Rejection Based in Fear
January 14, 2021
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him" (Matthew 14:1-2).
The people of Nazareth rejected Jesus based on their jealous resentment - He was not the boy they remember growing up in town; He can’t possibly be the Messiah. In Matthew 14:1-12 we will discover that King Herod Antipas rejected Jesus based on superstitious fear - He was the ghost of John the Baptizer whom he had murdered.
It is evident from the text that Herod Antipas knew very little about Jesus. There is no record of Jesus ever meeting him, nor is there any record of Jesus ever having ministered in Tiberias where the royal palace was, or in Machaerus where the fortress palace of his father, King Herod the Great, was. Both of these places were within walking distance of many of the places where Jesus conducted His ministry in Galilee.
The attitude of Herod Antipas toward Jesus in this text is very different from when he actually met Jesus in Luke 23:7-8. Note the difference: (Matthew 14:1-2) At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him" . . . (Luke 23:8) Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.
When Herod heard about Jesus (Matthew 14), he was distressed. He believed John the Baptizer, whom he had killed in jail, had risen from the dead. Having been raised from the dead, Herod believed John would seek revenge for having him killed. He therefore feared Jesus. This didn’t originate with Herod, but was the result of gossip and ‘fake news’ - Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him; and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again (Luke 9:7-8).
Herod feared John. He respected John because John was popular with the people, but he feared John because he was a powerful preacher of righteousness and Herod was a man of great sin. Believing Jesus was John resurrected gave him greater fear because he believed revenge was the sole motivating factor in his ‘reappearing’. Herod was miserable because of a guilty conscience and there is no relief from God unless and until the person bows before the Lord Jesus Christ in faith. That was something Herod would not, and did not do. He died in his sin condemned.
“Lord Jesus, we are reminded of the power of the mind over the matters of the life, even of faith. We must hear the truth, know the truth, before we can believe the truth. Your servant Paul reminded us of that in Romans 10:13-15 and 12:1-2. May Herod be a reminder that we must yield our body, soul, spirit and mind to You so that the whole person will be wholly saved. To Your glory I ask, Amen.”