It is inevitable that sooner or later Jesus, whose miracles and teachings disturbed the public order, should come to the attention of the local ruler.
The ruler in this case was Herod Antipas, a minor potentate, who ruled Galilea and Samaria at the behest of the Romans. Like other rulers, his life was a mixture of extravagance, corruption and debauchery. He had lured away his brother’s wife Herodias, and was living with her publicly – reason enough for John the Baptist to denounce him as a ‘public sinner’. John paid for his courage with his life; but Herod, ever superstitious for having ordered the crime, was haunted by guilt. Who was this Jesus the Galilean, whom some said was John the Baptist returned to life? He was certainly as outspoken and as popular as the man he’d got killed. Was he too a prophet? Herod was apprehensive.
Luke has three references to Herod in his Gospel. All of them relate to Herod’s curiosity about Jesus, a curiosity which was only satisfied when Jesus makes his appearance in Herod’s palace in chains during his passion. At one time, Herod had even contemplated having him assassinated, a threat which Jesus dismissed as of no account.
Herod stands for the politicians of all times. They are superstitious and suspicious. Always hungry for power, they have no scruples about eliminating anyone who seems a threat. Or whose death can be counted as a favour to a winning side. The family of the Herods are part of the political background of Jesus’s life. They were tribal chieftains who became small time rulers in Palestine through siding with Rome.
Jesus did not live in a vacuum. His life and his teachings had political consequences, and one of these was the threats he received from “that fox”, King Herod of Galilea.
What would you say are the political repercussions of standing up for your Christian faith today?