7When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee,c heard about everything Jesus was doing, he was puzzled. Some were saying that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead. 8Others thought Jesus was Elijah or one of the other prophets risen from the dead.
9“I beheaded John,” Herod said, “so who is this man about whom I hear such stories?” And he kept trying to see him.
I marvel, or perhaps a better word is wonder, as to why Luke put these to verses in his Gospel. Perhaps the better question is why did the Holy Spirit inspire Luke to write these two verses into God’s Holy Word.
Herod was an extremely cruel person. I think the Roman Emperor Augustus said “It was better to be a pig in Israel than Herod’s son.” Yet Herod was very intrigued by John the Baptist and now he wants to meet Jesus. Of course, he eventually does meet Jesus, and perhaps these verses, seen in the light of that final meeting, all make some sense.
Herod obviously had a curiosity about God and faith. He didn’t really want to kill John the Baptist and in his final meeting with Jesus he didn’t actually condemn Jesus either. Yet during that final meeting Jesus didn’t give Herod the time of day. No response to his questions. No miraculous signs. Nothing the picture of a bloodied and tortured man wearing a purple robe and a crown of thorns.
So what am I to learn from this?
It is not enough to “curious” about God. I am not to want to “know” God like a well kept and controlled prisoner. I am not to expect to be amazed by God for my own edification. I am not to be the king of my own life and destiny. No, all of that will get me nothing but except silence and the image of a bloodied and tortured person…when I look in the mirror of reality and see the punishment and rejection I deserve. I am called not to want a God I can control but to submit to a God who is already The King of Kings and who has been bloodied and sacrificed for me, in my place, on my cross.
Herod was lukewarm. He didn’t want to completely reject and condemn Jesus, or accept and worship him. His indecision and desire to “play it safe” got him complete and total rejection. I am called to be on fire with passion for that bloodied and tortured King of kings, and so are you.
Holy Spirit, once again I ask you, pour on the gas and strike the match. When this life is over for me, let there be nothing left of me but ashes, and let every memory of me be of serving you.