In the Fulness of Time/Part 97
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007|
|Herod the Great had an extensive and complicated family tree; he had a total of ten wives and fourteen children. His fourth wife bore him two sons; Archelaus, who became ethnarch of Judea when Christ was a young child, and Herod Antipas, who encounters Christ at the end of His ministry.|
- 1 The Mighty Works and Wisdom of the King. Matthew 14-20
The Mighty Works and Wisdom of the King. Matthew 14-20
Antipathy of Herod Antipas – Matthew 14:1-14
Herod’s Contacts with Christ. Matthew 14:1-2
- 14:1-2 “At that time, Herod, the tetrarch, heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.”
Herod the Great had an extensive and complicated family tree; he had a total of ten wives and fourteen children. His fourth wife was a Samaritan named Malthake, who bore him two sons; Archelaus, who became ethnarch of Judea when Christ was a young child (Matthew 2:22), and Herod Antipas, mentioned here as tetrarch of Galilee.
Antipas heard of the fame of Jesus probably through his political contacts, or through “Joanna the wife of Chuzar, Herod’s steward” (Luke 8:3), since Joanna was one of the women healed by Jesus. Rumors of a resurrection of John the Baptist troubled Antipas, and gave him a desire to see Jesus (Luke 9:7-9). His conclusion was that a resurrected person could perform mighty works, even though it had been reported that John the Baptist “did no miracles” (John 10:41). Sometime later certain Pharisees warned Christ that Herod Antipas was seeking to kill Him, but Jesus replied, “Go, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall have finished” (Luke 13:31-33). Still later, during Christ’s trials, He was brought before Antipas, who had hoped to see “some miracle done by him (Luke 23:8), but Jesus would not answer him. Then Herod Antipas and his men mocked Jesus, put a gorgeous robe on Him and sent Him to Pilate.
Herod’s Contacts with John the Baptist Matthew 14:3-12
The Imprisonment of John by Herod 14:3-5
- 14:3-5 “For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.”
Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus (son of Herod the Great by this third wife, Mariamne III); she first married her uncle, Herod Philip, but divorced him and later married another uncle, Herod Antipas. Because Herod Antipas had divorced his first wife, his father-in-law made war against him and almost wiped out his army, but the Romans intervened and saved Antipas. Thus, one indication of the complications in the family: Herodias was the niece of Antipas by birth; she was the sister-in-law of Antipas by marriage to his brother Philip, and she was the wife of Antipas after divorcing Philip!
The Murder of John by Herod 14:6-12
- 14:6-12 “But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised her with an oath to give her whatever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here the head of John the Baptist on a platter. And the king was sorry; nevertheless, for the oath’s sake, and them who sat dining with him, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.”
Antipas and Herodias have been compared with King Ahab and Jezebel of the Old Testament. One writer remarked that Jezebel was a strong, unscrupulous woman married to a weak, unprincipled king. This is an exact parallel with Herodias and Herod Antipas! The story is self-explanatory and needs little comment. Through the deception of Herodias and her teenaged daughter, Salome, Antipas was forced to have John beheaded or to lose face with his peers. He was willing to give up truth for the sake of an oath. It is never necessary to fulfill an oath if the promise becomes contrary to righteousness.
Herod Antipas Avoided by Christ’s Departure. 14:13-14
- 14:13-14 “When Jesus heard of it, He departed from there by boat into a desert place privately; and when the people had heard of it, they followed Him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.”
At first reading, Matthew’s account does not allow for a break between verses 12 and 13, and gives the impression that the words “When Jesus heard of it” refer to the murder of John the Baptist. However, the sequence seems to be as follows: First, Herod hears of Christ’s miracles, believes He is John raised from the dead and desires to see Him (14:1-2; Luke 9:9). Second, a flashback to the imprisonment and murder of John (14:3-12). Third, Jesus hears “of it” that is, of Herod’s desire to see Him, and at that point, “He departed from there into a desert place privately.”
It was not that Jesus feared Herod Antipas; rather, He still had to finish the work His Father gave Him to accomplish. In the words of John 7:30: “No man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.” Christ’s own message to Herod Antipas was that they should “tell that fox” that Jesus had not finished his works: “Nevertheless, I must walk today, and tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:32-33).
So it was that Jesus then departed in a boat to Bethsaida Julius on the northeastern shore of Galilee and consulted with His apostles concerning their preaching tour (Mark 6:30). It was supposed to be a time of rest, away from the crowds, but the multitude followed Him on foot around the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. He was “moved with compassion toward them and healed their sick.” As for Herod, he would be judged, “in the fulness of time!”