Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Herod's Bind

Matthew 14:1-12 (ESV)
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, [2] and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him." [3] For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, [4] because John had been saying to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." [5] And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. [6] But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, [7] so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. [8] Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." [9] And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. [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] And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.

Story always gets me. The commentaries will tell you the dancing was something akin to a strip tease. Seems people are people in every age, messed up sinners. Here is Herod, stealing his brother’s wife, and watching her daughter dance for him and his guests in a seductive manner. Seems almost too incredible to believe, but then you here about the escapades of Gaddahfi (however his name is spelled) and his family, and it becomes a bit more believable. It is indecent, and he probably didn’t need John the Baptist to tell him so, but he did.
John stood up and confronted the powers that be. He suffered for it. He was crucified for it. That is in the end the fate of a prophet. Few seem to have ever fared any better. Yet the wicked must be warned. John knew that. It seems Herod was reluctant to murder him. I doubt this was a common hang up for him. Herod seems to be one who is quite impressed with the religion, wants to believe it, but just can’t seem to let go of this world and the vain pleasure it has to offer. I suppose we are all a bit like that. But he couldn’t do it. Given the choice between his brother’s wife and God, he chose not to repent. Not to do the right thing. Perhaps he felt trapped. Herodias seemed to be a real gem, one of those women who plays to her advantage. Herod probably would have gladly gotten rid of her, but it seems she did not want to be gotten rid of, was holding black mail over him or something. It’s like a crazy soap opera, would probably make a great HBO special. But he can’t let her go. He is stuck, to get rid of her now is to throw away his kingdom, lose face with the emperor.
It seems that way sometimes. Stuck because of a bad choice you made. Perhaps, it is a worse choice to stay where you are. Christ is always there to forgive. What he has to offer is worth so much more than this world. And his way when followed does turn out to be the best way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's kinda interesting how the way you describe this story it parallels that of Ahab and Jezebel. In literature we might call the Elijah story a foreshadowing of the John story, but such language implies a common author. Wait a minute! Maybe I'm onto something here!