At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.Matthew 14:1-2
And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.Mark 6:14-16
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.Luke 9:7-9
The disciples of Jesus had been sent out to preach in Judea only but the word of Jesus and His reputation quickly reached King Herod’s ears, and it caused him no little anxiety!
We don’t know a lot about Herod the Tetrarch’s religious beliefs but we do know he practiced Judaism possibly mixed with some other beliefs of the Gentiles. One of those beliefs was that people did raise from the dead and could perform magic. Perhaps that is what piqued Herod’s interest? It is certainly possible.
Further, it is possible that He was a follower of the Sadducees (Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15), and therefore did not believe in the resurrection. If that is the case, his system of religion is being destroyed.
All of the possibilities presented to Herod involved someone raising from the dead. Herod found no comfort in this at all.We can see why Herod might be so scared!
Herod’s advisors told him that Jesus was Elijah or another prophet that was raised from the dead. This was promised by God through Malachi:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:Malachi 4:5
This scripture also predicted the coming of the Messiah which Herod’s superstitious beliefs blinded him of.
The phrase “old prophet” refers to anyone who preceded Elijah. Again, being resurrected from the dead. The Book of Acts refers to this prophecy in Deuteronomy at least two times.
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;Deuteronomy 18:15
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.Acts 3:22
This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.Acts 7:37
All of these factors come together to produce this fear in Herod.
The problem with a mixture of belief systems and all this unbelief in God’s word is this – they missed the fact of who Jesus really was. He was the prophet promised by Moses. Jesus was the Messiah and their superstitions blinded their eyes. Ecumenical mixing of the word of God with other religions or philosophies does not produce the “well-rounded” view of the world that it promises. This mixture actually causes blindness to truth, confusion, and ultimately – fear.
The resurrection of the dead is the cornerstone of the gospel of Jesus Christ (1st Corinthians, Chapter 15). The gospel is a message of comfort and hope. If we deny the resurrection, then we can find no comfort in the gospel. Without that comfort, all that is left is anxiety, confusion, and fear.