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23 September Luke 9:7-9

Gospel reflection

7When Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, he was perplexed. For some were saying that John had risen from the dead, 8others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that a prophet of old had arisen.

9“I beheaded John,” Herod said, “but who is this man I hear such things about?” And he kept trying to see Jesus.

This is the Gospel of Christ

One thing about following a Lectionary cycle of readings is that you get to stop, and focus on verses that you would have otherwise glossed over and gone on to something more striking and dramatic. But “all scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting  and training in righteousness, ( 2 Tim 3:16)and so we pause to learn from this encounter with Herod.

Herod Antipas was the Son of Herod the Great. He was married to a daughter of Arteus the king of Arabia Petra but took Herodias the wife of his half-brother Herod Philip, the act which John the Baptist spoke out against, which upset her and led to her asking for John’s head. John was not the only one unhappy about Herodias, and Herod’s father-in-law, Arteus, invaded the territory of Herod and defeated him causing great loss. Many attributed this loss to the fact that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist. Herodias later urged him to go to Rome and gain the title of King, but he was opposed and banished. Pilate called him out of exile to Jesus ‘s trial.

Herod the Great was King of the Jews and when the wise men came and asked about the birth of Jesus, he saw it as a threat and that is why he sought to kill the infant, scripture tells us that he simply ordered the murder of all boys born around the time of Jesus birth, to deal with the threat.

What can we learn from these few verses? Luke places this event directly before the feeding of the 5000, (Luke 9: 10-17) and then Peter’s Confession of Christ, (Luke 9:18-20) Here we see the disciples answering Jesus’s question “who do the crowds say that I am”  (18b) with the same description as Herod had heard ( vs 7,8).    Jesus had been spoken about throughout Jerusalem and all Judea, on hill sides and in the palace. Yet the common people in the street were able to follow him onto a mountainside ( Luke 9:11) ( many commentators say that they went out there to make him King) and Herod was not able to get an audience with him. Jesus did not frequent the courts of the elite but walked the streets of the commoners. He is available to us in our humility not our pride.

Both Elijah and John the Baptist were understood to be forerunners of the coming of the Messiah, it was believed that Elijah would return at the Passover, and each year at the Passover celebration a place would be set for him, and during the meal the father would ask – “ is this the year that Elijah is going to return?” and in fact would, in a ritual, go to the door and open it to see if Elijah was standing at the door. The words of Jesus in the Revelation come to mind – behold I stand at the door and knock. (Rev 3:20).

With all this well-known expectation in place they could not see that Jesus was the Messiah; how blessed we are to have the scriptures that make it so easy for us to conclude that Jesus is the Christ. And yet in so many ways we and the people around us are like Herod, part of the story, and wanting to see Jesus, out of curiosity, hoping that we can benefit and receive some benefit from his power, but it is a self-serving desire.     Note how Luke after raising this question in the house of Herod, takes us to the feeding of the 5000, Peter’s confession of Christ and immediately to the challenge about how Jesus will suffer and that his followers must deny themselves. (Luke 9:23). Herod wanted to see Jesus to elevate himself and he never did.  Those who sought Jesus in humility to be healed by him and to enter the kingdom, received life and life everlasting.

May our lives reveal the risen saviour, may the Holy Spirit give us the power to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, may we seek and find Jesus as our saviour and live our lives to his glory and truly deny ourselves and receive heavens rewards of joy, peace , hope and eternal salvation.

Let us pray:

Thank you, God, that you are not hidden from us and that you have assured us that you are with us. Jesus, we open the door to you today, that you may come in and reign in our hearts.  Holy Spirit we submit to you today that our lives may be used to God’s praise and glory. Amen.

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