Bad Men with Better Moments
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…

This wicked and despotic man, though he appointed for himself no bounds of morality, had moral sensibility lying within him. In the midst of vice and crime he had a conscience. More than that: this man whose very name has come down as a synonym of all that is corrupt and oppressive, had, in the midst of vices and crimes, a kind of yearning for goodness. He had heard John; he had heard him gladly; he wanted to hear him again; and, after the momentary flash of passion and anger was over, he wanted to save him. He was sorry that he was to be executed. There was something in this despotic king which yearned towards justice and goodness. And woe be to every wicked man who, in his wickedness, never finds a single spark of virtue to illuminate his life. I have reason to believe that the men who follow vice have hours in which they look out from themselves longingly, and wish they were better; and that men who are given over to the power of their passions have hours and days in which no outward condemnation is comparable to that which they themselves pass on themselves. Men, because they are wicked, are not necessarily dead. Because they violate rectitude, they do not necessarily destroy their conscience utterly. It sleeps or is drugged; but it has its revenge. Nay, more; it is this dormant or latent sensibility to that which is in contrariety to their whole course of life, that lays the foundation for hope of the recovery or reformation of men. There are hours when many a man, if he had power to regenerate himself, would speedily do it. Oh! that we only knew those hours. Oh! that some friend could approach every such man at these periods when the doors of his prison are thrown open for a time, and lead him by the hand. How many men might be rescued from the abyss which finally overwhelms and destroys them, how many men might be brought up from their degradation and peril, if only we were wise to seize the hours in which they are impressible. The acute and watchful physician knows that a disease runs to a crisis, and that there are points of time when, if the patient is carefully nursed and tended, curative tendencies will set in, and his health may be restored. Now, men are in the same condition spiritually; and if there were rely some oversight of them, they might be saved; but, alas! they themselves cannot perpetuate these hours; they will not; and we stand outside, and know nothing of them. So in every street, and in every community, there are men who are secretly burning out the very vital substance of their life; who are walking in ways, the beginnings of which are pleasant, but the ends of which are death; who are going down through the community, moaning as they go, sighing for something better, and at times holding up hands of prayer and saying, "God, help me!" Nevertheless, there are men who, with all these experiences, are utterly destroyed. Here was this man Herod — as bad a man as could well be pictured, in many respects; and yet there were in him elements that could have reformed and restored him.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he did many things, and he heard him gladly.

A False Respect for Religion
Top of Page
Top of Page