When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. (Luke 23:8 ESV)
The Herodian Dynasty was a puppet government established to keep the Jews in check during Roman rule. Herod Antipas was the king during the time of Jesus’ public ministry. And, having heard much about the mysterious Galilean teacher, Herod was very interested in seeing Jesus for himself.
Herod even asked the right questions. Was Jesus a king? Did Jesus have the power perform the supernatural? The tragic truth of Herod’s investigation lies in the reality that he asked all of the right questions without any of the right motivations. Herod was not interested in finding God. Herod was concerned with finding out if this self-proclaimed “Son of God” could help Herod. Much like the Pharisees and scribes before, Herod wanted to see a sign. He wanted a magic trick. He wanted proof laid before his eyes that Jesus’ claims were legit.
I have talked with a number of people in recent years who’s views are eerily similar to Herod Antipas’. They are interested in Jesus as a kind of intellectual discovery. They want to know if he can prove himself to them. I believe he can, and often does, but typically only when one is willing to remove their pride and look at the world with some humility and objectivity.
It is pretty safe to say that Herod’s anticipation ended with disappointment. But Jesus is only disappointing to those who refuse to see him for who he is.