2019-11-07 - Visions of Sugar Plums
The Cross Series, Part 32
Originally Published 1998-03-26
Luke 23:6-12 But when Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time. 8 Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. 9 And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. 11 And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been at enmity with each other.
Pilate had quickly shelled Jesus off to Herod - anyone for that matter. The rumor mill regarding Jesus was as hot as a poker left in the fire. He was very popular with the people, and not popular at all with the Jewish Council. There was no big secret about this fact. If a tenth of the stories about this Jesus had any truth, He would be an amazing person indeed. Pilate saw an opportunity to avoid a potential riot of the people and he took it.
Herod had heard the stories too. He had heard tales of miracles that the mind could barely grasp. Wild tales of mass healings, of men and children being raised from the dead! Herod was hopeful and excited at the thought that Jesus would grace his doorway. Jesus would not do signs and wonders for Herod, nor answer any of his questions. Herod was interested in the show, not the faith. The actions would have the glory, not God. Jesus would have none of it.
Matt 12:38-40 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." 39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Matt 16:1,4 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Him asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. … 4 "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah." And He left them, and went away.
Jesus was consistent in His treatment of those searching for the excitement in the experience of witnessing the miraculous. The grace and mercy of Jesus Christ is not a side show. It is the main event or it is nothing at all. There is a point where the message is lost in the clutter of the presentation. The focus, the glory is on the action. Peter and John simply presented the gospel on the first Pentecost morning and 3,000 men were converted out of a crowd that had originally accused them of being drunkards at 9am. Peter and John were the instruments used in the healing of the man at the Beautiful Gate. When the crowds gathered in waves, the apostles where quick to shift the focus from the miracle to the source, Jesus and the power of faith in Him. Five thousand men accepted Jesus as Messiah that day.
Herod had visions of sugar plums dancing in his head. His anticipation turned to mockery and abuse when his fantasies were not realized. Herod's reaction showed his true motivations. If he had shown the least bit of interest in what Jesus had to say, he would have surely heard the truth, just as Nicodemus heard as he stole through the streets of Jerusalem late one night (John 3).
In Acts chapter 8, Simon of Samaria misses the point as well.
Acts 8:17-24 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." 20 But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 "You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 "For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity." 24 But Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."
Simon sought the spotlight, the acceptance of the crowd, the power. His desire blinded him to the real power beyond price. He was humbled with reverent fear when he was confronted. This is the good news for anyone caught in the lure of the spotlight. Repentance, a simple change of heart, an act of will turning from the temptation is all that is required. When your heart is right before God, when your values are aligned with the Father's values things of far greater worth than silver and gold will be present in your life. Those things will be yours to pour out on others as well.
Dear Lord, show us that there are greater things that this world can offer that are Yours to give. If we will simply agree with you, we will be given - peace and joy that only You can offer. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.
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