Luke 3:18-20 :
Then with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people, but Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done, added this also to them all, that he shut up John in prison.
I want to take a little time today to talk about this issue of speaking out against evil leaders. Romans 13 tells us to be subject to our leadership for they represent God, but here we have John speaking out boldly against the leader of his time. In order to take Paul’s writing to the Romans in context, we need to pay very close attention to both things together and not act as if one or the other doesn’t exist.
I believe that what we see here, is that the passage in Romans 13 is limited, meaning you are only supposed to follow human leadership when they do things that are consistent with God’s rules. If leadership asks us to do things outside of those rules, then we must disobey and follow God instead. John demonstrates that we also must obey God in exposing evil no mater who is doing it. There is no excuse, especially for a leader, to be doing evil and it is our job as those who represent God to expose that evil so that it can be seen by those who may be deceived by it.
If John the Baptist didn’t expose the evil of Herod, then some of his followers might have considered that John thought it was OK to do things like steal your brother’s wife as long as it is within your power to do it. Instead, John called it evil so that the people could distance themselves from it in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. John had to disobey Herod in order to do what God wanted him to do. John did, however obey in every other way that was possible.
Notice what Dr. Luke does here. He said that he “added this also…” meaning that on top of all the evil that Herod had done, he also put John in prison which was Luke’s way of calling Herod “evil” too.
We ought to be making sure that we properly represent Jesus to this world. We should not cater to those who permit evil, but we should care for those who have been harmed by evil so that they know that Jesus takes no part in it and will punish it when He returns. We should warn those who are being tempted by the evil that these leaders do, so that they can avoid them.
John demonstrated a greater fear of God than of mankind. He wasn’t afraid to speak out against the evil of his day and it did get him killed. His eyes were on God and his future with him instead of on himself and his circumstances on earth. Only God can give us the power to live this way. May God help us to live and speak out against evil no matter what may happen to us.