John the Baptist (Classic Portraits)

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Publication Date:
F. B. Meyer

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Excerpt: ...unsheltered before the storm. But it must be remembered that most men, when they enter the precincts of the court, are accustomed to put velvet in their mouths; and, however vehement they may have been in denouncing the sins of the lower classes, they change their tone when face to face with sinners in high places. Herod, therefore, had every reason to presume that John would obey this unwritten law; and, whilst denouncing sin in general, would refrain from anything savouring of the direct and personal. Another reason probably actuated Herod. He knew that the land was filled with the fame of the Baptist, and it seemed an easy path to popularity, and likely to divert attention from his private sins, which had made much scandal, to patronize the religion of the masses. At this point he probably entertained much the same feeling toward the desert-prophet that led Simon the Pharisee to invite Jesus to eat with him. Yes, let John the Baptist come. Court life is dreary and monotonous enough. It will make a little diversion, like a breath of fresh air on a sultry day. It is worth risking a little roughness in his speech, and uncouthness in his manner, if only he while away an afternoon. Besides, it will please his following, which is considerable. Let him come, by all means. We are reminded of a similar scene in Old Testament history, when, at the solicitation of Jehoshaphat, Ahab sent for Micaiah. The messenger that went to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, 'Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one mouth; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good.' One interpretation of Mark vi. 20 suggests that the Baptist's first sermon before Herod was followed by another, and yet another. The Baptist dealt with general subjects, urged on the King's attention some minor reforms, which were not too personal or drastic, and won his genuine regard. We are told that he used to hear (the imperfect...


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