7739 - Before Herod


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In our studies we have been following the series of examinations, which Jesus faced after his arrest. We have looked at his examination before Annas, then before Caiaphas. Next came his appearance before the illegal meeting of the Sanhedrin in the late nighttime. Finally at dawn the council assembled and condemned Jesus to death. However, the Jews did not have authority to carry out the death sentence so they took Jesus before Pilate, the governor of Judea, seeking for him to render a crucifixion decree.

Pilate, on finding that Jesus was from Galilee, sent Jesus to Herod, the Roman authority over Galilee. This would be his sixth examination in a few short hours.

Today let’s look closely at Herod’s questioning of Jesus. Only Luke’s gospel shares these happenings. I’ll read Luke 23:8-12:

When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see Jesus perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.

The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him.

Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him, dressed him in an elegant robe, and sent him back to Pilate.

That day Herod and Pilate became friends --before this they had been enemies.

This Herod was Herod Antipas who was the Roman authority over Galilee. He was one of the three sons of Herod the great. He is also the Herod who had John the Baptist beheaded.

We notice that Herod was pleased to see Jesus. Some months in the past it is written (Lk. 9:9) that when Herod heard about the miraculous work which Jesus was performing Herod believed this had to be a situation in which John the Baptist had come back to life. In fact, Herod tried to see Jesus, but with no success. This passage tells us that for a long time he had been wanting to see Jesus.

Now Herod was face-to-face with Jesus. Perhaps his motives were questionable, since this passage shares that he wanted to see Jesus perform some miracle. Sounds like some person who was interested in magic and longed to meet the great Houdini in the last century. Apparently there was no spiritual interest on Herod’s part.

It is interesting that Herod asked Jesus many questions only to be met with silence. Jesus replied with no answer. Obviously Jesus was not seeking to defend himself.

We get the sense that Jesus knowing these events of dying on the cross in a few hours was the very mission for his life, was yielded to going through these many examinations without giving any resistance. Not even being able to defend himself against the brutal abuse, which came upon him at various times.

His yieldedness and gentleness during this grueling night, without any sleep, and being abused numbers of times, testified to his care by the Father. Soon he would complete the mission for which he was born.

All the time the chief priests and teachers of the law were bombarding him with vehement accusation.

Finally Herod’s hope to see Jesus perform miracles turned to derision; and Herod, along with his own soldiers turned on Jesus and began to taunt and mock him. They even dressed him up in an elaborate king’s robe. Then they sent Jesus back to Pilate.

We see at this point, that neither of these Roman officials, Pilate nor Herod, wanted to be the one to pass sentence upon Jesus. Each, most likely, was hoping the other would be the one to dispose of this most difficult case.

It was difficult because of the great acceptance of Jesus among the people of the land. It was very possible that any harsh treatment of Jesus would cause a riot among the people. The Jewish leaders had already discussed this possibility (Mt. 26:5). No one wanted to give account to Rome for a destructive riot in Jerusalem.

But Herod sidestepped the responsibility and sent Jesus back to Pilate. After all, this was his jurisdiction.

We’ll examine Pilate’s last confrontation of Jesus before his trip to Golgotha, in our next study.