Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Journey, part 15: Desire for Entertainment.

Herod said, "I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see Him. (Luke 9:9 NASB)

Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. (Luke 23:8 NASB)
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For the last few days, our attention has been focused on Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great (king at the time of the birth of Jesus and responsible for the slaughter of all male infants under two years old). Herod Antipas, married to Herodias, wife of his half-brother Philip, imprisoned and executed John the Baptizer and was instrumental in the execution of Jesus. He was eventually exiled by Caligula to Gaul, where he remained until his death. 
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Herod Antipas was well informed about Jesus. He knew about His ministry, His miracles, and His team of twelve who were preaching and healing in Jesus' name. Herod was interested, to say the least. "And he kept trying to see Jesus," Scripture tells us. Herod was Tetrarch and had considerable power as well as soldiers and servants at his command. If he wanted to meet Jesus, he could meet Him. If he wanted to hear Him preach, he could hear Him.  If he had wanted the freedom Jesus offered, Herod could have had it, yet it was not until the night of Jesus' arrest that Herod finally encountered Him face to face. 

Herod was delighted that Jesus had been brought before him. At last, he would see this preacher who had caused such a stir. Luke 23 makes it clear that Herod was not interested in who Jesus was, however. He was not particularly interested in what Jesus had to say. What Herod wanted was to see Jesus do a miracle. He wanted Jesus to perform and entertain him, not purify and transform him. As you can well imagine, Jesus refused Herod completely. 

When we realize that Herod viewed Jesus as nothing more than an evening's entertainment, we are shocked. Who would dare to ask the Son of God to do "magic tricks" or to entertain us? It seems unthinkable, but perhaps it is not so far-fetched. Do we not also want a certain level of entertainment in our worship services? Do we not also want music that we enjoy, sermons that "tickle our ears", congregations in which we are comfortable? Perhaps we, too, want a little Herodian-style entertainment, but our Lord is no more responsive to our desire for entertainment than He was to that of Herod. 

The focus of our relationship with Jesus should be Jesus, not us. The focus of our worship services should also be Jesus, and not ourselves. In times of worship, the only One whose pleasure matters is Almighty God, who wrapped Himself in flesh and dwelt among us. Does it please God, honor Him, exalt Him? Those are the questions that must be answered. 

As we prepare for worship services this week, let us relinquish our desire for entertainment and approach the time with the objective of pleasing and honoring God. Let us worship Him and not ourselves or our desires. Our Lord will not perform on command, but when our desire become purification and transformation, He will never let us down.