Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that he is active in our lives. Praise God that he has understood who we are from before the foundation of the world, and is dealing with us personally day by day. Praise God for the help he will give us to walk in his walk, should we seek it. Psalm 139, Psalm 89:11, Psalm 1.
Confess the sin of not seeking God’s help daily to point out and teach us his Word. Ask God to help you and all in the congregation, minister included, to seek God’s help in this.
Please read Luke 9:7-9 - Seeking Jesus
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
V7-9. The challenge which perplexed Herod.
We step out of the ministry of Jesus for a moment as Luke tells us something about Herod, the tetrarch, that is, the governor of one of four regions in Palestine under Roman rule. His name was Herod Antipas, and he was the son of Herod the Great. He became tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, in 4 BC when his father died, and stayed in power until AD 39. So, he ruled for the entirety of Jesus' lifetime and specifically in the region where Jesus spent most of his work. Hence, his interest in what he heard about Jesus and what he was doing.
What he hears, Luke tells us, perplexes him. The resulting discussion within his court raises three options. First, John the Baptist had been raised from the dead. Although Luke does record John's arrest and imprisonment, Luke 3:19, 7:16-35, he hasn't addressed the issue of John's death before this. Of course, Herod had been responsible for John's death, a fact he states himself in verse nine. He had John arrested because of John's direct challenge to him about his relationship with Herodias. Then, on his birthday, Herod offered Herodias's daughter anything she wanted after she had danced before him. Prompted by her mother Herodias, the young woman asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter and Herod had it done, Matthew 14:1-12. The idea that John might have been raised from the dead was obviously going to interest him, and that is probably why he engages with it the most, i.e., verse nine.
The other two options intrigue him less. They were that Elijah had been raised, or one of the other Old Testament prophets had been raised. Interestingly, all three options involve resurrection from the dead, which shows the prominence of the idea within Judaism. The Jewish Sadducees sect came to prominence because its adherents denied the possibility of resurrection for anyone.
The speculation concludes with Herod stating that he wants to see Jesus so that he can find out for himself who this man is.
The challenge we face.
That's the challenge for us as well, isn't it? To know Jesus, to find out for ourselves who he is. That is true of you. Surely you don't want to live your life as a professing follower of the Lord living off the crumbs, the scraps, of some general idea of what Christianity is. You want to have a personal, experiential relationship with him. And, of course, to do that you need to seek him out, you need to spend time with him, learning first hand about who he is.
Which brings us to an interesting question which I will come to in a minute. But to finish off our study in these verses, why does God slot this information about Herod in at this point? Well, it brings a conclusion to the account of John the Baptist. It also shows the level at which the ministry of Jesus was being talked about nationally. And then there is the fact that we are being given more information about a man who will be intimately involved in the last few hours in Jesus' life.
What of the interesting question per above – Have you ever found it intriguing why God does not give us a narrative in the gospels which flows seamlessly like a novel? Yes, there is a flow to the recording of the life and ministry of Jesus in Matthew and Mark's gospels, and Luke does record the principle points, albeit in a different order. However, whatever the gospel, we have to settle ourselves and engage with the material to come to an understanding of who Jesus is. Why do you think that is the case? Why did God not just give us a, 'then Jesus went and did this, and this, and then this,' account, and also add in explanatory comments along the way? Here is my hypothesis. I wonder if the Lord gives us these accounts about the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus in this way to draw us in. To engage us, so that through the process of study and thought, we are learning more about Jesus than if it were an easy to read, flowing novel? Is it through the actual search, the seeking of God for help to understand the facts, the situations, the events, that we are drawn more into the process of finding out about who Jesus is?
Whatever the answer to that question, may God give you the desire to engage in this lifelong privilege of growing increasingly knowledgeable about the person and work of your Saviour. May you, if you don't already have a daily one, find a time in your day when you will close yourself off from the demands of today, demands which will still be before you tomorrow, and seclude yourself away with God. As you do so, and as it develops over six or seven weeks into a daily habit, you will find such communion with God becoming the sweetest and most precious part of your day.
As this communion builds within your soul, it will increase your desire for it to be part of your family life, that is, if you share your life with another or others. Despite the pressures of the day, you will find time to gather with them, to share the joy that the Lord has laid up in your soul. Some days it will be easier than others. We have the struggle with sin, which militates so relentlessly against us having any form of contact with God that is personal and heart connected. Sin will freely give us all the time we want to engage in routine religion. It will even advocate a modicum of formal, ritualistic, impersonal activity, but dare we step into the realm of personal, thoughtful, daily engagement with God – at the first sight of that, sin will raise its hackles, and previously unimportant matters will suddenly become issues of great urgency requiring our undevoted attention. Then there is the wrestle with basic laziness. Something which seems to have the propensity to rear its ugly head so easily when it is time to draw aside into God's presence. How often have you, as I have, found yourself fighting off the thought of 'manana, manana,' which has suddenly popped into your head like a fiery dart. Satan is such a willing contributor to the process. Our prowling adversary will do anything he can do to subvert our delight in the Lord; he will. He cannot steal us from God's hand, but he is fervently desirous to disrupt and destroy the joy that is our’s through abiding in Christ.
The only antidote to these viruses, these poisonous interventions in our lives, is to ask God directly for his help. Yes, we have to make good choices to apply ourselves devotedly; it can't be a case of 'let go and let God'. Being disciplined in communion with God does involve doing, but that doing comes through being with God. The motivation to do is a good one, as long as it isn't driven by the confused idea that the means are, in fact, the end. In other words, we need to be clear that the discipline of study itself is not the goal. The goal is to be with God, and for that to take root and lay hold of our lives; we need to ask God to unite our hearts to fear his name, Psalm 89:11. You and I, whether we are starting out on this journey, or have been on the road for years, need to be asking God daily to give us the desire to abide in Christ, in his Word and through prayer, John 15.
We need to keep it simple and say to God, 'I have a relationship with you through your Son. It is real because of your mercy and grace. I am one of your adopted children, but I need your help to come into your presence every day and spend time with you as my Father. I genuinely want to do it. I really do want to have time with you, the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but I cannot do it on my own; please help me.'
The wonderful thing is that being with God will, as it happens quietly, simply, daily in our lives, lead to the realization of your life purpose, namely to be conformed to the image of Christ, Romans 8:29. As you and I train ourselves in godliness each day, I Timothy 4:7, for that is what this is, then we will grow in our knowledge of and love for Him, and in so doing, fulfil God's reason for leaving us on the earth.
I know I have gone off on a slight tangent today, begun by the thought of Herod seeking Jesus, but my motive is a good one. My sole desire both for you, and yours is that you will increasingly lay into your life as a matter of personal practice, time with your Saviour and Lord. As you do so, it will bring you untold joy and great reward. My words of exhortation are driven by the knowledge that it is possible if you, as I have to do each day, seek the Lord's help.
Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 96C - Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us,”
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 62 - What are the reasons attached to the fourth commandment?
Answer - The reasons attached to the fourth commandment are God's allowance of six days for worldly tasks, his claim to special ownership of the seventh, his own example, and his blessing of the sabbath day.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God that we are told about men like Herod, the tetrarch, as it establishes the historical authenticity of his Word.
Thank God that we can seek his help daily to dwell with him and abide in Christ.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley