This text (9:7-9) forms the meat of
the sandwich formed by the sending out of the Twelve (9:1-6) and their return
(9:10-17). In a sandwich construction, an event is begun, interrupted by
another event and the first event is continued and completed. In this instance,
the disciples are sent on mission (9:1-6), the return is interrupted by the
question of Herod (9:7-9) and the event of the sending out of the disciples is
continued and completed by their return (9:10-17). In such a construction, the
first and the third events throw light on the event in the middle or the meat
of the sandwich.
The first and third events here, narrate the sending and successful
return, and it is in this light that the question of Herod, “Who is this?”
which is the second event or in the centre, must be read. Herod’s desire to see
Jesus foreshadows coming events. When Herod did meet Jesus, his desire to see
Jesus was fulfilled, but he wanted only to see Jesus perform a sign. He never really
grasped the answer to his own question.
Though John the Baptist has been
beheaded and Jesus will also be killed, yet the violence of the wicked will be
no match for God’s grace. The success of the disciples’ in mission is only a
shadow of the success that Jesus will experience in mission.
The intention behind wanting to meet
Jesus is extremely important. If one’s approach is curiosity that will be the
level at which one will see him. If one’s approach is faith, then one will
encounter him as he is.