Hardened by Sin’s Deceit
Jesus’ arrival at Herod’s palace on the first Good Friday was an occasion of great delight for the intrigued king. As ruler over the districts where Jesus had conducted His public ministry, Herod would have routinely received news of Jesus’ miracles, teaching, and influence. And so, following Jesus’ arrest, Herod “questioned him at some length” and hoped “to see some sign done by him.” But Jesus wouldn’t speak. At the time when Herod was ready to do business with Jesus, the Son of God “made no answer.”
Why didn’t Jesus respond? Was He not missing an evangelistic opportunity? No—Jesus knew Herod’s motives and his condition and that, in actual fact, Herod’s heart was hardened and unrepentant. And so Jesus called Herod out by responding in silence, thus giving Herod the opportunity to display his true colors. And that’s exactly what happened: the silence infuriated the king so much that he “treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate” (Luke 23:11).
There had been a time in Herod’s life when he hadn’t already been hardened by sin’s deceit. As he listened to John the Baptist preach, Herod “was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly” (Mark 6:20). John’s preaching stirred Herod. But when the preacher’s words began to confront Herod with his own sin—his adultery, his lustful heart—then, at that point, he didn’t want to hear any more (Matthew 14:4-5).
What happened to Herod can happen to us. Herod was trapped by his sin, and when faced with his problem he refused to change. Rather than responding in humble repentance, he attempted to cover his sin, so much so that as time passed, he was less and less in a position to respond to the good news of the gospel. Ultimately, Herod’s rejection of John’s preaching resulted in a hardened heart that could only ridicule and mock the one of whom John had spoken. As Sinclair Ferguson writes, “Unless we silence sin, sin will silence our consciences. Unless we heed God’s word, the day may come when we despise God’s Son—and then God will have nothing more to say to us.” In the words of the hymn writer, Herod stands as a warning to:
Wait not till the shadows lengthen, till you older grow;
Rally now and sing for Jesus, ev’rywhere you go.
Sin is deceitful, and it will harden you (Hebrews 3:13). So examine yourself. Are there areas of your life about which God’s word has spoken clearly, but you are resisting rather than repenting? Resist no longer. Seek forgiveness and commit to change, and know that you need never fear the silence of Christ.
4You adulterous people!3 Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
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