Jesus Before Herod

Pilate leaped at the opportunity of sending Jesus to Herod. There had been no communication between him and Herod since the time that Pilate's soldiers had mistakenly killed Herod's subjects on the temple grounds. The Roman was now making a gesture of friendship, or respect, and Herod could not interpret it in any other way. Pilate was bowing deferentially to the Jewish Tetrarch and Herod would be forced by custom to reciprocate in some way. Thus the breach between the two would be healed over the worthless body of a Galilean.

On his part, Herod, when he heard the news from the courier, was elated. He regarded Jesus as a superior type of magician from whom he might wheedle some striking trick for the amusement of himself and his court, including, no doubt, Herodias and Salome. The appellation "fox" which Jesus had given to Herod was apt, because Herod was crafty, a schemer. He may have been mentally disordered. His father had killed his mother and then had called her name loudly through the palace corridors for weeks. Herod was a medium?tall man with a paunch and a square?cut beard. He wore the trappings of his office ? crown, royal cape, scepter ? at all possible times. Just as his father had a haunting specter, so did Herod. This was John the Baptist. He had presented the head of John the Baptist to Salome on a dish, and now he found that he could never shut the scene from his mind. Now he was about to confront the man, who, in Herod's eyes, resembled John the Baptist.

The group went into the palace and Herod treated the prisoner as a guest. He offered chairs to all, but Jesus stood. The king was cordial; he admitted that he had heard much about Jesus. Jesus said nothing. He fixed his eyes on a spot against the wall and his mouth remained closed. Herod didn't like this. He had called his friends and his retinue into the room with a promise that they would see things from the Galilean that they had never seen before. Now Jesus not only refused to perform for the king, but also had the ill grace not to reply to him who had the power to command.

Herod became annoyed. Jesus was a disappointing fool and a fool's treatment he would receive before being sent back to Pilate. In an unreasoning anger Herod mocked and taunted Jesus. He walked around the prisoner making personal remarks about his shabby appearance, his lacerated face, dirty garments, swollen eyes. A king indeed! Pray, king of what?

It is a perennial temptation of the human heart to seek to coax signs and wonders from God, and to be exasperated with Him if He keeps silent, even though our lives give us very little title to His favors.

Now slowly read Luke 23:8-12