Herod was known to love women, wine, and food in great quantities. He stuffed himself with pleasures, always asking for additional helpings.
Having looked at the ways Herod benefitted from his deal with Rome—identity, progress, and fortune—it’s hard not to wonder if the man wasn’t full of himself.
He was full of something.
From the outside, it appears Herod’s psyche was as gluttonous as his appetite. Full of Rome, perhaps? Dreams? Promises?
Futurist Len Sweet tells a funny story about a church in Scotland that once asked people to blow up rubber balloons. They weren’t supposed to tie the balloons, just let them zing around the room. The illustration was meant to remind us that—as God fills us with his Spirit—we’re going to soar.
However. The pastors of this particular church were worried about wasting money, so they reused the balloons for three consecutive services. Which means that some people found saliva in their balloons. From other mouths.
When Len asked the pastor about it, the man shrugged it off claiming ‘in one way or another, we’re all sucking on our own balloon juice.’
If there ever was a balloon-sucker, it was Herod. He was drunk on power, drunk on dynasty, and still drinking from a well-used Roman balloon. He got lots of everything, which is probably why he died the way he did: diabetic, syphilitic, and paranoid about losing it all.
I suppose you could say that Christ is the perfect counterpart to any of us, given our sinful nature, but it seems especially true with Herod.
Whereas Herod filled himself on every pleasure, Christ emptied himself of his divine privilege. Whereas Herod gorged on Roman reward, Christ gave up the rights and properties of his godhood and lived among us as one of us. Whereas Herod clung on to his own life at the expense of others around him, Christ died early having given himself as a ransom for many.
Thing is, Herod didn’t start out wholly evil.
He just got addicted to balloon-juice.
Dr. David McDonald is the teaching pastor at Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, MI. The church, widely considered among the most innovative in America, has been featured on CNN.com and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Time Magazine. David weaves deep theological truths with sharp social analysis and peculiar observations on pop culture. He lives in Jackson with his wife, Carmel, and their two kids. Follow him on twitter (@fossores) or online at fossores.com