Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some…
"Perplexed." This is a singular word. When we have a pictorial dictionary we shall see a very graphic illustration of the meaning of this term. This word διηπόρει imports that the man who was in this condition was perplexed, really stuck in the mud. That is the literal import of the word. He could not move easily, and in all his movement he was trying to escape — now he was moving to the right, then he was moving to the left; now forward, now backward, now sideward; he was making all kinds of motion with a view to self-extrication, and he could not deliver himself from this mood of hesitancy and incertitude. Herod was perplexed about Christ, and curiously perplexed; for his instinct put down his dogma, his conscience blew away as with a scornful wind his theological view of life and destiny. Why was Herod perplexed? — "Because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; and of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again" (vers. 7, 8). Why did Herod trouble himself about these dead men? As a Sadducee he did not believe in spirit or in resurrection. If he had been quite faithful and stedfast to his creed, he would have said in answer to all these rumours — Whoever this man may be, he has nothing whatever to do with another world, for other world there is none; as to resurrection, dismiss the superstition and forget it. But Herod had never been in this situation before. Circumstances play havoc with some creeds. They are admirable creeds whilst the wind is in the south-west, and the way lies up a green slope, and birds are singing around us, and all heaven seems inclined to reveal its glories in one blaze: then we can have our theories and inventions and conjectures, and can play the little tricky controversialist with many words: but when the wolf bites us, how is it then? When all the money is lost, when the little child lies at the last gasp, when the doctor himself has gone away, saying it will be needless for him to return — how then? Men should have a creed that will abide with them every day in the week without consulting thermometer or barometer; a creed that will sing the most sweetly when the heart most needs heaven's music; a great faith, an intelligent, noble, free-minded faith, that says to the heart in its moods of dejection, All will come well; hold on, never despair, never give up; one more prayer, one more day, in a little while. A faith of this kind saves men from perplexity; it gives the life of man solidity, centralization, outlook, hope. It is an awkward thing to have a creed that will not bear this stress. Herod's Sadduceeism went down when a tap came to the door by invisible fingers. We can do what we will with matter; if the fingers are of bone and flesh they can be smitten and broken; but who can touch invisible fingers? Then what have we to take down by way of comfort? We have declared that we know nothing, and have taken quite lofty pride in our boundless ignorance, but here is a hand at the door, and the door must be answered, and you must answer it. Herod was perplexed, hesitant, now on this side, now on that side; he could not tell what to do. So are men perplexed about Christ to-day who do not believe in Him. It is one of two things in regard to this Son of Man: cordial, loving, positive trust, the whole heart-love poured out like wine into a living flagon; or it is now belief, now unbelief, now uncertainty, now a prayer breathed to the very devil that he would come and take possession of the mind so as to drive out all perplexity and bewilderment. The latter course ends in deepening confusion and darkness. The only thing that will bear the stress of every weight, the collision of every conflict, is faith — simple, loving, grateful faith: Lord, increase our faith.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;