7646 - Herod's Fear


In His earthly ministry, Jesus impacted the lives of countless people, including a king or two.

Today we will study a passage that pertains to the inner turmoil within Herod Antipas as he heard about the work and ministry of Jesus and his apostles.

Let me read Luke 9, verses 7-9:

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, "I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?" And he tried to see him.

Some months prior to this Herod had caused John to be arrested and imprisoned in the fortress of Machaerus on the east side of the Dead Sea. John had great sway over the people who flocked to the area of the Jordan River to hear John’s powerful messages about repentance and forgiveness of sins in preparation for the coming Messiah. It has been written that Herod was afraid John would stir up a rebellion.

Herod had yielded to the jealous bitterness of his wife Herodias and had reluctantly ordered John the Baptist beheaded.

Now people were proclaiming great praise for another figure called Jesus, even planning to use force to make Jesus king (John 6:15). Others had come to conclude that the kingdom for which the Jews longed, was to appear at once (Lk. 19:11). Although this was no wide spread movement people were talking.

Some even thought that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead and was performing these mighty works.

Others, in seeking to explain the power of Jesus, were saying that the prophet Elijah had appeared. Elijah was one of God’s prophets in the early days after the kingdom of Israel had split. He stood against evil in high places and was the one who called for God to judge the worship of Baal on Mt. Carmel, which resulted in the false priests being slain.

Others ascribed to Jesus the status of one of the prophets of long ago. These people did not know which prophet to declare as raised, but they did know something mighty was afoot.

Notice that none of these sub-groups of society had acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. Only a few had been given this insight.
John the Baptist had announced that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah after he baptized Jesus (John 1:29,34).

Andrew told his brother, Simon Peter, that they had found the Messiah after a visit with Jesus near the Jordan (John 1:41). Nathaniel was convinced of this truth on the same occasion (John 1:49).

Then Jesus told this truth to the woman at the well of Samaria, and the Samaritan crowd declared that Jesus was the Savior of the world (John 4:26,42).

These are previously recorded declarations of who Jesus really was. Soon after this, the apostles would openly express that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt. 16:16; John 6:69).

With these insights we can see the increasing wondering about Jesus within the people of Judea and Galilee. Most of the people despised the Roman occupation and perceived it as oppressive. They would welcome a change.

However, the Jewish leaders resisted this truth. They feared that if this unrest continued then the Romans would come and take away their position and destroy the nation (John 11:48).

These events reveal the unrest within society during these days when Jesus was fulfilling His ministry on earth.

Herod was perplexed over this unrest, since he was the Roman ruler of this area. It is interesting that Herod made an effort to see Jesus, perhaps to have an audience with him, all to no avail.

Later, during the many trials of Jesus, he did appear before Herod. Scripture says Herod was pleased because for a long time he had wanted to see him. He actually wanted Jesus to do some miracle, but Jesus was unresponsive in word or deed (Luke 23:8-9).

One wonders whether Herod was fearful because of conviction for his own spiritual bankruptcy. The conviction of the Holy Spirit can be heavy upon an unresponsive person (John 16:8).