A Heaven-sent Messenger

Had you gone into the palace in those days, you would have heard

Herod talking of nobody but John the Baptist. He would say to his


"Have you been out into the desert to hear this strange preacher?"

"No; have you?"


"What! you, the Roman Governor, going to hear this unordained


"Yes, I have been qu
te often. I would rather hear him than any man

I ever knew. He does not talk like the regular preachers. I never

heard any one who had such influence over me."

You would have thought that Herod was a very hopeful subject. "He

did many things." Perhaps he stopped swearing. He may have stopped

gambling and getting drunk. A wonderful change seemed to have passed

over him. Perhaps he ceased from taking bribes for a time; we catch

him at it afterwards, but just then he refrained from it. He became

quite virtuous in certain directions. It really looked as if he were

near the kingdom of heaven.

I can imagine that one day, as John stands preaching, the truth is

going home to the hearts and consciences of the people, and the

powers of another world are falling upon them, one of John's

disciples stands near Herod's chariot, and sees the tears in the

eyes of the Roman Governor. At the close of the service he goes to

John and says:

"I stood close to Herod today, and no one seemed more impressed. I

could see the tears coming, and he had to brush them away to keep

them from falling."

Have you ever seen a man in a religious meeting trying to keep the

tears back? You noticed that his forehead seemed to itch, and he put

up his hand; you may know what it means--he wants to conceal the

fact that the tears are there. He thinks it is a weakness. It is no

weakness to get drunk and abuse your family, but it is weakness to

shed tears. So this disciple of John may have noticed that Herod put

his hand to his brow a number of times; he did not wish his

soldiers, or those standing near, to observe that he was weeping.

The disciple says to John:

"It looks as if he were coming near the kingdom. I believe you will

have him as an inquirer very soon."

When a man enjoys hearing such a preacher, it certainly seems a

hopeful sign.

Herod might have been present that day when Christ was baptized. Was

there ever a man lifted so near to heaven as Herod must have been if

he were present on that occasion? I see John standing surrounded by

a great throng of people who are hanging on his words. The eyes of

the preacher, that never had quailed before, suddenly began to look

strange. He turned pale and seemed to draw back as though something

wonderful had happened, and right in the middle of a sentence he

ceased to speak. If I were suddenly to grow pale, and stop speaking,

you would ask:

"Has death crept onto the platform? Is the tongue of the speaker


There must have been quite a commotion among the audience when John

stopped. The eyes of the Baptist were fixed upon a Stranger who

pushed His way through the crowd, and coming up to the preacher,

requested to be baptized. That was a common occurrence; it had

happened day after day for weeks past. John listened to the

Stranger's words, but instead of going at once to the Jordan and

baptizing Him, he said:

"I need to be baptized of Thee!"

What a thrill of excitement must have shot through the audience! I

can hear one whispering to another:

"I believe that is the Messiah!"

Yes, it was the long-looked-for One, for whose appearing the nation

had been waiting these thousands of years. From the time God had

made the promise to Adam, away back in Eden, every true Israelite

had been looking for the Messiah; and there He was in their midst!

He insisted that John should baptize Him, and the forerunner

recognized His authority as Master, took Him to the Jordan, and

baptized Him. As He came up from the water, lo! the heavens opened,

and the Spirit of God in the form of a dove descended and rested on

Him. When Noah sent forth the dove from the Ark, it could find no

resting-place; but now the Son of God had come to do the will of

God, and the dove found its resting-place upon Him. The Holy Ghost

had found a home. Now God broke the silence of four thousand years.

There came a voice from heaven, and Herod may have heard it if he

was there that day:

"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Even if he had not witnessed this scene and heard the voice, he must

have heard about it; for the thing was not done in a corner. There

were thousands to witness it, and the news must have been taken to

every corner of the land.

Yet Herod, living in such times, and hearing such a preacher, missed

the kingdom of heaven at last. He did many things because he feared

John. Had he feared God he would have done everything. "He did many

things"; but there was one thing he would not do--