1. Some oppose the Gospel because they are JEALOUS (Mark 6:14-16)
“King Herod heard about it, because Jesus’s name had become well known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that’s why miraculous powers are at work in him.” But others said, “He’s Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet, like one of the prophets from long ago.” When Herod heard of it, he said, “John, the one I beheaded, has been raised!”” (Mark 6:14–16, CSB)
Herod decided that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead. Herod was jealous of Jesus’ popularity just as he was jealous of John’s popularity. When a person is jealous of the popularity that comes with the spreading of the Gospel, they may oppose it by any means.
We live in a world today for the competition of attention. Herod wanted to the attention of his subjects. Yet, John, and eventually Jesus, won more followers. As Herod saw it, he was losing followers to Jesus. So Herod got jealous and wanted to put a stop to it. Today is the same. We live in a world of competition. The competition for people’s attention is coming from other community groups, even other churches. This competition for popularity can breed jealousy.
One of the lessons we learn here is that the Gospel should rise above our jealousy of other groups. We shouldn’t let our jealousy for attention stop us from sharing the Gospel.
2. Some oppose the Gospel because they hold GRUDGES about being confronted for their sins (Mark 6:17-19)
“For Herod himself had given orders to arrest John and to chain him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” So Herodias held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not,” (Mark 6:17–19, CSB)
John the Baptist had been continually confronting Herod. John wanted Herod to truly repent and change. That required confronting Herod with his sin. In this case, the sin was sexual intercourse within the family. Herod was having sex with his brother’s wife. This was strictly forbidden.
“You are not to have sexual intercourse with your brother’s wife; she is your brother’s family.” (Leviticus 18:16, CSB)
“If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has violated the intimacy that belongs to his brother; they will be childless.” (Leviticus 20:21, CSB)
Herod wanted to not just have sex with her. He wanted to marry her.
While some oppose the Gospel because of grudges based on confrontation for sin, others will oppose the Gospel because they are fearful of God’ people.
3. Some oppose the Gospel because they are FEARFUL of God’s people for what they represent (Mark 6:20)
“because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing he was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him he would be very perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.” (Mark 6:20, CSB)
John’s confronted had two different reactions. When John confronted Herod about Herodias, Herodias became bitter, angry, and held a grudge. It’s clear that when someone is confronted with their sin and they are unrepentant and angry, you know that they still have a sin problem. She wanted the relationship. Yet with Herod, his sin affected him differently. When John confronts Herod, Herod was truly scared. He knew that John was right. But Herod was put between a rock and a hard place. Because sometimes, people will use personal excuses to oppose the Gospel.
4. Some oppose the Gospel because they have PERSONAL EXCUSES (Mark 6:24)
“She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” “John the Baptist’s head,” she said.” (Mark 6:24, CSB)
Some people oppose the Gospel because they have personal excuses. What originally was a prophetic rebuttal against sin has become a personal issue with Herodias. Earlier, she wanted to kill John the Baptist because of her grudge. However, she was prevented by Herod not to kill John. Yet, later she is given the opportunity to oppose John. She takes her personal problem with John and uses her political influence over Herod to have John killed.
This reveals the attitude of a person who opposed the Gospel. It doesn’t matter what excuse is used. They accomplish the same goal: opposing the Gospel.
“We played the flute for you, but you didn’t dance; we sang a lament, but you didn’t mourn! For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Then he proceeded to denounce the towns where most of his miracles were done, because they did not repent:” (Matthew 11:17–20, CSB)
It doesn’t matter how you act, someone will use an excuse to oppose you. You can play the flute, but they won’t dance. You can sing a sad country song, but they won’t mourn. A Christian can choose to not drink alcohol, but they will call you demon possessed. A Christian can choose to drink, but they will call you a sinner.
Some people will use personal excuses to oppose the Gospel. Others will use political pressure.
5. Some oppose the Gospel because of POLITICAL PRESSURE (Mark 6:26)
“Although the king was deeply distressed, because of his oaths and the guests he did not want to refuse her.” (Mark 6:26, CSB)
Salome, with whispers from her mother Herodias, uses this opportunity to cut off John the Baptist and his influence. Herodias uses this political opportunity that presents itself to get what she wants. She manipulates her daughter and Herod to stop the prophet who told her she was wrong. She used political pressure.
Political pressure can be used by anyone who wants to put themselves above Jesus and His mission. People use political pressure in the church. I have seen this happen many times. There will be people who will try to use people of influence and power for their own personal agendas. Many times, these personal agendas don’t move the Gospel forward. Instead, personal preferences are promoted in favor of the Gospel.
For example, someone can use political pressure to oppose a certain worship style. But in opposing a worship style, they prevent the Gospel from working.
Here we see five reasons why we may face opposition to the Gospel. No doubt, this story looks like an insertion. It is more like a pause from the flow of the rest of the Gospel of Mark. However, this story is told for a good reason.
John suffered death at the hands of people who opposed to the Gospel. Jesus suffered death as well. Jesus and John were not surprised by the opposition they encountered. We may not suffer death. But we will encounter opposition and we should not be afraid of it. As a matter of fact, we can have victory over this opposition if we continue to be faithful to the Gospel.