Some say there's probably not a lot we can learn about what it means to be a person after God's heart from someone like Herod, best known as being the rotten, wicked overseer of the region in the Gospels. You remember the guy - he married a close relative forbidden by Jewish law, then cut off the head of John the Baptist as a favor to his step-daughter.
I've written before about the weird relationship that Herod had with John the Baptist. Specifically, we are told that John always disturbed Herod when they spoke, but Herod liked to hear from him anyway. I think we all need a few pastors like that in our lives, those who speak such bold and unsettling truth that it's disturbing, but the conversation does something for us that we can't deny.
But what about Herod and Jesus? It doesn't, on the surface, look like there's a lot to probe there for meaningful lessons. There is, however, one little bit that ought to catch our attention. It's in Luke 9.
Herod the ruler heard about everything that was happening. He didn't know what to make of it. ..."Who is this person I'm hearing so much about?" So Herod wanted to see Jesus.
That's it. That's all we've got. What's noticeably missing from this narrative, though, and what we can't miss is that at no point anywhere near this internal dialogue that Herod has with himself does he actually go anywhere to see Jesus.
It's not like Jesus is hiding. It's not like He's a long way away. He's right there in the same kingdom, right in the same crosspaths as Herod and his royal men. It wouldn't take much for Herod to actually see Jesus if, indeed, that's what he really wanted to do. But never do we see him actually do it.
In a culture where there's a church on every street corner, in every school auditorium and coffeeshop and movie theater, it's hard for us to understand how or why there are some persons who still don't know what we know about Jesus. It's not like they haven't heard about Him. Even Herod says he's heard about Him. So why don't they know what we know?
Simply put, they haven't gone to see Him.
Before we get all pumped up about those lazy sinners outside the church who won't even bother to come into one, let's get real about what we're offering them. Are we offering them a place to come and see Jesus? If someone were to walk into our church right now, what would they find?
A large part of the reason that the world has not gone to see Jesus is because we, the church, are not giving them a place to go. We're giving them a place to come for community, maybe. For coffee, perhaps. We're giving them something to do on Sunday mornings besides sit home alone. Maybe we offer some good music, something they can really get into. Or maybe we have a good drama ministry or video service.
But do we have Jesus?
Honestly, most church-going Christians don't even expect to find Jesus there any more. How could we ever think that that's where the world is going to look?
There are more persons than we know standing at their windows, watching the streets for any sign of Him. They're hearing the rumors. They're hearing the whispers. Heck, they're even hearing our bold proclamations. But they haven't gone anywhere to find Him. And it's because they don't know really where to go.
So they're watching the streets like so many faithful have done before. They're ready to cry out if they'd just see Him pass by, see some sign of Him. The question we have to ask ourselves as the church is this: are we passing them by?
Because they're passing us up.