Monday 17 October 2016

Bible Book:

“At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, ‘This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead…” (vv. 1-2)

Matthew 14:1-12 Monday 17 October 2016

Psalm: Psalm 33


As we continue through the Gospel of Matthew's account of Jesus'life we hear how word of Jesus' actions has reached Herod. We mustbe careful not to muddle this Herod up with the one who appeared inthe Christmas story.

Herod the Great had been ruler of Judea at the time of Jesus'birth and was the one visited by the wise men. However, as heapproached death he decided, with the blessing of Rome, to dividehis kingdom into three, giving a portion to three of his sons. Thiswas known as the tetrarchy. Herod Antipas, who appears in today'snarrative, was given the areas of Galilee and Perea (modern-daynorthern Israel and parts of Jordan and Syria).

John the Baptist's arrest wasn't only recorded in the Bible. Afirst-century Jewish historian, Josephus, also included it in hishistory. However, the reason he gave for John's arrest was Herod'sjealousy at how popular John was becoming. Maybe this was alsomixed with fear. Herod's job was to keep the peace, and his Romanmasters may not have looked favourably upon a new popular movementgrowing.

Matthew points to John's preaching as the cause for his arrest.Herod and his family styled themselves as Jewish leaders, so Johncondemned him for breaking Jewish law by marrying his brother'swife (verse 4). Telling the truth to a despot is a riskybusiness.

Why did Herod confuse Jesus with John? Maybe the supernaturalpowers that Jesus seemed to possess suggested to Herod someone whohad come back from the dead, someone out of the ordinary (verse 2).Josephus wondered whether there was some family likeness sharedbetween John and Jesus. We don't know precisely the relationshipbetween their mothers, but some similarity is possible.

Interesting though this account of John the Baptist's murder is,it serves another purpose. Just as John came to prepare the way forJesus' coming, so he points the way that Jesus must continue. Lukerecords that Jesus, after his arrest, was sent by Pilate to standtrial before Herod (Luke 23:6-12). Like John, Jesus brought amessage of truth which led down a path to execution.

To Ponder

  • Over what issues do you think  the Church should bechallenging those in authority?
  • In a country where people shouldn't be put to death for theirfaith, how else might Christians suffer for what they believe? Andhow might we support those who do suffer?

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