Thursday, September 26, 2013

Consider Your Ways!

Consider your ways!  You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; And whoever earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it.  Haggai 1:5-6

But Herod said, “John I beheaded.  Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”  And he kept trying to see him.  Luke 9:9

When I'm drivin' in my car
And that man comes on the radio
He's tellin' me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
I can't get no, oh no, no, no
Hey hey hey, that's what I say

I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no.  
(Satisfaction” by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)


Herod had a lot in common with the singers/songwriters of Satisfaction.  He couldn’t got none either.  Through the ages, the more we accomplish, the less we feel fulfilled. 

Consider Herod’s ways.  He looked to John the Baptizer for affirmation.  But John would not give it. John criticized Herod for taking his brother’s wife.  Even though initially, Herod only imprisoned John, he was publicly forced by peer pressure and expectations, to execute John at the wishes of his wife.  Because Herod was pursuing his own agenda, he could not – even with the threat of prison and capital punishment, get the Holy Man to bless his evil ways.  And, Herod did not learn this lesson the first time.   He repeated this pattern of behavior when Jesus was finally brought before him on trial.

Today’s Gospel episode occurs right before Luke recounts the miracle of the loaves and fishes.  The contrast in this next scene is compelling.  The King could not get any satisfaction despite being the most powerful man in the region.  However, the peasants who followed an itinerant preacher from Nazareth (what good could come from there, indeed!), would eat from the loaves and fish that he blessed.  (They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.  Luke 9:16-17)

The other contrast in this scene with Herod is with Jesus’ inquiry of Peter.  Jesus asks Peter about His identity.  Peter runs through the same useless, gossipy information that the public (and Herod) have been hearing. 

The phrase at Luke 9:19 (They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’) are eerily similar to the pondering of Herod at Luke 9:7-8 (Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead,” others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”)

Consider Peter's ways. The difference between Peter and Herod is that after all the disciples have witnessed, Peter has a knowledge imbued by faith and strengthened by his daily encounters and close moments with Jesus. Peter knows the true identity of this itinerant preacher that Herod will never know nor understand. After all, the Lord honors the poor (not the powerful) with victory (Psalm 149:4).

Consider your ways.  The conditions of discipleship are not to imitate the rich, powerful and famous.  Their lifestyle, like that of the people of Judah, will not yield true satisfaction because the neglect the mission.

The conditions of discipleship are to deny one’s own desire, pick up your cross daily and build the house of the Lord. Sometimes, as in the story today from the Hebrew Bible, the Lord may ask us to do that literally.  Other times, we build the kingdom one person at a time, depending upon whom the Lord sends into our life each day.

Herod got no satisfaction from his ways because he was tearing down the Kingdom in order to mollify his own desires for power and wealth.

What will you build up today? 

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