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January 4: Progress Through Opposition (Matthew 14:1-12)

Matthew 14:1-12

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 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.” And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus. (ESV)


Sermon Summary

Over the next few months we will be covering Matthew’s gospel chapters 14-20. Matthew’s intent is to declare Jesus as the unique king sent by God to establish the kingdom of God. In chapter 13, Matthew records one parable after another, teaching us about the kingdom of God - its nature, value and its growth to the very end of the world. In spite of the glory of this kingdom, Jesus is rejected. Interestingly, what immediately follows is an account of the death of John the Baptist. But why did Matthew insert this story here? John’s death marks a turn where Jesus begins the steep climb toward his own death at Calvary. He knows that John's death foreshadows his own impending death. Matthew wants his readers to know that this is no surprise because the kingdom will expand through suffering, which marks the road for all those who follow Jesus.


Review and Apply

  1. How do you typically respond to the unbelief of neighbors or from the culture at large? Why?
  2. What explanation can you give for believing in Jesus?
  3. What is so offensive about the gospel?
  4. How does the gospel ultimately free us to see the utter depravity of our lives?
  5. How have you seen the kingdom advance through suffering in your own life?
  6. What areas in your life is God calling you to give up or die to in pursuing or declaring his kingdom?