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Finish Well (Matthew 14:1-13)

Sermon on 26 December 2021 by Ps Justin

Matthew 14:1-13 - “When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about Jesus, he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.” For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet. But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. So John was beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened. As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns.”

John the Baptist died, and he finished well. Jesus was so moved by this. He departed to a deserted place. He even gave a wonderful eulogy to him.

Matthew 11:11a - ““I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!”

Pointers for today:

1. Finish well by speaking the truth

He is not afraid of speaking the truth even before King Herod. He was criticising Herod for the illicit marriage and moral transgressions. He spoke the truth without any compromise on the biblical truth. Let’s stand firm in faith. Never compromise on the Biblical truth even if you are faced with challenges or persecution.

Matthew 14:4 - “John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.””

Mark 10:11-12 - “He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.””

Leviticus 20:21 - ““If a man has sex with his uncle’s wife, he has violated his uncle. Both the man and woman will be punished for their sin, and they will die childless.”

2 Timothy 3:12 - “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”

John leads the truth without any fear. He was threatened and eventually put in prison for speaking the truth, telling him that he might commit adultery. It is not right for Herod to take his brother's wife. He will be getting himself into trouble. According to Leviticus 20:21, he will be childless. Speaking the truth will bring you a lot of issues in life. If you desire to walk in a godly manner, to speak the truth, be it at home, with your friends or at the workplace, you will suffer persecution. Paul exalted young Timothy to stand in his faith and walk out the truth. For him to desire to live a godly life, he will suffer persecution. Before we enter 2022, we should get the alignment to speak the truth and speak in love. Blessed is he who is persecuted for righteousness for theirs would be the Kingdom of heaven. When people say evil things to you and accuse you falsely, Jesus said that great is your reward in heaven because all the prophets went through the same things too.

Galatians 4:16 - “Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?”

Ephesians 4:15 - “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

Matthew 5:11-12 - ““God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”

Hebrews 12:2 - “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

God does not promise us no persecution, but deliverance through persecution. Tremendous grace will pour down on those who are humble. Your faith will overcome the world. You are the child of the most high God. The one in you is greater than the world. Great is your reward in heaven. Finish well by speaking the truth.

Ephesians 4:15 - “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

Ephesians 4:25 - “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.”

John 3:18 - ““There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Proverbs 6:17 - “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent,”

Don’t just love in words. Love in your deeds and truth by living out the truth. Let people see Christ likeness in you. Jesus is the truth so you must have Jesus. If you try to cut corners, the truth is not in you. God hates lies. God is holy. The proverbs identify a lying tongue as one of the six things God hates. Live a holy life and speak the truth.

2. Finish well by living a just and holy life

Mark 6:20 - “for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.”

This is a big calling for us. We are called to be just and holy. God foresaw us to be pure and holy. When you have repented, you will be cleansed spiritually. You are washed. You are set apart. God sees Christ in you.

1 Peter 1:13-16 - “So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.””

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Do not go back to your former way of living. We are obedient children of the most high God. The one who called us is holy so we need to be holy too. In the Biblical context, holiness carries the expressions of sacredness to be set apart from the worldly things. To be holy is to be free from anything that would offend a perfect God. You will not want to continue to sin because you desire to live a holy life. Does living a holy life mean being humble and faithful? Or does it mean being separated from the world? Ask God what it means to live a holy life.

John 1:6-8 - “God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.”

He is the light. We reflect the light. We inherit the light. The hope of glory is in me. The spirit of Christ dwells in me. His light illuminates in me. I will only see His light.


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