Acts 12:20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him in a body; and after winning over Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for a reconciliation, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat on the platform, and delivered a public address to them. 22 The people kept shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!” 23 And immediately, because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
After reconciling with the people of Tyre and Sidon, Herod prepared to speak to the people. We are told that his royal robes were made of silver thread and that he glistened in the sun. He stood before the people and spewed forth beautiful rhetoric. Between the clothing and his words the people were quite impressed. So much so, that they cried out that he must have been a god. It is in this moment that we begin to see the irony in Luke’s writing. This man, Herod, who had been living among the Jews knew the Hebrews’ respect for God. He was, but a mortal, but the shouts of the people that he was a god implied immortality. By not denouncing their words he faced his own mortality.
The irony is that Christ was immortal, and yet the crowds did not shout about his immortality, but rather cried out for his death. The words of the crowd were just as meaningless when applied to Herod as they were to Christ. Odem tells us that Herod’s death “serves the people as a divine correction of their hyperbolic flattery.” (Ancient Christian Commentary)
The historian Josephus confirms Luke’s account, that Herod was struck ill while speaking. Evidently he was taken to the palace where the worms in his intestines ate him from the inside out over a period of several days, providing an excruciating death.
But his death didn’t bring life. He was just a man.
Life has it’s ironies and often they are circumstances in which we are to learn a lesson. Herod learned that he could not take the place of God. Only Jesus, who really was the son of God, could rightfully be called God! Jesus suffered under Herod but ultimately Jesus was victorious. Herod thought he was powerful, but he died at the hand of God.
Circumstances may seem unbearable at the hands of others, but some day you may be ministering the very ones who caused your suffering. This is the irony of the Christian walk. The suffering servant becomes the king. The powerless become the powerful.
How is this possible? Through the authentic life of faith; a life which may not always make others comfortable, and may even result in one of those experiences of irony. But even if that is the case, wouldn’t we want to come out reflecting Jesus, rather than Herod? Let’s humble ourselves before our Lord and join in fellowship with our holy God and follow Jesus through the ironies of life.
Lord, thank you for life’s lessons. Amen.
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