Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him. – Mark 6:19-20
Herod Antipas, who married his brother’s wife (Herodias), incurred the very public condemnation of John the Baptist. This infuriated the royal couple, so they had John arrested and imprisoned. While incarcerated, it seems that Herod and John spoke often. I am sure that John and the Jewish king discussed sin, redemption, and the One who would baptize by fire. Apparently, Herod was even greatly disturbed (very perplexed) by what he heard, but he never repented or even acknowledged his sin.
Today, there are many within our churches that think the goal of the Sunday sermon is to be “disturbed.” Like Herod, they want to be “preached at,” but while they “enjoy listening,” they do not heed or respond in obedience. They embrace the cathartic moment of spiritual conviction, thinking this is all that God intended. The danger is that consistent conviction without repentant response leads to a callousness of heart and great spiritual danger.
When your conscience is confronted by God’s truth, the pain or discomfort you sense is the Holy Spirit guiding you to change. We ignore such direction to our peril.
Never mind what others call you. God alone knows every heart; character is all that matters. Lord, to us this grace impart. – Hess