What are we to make of the imprisonment and ultimate beheading of John the Baptist?
“For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been saying to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her’” (Matthew 14:3-4).
In other words, John rebuked the king of the land for this immorality and it ended up costing him his life.
I mean, couldn’t he have just kept his mouth shut, mind his own business and let it go. After all, sinners gonna sin, right? Why bother to call it out? Live and let live, bro.
Prophets have never been popular people. Those who do wicked things don’t usually appreciate having their sins exposed by the light of God’s Word.
Jeremiah was another prophet who was imprisoned because he warned the people of impending destruction that God was bringing upon them because of their sin. And when he thought, You know, maybe I’d better just not say anything, “There is in my heart, as it were,” he says, “a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9).
When God plants His Word in the hearts of his heralds, they cannot hold it in. The threats of persecution and even death do not detour them, for they have a sacred charge from the Lord their King, to whom they have pledged their lives, and in whom is their sure reward.
The current cancel culture that seeks to silence every unpopular, politically incorrect voice is not a new phenomenon. And those who preach the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His call to holiness will increasingly face its wrath in this nation.
But the fire in their bones burns for the salvation of souls! The call to “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” which both John and Jesus came proclaiming, still compels them to plead with men to turn from their wicked ways and find mercy at the cross of Christ.
Jesus was the light of the world, but He was hated because He testified about the world that its works were evil (John 8:12; 7:7). Yet “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Peter and John (the apostle) had been arrested, warned, and threatened to quit preaching in the name of Jesus. Their response is my appeal to all who claim the name of Jesus: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19).
May the Lord grant us boldness to testify to the truth, unashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16). And may He burn within our hearts the loving compassion for souls that compels us to preach the word of the cross no matter the cost.