Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Luke 9:7-9 Herod wonders who Jesus might be

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Herod wonders who Jesus might be

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about everything that was going on. He was very confused because some people were saying that John had risen from the dead. 8 Others said that Elijah had appeared, and still others said that one of the ancient prophets had risen. 9 But Herod said, “I beheaded John. So who is this about whom I hear such things?” And Herod wanted to see him.

A tetrarch is ruler over a fourth of something like a kingdom or an army. Here it refers to the division of Herod the Great’s kingdom into four regions, ruled by his four sons. This younger Herod was more fully known as Herod Antipas. His responsibility was the government of Galilee and the region across the Jordan River known as Perea.

There was news making its way to Herod about a rabbi in Galilee. The king was “very confused” about the reports he heard. The Greek term, dieporei (διηπόρει) means to be thoroughly at a loss; to be nonplussed. The main rumor was that John the Baptist was back, risen from the dead. The fact that Jesus and John were cousins of nearly the same age may have had a bearing on that rumor, but even more so would have been the fact that their message was the same: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (John in Matthew 3:2; Jesus in Matthew 4:17). The reports that this could possibly be John must have pricked Herod’s conscience, since he had ordered John’s execution months before.

There was also a rumor that Elijah had returned. The return of the prophet Elijah was foretold by Malachi in the second-to-last verse of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5). Other rumors included the return of other prophets, and all of these things added up to a general feeling that the Messiah was on his way or even that the Messiah had already arrived.

Notice that all of these speculations tell us something about Herod’s court. Every one of these advisors believed in the resurrection from the dead, in a life after death (in heaven), and in the Bible’s promises and prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. This is one of several hints in the Bible that typical, ordinary Jews did not consider themselves to be Pharisees or Sadducees, but simply Jews. The ordinary Jews were much more concerned with the arrival of the Messiah than the Pharisees (who resisted any talk of the Messiah) and much more accepting of miracles and the gospel of the resurrection than the Sadducees (who rejected the concepts of heaven and the resurrection). This central position, away from the extreme and showy conservatism of the Pharisees and the extreme liberalism of the Sadducees, accepted the Bible as the word of God, and was receptive to the message of Jesus Christ.

Herod would eventually get to see Jesus (Luke 23:8-9), but he ended up mocking Jesus, and it was Herod who dressed him in an elegant robe for his trial before Pilate (Luke 23:11).

This account shows us the increasing interest in Jesus that was growing throughout Galilee. Even Herod’s court was buzzing. The preaching of Jesus and his apostles was well received. More and more people were drawn to Jesus. They wanted to hear him. He healed their sick. His disciples were even healing their sick and driving out demons. Surely there was some sort of climax approaching!

We put our trust in Jesus for the same reasons. We want to hear his words. He has healed us of sin, and if we are struck with sicknesses, we know that we are in his hands. When we lose a loved one in death, we know that they are rescued for eternal life. He satisfies all of our needs—and this was a lesson he was about to teach in a new and spectacular way.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.