Herod killed Jesus’s cousin. The tetrarch chopped off John the Baptizer’s head because he wanted to save face in front of guests. It doesn’t get much more brutal than that.
Let’s take stock of how Jesus responded.
He did not:
- Call down fire on Herod’s head.
- Stage a “Down with Herod” rally.
- Boycott Herod’s palace.
- Bemoan the removal of religion from the government (after all, Herod kept John around because of his troubled conscience).
Instead, he did this:
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
In other words, He mourned and then got back to having compassion, healing people, and teaching the Good News. Jesus knew His Father will ultimately take care of injustices. But, more than that, He knew what mattered.
While Jesus did take time to condemn the God-deniers and religious frauds on occasion, His more immediate concerns were just that—immediate. As a bereaved cousin, He certainly had justification for going on the offensive. But He didn’t. Instead, His focus remained on something far more important than temporary pains, setbacks, annoyances, or persecution. The Good News, after all, is urgent news; there’s no time for commercial breaks, protests, and infomercials.
So, if someone says “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” or if atheists plaster billboards all over the place calling the nativity a myth, remember how Jesus responded. Go show some Christ-love—that’s one thing no one can deny.