your time to God in prayer and studying his word. Are you willing to pay the cost of being called weird by your tech-savvy friends?
To some, he would ask you to give up on your earthly dreams and pursuits and follow his calling. Are you willing to pay the cost of being called a fool?
To some, he would ask you to go against your family and relatives who insist on following the traditions of this world which God hates. Are you willing to pay the cost of being called a Rebel?
To some, he would ask to give up on your ungodly relationships so that you are not unequally yoked with the world. Are you willing to pay the cost of being called Insensitive and hard hearted?
To some, he would call to go and share the gospel with a stranger. Are you willing to pay the cost of being persecuted and ridiculed?
To some, he would ask to show love, grace, and mercy to the most undeserving people in your life, people who hurt you and abuse you. Are you willing to pay the cost of letting your pride and ego been crushed?
To some, he would ask to sacrifice your time and energy for the sake of your friend or a brother, to encourage, to help. Are you willing to pay the cost of your time with family?
To some, he would ask you to give more of your time serving the church and the people.
To some, he would ask you to leave your country and your people and go to an unknown and strange place to serve him. Are you willing to pay the cost of being called a fool?
You will know when God speaks to you and tells you what you need to do and obey. And if you truly love him that way you say you love him then you will obey him and also be willing to pay the cost and Glorify God on this earth by our sacrificial obedience.