Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
9 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5 If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, 8 others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. 9 But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.
Observations & Reflections
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, 8 others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life.
Herod is a popular name in the New Testament, especially the gospels. However, Luke just says Herod the tetrarch which does not indicate to the modern day reader which Herod this is. I am sure that the early church knew which Herod but we are now 2000 years disconnected. The Herod that Luke is referring to is Herod Antipas, which was the son of Herod the great and one of his wives named Malthace.
When comparing Luke’s version of this story with Mark and Matthew, is it striking how drastically longer Matthew’s version is. Both Mark and Luke are relatively short versions. However, Matthew’s version is roughly 5 times longer and includes all kinds of extra instructions by Jesus, as well as a longer disciple selection process. It would seem as though Matthew had an alternative source for this story and was more than willing to fill in some gaps that were missing from the other gospels.
Reading through Luke, one may wonder about the rumors being dispersed about John and Elijah. It is Jewish tradition that Elijah would return before the messiah. That tradition was born out of a verse in Malachi.
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” (Malachi 4:5-6)
This is why so much is done in the gospels to connect John the Baptist with Elijah. John is described as having the spirit of Elijah in Luke 1:17.
And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared. (Luke 1:17)
Thus, any talk about the Messiah was usually connected with Elijah. Some at the time even though that possibly Jesus was the return of Elijah and was preparing the way for the ruler who would come and crush Rome. Obviously, this would be a problem for Herod and is likely the reason why he went looking to find out who this person really was.