Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.

Luke 9:7‭-‬9 RSV

Herod’s guilty soul trembled at the messages reaching him with regard to the mighty teachings and deeds of Jesus, indicating the tremendous impact of Jesus’ ministry upon the total population.

The popular answers of the people, with regard to Jesus’ true identity, here formed a topic of conversation in the court of Herod, as well as being a matter of discussion in the sacred company of the Lord and his apostles.

So great were the deeds of Jesus that the popular mind was required to seek a comparison only in the lives of the righteous dead, among the great names of Hebrew history.

The multitudes were no longer suggesting that Jesus was the Christ, due to the vicious and unrelenting campaign of the religious hierarchy against the Lord. At the very beginning of his ministry, John the Baptist had announced Jesus as “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world,” and, at first, Jesus was widely hailed as the Messiah, as fully detailed in the early chapters of John.

Having determined that Jesus was not the type of Messiah they wanted, the priestly leaders of the people exhausted their resources of cunning and deceit in an all-out campaign to convince the people that Jesus was not the Christ.

Here is a Summary of Their Charges:

  • They said Jesus was a glutton (Matthew 11:18,19).
  • They said he was a winebibber (Matthew 11:18,19).
  • They said he cast out demons by the prince of demons (Matthew 9:34).
  • They called him Beelzebul (Matthew 10:25).
  • They called him a sinner (John 9:24).
  • They said he had a demon (John 7:20).
  • They said he violated the sabbath (Matthew 12:2).
  • They said he was a Samaritan (John 8:48).
  • They referred to him as a deceiver (Matthew 27:63).
  • They accused him of friendship with publicans and sinners (Luke 15:2).
  • They said that no prophet could come out of Galilee (John 7:52).
  • They accused him of leading the multitude astray (John 7:12).
  • They said that since Elijah had not risen from the dead, it was impossible for Jesus to be the Christ (Mark 9:11).
  • They said he had an unclean spirit (Mark 3:30).
  • They said, “He is beside himself’ (Mark 3:21).
  • They said he transgressed the tradition of the elders (Matthew 15:2).
  • They said, “This man is not from God” (John 9:16).
  • They said he forbade to give tribute to Caesar (Luke 23:2).
  • They said that he made himself a king (Luke 23:2).
  • They said he was an evildoer (John 18:30).
  • They said that Jesus claimed he would destroy the temple of God and build it in three days (Matthew 26:61).

These evil slanders were a composite of lies, insinuations, misquotations, false interpretations of Scripture, racial slurs, outright falsehoods, garbled half-truths, and arrogant snobbery.

Has much changed since the days Our LORD walked the Earth? Satan and his evil forces are still in active rebellion against GOD and His children.

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12 RSV

THIS SATANIC CAMPAIGN AGAINST JESUS was launched from the most impressive social platform in antiquity.

The men who indulged in this malignant crusade against the Lord of Life were the exalted rulers of the people, led by the high priest of the chosen people.

They were the learned, the wealthy, the well-favored, the intellectual aristocracy, the accepted interpreters of sacred law. Moreover, their crusade was pressed forward with all the cunning, deceit, and vituperation that could be mustered.

The marvel of ages is that in the face of such a hellish blast of opposition the people still clung to the conviction that Jesus was someone sacred, no living person being worthy of comparison with him, and that he must be Elijah, Jeremiah, or John the Baptist risen from the dead!

Nor can it be any wonder that, in view of such vicious slanders, the conviction that Jesus was the Christ had been somewhat eroded in the popular mind.

The evil campaign of the leaders of Israel had, in that degree, succeeded for the moment.

Therefore, these judgments of the people, as to who Christ was, cannot be made the basis for denying the popular acclaim of Jesus as the Christ at the beginning of his ministry, as reported in John.

The erosion and blurring of the truth that Christ was the Messiah had reached such proportions that Christ, as we have just seen, even warned the apostles to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Even in the remaining popular opinions of Jesus, however, the splendor and glory of his wonderful life were reflected in the fact that popular fancy had recourse to the annals of the righteous dead to find one worthy of comparison with Jesus.

Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah, along with the other prophets, constituted the roll of Jewish immortals, the mighty heroes of the people. Thus, the opinions of the people were unanimous in according high status to Jesus.

They failed only in this: they did not accord him the HIGHEST status.

Satan’s devices at that point had triumphed for a while. Satan was perfectly willing for Christ to be “some great one,” as long as he remained unrecognized as the Greatest One.

Origen’s commentary on Matthew has an elaboration of the false opinions concerning Jesus, showing that if the people had attended what Jesus had publicly said, their errors would have been avoided.

For example, those who held that Christ was Elijah should have known that Christ had identified John the Baptist as “that Elijah” who was to come.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?”

And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona!

For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but MY FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN.

Matthew 16:13‭-‬17 RSV

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