Editor's Note: "Creed" is an ongoing article series that discusses the core beliefs of Christianity as expressed in the Apostle's and Nicene creeds. Links to other installments are listed at the end of this article.
It is not uncommon during men’s or women’s retreats and leadership forums to be asked to participate in a little game I like to call “The Four Dinner Guests.” It goes like this: If you could dine with anyone in the world, alive or dead, who would it be? Name the four top guests.
Naturally, if you are in a Christian setting, the top billing goes to Jesus, quickly followed by the likes of Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, Peter, John and Paul.
The next part of the game requires you to list four questions you’d most likely pose were you given the opportunity to ask them any question that might come to mind. (Something tells me that, right now, your mind is spinning…listing those four names, thinking about those four questions.)
But, what if you were not a believer? What if you were a heathen, a murderer, an adulterer? Would you still want to sit in the presence of the Almighty? Messiah? The One who came, who healed, who raised the dead to life? The One who claimed that the Kingdom of God was “at hand?”
And, what if—questions ready to go—the Man sitting across from you refused to answer?
Such a Man was Herod
There are four Herods mentioned in the “Gospel Story,” which we covered in the last installment of Creed. To refresh our memories there was:
Herod the Great: At the beginning of the gospels was Herod the Great, who—so madly afraid of the Magi’s news of a new king’s birth—had all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity, who were two years of age and under, killed.
Herod Archelaus: This is the Herod whom Joseph avoided when bringing his wife and young son back from their time of exile in Egypt. Hearing that this Herod was ruling in Judea, he quietly took his family to Nazareth to live.
Herod Philip: Though a private citizen, this Herod’s story is deeply entwined with Jesus’. Herod Philip’s wife, Herodias, had an affair with his brother, Herod Antipas. She eventually took their daughter, Salome, away from their home and married her brother-in-law.
Herod Antipas: Ruler of Galilee. The Herod who ordered the beheading of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, after imprisoning him when John accused Antipas and Herodias of adultery.
Herod Antipas, though an evil man and vicious ruler, was much fascinated with the man who many were calling the Messiah.
Jesus had had a few things to say about Herod, too.
"Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod." (Mark 8:15)
At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you."
He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' (Luke 13:31, 32)
Don’t you just love that? “Go tell that fox…”
In the Hebrew language, “today and tomorrow” might refer to an indefinite but limited period of time. However, Jesus’ reference to “the third day” was His way of letting anyone who might understand His “riddle” that no matter what Herod tried to do to Him—kill Him or not—His goal and His will would be accomplished.
During the trial of Jesus, Pilate—realizing the accused was from Galilee and therefore under Herod’s jurisdiction—sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration.
The Scriptures tell us that Herod was “greatly pleased” to see Jesus because he had hoped to meet him for some time. In fact, what Herod wanted was a “show.”
From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracles. (Luke 23: 8b)
The Silent Jesus
In spite of the fact that Jesus was the Creator of the world, the One with all the answers, when Herod hounded Him with question after question, Jesus gave absolutely no answer.
No miracles performed here. Not this day. No answers given. Just an accused man, standing silent, waiting for the sentence of death to be handed down. Waiting…waiting…as He had done for thousands of years, for the moment when He would save the world from its own sins.
Next Installment: Pilate? Backatcha!
Creed: Jesus Turns Enemies, Pilate & Herod, Into Friends