HYMN Come, ye sinners
1 Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
full of pity, love, and pow’r.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
he will embrace me in his arms;
in the arms of my dear Saviour,
O, there are ten thousand charms.
2 Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
true belief and true repentance,
ev’ry grace that brings you nigh.
3 Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
lost and ruined by the fall;
if you tarry till you’re better,
you will never come at all.
4 View him prostrate in the garden;
on the ground your maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold him;
sinner, will this not suffice?
5 Lo! The incarnate God ascended,
pleads the merit of his blood;
venture on him, venture wholly,
let no other trust in intrude.
6 Let not conscience make you linger,
nor of fitness fondly dream;
all the fitness he requireth,
is to feel your need of him.
Joseph Hart (1718-1768)
READING – Matthew 14:1-12
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
SERMON – [death of John Bap.] Sin’s Consequences
Behold your sins will find you out! It is one of the central truths of God’s Word that every sin has its consequences and its punishment.
Look at the life of Herod – a TROUBLED MAN. He had a troubled mind (vs.2) He had a troubled conscience (vv 3 & 5) He had a troubled heart (vs.9).
- 1) HEROD’S TROUBLED MINDRight at the start of this account we find the message that is at the centre of these verses – in verse 2 we read that Herod, hearing the reports of Jesus, thought that Jesus must be John the Baptist risen from the dead. This would not be a conclusion that WE were quickly drawn to – for I guess many of us would frown upon the idea of our spirit entering someone else when we die. But let’s remember that we have the inestimable privilege of living in a country with a Christian history – belief in re-incarnation is still rife in many parts of the world (and is creeping into our land also!).
When a Jewish king starts thinking in this way we have a very troubled mind. How much of Herod’s life was affected by this troubled mind – day and night? How much of YOUR mind is troubled – day and night?
2) HEROD’S BAD CONSCIENCEIn verses 3-5 we read of a king with a bad conscience. The cause? He had imprisoned John the Baptist that man of God! Why had he imprisoned John? Well, it was because of another sin in his life. He had become infatuated with his brother’s wife – and they had each left their spouses to come together. Not only were they committing adultery; Herod was actually a half-uncle to Herodias. Now, the only man who seemed to speak out publicly against this awful sin was John the Baptist – he had been thrown in prison for his trouble.
Be sure that if you stand up for righteousness in your place of work, you will not be popular. Don’t expect to get a Blue Peter badge for pointing out peoples’ sins – you’ll be sadly disappointed.
Herod even wanted to kill John. Now a man living with all that sin is bound to have a guilty conscience – and Herod did. But what would he do with his guilty conscience? Would he put away that wicked woman from his house, confess his sin? Would he have John released and ask his forgiveness for his feelings against him?
ON THE CONTRARY Herod preferred to LIVE WITH his guilty conscience, than deal with it. Is that YOU this evening?
You know what God requires of you, but you prefer to live with your guilty conscience rather than admit you are a hell-deserving sinner and come to Jesus for pardon. Jesus can take all that guilty conscience away – because He takes all the guilt away – will you resist His mercy for ever and ever?
3) HEROD’S HEAVY HEART.Herod’s heart was heavy as he remembered what he had done. Herod KILLED GOD’S MAN, JOHN the Baptist. He could try to blame Salome, his step-daughter – or his wife, Herodias. But the man who gave the execution orders was Herod and no-one else. He would live with that until his dying day. His life began to fall to pieces. Bit by bit his army were wiped out – and finally he was sent into exile in France – stripped of all honour and possessions.
SIN HAS ITS CONSEQUENCES!
Sin’s consequences are seen all around us. Is it in your mind, your conscience, your heart? Indeed, it was through one man’s sin that DEATH entered the world. And through sin, suffering and disease entered the world. Indeed – all so-called natural disasters also. And ultimately, the results of sin will be seen and felt in hell. Oh, yes, be sure that all sin finds its final punishment there.
Well – what, then, is the answer? Very simply – JESUS. We read in the Bible that He descended to the lower earthly regions (Eph.4:9) , and that He preached to (1 Pet 3:19) the spirits that were in prison (i.e. those who had died). The Christian Church has always taken that to mean that Jesus actually went to hell. And why? Because He was taking the punishment for the sins of all His people. God has provided the BIG ANSWER to the BIG PROBLEM of SIN!
Sin can be taken away, the guilt of sin can be taken away, the punishment for sin can be taken away – THAT IS WHY JESUS CAME. Will you seek this forgiveness and new life yourself – or will you, like Herod, hold on to your sins, your sinful way of life, your guilt – and your ultimate reward hereafter?
You know the teachings of Scripture – you know that God commands all men and women everywhere to repent – will you do that now? Don’t delay – you never can be sure of another opportunity. TODAY if you hear the voice of the Lord do not harden your heart. COME TO HIM – COME NOW TO HIM WITH A BELIEVING MIND.
Hymn I hear Thy welcome voice
1 I hear thy welcome voice,
that calls me, Lord, to thee,
for cleansing in thy precious blood
that flowed on calvary.
I am coming, Lord,
coming now to thee;
wash me, cleanse me, in the blood
that flowed on calvary.
2 ‘Tis Jesus calls me on
to perfect faith and love,
to perfect hope, and peace, and trust,
for earth and heaven above.
3 And he the witness gives
to loyal hearts and free,
that every promise is fulfilled,
if faith but brings the plea.
Lewis Hartsough (1828-1919)