Blog Archives

The Path of Least Resistance

“Finding out that he was under Herod’s authority, he sent him to Herod — who was himself in Jerusalem on that day.”

(Luke 23:7)

 

We have already alluded to this transition, but it should be noted that Luke, always interested in grounding his Gospel in historical events and names recognized by the Roman people, is the only Gospel writer to include the trial by Herod. This Herod, of course, was the Son of Herod the Great, not the same Herod found in Matthew’s birth account. After the death of Herod (around 4 BC), the Roman Caesar broke up the kingdom of Israel into four portions to better control these otherwise stubborn and rebellious people. This Herod, also known as Antipas, became the “Tetrarch” of Galilee and Perea (a region just east of the Jordan River). Antipas is a shortened form of the Greek, ÔAnti/patroß (Antipatros), meaning “like the father.” And while this Herod may not have been as paranoid as his father was, he certainly was as immoral and allied himself closely with Rome as that suited his political ambitions. Yet, because Jesus grew up in Nazareth in the region of Galilee, he was officially under Herod’s jurisdiction, and this provided Pilate a convenient excuse to shift the burden of Jesus’ sentence upon someone else. Conveniently, Herod was in Jerusalem as well — it was Passover, so anybody that was anybody was in town on that day.

The transfer would simply be a means by which Pilate bought time from having to deal with Jesus’ fate, but I wonder how often we fall into a similar pattern of passing the buck when there are things before us that we just don’t want to weigh in on. That is a practice that we never find Jesus engaging in, though, and that ought to cause us pause. Indeed, as Christians, we are called to act wisely and to pursue justice as well as taking the difficult path — the easy path will only ever lead to destruction — how different that worldview is than the dominant worldview today which advocates taking the road with the least resistance. Interesting…

From Hermon to Mizar

“My God, my soul dissolves over me,

thus I remember you from the land of the Jordan—

From Hermon to Mount Mizar.”

(Psalm 42:7 {verse 6 in English Translations})

 

The psalmist is looking to the north (Hermon) and to the east (Jordan) and realizing that while enemies surround him, particularly coming from these two directions, God will be with him and will redeem him from sure destruction. Note the language that the psalmist employs—his soul “melts or dissolves” over him. The concept of the soul in Hebrew encompasses the entirety of the person’s being, physical and spiritual.

What is interesting about the language that the psalmist uses here is that while Hermon here represents the desolation of the edge of the promised land, it is the likely location where Jesus would take his disciples and be transfigured before their eyes. As with so many other things in Jesus’ ministry, he took what was considered outcast and desolate and redeemed it to the glory of God His Father. And how he also does the same in our own lives. He takes the mess that we bring to him and not only heals us, but he makes that mess holy. It is like what takes place when the master pianist sets down beside the young student of piano. While the young student diligently plucks away at a few keys, the master fills in the sounds adding life and depth and color to what is heard and such becomes a masterpiece. The student participates but the life of the piece comes from the master. Such is true in our lives as well, often in the midst of our greatest weakness.

Loved ones, how quickly, when things go badly, we tend to fall into despair. Yet, the glory of the scriptures is to point out to us that in Christ Jesus there is no reason to despair or faint for your life. God is in control and Christ will redeem his own! That is good news, for if you are trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, that means that Christ will redeem you and that means he will never let you go and that as messy as your life is, he will make it into something that glorifies his name. What more could one desire than that? What greater hope is there, Christian, than to know that God has you in the palm of his hand and that powers and principalities of any magnitude can do nothing to pluck you out. Indeed, our God is good—remember his good works.