It is very easy to tell other people not to be afraid, it’s another thing to live it. Yet, that is exactly what Jesus did.
Some Pharisees came up to him saying,
Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you. (31)
Were these Pharisees sincere about their concern for Jesus? It’s possible. Certainly at least one Pharisee, Nicodemus, seemed to be pro-Jesus. There could have been others.
But I have my doubts. Nothing that we see about Herod in his reactions to Jesus give us the impression that he had an interest in killing him. When Herod first heard about Jesus, he thought it might be John the Baptist raised from the dead. And it says in Luke 9 that he tried to see him. See him…not kill him.
When Herod actually got the chance to see Jesus, it seems he was more interested in seeing Jesus perform magic tricks than anything else. (Luke 23:8) This is not to say Herod wasn’t a danger. He was. But it’s my guess is that these Pharisees were hoping to frighten Jesus away by exaggerating the current danger that Herod posed.
So Jesus replied,
Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day–for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! (32-33)
In short, “Buzz off.”
Why did Jesus call Herod a fox? A fox was considered sly and dangerous. But at the same time, it was symbol of a worthless and insignificant person.
Jesus took his own counsel to be as wise as a serpent. To not simply ignore the dangers that were out there, but to be aware of them and to be cautious. At the same time, however, he refused to give into the fear of people. They could only destroy the body, not the soul. On top of that, Jesus knew the time had not yet come for him to die. So he determined to keep on doing his Father’s will.
We need to do the same. People may oppose us when we choose to live for God. Some of them are very cunning, and some are very dangerous. We do need to watch out for them, because they can cause us great harm if we’re not careful.
So while we should be wary, let us not fear them. Let us not fear rejection. Let us not fear anything that they might do to us. Rather, let us keep pressing on, doing the things God has called us to do.
As the writer of Hebrews said,
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)