John the Baptist is beheaded. Jesus feeds the five thousand. Why are these stories back to back in Matthew 14?
You’ve got Herod, ruler by force, living in fear. He makes a rash promise in a setting he should never be in to a girl he shouldn’t be around. His power and authority have went to his head, and so John loses his. Herod is a hated king who has everything he could want, and is completely unhappy and afraid. He’s so paranoid that He claims Jesus is John reincarnated, even though Jesus and John were the same age. His power corrupts.
You’ve got Jesus, ruler by God’s decree, living in compassion. He sees people hurting, and in the midst of His own pain, He serves them and heals them. His disciples show care for the people, and Jesus gives out of His own heart, allows God to use Him, and feeds them all more than they can eat. Jesus is a misunderstood king who gave up everything, to come serve in love and courage. He knows Who He is and Whose He is. His power transforms.
You and I are offered a taste of both powers. We have money, people, and toys that can try to satisfy any desire we have. We can create kingdoms around us that rival Herod’s, and we live with so many resources that each of us can truly create our own kingdom. (You don’t think you are better off than a king in Biblical times? Did he have air conditioning, running water, a refrigerator, Internet, or a microwave? He would have paid royally for any one of those items. We are living in our own personal kingdoms today.) But if we live for this power, build these kingdoms, we end up in the same place as Herod; delusional, paranoid, and unhappy.
We can also choose the other Kingdom, the other Power. Christ still offers the same compassion and love to us that He offered them. Now, He gets to be King, not us. But the rewards are amazing. We are loved, cared for, healed, and fed.
Which Kingdom will you live in today? It’s a daily choice.