How to Avoid Being Herod

And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. — Mark 6:25–26 ESV

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “I’ve never been even slightly worried about being Herod.” You probably think this post is like one of those infomercials promising to fix problems you never knew you had. Well, except for the $19.99 price tag, maybe it is. But I’m asserting that it’s easier than you think to be Herod. In fact, if you don’t pay attention, like Herod, you might find yourself starring down at a head on a platter in your own life (metaphorically speaking) wondering to yourself, “How could this possibly have happened?”

Wouldn’t we all like to avoid that? Well… here’s how. Continue reading

Imago Dei

Augustus. 27 BC-AD 14. AR Denarius (19mm, 3.7 g). Lugdunum mint. Struck 15 BC

And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him. — Mark 12:13–17 ESV

Here in Mark we see Jesus facing another unannounced pop-quiz. This was the kind of thing that Jesus might as well get used to. This particular question was a concoction of some Pharisees and Herodians, strange bedfellows to be sure. But if the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then I suppose stranger things have happened. Continue reading

Ethnic Humility

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
     because he has anointed me
     to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
     and recovering of sight to the blind,
     to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” — Luke 4:16–21 ESV

Jesus returns to his home town. He’s been gone for a while having relocated to Cana. Relocated is an exaggeration since in reality Jesus had been wandering around Galilee for months. This was after causing a scene in Jerusalem by chasing out temple vendors with a homemade whip. He had even found time to take his disciples through Samaria where the first town he preached in wasn’t even Jewish, at least by Jerusalem standards. Continue reading