12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
Power, popularity, prosperity, and pleasure - the four P's that drive our behaviours unless Jesus has our hearts. Herod has power, prosperity, and can afford any pleasures he wants. The only P he has left to pursue is popularity. When you serve the Romans and rule the Jews that's a tough P to acquire. His grandfather Herod the Great rebuilt their temple which certainly helped him. Now his grandson Herod (also known as Agrippa the great) sees a new opportunity to gain favour with the Jews. He joins them in their war against the Christians. His first target is no small one either. He has James killed with the sword. This is THE James. When Jesus had something important to do He often only took three of His disciples with Him: Peter, James, and John. Now James is dead. The people are ecstatic. From their perspective it was like eliminating one of the three musketeers. Herod likes the popularity it affords and quickly seizes the biggest target of all - Peter.
Tomorrow we'll find out how that went. For today it's enough to consider what drives me. Do I, like Herod, make decisions and pursue goals based on the four P's? Do I help people because I care or because it gains me popularity? Do I work every day to be of service or is it just for the paycheck? Am I in a leadership position for the betterment of others or do I like the power? Am I developing the gifts and personalities of my children or using my position as their father to rule them for my own ego? What role does pleasure play in my life?
In short is my life and all its components about me and my advancement or do I live for others? We can't escape nor should we try to escape the 4 P's. There is nothing wrong with any of them so long as we are not their slaves. Jesus has all power and authority. He uses it to serve. Jesus had times of great popularity but He never let it cloud His purpose or decisions. Jesus derived pleasure not from exploiting others or pursuing habits etc... His great pleasure was to get us back Home. Jesus created everything yet as a man on this earth owned nothing. He knew stuff is temporary but character is eternal and so He invested all His energies into drawing our hearts and developing our characters.
It's too easy to complain about and criticize the Herods of this world. What about me? What would I be like if I sat in his position?
"Father save me from myself and make me like You."