Herod Antipas was one of many people who speculated about the true identity of Jesus and whether or not he was the Prophet Elijah who had returned. The Prophet Elijah was the subject matter of considerable speculation appearing in many texts of ancient Judaism including Malachi, Sirach and 4th Ezra to name a few.
Recorded history saves memorable impressions of prophetic religious leaders speaking to the centers of power against the king's excesses and religious practices that had gone awry. These events were worth recording. The Herod Antipas made a point of seeing Jesus much like Babylonian King made a point of seeing Jeremiah. There must be a fascination about men like Micah, Jeremiah and Jesus speaking to the centers of power that attract men to them like the Hezekiah, Sennacherib and Herod Antipas.
Jesus tells the Parable of the Strong Man. It is generally agreed by the commentators that the message of the parable is that “The absence of positive attachment to Christ involves hostility to Him.” None of the commentators have suggested that the background to this parable may be one of the Dead Sea Scroll documents.
In the Apocryphon of Elijah (4Q382), Elijah is said to be returning as the Man of Might to conquer the powers of the nations. The return of Elijah was a concept that the people, who went out into the desert, strongly attached to the missions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. Each was seen as a threat. Both were executed to eliminate the threat. The nature of the threat may have been based upon the perception that John the Baptist and Jesus were both perceived as Elijah returning as the Man of Might to conquer the powers of the nations.
With this background, one can better understand how Jesus could tell a parable depicting himself as the Man of Might and therefore the stronger man able to overcome the strong man.
The Parable of the Strong Man answered the question that Herod Antipas asked: “‘John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he sought to see him.” Luke also recorded: “When Herod [Antipas] saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him.”
Herod Antipas was perplexed. Lack of understanding is a theme resonating throughout the Gospel of Luke. Herod Antipas was also a strong man. He was the son of Herod the Great and became tetrarch of Galilee on the death of his father.
We can now offer an explanation of the enigmatic verse in Luke 23:12 which states: “And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.” Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate apparently agreed that it would be better for them if Jesus were crucified so that the threat to national security would be removed. Little did they realize that their decision made it possible for the stronger man to conquer death and proclaim the feast of victory for all. The final irony needs to be stated: The so-called strong man was eaten by worms.
This is a work in progress.
Gospel of Luke