A Study of the Book of Mark - Bob Sawvelle

Evil hates truth and schemes to silence the prophetic voice. The Bible and Church history record this repeated reality. However, God’s voice will not be silenced, and of the increase of His government and kingdom there is no end.

In 1945, one of my heroes of the faith, Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was martyred at the hands of the Nazis. He was an outspoken critic of the Nazis, openly condemning their genocide of the Jews. He eventually was imprisoned by the Nazis on charges of plotting to overthrow the regime. Suffering wrongly in prison for nearly a year and a half, this voice in the desert did not remain silent. Despite the wicked schemes of evil men, his voice, through his well-known book, The Cost of Discipleship, still impacts many today. Truth cannot be silenced by evil.

John the Baptist Imprisoned and Martyred (Mark 6:14-29)

Right after the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth and the apostolic commissioning of the twelve, Mark describes the horrific fate of John the Baptist.

Mark first mentions the imprisonment of John in Mark 1:14, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” Mark inserts John’s story here, between Mark 6:12-13 and Mark 6:30 to give a sense of the passage of time during the mission of the twelve.

John the Baptist was a well-known figure in Jewish and Christian culture, even Jewish historian Josephus discusses John in his writings. But, the people of Israel are confused about John the Baptist (John 1:19-28). Some of the people think he is Elijah, but John declares to them, “I’m not.”

Others think he is the prophet described by Moses, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” (Deut. 18:18) This was a Messianic prophecy about Jesus, and John states, “No, I am not Him!”

The people ask, “Who are you?” John answers, “I’m the voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.” (Matt. 3:3; cf. Isa. 40:3)

John the Baptist came with a prophetic message and clarion call to Israel, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2) The people came to John the Baptist at the Jordan, confessing their sins and receiving baptism. A national revival was underway, and Jesus was about to burst on the scene.

Jesus also comes to John in the wilderness and John declares of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) John the Baptist, at the insistence of Jesus, baptizes Jesus at the Jordan. John saw the Spirit of God like a dove come down and rest on Jesus and then hears the Father declare, “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” (Matt. 3:13-17)

The Pharisees and the Sadducees also come to John—rebukes them for their hypocrisy and challenges them to repent and walk rightly with God (Matt. 3:7-12). This bold prophet declares truth to the religious elite who are devoid of righteousness. Religion and tradition had trumped truth and the presence of God.

During this season, John the Baptist also rebukes Herod, a political ruler, for his immoral action toward his brother Philips wife, Herodias. “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife!” (Mark 6:18). Philip had committed adultery with his brother’s wife Herodias, eventually to marry her. Herodias is infuriated by John the Baptist pronouncement and harbors a grudge toward John, wanting his execution (Mark 6:19). Evil hates truth and schemes to silence the prophetic voice.

Herod instead imprisons John the Baptist (Mark 1:14). John, in prison and oppressed by the evil, begins to doubt who Jesus is. Remember, while baptizing Jesus at the Jordon, he saw the Holy Spirit come upon Jesus and even hears the Father proclaim, over Jesus, “This is My Son.” John, under the oppression of the demonic spirits behind Herod and Herodias, begins to doubt his call and even who Jesus is.

Matt. 11:2-3: “And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus responds to John’s disciples, reminding them of Messianic prophecies about Him, Matt. 11:4-6Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (offended: stumbles over)

Lessons from John the Baptist

The story of John foreshadows the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus.

Much like John the Baptist, Jesus will be falsely accused by religious and political leaders and ultimately put to death by their evil intent. This theme of false accusation, persecution and martyrdom is repeated through Church history.

Today, there are those who are martyred for following Christ, often by religious and political leaders who have their own evil agenda. Some estimate as many as 900,000 Christian martyrs in the last decade, and more martyrs in the last 50 years than the first 300 of the Church.

The Church must remember that evil forces can’t stop the advancement of God’s kingdom. However, suffering and rejection are a real part of service in the kingdom of God. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and not loving our lives even unto death! We have a blessed hope, our resurrection in Christ and eternity with the One we love and adore!

Proverb: “The Church flowers from the blood of the martyrs.”

Two kingdoms in conflict—the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan.

Jesus has defeated every evil power, but His kingdom is both now and not yet. Until the full consummation of His kingdom, at His second coming, the Church is to use the authority given by Jesus to stand against evil. Passivity was never part of the mission of Jesus and the early Church—shouldn’t be in the 21st century Church either! The Church is A Voice in the Desert!

Use the authority of Jesus through intercessory prayer, kingdom ministry, and social action—not through violent force or action. Go higher and hotter when opposition arises, and let the world our king lives and reigns through a glorious Church!

Herod’s actions show the snowball effect of unchecked sin. Sadly, a repeated biblical theme. For example:

From the beginning of creation, we observe the effects of unresolved sin, “The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why do you look so resentful? If you do the right thing, won’t you be accepted? But if you don’t do the right thing, sin will be waiting at the door ready to strike! It will entice you, but you must rule over it.” Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” (Gen. 4:6-8 CEB) When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him because he didn’t deal with his offense and anger in his heart—sin was at the door.

David’s adultery with Bathsheba led him to send her husband Uriah to the front of the battle to be killed. David, the man after God’s own heart, murdered Uriah in an attempt to cover his sin of adultery. (2 Sam 11)

James, the apostolic overseer of the Church in Jerusalem said this, “Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death.” (Jam. 1:14-15 CEB)

Don’t allow sin to remain unchecked in your life. Confess and turn from your sin, allow God to heal and restore. Deal with hidden issues and sin in your life, left unresolved they can lead to a ruined life and spiritual shipwreck.

Herodias, like wicked queen Jezebel toward Elijah the prophet (1 Kings 19:1-3), plots to kill the prophet. Unlike Jezebel, Herodias succeeds and has John murdered.

Herodias “nursed offense” toward John. John spoke the truth, and her evil heart wouldn’t receive it. Her offense led to bitterness, which led to murderous thoughts. Don’t for a minute think that offense and unforgiveness is a small issue!


Jesus said, forgive. Matt. 18:34-35 CEB “His master was furious and handed him over to the guard responsible for punishing prisoners, until he had paid the whole debt. “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Don’t Judge!

Jesus said, don’t judge Matt. 7:1-2 CEB “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you.”

Spirit of Jezebel

The spirit of Jezebel, even referenced by Jesus in Rev. 2:20-23, is a seducing, deceiving spirit that attempts to silence the prophetic voice of God.

Paul said, “We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens.” (Eph. 6:12 CEB) The enemy looks for those he can influence, those who will agree with his lies to destroy God’s plans and halt the advancement of God’s kingdom.

Satan is the accuser of the brethren, he looks for opportunities to bring accusation and oppression against God’s servants to silence their voice. Jesus has defeated him and his cohorts, but we EMPOWER the enemy when we agree with the voice of his accusation and lies—about ourselves and toward others!

The apostolic/prophet voice of the Church will not be silenced!

We are in the greatest days of the Church! Today, there is a renewed expectation in the body of Christ for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Passionate prayer and worship are ascending heavenward. Hunger for God’s presence is positioning the Church for renewal, revival and societal awakening. Many anticipate another awakening, some believe we are in the initial stages of another reformation period. One thing is certain, the Church is arising to its apostolic mandate to impact the nations with the Gospel of the Kingdom.

The love and power of Jesus is manifesting through a glorious Church who knows her position in Christ! Church, you are the Voice in the Desert! Live righteously and boldly declare the good news of Jesus Christ.

Corporate awakening begins with personal awakening. When the Bride returns to her first love with a resolve to follow Him at all cost, revival and awakening are at the door. Throughout Church history, we read of similar seasons and subsequent result of God’s Spirit and power breaking in anew in the Church and society.

When society despairs and loses hope, the Church has the opportunity to present the resurrection life of Christ and gospel of the kingdom to the world. Hopelessness is the environment for miracles. Rejection of Jesus and the gospel gives the Church an occasion to advance God’s kingdom. When we look at our world, it may seem hopeless for another awakening—not with God! As the Church follows Jesus in His mission, apostolic love and power are being realized—lives are changed, God is glorified, and His kingdom is advancing. Remember, truth cannot be silenced by evil!

Bob Sawvelle


For a more in-depth look at this message, be sure to watch “A Voice in the Desert” from Passion Church:

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