They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. John the Baptist Beheaded King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.” But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”
Pastor Bill Francis
Morello Hills Christian Church (Martinez)
I imagine that Herod was thinking here, “What have my weak-willed immoral actions got me into this time?” After these verses Mark goes back and tells the story of John the Baptist’s execution (you might want to pull out your Bible and read about it). Mark uses “king” here to describe Herod, a title which was a stretch and likely sarcastic. This is Herod Antipas, ruler over a fourth of his deceased father’s kingdom, and he was not appreciated or respected by the Jewish people. Galilee was part of his territory, and later he would be the Herod who partnered with Pilate in the trials before Jesus’ crucifixion.
Herod’s interest in John and later in Jesus (Luke 23:8) as some sort of spiritual entertainment was especially telling of the character of this man. Though spiritually curious, Herod was weak-willed; this prompted Jesus to use him as an example of a hardened heart in Mark 8:15.
It’s notable to me that in reaction to miracles that should have confirmed to Herod that Jesus was the Messiah, Herod still chose faithless fear. He seemed to believe in the signs and wonders, but he was so caught up in his way of life and his own guilt that he wouldn’t see it – he wouldn’t see Jesus as the Messiah. Recently I read about former Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon. I was shocked to find that this Jewish man really didn’t believe the events of the Old Testament – so close, and yet so far away. How do we humans become hardened to God’s presence and His work? The Bible makes it clear that this happens because of sin! Sin in its many different forms (from immorality to unbelief) will control us and harden us unless we live in persistent confession and repentance. These are God’s tools to keep our hearts soft and full of life.
Lord, soften my heart. I will lift you up in confession and repentance and keep my eyes on your Son Jesus so that your mercy and grace will be seen by others through me!