Luke 9:7-9 (CEV)
7 Herod the ruler heard about all that was happening, and he was worried. Some people were saying that John the Baptist had come back to life. 8 Others were saying that Elijah had come or that one of the prophets from long ago had come back to life. 9 But Herod said, “I had John’s head cut off! Who is this I hear so much about?” Herod was eager to meet Jesus.
“Eager” is a funny word. Sometimes it’s a really good thing if someone is eager to see you, isn’t it? Janelle was eager to see her husband when she finally got back to Uganda on Thursday morning. It’s nice when our kids are eager to see us at the end of a long day – especially when they have good news for us about their day. But what about when a bully is eager to see you? What about if the tax office or the police said they were eager to see you … yeah, that might not be such a great thing at that point!
And I’m pretty sure that when Herod is said to be eager to meet Jesus, that probably falls into the same category as the bully or the tax office or the police or maybe even something worse than that.
It’s interesting to me that Luke tucks this reference in right here, just after the disciples have been sent off onto their first missions trip. Just as they are beginning to take their first tentative steps in living out this Kingdom-following life, the political climate gets a little less comfortable.
And I don’t think it’s always the case that this happens, but in my experience, it’s not uncommon for things to get more challenging right as we step out in faith. There is love and there is fear, and since perfect love casts out fear, fear isn’t too keen on seeing love at work, so it has a tendency to retaliate. I think it knows that love is so much more powerful if it gets a foothold in someone’s life, that it will do anything and everything to try to stop it. That doesn’t mean that fear wins – love does – but it does mean that we shouldn’t be surprised if fear throws a temper-tantrum about it.
Just like our body will shout and yell in protest if we start to work out, doing the things that will help us to live more fully into the people that God created us to be is also going to lead to some less-than-wonderful responses. But if we stop working out the first time our muscles ache, then we won’t actually end up any healthier. And if we stop living into our Kingdom calling the first time fear yells at us, we won’t get very far into living the life God made us to live.
Jesus doesn’t respond by launching an anti-Herod campaign. He doesn’t start a seven-week sermon series on the dangers of the Roman political system. He doesn’t call the disciples back immediately and hide them away in a safe house. He doesn’t even rally all of the women to fast and pray for his safety.
There are lots of fear-based responses to fear, but Jesus doesn’t really seem to go for any of them.
Jesus’ response to fear’s eagerness in the coming pages is simply to keep on loving.Journal Questions:
- In what ways are you aware of fear around you?
- What are some things you see other people doing in response to fear?
- Take some time today to journal some ideas of what it would it look like to choose to keep loving in the face of fear.