Another irony about Jesus can be found in clues tucked away in Scripture. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the death of John the Baptist with the same event, and most include this statement:
Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.Mark 6:19-20 NASB
Notice that Herod was both afraid of John because Herod knew John was a righteous man (see also Matthew 14:5). John’s status kept him alive, whether from popularity or from real fear of his prophetic status.
Yet, when Jesus is sent to Herod by Pilate, it is a very different sort of treatment received. Herod desires to see Jesus, but has absolutely no respect for Him.
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. And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate.Luke 23:8-11 NASB
Herod had been trying to see Jesus before (see Luke 9:7-9), but not because he had respect, but out of curiosity. Herod didn’t think Jesus was John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded, yet respected. His interest was to see some trick or entertaining miracle.
The irony in the difference of treatment between the two is what surprises me. Why was John the Baptist considered more “scary” to this completely secular autocrat?
We think of Jesus to be the most influential Person from history. In His earthly ministry, though, it seems He was considered a nobody, an annoyance, an anomaly, and He was easily silenced. He had three years when the only people among whom He was popular were those in need of healing. Those in power knew little of Him at all.
If we are to follow the ministry of model of Jesus, then, why seek fame? Why seek notoriety? Why seek the attention of the popular, and “try and get our message out there”? Jesus didn’t. And yet, He truly is the most prominent influential person in human history.
I suppose that’s the lesson for me. What do you see through this knothole?