The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
 "Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus"

Scripture:  Matthew 14:1-12

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 powers are at work in him." 3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Hero'di-as, his brother Philip's wife; 4 because John said 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 Hero'di-as 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.
Meditation: What fueled the courage and zeal of the martyrs? They loved God and his truth more than their own lives. Standing for the truth, especially for the gospel can be very costly.  Take the prophets. They all suffered abuse and most were martyred. Herod, a somewhat reluctant persecutor, was nonetheless a man with a guilty conscience. When Herod heard the fame of Jesus he supposed that John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded, had returned from the dead. Unfortunately for Herod, he could not rid himself of sin by ridding himself of the man who confronted him with his sin.  Herod was a weak man.  He could take a strong stand on the wrong things when he knew the right.  Such a stand, however, was a sign of weakness and cowardice.  Are you ready to stand for Jesus and for his truth and righteousness?

"Lord, give me a strong conscience that I may recognize evil for what it is and repent for all the ways in which I may offend you.  Help me to choose what is good and to reject what is contrary to your will.  And help me to strive for holiness that I may please you in all things (Hebrews 12:14)."

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(c) 2002 Don Schwager