Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Matthew 14:1-12


1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus, 2 and said to his servants, ``This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.''

Herod believed Jesus was John the Baptist, risen from the dead. He was so overwhelmed and obsessed with guilt over what he had done with John.

The Herod of Matthew 14 was Herod Antipas. He was a son of Herod the Great who put to death the babies in Bethlehem following Jesus' birth. He was called Herod the tetrarch because he ruled over one-fourth of Palestine. Herod silenced the voice of God when he beheaded John. Jesus did not give him another chance to hear God's voice. Herodias was the daughter of another son of Herod the Great.

Philip, another of Herod the Great's sons married his niece, and then his brother, Herod Antipas, seduced her away from him. Because of his incestuous relationship with his niece, Herodias. John had great boldness to speak out against such a powerful man. He was imprisoned for speaking out against Herod, and ultimately it cost him his life. They buried his body, then went to the Lord Jesus.

The next few verses are a flashback that Herod experienced: 3 For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. 4 For John had been saying to him, ``It is not lawful for you to have her.'' 5 Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet. 6 But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before, them and pleased Herod, 7 so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever, she asked. 8 Having been prompted by her mother, she said*, ``Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.'' 9 Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus.

John's disciples took the body of their teacher by night and honorably buried it and Herodias pierced the tongue of John with a needle in many places and buried the head in an unclean place. However, God's punishment quickly befell this group of evil doers. Prince Aretas, in order to cleanse his daughter's honor, attacked Herod with his army and defeated him. The defeated Herod was sentenced by the Roman Caesar, Caligula, to exile at first to Gaul and later to Spain. As exiles, Herod and Herodias lived in poverty and humiliation until the earth opened up and swallowed them.

Here's a lesson from this story: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Gal 6:7-10

Matthew 13:53-58


53 When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. 54 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ``Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 ``Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 ``And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?'' 57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, ``A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.'' 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.

Here is Jesus teaching in His local synagogue "so that they were astonished!" However, even though they were astonished, they were offended by His confidence and His teaching. He was a local with a family and natural roots, so how could He be anything special? Jesus goes on to say that a genuine prophet will enjoy honor and respect, except in his own home town and among His family. This is why you may not be the best person to reach out to your family and closest friends. They already have you pegged and have great difficulty seeing you in any other light. Don't be discouraged by this. It isn't a hard, fast rule, but a general principle of life.

NOTE a most significant point in the last sentence of this paragraph. "Jesus did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief." Jesus delights in showing Himself among His people-those who trust in Him. Jesus operates in and through a community of faith! This is exactly what Jesus was saying in John 6:29: ``This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.'' The work of God that you and I must do is to believe (trust) Jesus!

In thinking this through today I find myself moving toward trusting Jesus that He will always come through on my behalf, whether His answer for me is YES, NO, WAIT or MAYBE SO. I count on that. I trust in that and so must you!