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Private Confession: By Appointment

Herod Why This Senseless Fear?

July 10, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
July 11, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 7
Herod Why This Senseless Fear?

“King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known.” (Mark 6:14)

As the church is a reflection of heaven’s holiness – even so earthly kingdoms are a reflection of the “domain of darkness.” (Col. 1:13) We learn this from today’s gospel.

In Psalm 2 David asks: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? [Why do] the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Christ?”

Why indeed!

Because everyone who held authority, and became drunk on power recognized in Jesus the One to whom “all authority in heaven and earth” is given. (Mt. 28:18) Jesus was a threat to them, and still is today, to earth’s vain-plotting people and to their kings. We see this in Herod’s empty faith. He can gather powerful men about him at will, and cancel John the Baptizer with a command. But Jesus can do more, much more.

He can split the Red Sea in half so that his people can walk through the holy waters of baptism safely, while the fearsome Egyptian Army – which is our Old Adam – drowns in the same water.

He can likewise divide the waters of the muddy Jordan River, build an altar in it’s midst to God’s glory and then let his people walk through it into the promised land, with feet washed by the New Joshua himself. Walk that is into the good Land of the church which is marked by the boundless supply of Milk which is the Word, and Honey which is the Blessed Sacrament.

Kings do not like that! Not then, not now.

If we zoom out a bit this is the reason the Christian faith and as runner-up, the Jewish faith, have targets painted on their backs. Because Very God invaded rebellious earth for salvation through Israel; and now resides on the altar of the holy Christian church.

If we zoom out farther, the reason America has been the enemy of the world for the last century is because she is the last Christian nation … even if on life-support! No where else can the true faith be practiced without government interference. But let us not get comfortable because while the light is not yet red; is far from green, but flashing an urgent yellow.

Zooming in once again it is why pews are mostly empty. Because the Goodness and Purity of the Gospel has reached the ears of King Herod – but to get there it first passed through the ears of the people who: vainly plot against the Lord and against his Christ.

Any of this present world’s soon-to-be-buried population (aged 60 and above) remembers a better time. When churches were full and the aroma of Christ (Eph. 5:2) was in the air. But now only the “stench of death.” (2 Cor. 2:16)

But if King Herod believed that a resurrected John the Baptizer could do such things wait until he sees what Jesus will do when, on the Last Day, he opens all the graves, calls forth the dead, and consigns the devil to the Lake of Fire.

This Foremost Heinous Criminal ever to walk to and fro upon the earth (Job 2:2) knows what his future is; and he knows that his time is short (Rev. 12:12). But Herod is only the devil’s “useful idiot” and so he will see “greater things than these.” (Jn. 1:50 & Is. 43:19)

Now zooming out once again, as we hear the Holy Gospel According to St. Mark, we find that this inspired evangelist takes no prisoners. He broadcasts the incarnate God in all his glory doing what God does; which is to undo the devil’s wicked works and wicked ways. (1 John 3:8)

He goes under the chaotic water for baptism, and emerges victorious over all the madness, bedlam and pandemonium of fallen earth.

Having thus cleansed the Jordan by his flesh, this altar of God immediately faces off against the devil in the wilderness after fasting for 40 days. Now the New Adam succeeds where the Old Adam failed. He is victorious over the Ancient Serpent and crushes his fiendish head.

And if we read that brief cryptic note in Mark1:13, “And he was with the wild animals” we find that our God changes even the deadly wilderness into paradise by his Holy Presence. Thereafter we have Jesus forcing demons out of people – “tormenting them before their time” as the demons claimed. But … liberating humanity with sweet freedom.

Oh may we all be so-delivered from our demons that we might shout aloud with St. Paul, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

He also showed his dazzling power by fixing every malady with a word from his mouth, a touch of his hand: and as we heard in last week’s gospel, even the very clothes that he wore became virtuous! So that by touching the fringe of his garment the woman was restored to pristine health after 12 years of debilitating disease.

Restored because she understood what we often do not. That not only is Jesus Holy but so are things he touches: this Holy House, this altar, the fire that lights up his worship, and the incense on which our prayers are carried to heaven – and so let us never complain about that.

But even this eye-popping feat paled in the face of the little girl he raised from the dead. He woke her up by a mighty command, “Little girl I say to you arise! And they were all left speechless as she got up, walked about, and sat down at Table to eat in obedience to the Lord’s Word. That day she received the sweetest communion of all!

Now as word reaches the king he prepares to go to war against Jesus. He had snuffed out the life of earth’s “second greatest man;” and now he had “The Greatest” in his cross-hairs. But all in vain. Because while Herod died and remains Dead. Jesus died but was made alive again!

In Christ God recapitulates, resets and renews all things in heaven and earth. (Eph. 1:10) But he does more!

He opens the eyes of our hearts so that we may know with infinite certainty: the hope to which he has called us. So that we might comprehend: the riches of his glorious inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. For it is the same “great might” by which he raised (the) Man Christ Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places … and put all things under his feet “for us men and for our salvation.” (Ephesians 1:18 ff)

He is the “Plumb Line” Amos the Seer Saw centuries in advance, that was placed in the midst of earth’s warped walls, to “make straight what once was crooked.”

Trust no other. Hope in no other for: He is:

“The glory that dwells among us”.

He is Steadfast Love.

He is the “Righteousness that comes down from the sky;”

He is the “Faithfulness that springs up from the ground.”

He is the LORD who graciously gives all men “what is good.” (Psalm 85)

Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
   How unsearchable are his judgments,
   and how inscrutable is ways!
For from him and through him and to him
are all things.
   To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.