MISTAKING JESUS FOR A PROPHET
”…King Herod heard of it; for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, ‘John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ’It is Elijah.’ And others said, ’It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ But when Herod heard of it he said, ’John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’ For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. For John said to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’” (Mk 6: 14-18)
When Herod hears of “Jesus’ name,” the guilt-plagued king thinks it is John, whom he beheaded “for the sake of Herodias,” a woman with whom he was in a “wrong” relationship. It’s an understandable mistake, because John, like Jesus, spoke truth to “wrong” kinds of power, including “wrong” relationships, in God’s Spirit. Herod recognized the voice of God both in John and in Jesus, but he couldn’t make the “right” distinction between the Prophet and the Lord of the Prophet, because his vision was focused on, and hence blinded by, his attachment to this “wrong” relationship. (Thus the Muslims also mistake Jesus for a mere “prophet,” following their “Prophet,” Muhammed, who had a larger number of “wives” than the number considered “right,” even according to Muslim standards).
But Jesus wasn’t just a prophet, no. He, as the Source of Life, could have liberated Herod from the death-bringing consequences of his “wrong” relationship, as John could not. Christ is not just “the voice crying out in the wilderness.” He is, rather, the Source of that voice, calling each of us, including John the Baptist, to our true vocation(s), and to the “right” relationships we are sent, and which we are to foster, that we might find true life in Him. “Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your commandments.”