Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, ‘John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he tried to see him.
Herod … was perplexed … and he tried to see him.
Like most other motorists, I have often found myself sitting in a traffic jam. As the long procession of vehicles has crawled through the point where some incident has taken place, I have experienced that common frustration of wondering what caused the hold up. The police tell us that much of the delay is caused by those who slow down just to look at the breakdown or accident that was probably cleared away some considerable time ago. So many motorists, like Herod, are perplexed and then they try to see. They do not want to become ‘involved’, they just want to ‘see’.
Similar situations arise when people clamour to catch sight of a person who has been dubbed a celebrity by the media. I remember seeing parts of London coming to a standstill because, in three or four hours time, a pop or sports star was due to make a fleeting appearance. Again, we try to see.
If you are one of those who slow down the traffic in an attempt to satisfy your curiosity, or if you are one of those who feel compelled to join the throng that needs to be in the presence of a particular person for a few seconds, let me ask you a question: Why?
Today we read of Herod being perplexed by Jesus. The rumour mill suggested that John the Baptist, whom Herod had had executed, or one of the ancient prophets had come back from the dead. Others were telling a different story: a story that might mean a challenge to Herod’s kingship. We should not be surprised that he tried to see him. Herod had many questions to ask. Herod wanted to see for himself.
What about us, though? Does the life, death and resurrection not leave us perplexed? Don’t the tales of his miraculous signs and acts of healing leave us wanting to see for ourselves? Are we not the same as Herod in these needs?
Of course, Herod did not understand what was going on in his own time. We do not have that excuse. Herod was overcome with curiosity and a need for explanations. We have the answers Herod sought but we, so often, dismiss what we see and hear as nonsensical rubbish, nothing with which we need to bother ourselves. We direct our curiosity towards the modern culture of celebrity instead.
Let us pray that we might seek out Jesus and trust that he will guide us along the narrow way which leads to God. Let us pray that we might not be diverted from the path of true discipleship by our human weakness. Let us pray that we might, as we come to know Jesus, take his love into our daily lives, showing others that the answers are there for all of us … we just have to ask the question!