Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
Matthew indulges in a flashback in his story about Jesus. First we hear Herod talking about Jesus being the resurrected John the Baptist, then Matthew backtracks for a minute to explain how that could be. Matthew understood that
1. Herod was not of the Sadducee sect because he did believe in resurrection and the Sadduccees did not (Acts 23:8).
2. Herod, even though an atheist, let his fear override his opinion as he declared John the Baptist in his risen state to be able to do mighty works showing forth in him meaning John the Baptist. Remember that John did no signs or miracles (John 10:41).
Herod’s fear was showing because he thought if John the Baptist was out of the way, he and Herodius could steep in their sins undisturbed. Herodius thought the same thing or she would never have gotten her daughter to ask for John’s head.
He also feared that since John was beheaded at his order then John in his resurrected state could be coming after him in fury. Since all these miracles were worked, what terror would John visit on the person who killed him? This shows a remarkable thing—how the conscience works. Herod knew what he was doing with his brother’s wife was evil and sinful. But he did it willfully anyway. When we are faced with our sins, and we kill the messenger, then our fear escalates to terror.
This leads to our realization that even though preachers, missionaries, friends, and family may be trying to pierce the wall of stubborn, willful disobedience only to be struck down while speaking the message, God’s truth never wavers or fades. I love what Paul says:
Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 2 Timothy 2:3-9
No matter what we believers suffer, we are to lean on God’s truth, never waver, be true to the truth. God will always work things out for those who love him and are called according to His purpose.
In fact, what happened after Jesus rose from the dead was a physical illustration of a spiritual truth spoken of in Job.
For there is hope for a tree, If it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant. Job 14:7-9
The kings and queens, Caesars and politicians, and the Jewish religious leaders tried to squash the Christ followers to no avail. The Way was so much like soft cheese between two crackers. No matter the level of persecution applied, all the pressure just made the Christians seep into all the niches, cracks and crannies. The crackers broke, but the cheese was still good doing what it was supposed to do, and tasting yummy to hungry throngs.
But Herod’s guilty conscience suggested everything that was terrible to face. It is much like the proverb “The wicked flee where none pursue,” Proverbs 28:1. I find it so funny that God allowed Herod to wallow in his ignorance. If Herod had just done a bit of digging, he would have found out that Jesus and John were cousins, and alive long before John was beheaded. God did not see fit to disabuse Herod of his fearful thinking.
The complete opposite of how God deals with His beloved children. Certainly we fear the unknown. Certainly, we cringe at those things that go bump in the night. But God, in His wonder and grace settles the souls of His loved ones. He stands in front of us, beating back the monsters, and cuddling us when we cry. He constantly told those He loved to “Do not fear!”
After Jesus and the disciples had fed the multitude (5,000 men and no telling how many women and children), He sent them all on their way, the disciples across the lake and the multitude to their homes. Between three and six o’clock in the morning, He walked on the water toward his disciples in their boat. They were struggling in the wind-tossed waves. They were precisely where Christ sent them. They had not deviated from their set path, but a terrible storm was tossing their boat about to the point of their concern. They had four excellent seamen at the helm because fishing was their livelihood. Storms were not some new danger to them, yet did cause some concern. Before Jesus was with them when the terrible storm rose up, although He was asleep (Matthew 8:24).
They looked up and there was Jesus. They were paralyzed by fear thinking he was a ghost.
This is exactly how God trains us. When we are babes in Christ, our trials are small and our needs are met immediately. Then as we mature, learn to lean heavily upon Him, and learn to trust Him explicitly, our trials become more difficult. Yet, always He says, “Do not be afraid, it is I. Cheer up! I am here with you.” The only thing more comforting than that is to have Him yank us up into His warm embrace to feel His strength as He carries us through our trials.
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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