I’m making my way through the bible for Round 9 of ABC Wednesday. This week we’re doing a character study on Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, King of Judea who ruled for 33 years. Herod Anitpas was the only person in his family to come face-to-face with Jesus. His father shook in his sandals at the name because it was told to him that a King had been born for the Jewish people. Since he was the King of the Jews and wasn’t about to turn over his throne anytime soon, he ordered all boys under the age of 3 years to be killed in what is known as the Massacre of the Innocents in Bethlehem.
Fast forward to around year 33 of the 1st century AD…Herod’s son, Herod Antipas, is now tetrarch of Galilee. It’s bad enough that there’s this John person baptizing people in the Jordan river and telling them a king is coming to save them. Herod efficiently eliminates that problem when his femme fatale stepdaughter performs an less than kosher dance for him at his birthday party and says (with mom’s prompting) she wants the head of the Baptist…pretty please. Since John had publicly criticized Herod divorcing his wife just to marry his niece and former sister-in-law, problem solved.
But wait! Now there’s another *crazy* person stealing Herod’s limelight. Some carpenter named Jesus is hanging out with all sorts of undesirable people and capturing their hearts and minds with his message of love, forgiveness and grace. Could this be John, the Baptist, come back from the dead? Whoever he is, the local Sanhedrin are none too happy about it. And this man is being called, of all things, the Messiah. Totally unacceptable.
Herod is in luck because Pontius Pilate, Prefect for this Roman territory, has already met Jesus but thinks he’s Herod problem since the Jewish religious authorities have issues with him. So he ships him off to meet Herod.
Unimpressed when Jesus doesn’t do any divine parlor tricks for him, Herod sends him back to Pilot for death sentence. Herod was part of a long line of political schemers and suck ups. When he saw he could use Jesus as a pawn to gain favor in eyes of Rome and the Sanhedrin, he took it. Historically, he’s credited with impressive architectural accomplishments, and successfully gained the favor of Tiberius Cesar by naming the new Galilean capital, Tiberias, after him.
But like all people to use morally corrupt methods to gain favor from someone in power, karma is a bitch. When Tiberius was no longer in charge, Antipas was accused by Agrippa, his jealous nephew, of alleged treason and exiled to France with his scheming wife, Herodias.
One of my favorite movies is Jesus Christ: Superstar. This youtube clip is the scene where Herod and Jesus meet. Probably more entertaining than accurate, but there are a couple of things we can learn from it.
How often do we act just like Herod?
“God, if you do this or that for me, only then will I’ll believe in you.”
In other words, God, get me out of this jam and I’ll start going to church, reading the bible, being nice to those that wrong me…..etc.
And when He doesn’t take you up on the invitation to perform on the spot, we decide we don’t need him and tell him to get out of my life.
Times change, yet they stay the same. Amazing isn’t it?
Submitted for ABC Wednesday