The Gospel of Luke | Before Herod | Luke 23.8-12 | 

by | Feb 2, 2022

”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 him perform a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.” Luke 23.8-12

The Herod in mention is Herod Antipas, the youngest son of Herod the Great who died in 4 B.C.. He is known in the birth narratives of Jesus for trying to kill the baby Messiah by slaughtering all the Jewish boys under the age of two in Bethlehem (Matthew 2.16). One might point out that the birth of Jesus began with Herod the Great (the father) trying to kill Jesus, and now near his impending death, Herod Antipas (the son) had a hand in his crucifixion. Needless to say, the “Herod’s” were not friends of the faith.

Jesus is taken from Pilate and brought before Herod because he is a Jew from Galilee. He’s under Herod’s jurisdiction. The biblical text tells us Herod was greatly pleased to meet Jesus because ”he had been wanting to see him.” Herod undoubtably had heard about Jesus and ”he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort.” In other words, Herod had learned about this famed Rabbi who could perform miracles and for his own entertainment, wanted to see Jesus do something spectacular.

But Jesus, did not say a word. Jesus showed his disdain for Herod and his despise by ignoring his request to ”perform” a miraculous sign and so after questioning Jesus profusely (“he plied him with many questions”), ”Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him.” This is when they drape a purple robe on him and returned him to Pilate, securing his friendship with the Roman govenor.

Jesus is not a magician sent to entertain rulers and kings. The signs and wonders are performed so that “people might believe” in the one who was sent (John 4.48). Jesus standing before Herod Antipas was a test of his own faith. Would he give in and perform the miracles that would support that he was the Son of God? Would he do the supernatural and so convince his accusers the he was Messiah? This was a turning point for Jesus. A warrior Messiah he was not. Rather he was to suffer, and humble himself to a death upon a cross (Philippians 2).

As the follow in the steps of our Rabbi Jesus, we too are given choices to elevate ourselves or humbly submit to the will of the Father. Jesus’ suffering was certainly the cause for our redemption but also for our imitation. Our lives are to be echoes of the Master who even when persecuted and attacked did not open his mouth but surrendered to the Lord for his ultimate destiny and purpose.

”O Lord God, if I could only learn how to be like Christ in humility and sacrifice. Help me walk in newness of life with a faith that depends not upon my own elevation but upon your exaltation. I praise you Lord and say ”yes” to your movement in my life. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and love. Help me know the truth of your presence and the hope in your love. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen