Prepare Our Hearts – October 23

A Devotional from Central Presbyterian Church.Find another day here.

Friday, October 23, 2020
Mark 6:14-20

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

Jesus’ fame spread far and wide as He ministered in the northern region of Judea surrounding the Sea of Galilee, although He often commanded those on the receiving end of His power to tell no one. Like everyone else, King Herod, who was not really a king, heard about Jesus and began to marvel and wonder at His true identity. As you may recall from the nativity story, Herod’s father, Herod the Great, had also heard about Jesus from others who had travelled a great distance to meet Him and attempted in vain to take His life as an infant.

Herod was what we might call just a different cat. Unlike his father, Herod was not jealous of the attention Jesus received, he was more curious than upset at the reports coming down from Galilee. When John the Baptist publicly accused Herod of flagrant adultery for taking his own brother’s wife, Herodias, as his own, she was enraged, but Herod was perplexed. While he certainly couldn’t stand to allow anyone in his kingdom, even though he was not really a king, openly question his morality, he also could not deny the truth or power in the words John spoke. Although Herodias wanted John silenced forever, Herod was mesmerized and loved to listen to John preach and teach, using prison, at least for a time, as a means of keeping John safe from the wicked intentions of his illicit offended bride.

As word spread about Jesus, Herod openly wondered at Jesus’ true identity. Who was Jesus, really? Jesus didn’t neatly fit into anyone’s categories or expectations. He was a teacher with skill and authority far surpassing even the most highly-educated and esteemed Pharisees. He was a powerful exorcist, casting out evil spirits and demons that the prayers of the chief priests were helpless to vanquish. He was a healer who was even able to somehow share His power with others, those disciples who had gone out in His name healing sickness and disease throughout the land. Men, women, and children flocked to catch a glimpse of what incredible thing He might do next, and even the wind and the waves obeyed His voice.

Word had spread about the latest great prophet in Israel, who simultaneously was like everyone who had come before and yet like no one who had ever lived. Like Moses, Jesus commanded authority over the turbulent waters of the sea. Like Elijah, Jesus demonstrated power to raise the dead back to life. Like John the Baptist, Jesus declared the arrival of the Kingdom and called God’s people to humility and repentance.

Some treat Jesus like Herod, as nothing more than a curiosity. Others look at Jesus like the crowds, wondering how His power might benefit them. Still others view Jesus skeptically, like the hawk-eyed Pharisees. But how do we see Him, who is Jesus really? There is no more important question to ponder. Our answer to this question will be evident in the way we live every moment of our lives, not just how we spend a few hours on Sunday mornings.

Jesus invites the world, and us, to come to Him, not so we can receive some great blessings or gifts, although we will, and not so He can amaze us with His incredible power, although He will. But so that we might know Him, experience Him, and live for Him. Jesus is so much better, so much greater, than anything we could hope or imagine. Not even a lifetime of walking with Him can even begin to scratch the surface of the fullness of His majestic might and marvelous mercy.

Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, may we ponder You anew today. Help to desire You not for the things You might give or the blessings you might bring but as the God that You are, have always been, and always will be. Humble us in Your presence, that we might forever declare Your grace, Your goodness, and Your glory. We pray in Your unsurpassable name, Amen.