Matthew 14 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence Bowlin
This chapter opens by revealing the inner thoughts of one of the wicked rulers over Israel. When Herod the Tetrarch hears about some of the miracles that Jesus had been performing, he believed that Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead. And there is obviously some sense of fear and remorse that Herod is exhibiting here as Matthew gives us the back story of how he killed John.
Truly, John died in a very inglorious manner at the hands of a corrupt and perverted fool. It all began when John had the audacity to confront the king for unlawfully taking his brother’s wife. This greatly enraged Herod motivating him to put John to death immediately for publicly shaming him, but Herod feared the people’s reaction to the killing of a prophet, so he bound him in prison instead. At some point his step daughter dances before him and his entourage, pleasing the king greatly. More than likely, Herod is in a lustful, drunken stupor at this point and makes a rash oath, promising to give his new daughter whatever she asked. Then prompted by her mother, who probably coaxed her daughter into dancing provocatively in the first place, the young girl says to Herod, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And Herod, realizing the foolhardiness of his vow, but also wanting to maintain his good name before his guests, grants her request, has John beheaded in prison and orders a servant to bring John’s head on a platter to give to the girl that she might give it to her mother. Who knows what the mother then did with his head. All we know is that disciples came and buried the rest of his body.
Apparently, Herod wasn’t the only one offended by the public rebuke of John the Baptist. Herodias was just as distraught. And in this case, the statement holds true, that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” But what are we to make of this? If we were to put ourselves in the shoes of King Herod, then we would see clearly how much we hate rebuke and are willing to hurt the one rebuking us and reward the one who seeks to lead us astray. If we put ourselves in the shoes of John the Baptist, we are confronted with the real fear of the consequences of telling others the truth and then wondering if God will help resolve the dilemma we’ve find ourselves in.
If we consider just how fickle political leaders can be it can cause us even more uneasiness. To think that many do not make their decisions based upon the law of God but rather on their own whims, lusts and fears, can lead to great bitterness on our part. Even as my family and the Kaniarz’ wait upon our government to help us to get out of Peru, we see some of the underpinnings of the political machinery and the motivations behind whether someone in government wants to help us or not. Do they want to help us because Trump didn’t? Do they merely want exposure? Are some merely trying to get reelected? We really don’t know the answers to these questions, nor do we want to know all the nitty-gritty details.
I’ve been reading a biography on Martin Luther recently and it shows much of the dirty motivations behind both the Roman Catholic prelates in turning against Luther because he was hurting their purse strings, and how some of the German leaders wanted to help Luther because they wanted to solidify their power in within their own region. Neither party was necessarily seeking to do the right thing but merely trying to get ahead by either killing or elevating Luther. But, somehow, God worked through the evil schemes of men to bring about his good purpose. And he did the same in the life of John the Baptist. We might find ourselves reluctant to say that at first, since John was prisoned and later beheaded, but it is still true. God was still working out his good purpose even through the wicked mechanizations of King Herod, his wife, and even his step-daughter. And somehow, I have to believe he is working out his good purpose through the conflicts between the Peruvian and American governments and even through the various politicians within our own government to hopefully do what is right for us as citizens, but more importantly, to act according to God’s sovereign purpose, even if they don’t know that they are being used in that way, and even if their evil acts are used by God for our good. It’s certainly something to think about as we go to the Lord in prayer once again placing our lives in His hands.