Do you sometimes find it difficult to stand up for what you believe in, especially in the face of opposition from others? If so you’re not alone. Sometimes opposition can mean you’re on the right path. Join us this week as we look at how Jesus often defied those who stood in the way of the Kingdom of God.
Today we’re going to conclude our Characters series by looking at several characters who all have the same name — Herod.
Jesus came to advance the kingdom of God, which threatened the kingdom of Herod.
So they devoted themselves to crushing him.
Now, Jesus’ response was quite astounding.
A lot of people picture Jesus as this kind of docile, inoffensive guru who just goes around saying, “Be nice.”
Let me tell you something:
No one ever got crucified for teaching to be nice.
No one in the history of this world ever got crucified for good moral teaching.
People get crucified when powerful kingdoms feel deeply threatened.
So we’re going to work through a fair amount of history today.
I need you all to be ready to study and think about history today, okay?
About 40 B.C., the man who would come to be known as “Herod the Great” went to Rome and was given the title by the Roman Senate — “King of the Jews.”
This Herod — “Herod the Great,” was evil and paranoid.
The historian Josephus tells us he was married to 10 different wives.
He had 43 children.
His wife, Miriam, was the one he loved the most.
He married her when she was about 15.
She gave birth to 5 of his children in 7 years.
And then he got suspicious that she was plotting to try to have one of her kids take over someday, so he had her executed.
She was the only wife he ever really loved.
And just to be on the safe side, he had her mother executed as well.
He thought two of his sons were getting a little ambitious, so he had both of them killed.
Five days before he died — he died most likely of syphilis — he had his oldest son killed in addition to the other two.
Caesar Augustus, whom Herod prided himself on being friends with, said, “It’s better to be Herod’s pig than to be Herod’s son.”
Herod was intensely disliked by the Jews.
He had built massive projects in Israel, but he collaborated far too much with the Romans, and persecuted far too many aspects of Jewish worship to be popular with them.
He knew when he died no one would mourn for him, so he ordered dozens of the most elite citizens in Israel to be captured and held in the city of Jericho.
He left orders that when he died they were all to be put to death as well. Because he wanted there to be weeping in Israel on the day of his death. And he knew no one would weep for him.
That’s “Herod the Great.”
Herod the Great was the one who was alive when Jesus was first born.
He died quite soon after Jesus’ birth.
Now, for the rest of our time I want to focus on three of Herod the Great’s kids.
When Herod dies, his sons all travel to Rome because they want to get as much of his kingdom devoted to them.
They each want to rule as much of their dad’s kingdom as possible.
Each one of them goes before Caesar and says, “I want to be the ruler of as much of my father’s kingdom as I can get.”
So Caesar has to divvy up what used to be Herod the Great’s kingdom among the three sons.
Here’s a map to show how it got divvied up.
It’s a color-coded deal.
Caesar divides the land up among the three sons.
Judea, where Jerusalem is (the orange section) — goes to Archelaus.
The bodies of water to the north and south are the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.
And the Jordan river connects the two of them.
And the Mediterranean Sea is to the West.
In Galilee — to the north is Nazareth, where Jesus is from.
Herod Antipas gets Galilee (the yellow section).
He also gets a region on the other side of the Jordan River — Perea, which means “just the other side.” Not a real creative name, but that’s what Herod Antipas gets.
The Northeast corner goes to the other son, Philip (the green section).
Those are regions that are being governed now by the three sons of Herod the Great.
I want to look at this point at the first son.
The oldest son that’s still alive is Archelaus.
Archelaus goes to Rome to ask Caesar to be made ruler of as much as possible.
While Archelaus is gone, there is a massive unrest in Jerusalem.
It’s Passover and Archelaus has been trying to allow more freedom in Judea, in his region.
The people keep wanting more, so Archelaus decides he’s got to have his soldiers clamp down, which they do during Passover… when there are a lot of Israelites traveling to Jerusalem and talking about the kingdom: “The kingdom is going to come.”
Jerusalem during the Passover week, around the temple, is a very dangerous place for people who talk about the kingdom.
So Archelaus’s soldiers execute 3,000 Jews during Passover week right at the temple in Jerusalem.
And Archelaus is bitterly hated.
He goes to Rome to ask Caesar to be made ruler.
The people hate him so much they actually send a delegation — the Israelites send a delegation of 50 Jewish leading citizens, who go to Rome and say to Caesar, “Don’t let him be our king. We don’t want this man for our king.”
They actually asked to be placed under the power of Syria, the Roman governor of Syria, so they don’t have to be under Archelaus.
Caesar makes Archelaus ruler anyhow.
And when Archelaus finds out what happened, he has all 50 of those citizens brought before him; and has them executed.
Now I want you to see whether or not Jesus is intimidated by the power of Rome.
Look at Luke 19:11.
While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
Of course, everyone had their own idea of what the kingdom of God would mean.
Most of them thought it would be quite violent and certainly involve the overthrow of Rome.
Now look at this in verse 12.
He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
He was made king, however, and returned home.
Does that sound at all familiar to you? What name came to the crowd’s mind?
What’s Jesus doing?
He’s taunting Archelaus.
He goes on to talk about the parable of the talents, a story which certainly he would have told many places, and he does in somewhat different versions in the gospels.
Here’s what he’s doing — he’s saying:
“Here’s a good one. Did you hear the one about a man who goes off to get crowned king, and his people hate him so much they send a delegation to vote him off the island? Did you hear that one?”
Can you imagine the people’s response? — “I can’t believe he just said that.”
No one talks that way about rulers crowned by Rome, not if they want to live.
Notice the end of the story — verse 27:
But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.
But those enemies of mine — this is the king talking — who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me.
That’s what Archelaus said.
Look at the last detail in this passage — verse 28:
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
Now, you notice if your Bible has headings that this is the beginning of the passage of the triumphal entry.
What city is Jesus going into?
What holiday is being celebrated in Jerusalem?
Jerusalem at Passover time is a real dangerous place for people who are talking about a kingdom other than Rome; and Jesus knows this.
Alright, I want to look at Luke 3 now.
We’re going to look at Herod Antipas now.
This is not Herod the Great.
There are a number of different Herods in the Bible. There are Herods that come after Herod Antipas. It’s sometimes hard to keep all of them straight.
It’s a little like — do any of you know the names of George Foreman’s children? George the 2nd, George the 3rd, George the 4th and so on?
Well, the Herod deal was a little like that.
So this is Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great — who reigned when Jesus was a man.
Luke 3:1 — this is a magnificent passage.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—
That’s the only mention of Texas in the New Testament, by the way.
during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
Now, why does Luke throw in all those names and all those titles?
Does he get paid by the word?
Why does he have so many details here?
He’s got a real serious purpose.
He lays out all the powers of all the kingdoms on this earth.
Then the word of God comes.
It doesn’t come to Caesar.
It doesn’t come to Pontius Pilate.
It doesn’t come to Herod’s boys.
It doesn’t come to the chief priests.
It doesn’t come to any of these people who have all this status and all this power in the kingdoms of this earth.
The word of God comes to John — an untitled, unwashed, rag-wearing, locust-eating hermit in the desert.
You see — who counts and who doesn’t count is going to get all mixed up.
Everything is going to get turned upside down.
That’s the way it is in the kingdom of God. It’s a deep, deep part of the kingdom of God.
Dallas Willard speaks about this as the Law of Inversion.
It traces right back to the song of praise that Mary sings when she’s told that she’s going to bear this son, the Messiah. She says, “You’ve exalted the poor. The rich you send away empty.”
Everything starts getting turned upside down.
It’s the Law of Inversion.
The first are going to be last.
The last are going to be first.
All people’s ideas about what counts, what matters, are going to be turned upside down.
And this has enormous implications for those who live in the kingdom of God.
Maybe you have a real impressive job.
Maybe you’re a Caesar or a governor or a tetrarch at Google — maybe not.
It doesn’t matter, because this kingdom is about the Law of Inversion.
The point of it is anyone can bring the kingdom of God. You can bring the kingdom of God into your own little part of the earth.
You never know how God is going to use one person — one strange, locust-eating, camel hair-wearing hermit out in the desert. You just never know.
Just take real seriously your mission to bring the kingdom of God wherever you are.
Look at verses 18 and 19.
Now we start to see the courage of Jesus’ followers.
And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
The good news about what?
About the kingdom of God.
Matthew 3 says that John proclaimed the good news of the kingdom.
Look at verse 19:
But when John rebuked Herod — and this is John, no power, hermit, eats locust in the desert, saying this is Herod the tetrarch.
By the way, Herod Antipas wanted to be king. His dad’s title was king.
Tetrarch meant “quarter king.” It’s like Herod was the king, but Herod Antipas was like a little quarter king. That’s what a tetrarch is. A little quarter king.
But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, — all the other evil things Herod Antipas had done — Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
Herod Antipas said to himself, “That takes care of that. That’s the last I’ll hear about that little kingdom.”
Look at this verse — this is from the gospel of Matthew. This is quite a striking verse.
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee.
Jesus earlier than this had been down at the Jordan, apparently in Judea, baptized and so on.
Now again, you’ve got to think about this verse for a moment.
After Jesus heard that John had been put in prison — where did Herod, who put John in prison, where did Herod reign?
After John was put in prison, Jesus goes to Galilee.
If I was Jesus and John the Baptist had been pointing towards me saying, “He’s the one that’s going to bring the kingdom,” and John’s just been put in prison for that message by the guy who rules this country, I don’t think I’d go to that country.
Galilee is the last place I’d go.
It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Okay, Herod. You think you can shut this kingdom down by putting John the Baptist in prison? You had better think again. You have no idea, Herod, what you’re opposing.”
Jesus generally did not avoid getting into trouble for the sake of the kingdom.
The general strategy of those who would bring the kingdom in the New Testament does not seem to be to pray, “God, get me out of trouble.”
It seems to be — to bring that kingdom to that part of the world that needs it the most, even though it’s going to mean the most trouble for the person bringing the kingdom.
There’s something I’d like to ask you to do right now, real fast.
Think about this — where is your Galilee?
Where is it hardest for you to live out the kingdom of God?
Where do you face the biggest challenge, the most difficulty, the most fear, the most opposition?
Where is your Galilee?
Is it your job maybe?
Is it your neighborhood?
Is it your family?
Are there dynamics there that make it really hard for you to bring the kingdom of God into that part of your life?
Is there a relationship with a difficult person?
Is it at your school?
Is it in your financial life — is that your Galilee?
Is it your marriage?
Where is your Galilee?
And then what do you need to do to bring the kingdom of God into your Galilee?
Maybe you need to be bold in your conversations with someone, and you’ve just been scared.
Maybe you need to forgive someone that you’ve just been resenting for a long time. That would bring the kingdom of God into your little world.
Maybe, like John the Baptist did, you need to confront the behavior of someone that you’re scared to confront.
Maybe bringing the kingdom of God means demonstrating humility where everyone else is engaged in climbing the ladder.
Followers of Christ go right into Galilee even though Galilee is the most dangerous place to be.
Avoiding trouble for the sake of the kingdom of God is not really high on their list of priorities.
It’s an amazing statement after Herod put John the Baptist into prison — “Jesus went to Galilee.”
I want to show you how much Jesus is not intimidated by Herod Antipas.
Herod Antipas also had some marriage problems.
The first woman Herod Antipas married was basically a political marriage.
He married the daughter of the king of his nearest political rival.
It was basically a political marriage to try to create a relationship to save him from being attacked by her father who was a real powerful guy — king of the Nabataeans.
Then after Herod Antipas marries this king’s daughter, he falls in love with a woman named Herodias.
We read about her in Luke 3.
He decides he wants to marry her. He builds her a big palace so that he and she can live together in great luxury.
There’s only a few problems.
One is he’s already married.
Another one is she’s already married.
A third problem is she’s married to his half brother — Philip.
And another problem is she’s actually the daughter of another brother of his, a half brother.
This sounds like a soap opera or something, doesn’t it?
I’m not making this stuff up — this means that when he marries her she will be his wife, his niece, and his sister-in-law.
Now you understand some of why John the Baptist had a problem with this.
Herodias says, “Yes, I will marry you, but you’ve got to divorce your first wife.”
So he does.
Now remember, he married his first wife just to get in good with her father, who is the king of the Nabataeans, and a real powerful guy.
Now he divorces her — he divorces the little girl of his most powerful enemy to marry the wife of his brother.
Sure enough, his father-in-law declares war on him. So they go to war.
Herod Antipas brings 10,000 soldiers to the battle.
His father-in-law, the King of Nabataea, brings 20,000 soldiers. And smokes him.
It’s a humiliating defeat.
In Luke 14:28, Jesus is talking here about the cost of discipleship.
Again, obviously everyone knows all about this. It’s not hidden stuff. Jesus gives a couple examples of counting the cost.
First he says:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
He’s using humor here.
Anyone here ever hear of a construction project going over budget?
Well, Jesus is saying imagine someone getting involved in a construction project, but they never even make a budget.
They never even ask themselves the question: How much is this going to cost?
And they run out of money.
And the thing just sits there half finished, and it’s going to sit there forever.
It will be an eternal construction site like the 680 freeway. It will never, ever be done.
Jesus says, “Everyone will laugh at that guy. Everyone will say, ‘This guy is a few tacos short of a combination plate.’ They’ll all ridicule him.”
The people listening to Jesus are all chuckling at this point.
You have to be a pretty dim bulb to pull something like that.
Now look at verse 31. This is unbelievable.
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
“Here’s a good one,” Jesus says. “Imagine a king goes off to war, his opponent is bringing twenty thousand soldiers, and he’s only bringing ten thousand soldiers. What kind of a pea brained lunatic would try to pull off a stunt like that?”
Everyone knows exactly which pea brained lunatic he’s talking about.
Everyone’s thinking, “Hey, Jesus, you keep this up and you’re going to be in serious trouble.”
Well Jesus keeps talking as if he thinks someone is in serious trouble, but it’s not him.
It’s not him… not really… not ultimately.
Back to the story now — Luke 7:24.
Herod Antipas at this point has John in prison.
John sends some of his people to talk to Jesus to find out what’s going on. Jesus does that, and then he turns to talk to the crowd about John’s ministry.
One background note before we read Luke 7:24.
In those days, the vast majority of people were illiterate. Even if they weren’t, obviously there were not newspapers, electronic media and so on.
For politicians, communications and marketing was very important.
Peter Richards in his book, Herod, writes a whole chapter on politicians using coins and inscriptions to keep their image, their name, in front of people.
Very often they would have their picture, and then they would have some symbol connected with their picture.
Herod Antipas used a symbol that was connected to him on his coins.
Most of those who ruled in the Holy Land didn’t put their picture on the coins, because they didn’t want to offend the Jews.
Because the Jews believed you should have no graven image, so they wouldn’t want him to put his picture on it, but he had a symbol.
It’s a lot like in our day.
When you see an elephant, what political party do you think of?
The Republican Party.
If you see a donkey you think of the Democratic Party.
Herod Antipas used a symbol that was very common in Galilee because of the Sea of Galilee.
It was a Galilean reed.
That was the image he put on his coins to remind people of his presence in his reign — that’s what they would think of when they would see a reed; just like when we see an elephant we think of the Republican Party.
In Luke 7:24, Jesus talks about how John the Baptist’s ministry has been going.
After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind?
Interesting picture for a politician isn’t it? — “A reed swayed by the wind,” with no real convictions.
If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes?
John the baptist was not going to be on the cover of GQ.
No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces.
What was he saying?
He’s saying, “You didn’t go out to see Herod. You want a better kingdom than the kind of kingdom the Herods of this world build. You want a better king.”
This is amazing boldness.
And as people see this, as they see Jesus’ courage, other people start to get courage as well.
I want to show you something else that I never really noticed before.
Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.
He talks about some people who were with him — some women in particular at the bottom of verse three.
These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
This is quite a shocking passage that says Jesus was traveling not just with men but with women, traveling together in community.
Not only that, but Jesus and the men were being supported financially by the women.
Apparently it didn’t trouble their egos at all. This is remarkable stuff.
What I want especially for you to notice is in verse 2.
The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others.
Her husband works for Herod, and she’s following Jesus.
Can you imagine the courage it took for her, this woman whose husband worked for Herod Antipas, to become a publicly identified follower of Jesus?
And not just a follower, but her husband, as manager of Herod’s household, would have a large salary. He would be a man of great wealth — very significant resources.
She takes the money that he’s making from Herod, and who does she give it to?
Which means Herod is funding Jesus.
When the disciples look at their key donor list, Herod is like in the Eagles Club.
How subversive is the kingdom of God?
No wonder Dallas Willard calls it “The Divine Conspiracy,” because it’s at work all over. No one is ever safe from it.
No one who is part of it ever has a reason to be discouraged or lose hope, because God is never struggling over resources.
Do you need some money to fund your mission, Son? Just channel it in from Herod.
Alright, over to Luke 9:7.
Jesus continues to manifest and preach the kingdom.
He sends his disciples out to preach the kingdom of God — the gospel.
You can now live in it. It’s breaking into this world.
That’s our gospel and he’s manifesting it in verse 7.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.
The general idea, most likely, is that Herod wanted to do to Jesus what he did to John.
Now look at verse 10.
When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida.
They had been in Galilee. They withdraw to Bethsaida. Bethsaida is on the other side of the sea of Galilee — in the territory that’s governed by Philip.
Philip, you remember, whose wife Herod Antipas stole, is probably not real fond of Herod Antipas these days.
Apparently what’s going on is Herod Antipas is after Jesus.
If you look in the New Testament, almost always when the writer says, “Jesus withdrew,” it talks about Bethsaida or this region in Philip’s territory.
The idea is not just that Jesus is going for a little R & R. The idea is that things have gotten too hot for Jesus in Galilee, and he goes to safe territory.
It may well be that when Jesus traveled from town to town as he did, it’s not just a leisurely itinerary.
It may well be that, at least in part, he constantly has to dodge Herod and Herod’s men until he is convinced that his followers understand enough about the kingdom that he can leave it in their hands.
Now look at Luke 13:31.
At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal. In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
Jesus here chooses his words very carefully — “Go tell that fox…”
In our day, if someone uses the word “fox,” what is the main adjective that you think of?
Sly or cunning.
In the first century people used it differently, and the rabbis did this as well.
They would often pair foxes and lions.
When a lion that was majestic — king of the jungle — made a kill, afterwards the foxes would try to sneak up after the lion had enough and make his way in as if the fox had been part of the kill too.
That’s why they contrasted foxes with lions.
The idea was — a fox was kind of a lion wannabe, kind of a fake, kind of a poser. That’s what a fox was.
This is actually a Rabbinic saying: “It’s better to be the tail of a lion than the head of a fox.”
Herod immediately would feel the sting.
Herod lived with that all the time — “Caesar is the lion. Caesar is the king. Herod is just the Caesar wannabe.”
More than that, Jesus is saying that Herod Antipas has the wrong kind of power and the wrong kind of kingdom. He isn’t really a king at all — “Go tell that fox…”
And if you can’t hear the defiance in Jesus’ voice by this time, you’re not listening.
This is not flannel graph Jesus.
This is Jesus from the heart of Oakland.
“Go tell that fox, that poser, that Caesar wannabe that if he thinks he can stop me with threats and intimidation, he’s lost his mind. I will manifest the kingdom. I will drive out demons. I will heal people. I’ll just keep going today and I’ll just keep going tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.”
Because the third day, that’s God’s day. That’s resurrection day.
I’m going to make this observation about Jesus, but it applies to you and me as well.
Opposition is not a sign of failure.
Opposition does not necessarily mean you did something wrong.
Jesus does not say, “Herod Antipas doesn’t like me. I must have done something wrong.”
He does not define mission achievement as crowds keep getting bigger and bigger and everyone is more and more pleased with him.
He is not worried about facing opposition at all.
“Go tell that fox I will manifest the kingdom. I will today, I will tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.”
Think about this — answer this question — Who or what plays the role of Herod Antipas in your life?
What’s threatening you?
What’s scaring you?
What’s intimidating you?
What’s keeping you from abandon in your life for the sake of helping the kingdom of God to be brought from heaven to invade your little world?
If you’ve been a people pleaser your whole life and you start boldly speaking the truth in love, some people will not like it.
Speak the truth in love anyway.
If you get serious about really giving your resources, if you get serious about what Jesus says about the stuff we have, there’s going to be people who say, “You’re crazy.”
There’s going to be people who don’t like it because it makes them feel guilty.
Don’t let that stop you.
I had a student tell me this summer:
“My challenge this year is to be unafraid of telling my peers at school about my faith.”
For him Herod Antipas is the peer structure at school that says, “Keep quiet about Jesus. You don’t want people to think you’re weird.”
Anyone, anything, any force that tries to dethrone Jesus in your life to get you to give up on the kingdom is a fake and fraud and a wannabe.
“Go tell that fox I will manifest the kingdom in my life. I will today and I will tomorrow, and on the third day, on God’s day I will reach my goal.”
Look at verse 34:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
Jesus chooses a fox to characterize Herod. That’s not real surprising.
What’s surprising is the animal he picks to represent himself.
This man of such magnificent defiance, such breathtaking courage uses a hen.
It’s an interesting thing.
I’ve been thinking all week about the position of the fox and the hen.
When a fox breaks into the hen house, the mother hen doesn’t have many weapons to fight back with — no claws to scratch him, no teeth to gore him.
What can she do to protect her children?
All she can do is gather her children around her and use her own body as a shield.
All she can do to save her children is die for them.
Do you get it?
Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen in Jerusalem. He knew it all along. He didn’t have to have supernatural insight to know it.
What he knew was apparent to any moderately astute observer.
In Acts 5:36, Gamaliel says to the Sanhedrin, “There’s a history on this:”
Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.
Rome was very consistent in the way they handled people who talked about other kingdoms.
This is known to any mildly astute observer.
You understand the moment Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is here through me,” the moment he said that he was a dead man.
Rome was very consistent.
Rome would hear.
Rome and those who collaborated with Rome would act.
If he stayed this course, if he stayed on this message of the kingdom, it was only a matter of time.
It happened to John.
It would happen to Jesus.
It was utterly predictable.
Jesus knew that when he said those words he was pronouncing his death sentence.
I wonder when he first said them if he paused for awhile.
I wonder if it was tempting for him to just try to be a good moral teacher and tell people to love God more.
But he said those words, and he kept proclaiming them, and he kept manifesting them.
In his whole ministry he befriended sinners and healed lepers and loved and blessed children and spoke of himself as a person of immense joy.
He told his friends:
“I’m telling you all the things that I’m teaching you so that my joy can be in you and your joy can be complete like mine is.”
What amazes me about this person of great joy — is this was the ministry of a man who knew with utter certainty he was going to be put to death because of what he said.
He kept saying it, and he kept saying it until they hung him on a cross; as he knew they would.
Doesn’t it make you proud to be one of his followers?
He knew one other thing.
Where does a hen beat a fox?
A hen only beats a fox in the kingdom of God.
When does a hen beat a fox?
A hen only beats a fox on the third day.
That kingdom — that’s our kingdom.
And that day — that’s our day.
So go bring the kingdom of God to wherever you go this week.
Blue Oaks Church