Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because everyone was talking about him. Some were saying, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. That is why he can do such miracles.” 15 Others said, “He’s the prophet Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.”
16 When Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead.”
17 For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip’s wife, but Herod had married her. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod’s approval she was powerless, 20 for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him. – Mark 6:14-20
I have my favored candidate in this year’s presidential election. Who it is is of no consequence to the following: I have no delusions about the way men of power can easily be co-opted by the very power they seek. I have no delusions about how power is wielded by the politicians and those who seek to influence them. I’m sure there are those who do not use brute force, threat, or deception. But it seems they are few and far between.
Herod was one of those who used brute force, intimidation, threat, and a general willfulness that does not mind upsetting people or alienating enemies. Many do not seem to worry about upsetting God, or disobeying him. Some would say that it is impossible to lead in the current political climate if you truly follow Jesus. I draw no conclusions there. I’m just glad that I don’t function in that realm.
Herod does function in that realm, however. And his life and rule put that on broad display. He divorces his wife and takes Herodias, his brother’s wife, as his own. Not good on God’s account. He is intrigued by John, but has him arrested. He listens to him out of curiosity, but will not free him. He will put on a party that displays all of his personal glory only to be put into a corner by Herodias and her daughter. Pitiful man.
Against all this stands Jesus. Jesus will incur the wrath of the religious leaders, but he will not give up his primary allegiance to his heavenly Father. He will be charged with sedition and blasphemy, but he will teach his disciples to pay taxes and to respect those who have positions of responsibility in the church. He will die the death of a common criminal, but he reigns now at the right hand of God. Never does he bend his own character to match others’ whims or wishes. Never does he go along to get along.
So when Jesus learns of John’s fate, he begins his ministry (Mark 1:14-15), announcing that the kingdom of God is at hand. Wherever Jesus is the Kingdom of God is present. And where he is present, grace and truth rule. And where grace and truth rule, there we find true peace, life and hope.