And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead…
I. YOU HAVE HERE THE VOICE OF A STARTLED CONSCIENCE. We all of us do evil things that it is not hard for us to seem to forget, and with regard to which it is not hard for us to bribe or silence memory and conscience. The hurry and bustle of daily life, the very weakness of our characters, the rush of sensuous delights, may make us blind and deaf to the voice of conscience; and we think all chance of the evil deed rising again to harm us is past. But some trifle touches the hidden spring by mere accident; as in the old story of the man groping along a wall, till his finger happened to fall upon one inch of it, and immediately the hidden door flies open, and there is the skeleton. An apparently trivial circumstance, like some hooked pole pushed at random into the sea, may bring up by the locks some pale and drowned memory long plunged in an ocean of oblivion.
II. HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A CONSCIENCE AWAKENED TO THE UNSEEN WORLD. Theoretical disbelief in a future life and spiritual existence is closely allied to superstition. So strong is the bond that unites men with the unseen world, that, if they do not link themselves with that world in the legitimate and true fashion, it is almost certain to avenge itself upon them by leading them to all manner of low and abject superstitions. Spiritualism is the disease of a generation that does not believe in another life.
III. AN ILLUSTRATION OF A CONSCIENCE WHICH, PARTIALLY STIRRED, SOON WENT FINALLY TO SLEEP AGAIN. Do not tamper with a partially awakened conscience; do not rest until it is quieted in the legitimate way. It is possible so to lull the conscience into indifference, that appeals, threatenings, pleadings, mercies, the words of men and the gospel of God, may all run off as from a waterproof, leaving it dry and hard. The convictions of conscience which you have not followed out, like the ruins of a bastion shattered by shell, protect your remaining fortifications against the impact of God's truth.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.