Thursday, July 3, 2014

Herod Assumes Jesus Is John The Baptist

Matthew 13:54-14:12

“And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?  And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him.

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.  And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:54-58)  

When Jesus came into Capernaum and Nazareth, he went into the local synagogue to teach.  His teaching was so different from what they were used to they were amazed and questioned where he had learned those things.  After all, they knew his entire family, that they just ordinary working people.  How could a carpenter possibly know so much?   They concluded hw was just making things up and were angry that he expected them to believe it.

Many times the hardest people to reach are those who know you best because they think they know all about you.  People who know less about you find it easier to make a fair judgment.   Because they didn’t believe him, they didn’t bring people to be healed like happened in other towns, so he did less miracles there than in other places.

“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.

For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.  For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.  And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.  Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.  And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.

And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.  And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.  And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.  And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.” (Matthew 14:1-12)

When Herod the great died in 7 BC, his son Archelaus was named king.  Later, after repeated rebellions by the Jews, Palestine was divided between Herod’s thre sons, Archelaus, Herod Antipas, and Philip in an effort to stabilize the region.  Their mother Marianne was a descendant of the Hasmonean priests and the Maccabees, so the boys were very familiar with Jewish customs and laws, and it was hoped the combination would reduce some of the antagonism against Rome.  Herod Antipas was king or tetrarch of the region of Galilee, where Jesus began his ministry.

Herod had an affair with his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias, and later married her in violation of Leviticus 18:16 and 20:21.  When John declared that the action was illegal, Herod had John arrested and imprisoned.  Because of John’s popularity among the people, Herod was afraid of the political consequences of having him killed. 

When Herod’s birthday came, Herodias’ daughter, Herod’s neice was sent in to dance and provide entertainment for Herod.  He was so enthralled by her dancing that he offered her anything she wanted.  Her mother instructed her to ask for John’s head in a covered dish.

Though he feared the political consequences, Herod was too proud to openly break his promise so he had John executed, shortly after Jesus began his ministry.  John’s disciples claimed and buried his body.  As stories of Jesus’ popularity and miracles spread, Herod heard them and concluded that God had resurrected John from the dead and was using him to do the miracles.   He didn’t interfere with Jesus’ ministry, probably because he figured it would be a waste of time and effort.  The people would just be more convinced he was a prophet.

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