Mark 6:14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him." 15 Others said, "He is Elijah."
And still others claimed, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago."
16 But when Herod heard this, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!"
Thoughts: Herod Antipas (the Herod mentioned here- son of Herod the Great) had married his niece and his brother's widow, Herodias. He divorced his wife, the daughter of King Aretus of Nabatea, to do so. John the Baptist rebuked him for this, and in the end this relationship with Herodias was his undoing. Not only did he imprison and kill John the Baptist for this- and he obviously- according to this passage- felt guilt about that; but eventually King Aretus fought a war with Herod Antipas- and won. The Roman Emperor, Tiberias, was going to invade Aretus's land to stick up for Herod but died before he could do so. The new emperor had no wish to do so. Herod was furious, lost favor with the emperor, and was exiled to Gaul (France).
Herod was a pagan who gave lip service to the Jewish religion. He wanted to secularize the country, and did not apply God's law to his own way. When John the Baptist rebuked him for his sin- instead of recognizing the rebuke, he imprisoned him. Contrast this with King David, who, when Nathan rebuked him for a similar sin, came to God in repentance, keeping Nathan as his life-long advisor. David was willing to submit to God. Herod was not willing to submit to anyone- and lived in disfavor with his people, his overseers and his God.
So how do you handle it when you are caught in some sin? How do you handle rebuke? Herod did not know it, but it was a blessing for John the Baptist to rebuke him. If he had repented, he would perhaps be remembered differently, and may not have played a role in the death of the messiah. The scriptures say, "Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you" (Pr. 9:8). I do not see our leaders today listening to rebuke or submitting to advice. Instead, I see too many grabbing for power as Herod did. Perhaps they too will be haunted by their own misgivings.
Prayer: God bless our country with leaders who will listen- and listen especially to you. God bless me with an ability to listen as well.
John Calvin abridged: Others had suggested to Herod that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead; some said he was powerful like Elijah; others that he was a great prophet or a great man that should be approached in excellence. It is astonishing that the true interpretation of Jesus' identity was not brought out by anyone. They knew God had promised a Redeemer, and that they were in desperate need for redemption. As for Herod, it is important to note that even though the wicked try to harden their hearts to God- and to escape agitation, God comes to them with such blind terrors and gives them no rest.