Herod Feared John – Pastor Stacey Shiflett

Herod Feared John

Mark 6:20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

Intro: I just preached this verse last week, but there’s a thought in this verse that I can’t get away from.

That phrase, “Herod feared John” has been ringing in my ears since last Sunday night.

Herod was the worldly, wicked, wealthy ruler.

John was a poor, peculiar, provocative preacher.

But Herod feared John.

The word FEAR here is the Greek word PHOBEO, where we get the word PHOBIA.

It means: to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); to put to flight, to flee; to fear, be afraid; to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm; of those startled by strange sights or occurrences; of those struck with amazement

Herod is a picture of those in political office. Those that make the laws, enforce the laws, collect taxes, raise armies, wage wars, etc.

John here is a picture of a man of God, a preacher of the gospel, or more broadly, God’s people, the church.

My how times have changed!

Today, instead of Herod fearing John, Herod has succeeded in causing John to fear him.

The powers that be no longer fear the church or preachers.

Instead, churches have closed, God’s people are living in fear and preachers and pastors have been silenced.

Let me be clear: This message is to emphasize the absolute necessity of the church and preachers to re-introduce the elements demonstrated by John the Baptist that caused the Herod of his day to FEAR him!

The Bible is filled with examples of kings and rulers that feared the people of God.

The Pharaoh of Egypt

Exodus 1

  • 7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
  • 8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
  • 9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:
  • 10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

Rahab to the two spies

Joshua 2

  • 9 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
  • 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
  • 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Pilate’s wife

Pilate’s wife came to him right before the crucifixion of Jesus.

This was her comments to Pilate:

  • Matthew 27:19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

The Bible is also filled with examples of the people of God NOT fearing the king.

There is a false doctrine that has materialized in the last couple of years that needs to be addressed.

There is a belief that the people of God are bound by Scripture to follow and obey civil government without question and without hesitation.

I need to put that heresy to rest.

This country is going to hell in a handbasket, and so-called preachers can’t do anything but take Scripture out of context.

God instituted three forms of government:

               1. The Family

               2. The Church

               3. The Civil Government

The Family

Each one of these are given authority from God.

Each one of these are given clear areas of leadership and responsibility.

The children are commanded to obey their parents in Ephesians 6.

The wife is instructed to submit to her husband in Ephesians 5.

The husband is commanded to lead his family, love his wife and rule his house.

But nowhere is the wife or the children commanded to obey their husband or dad in direct violation of God.

What if that daddy told his son to go down and steal a 6-pack of beer from the store?

What if the husband told his wife to sell pot to help pay the bills?

Would they be under scriptural obligation to obey him? Of course not.

The Church and Pastor

The Bible is clear that the church was placed in our lives by God.

The church was given clear areas of leadership and oversight.

  • Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

In spite of that, there’s not a one of us that believe a pastor has unlimited power.

There’s not a one of us that believe the command to obey and submit to the pastor is a blank check.

If the church or the pastor is teaching something contrary to Scripture, we are to follow and obey God.

Civil Government

Romans 13 and 2 Peter 2:13-15 are clear instruction that we are to obey our civil government.

God’s word clearly teaches that their power comes from God.

But are we to obey every ordinance, even those that are a direct violation of Scripture?

Of course not! To preach and teach that is preposterous!

Will you quote Romans 13 and 2 Peter when they outlaw Bible reading? Prayer? Homeschool? Christianity?

What about your employer? Your boss at work? Should you obey him or her in all things without question?

  • Colossians 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
  • Titus 2:9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;

Of course not! Anyone that teaches this teaches heresy and false doctrine.


The midwives response to the law to kill the babies in Exodus 1:

Exodus 1

  • 15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:
  • 16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.
  • 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

The three Hebrew children’s defiance to the global order to worship the image:

  • Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
  • 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Daniel’s response when prayer was outlawed for 30 days:

Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Back to our text: HEROD FEARED JOHN. Why??

I. Because of his Authority

Herod had authority, but it had limitations.

Herod had been placed in a place of great influence, but it had its bounds.

There was a man SENT FROM GOD.

John the Baptist was sent from God.

  • John 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

Herod feared John because when he was dealing with John, he was dealing with God.

In the words of Gameliel:

  • Acts 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

I’d like to remind you that the church of the Living God also has authority.

The Herod’s of our day should fear us because of our authority.

We have been sent by God as well.

  • John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

The church of today has been given ALL AUTHORITY.

  • Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

ILLUSTRATION: In Acts 4, the apostles were arrested for preaching. The Bible says it like this:

  • 1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
  • 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

These rulers had one major question:

  • 6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
  • 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

Here was their decision; their proclamation; their executive order:

  • 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
  • 16 Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
  • 17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
  • 18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Notice the response of the apostles:

  • 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
  • 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

They understood that their authority SUPERCEDED the orders of the civil and religious leaders.

They were arrested and imprisoned again in Acts 5:17, 18. God let them out of prison in verse 19.

They were arrested again and brought before the counsel in verse 26. Notice the line of questioning.

  • Acts 5:28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.

I love the answer of Peter and the other apostles:

  • 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

In verse 40, they beat the apostles, again commanded them not to speak in Jesus’ name and let them go.

Their response to these leaders and officials?

  • 41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
  • 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

II. Because of his Apathy

Herod feared John because John didn’t care about all the things that Herod cared about.

When it came to a lot of things that Herod was concerned about, John didn’t care!

  • John didn’t care about CLOTHES. He wore camel’s hair and a leather girdle about his loins. (Mark 1:6)
  • John didn’t care about CUISINE. He ate locusts and wild honey.
  • John didn’t care about CROWDS. When he saw many came…he said…O generation of vipers (Matt. 3:7)
  • John didn’t care about CONFERENCES and CAMP MEETINGS. He preached in the wilderness.
  • John didn’t care about COLLEGE DEGREES and CREDENTIALS.

HEROD FEARED JOHN because John didn’t care about anything that he cared about!

John had a different value system. John had a passion that Herod couldn’t understand.

Herod liked royal garments – Acts 12:21

They don’t know how to respond to people that is not concerned about food and raiment.

  • Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Herod didn’t know how to respond to a man that wasn’t concerned about what he ate.

Herod didn’t know how to respond to a man that wasn’t concerned about his clothes.

Herod didn’t know what to think about a preacher that didn’t care about money.

He didn’t know what to think about a man that was more interested in the message than in mammon.

One that was more passionate about preaching than he was in possessions.

Illustration: PastorCreflo Dollar in Atlanta made the news a few years ago for raising $65 million for a new Gulfstream G650 jet.

The Herod’s of our day should recognize immediately that we are not concerned about normal things.

They should fear us because we care about things they don’t care about.

And because we DON’T care about things that they care about.

               Example: Church attendance during a plandemic.

They couldn’t understand why we went to church when we didn’t have to.

When we WEREN’T ALLOWED TO. Whey they said we couldn’t.

They could not understand why we were not content to sit on the couch and have ZOOM church.

See, Herod doesn’t like going to church. He doesn’t care about church.

FACT:  According to a 2007 survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, only eight percent of national journalists and 14 percent of local journalists indicated attending a place of worship every week.

John cared about justice. He cared about holiness.

Our text tells us that… “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy…”

HEROD FEARED JOHN because was John was a just man.

Herod was not a just man. He didn’t care anything about justice and judgment.

               If he did, he wouldn’t have had the man of God beheaded to please his domineering wife.

Herod was not a holy man.

               If he was, he wouldn’t have been sitting there watching his stepdaughter dancing.

Trust me – she wasn’t clogging. This was a sensual, seductive, very worldly dance.

The Bible says “it pleased Herod and them that sat with him…”

Herod feared John because John didn’t care about the things Herod cared about.

The Herod’s of our day will not fear the church until we no longer care about the things of this world.

III. Because of his Audacity

DEFINITION: boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.

Those in high places have lost their fear of the church because the church has lost its boldness.

  • Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Many of the snares we are finding ourselves in are a direct result of our lack of boldness.

John the Baptist had a lot of audacity.

  • Mark 6:18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.

Nathan the prophet stood in front of King David and said, “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7)

Jesus gave His disciples a command of complete and total FEARLESSNESS.

  • Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
  • Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

God’s people need to stop running scared and have boldness!

Stop fearing man and what man can do to you and fear God!


Herod was watching John. The word it used is OBSERVED HIM.

Definition: Observeto preserve a thing from perishing or being lost, to keep within one’s self, keep in mind a thing, lest it be forgotten

We need elected officials in Baltimore, Annapolis, DC that OBSERVE US.

We need our public servants TO FEAR US.

They should KEEP IN THEIR MINDS AND NOT FORGET what we believe, what we expect of them and how we will respond to their decisions and proposals and laws.

ILLUSTRATION: I spoke to one of our local state delegates yesterday; a personal friend of mine. He proposed a bill that would place slot machines and gambling at the BWI airport. I informed him that I was against it. My actual words were, “I oppose the slot machines at the airport. Gambling is a sin and the end does not justify the means. I will oppose this bill and will be vocal about it. I urge you to pull this bill. The Baltimore County school system does not need more money to mismanage. They need competent leadership. This is not a solution.”

If the church is going to change the world, we must stop fearing Herod, and return to the days when HEROD FEARED JOHN!