READ: Matthew 13:53-14:12
53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things? 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household. 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. 1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, 2 and he said to his servants, This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him. 3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, 4 because John had been saying to him, It is not lawful for you to have her. 5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. 6 But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, 7 so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter. 9 And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.
THE great short-sighted thing that one human being can do to another is to decide what they are like and not let them change or grow. In close relationships this tends toward co-dependency. We've all seen the sad caricature of a person who never marries because their sick parent "needs" them to get through life. In the 1991 release Only the Lonely, John Candy's Danny is a 40 year old man still living with his over-protective over-bearing Irish mother, played by Maureen O'Hara. But it isn't just mama who can't let Danny grow up. All of the other characters in the small world of a Chicago beat cop have Danny pigeonholed too. Danny's relationship with a polish undertaker's daughter is what it finally takes to force Danny to make a man's decision. It is a beautiful movie, and I highly recommend it.
It shouldn't surprise us that when Jesus, the now-famous rabbi returns to Nazareth he experiences the same treatment. "Is this not the carpenter's son?" The unmistakable inference is that Jesus could not possibly have acquired the wisdom he has, much less accomplish the miracles, as the son of a carpenter.
What the people of Nazareth rejected was not Jesus. They rejected the healings, the teaching, and the wonders that could have been theirs if they had only been able to see Jesus in another light.
I honestly can not imagine what must have been going through John the Baptist's mind when the guards came to put him to death. It was so sudden and unprovoked. One thing is for sure, he was unaware of the politics that had his life in the balance just one flight above him. But politics had never been very important to John. From the time he first baptized the residents of Jerusalem in the Jordan river John was marking himself as someone who stood outside the government and its corruption. What got John killed was not that he defied the government. It was that he told truth to the government.
The inner workings of the family of the Herods are complex enough to rival any Hollywood depiction. Suffice it to say that Herodias married two of her uncles in her lifetime and divorced the first only when it became obvious that he was not to become king. We are shocked today at the idea of someone wedding their uncle, but in Israel of that day it was not illegal. What was illegal was divorce and remarriage. What we are not shocked at is a marriage of political convenience.
Notice, in fact, that even though John was operating outside the political system, he still had managed to gain enough of a following that he had the king's ear. He did not have to oppose the marriage of Herod Antipas and Herodias publicly. It was enough that he had said such a thing to the king privately. And Herod, whatever the motives behind his actions were (love or weakness or a combination of both), had John arrested and put in prison.
John was rejected from being a prophet simply because he was speaking prophetically.
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.