Go on the web to http://commons.wikimedia.org.
Search “Herod Antipas.” You will find several pictures. Print one of them and bring it with you to show to the children.
Do you know who King Herod was? No? Well, to tell the truth, most people couldn’t tell you much about him. Here is a picture of what he might have looked like [show picture and take comments and questions].
There was more than one king named “Herod” and they are pretty much forgotten by most people. The Herod’s were very, very bad kings. The strange thing is that no matter how famous really bad people get, soon after they die, folks don’t seem to remember them.
The bad King Herod in the story today was called Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas was planning to kill Jesus as soon as Jesus got to Jerusalem. Some Pharisees who liked Jesus found out about it and came to Jesus to warn him to run away! Herod had already killed Jesus’ cousin––John the Baptizer. Everyone knew that Herod had killed lots of other people. He would not feel bad at all about killing Jesus.
Wow! This is scary stuff. If someone told me that a powerful person like Herod wanted to kill me, I’d probably run fast!
Jesus told the Pharisees that he was busy and planned to finish what he was doing. He was curing sick people, just as God wanted him to. He would go to Jerusalem when he was ready. Jesus doesn’t seem to be afraid of King Herod at all.
Then Jesus told the Pharisees to take a message from him to Herod. Jesus says, “Go tell that fox…” Jesus called the king a fox! If we call someone a fox or say that someone is “foxy” we mean that he is clever or smart. But in Jesus’ day, if you called someone a “fox” you meant that he was worthless––a nobody! Would you tell King Herod that he was a worthless nobody? I wouldn’t.
Why is Jesus making King Herod mad by calling him a fox? I think he is telling Herod that he is not afraid of Herod. Jesus is not going to run away from Herod or anyone else. He is going to finish the work God gave him to do. Then the king and the governor and the chief priest, and the scribes are going to stand against Jesus; and Jesus is going to stand against them. They think that if they kill Jesus, they will win. They will be powerful. They will be Number One! If they kill Jesus, then Jesus is finished. They think that death always wins.
But what Herod and the others do not know is that they are going against more than a man. They are going against the Son of God. And God is going to show everyone who really wins. God is going to show everyone something much stronger than killing; much stronger than death. God is going to show everyone that God’s love brings life. Death is going to lose. Life is going to win.
That’s what every follower of Jesus knows. Jesus was brave––he stood up to death and beat it when God made Jesus live again. That’s why Christians celebrate. That’s why we have Easter. God’s love is stronger than death. God brings us life! That’s the truth about Jesus; it’s going to be the truth about us; it is the truth about the whole world. Life wins. God is strong!
Scripture quotations from the World English Bible
Copyright 2012, Richard Niell Donovan