He Thought He Saw A Ghost
Daily Reading and Devotional from the Gospels
14 And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. 21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; 22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. 23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. 24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. 25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. 26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. 29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
Herod sure didn’t understand who Jesus was. He thought Jesus was John the Baptist coming back to haunt him. The story behind that is interesting for sure. You see, Herod had seduced his brother’s wife (who also happened to be his own niece by the way) and married her. I know, it is very creepy! John the Baptist had the courage to tell him that it wasn’t right. Surprisingly, Herod had a strange respect for John. The Bible says Herod gladly heard John’s preaching and even responded in many ways to the messages by “doing many things” (vs. 20). He didn’t respond in the right way by repenting or anything but he did do many other things. What do you suppose those other things were? Do you reckon he squirmed in his seat a lot or something more? Herod’s niece, I mean his sister-in-law, I mean his wife, she was different. She held a grudge. The story gets stranger when you learn that Herod’s step daughter danced for him and some friends at his big birthday bash. I have been known to read a little bit and all the commentaries say in essence that she probably was not square dancing. It was probably more of a sensual style dance if you get my drift. Boy howdy, these Herod’s seem like great guests for the Jerry Springer show don’t they? She must have put on quite a performance because great uncle Herod, I mean step daddy Herod promised her anything up to half of his kingdom for the dance. That is when her mom convinced her to claim the perfect prize, the head of that loud mouth preacher that spoke against her sin delivered on a silver platter. Herod had to keep his word and ordered the death of the preacher. Now Jesus is preaching and performing miracles and Herod’s first thought is, “he is John come back to haunt me”. The Bible tells us that John never did a miracle. Why would a man doing miracles remind you of John? Just a guilty conscience I think. Herod’s conscience caused him to see a ghost where there was none.
Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
A guilty conscience drains you of courage and robs you of rest. Doing the right thing may cost you, but it will at least give you confidence, courage and a comfortable pillow at night. The truth however is that we are all guilty of something and we need that guilt removed. Herod’s guilt kept him from seeing who Jesus actually was, the one that can take away your guilt. John had said who Jesus was, “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” Understanding who Jesus is and trusting him is the most important thing any of us will ever do.