Luke 9:7-9 – Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.
Herod was a kind and benevolent ruler, who set a high standard of moral righteousness and inspired his people with good character, human excellence and purity – NOT! This man had divorced his wife to marry his own niece, Herodias, who was already his brother’s wife. Apparently this was a typical display of his lack of a moral compass. Luke chapter 3 records that John the Baptist had rebuked him for this and other evil doings, and Herod responded to his rebuke by locking him up in prison. Not too long afterwards he had John beheaded, following through with a promise he made to Herodias’s daughter that she could have anything she requested. Later on (Luke 13) Jesus would negatively refer to him as a “fox,” which of course has no moral compunction, behaves slyly and solely out of its own instincts and interests. This is the nature and character of this tetrarch Herod!
Now, with John’s life and service ended, Jesus and His entourage have arrived fully on the scene. Their ministry of the Kingdom of God has begun to spread like wildfire throughout the region. Herod is perplexed by this because some were saying that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead, others declared that it was the fulfillment of the prophecies that predicted the return of Elijah, and others were persuaded that one of the other ancient prophets had come back to life. This all had to leave Herod’s head spinning! What is going on? This was someone he needed to check out in person! “And he tried to see Him.” You would think that someone with Herod’s means and authority would be able to accomplish such a goal as getting to see Jesus! But, like so many today, if you don’t desire to meet Him in the right way for the right reasons, you will never get to see who He really is! Your eyes will be blinded to the truth of His identity and the reality of His nature! Herod had no interest in a message of repentance, change of character, and submission to the will of God! So, no matter how hard he may have tried to see Jesus, it just wasn’t going to happen!
However, at the end of Jesus own tour, after He was arrested, Herod finally got to see Him. When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate (Luke 23:8-11). Herod had not changed his wicked adulterous heart! He wanted to see Jesus – but not like those who truly desired His transforming power and grace! He wanted to see Jesus – but when he finally saw Him, He made a mockery of Him! He ridiculed the very One who had made him and had the power to save him from his sins! Yup, he really TRIED to see Jesus!