“Oh, is He a Galilean?” Pilate asked. When they said that He was, Pilate sent Him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and Herod happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about Him and had been hoping for a long time to see Him perform a miracle.He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer.Meanwhile, the leading priests and the teachers of religious law stood there shouting their accusations.Then Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus. Finally, they put a royal robe on Him and sent Him back to Pilate.(Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day.Luke 23:6-12
- Why is it that only Luke records this phase of the trial before Herod Antipas?
- Why do Matthew, Mark and John omit this stage of the proceedings?
It seems like it ought to be significant.
You could have wondered why Luke chose this segment at all because nothing actually happens in the phase of the trial before Herod Antipas. So why did he choose to include it? There must have been a reason. Luke is the one who is writing us an orderly account but then there are events that he omits because it doesn’t suit his theme or purpose. So what is happening here? I think it is logical why the other three gospel writers miss this phase because it is seemingly inconsequential. I am sure they knew there was a break in proceedings before Pilate while Jesus was taken to Herod. But they chose not to refer to it. Luke on the other hand includes it in the gospel account. If it hadn’t been for Luke, we would not have known the trial before Pilate was interrupted while Jesus was taken to Herod.
The question is why would Luke include it?
I feel this segment does three things which add to the story of the trials of Jesus. We know from this segment the lengths the Sanhedrin were willing to go to, to ensure He was convicted. Note how the first phase of the trial before Pilate ended. Pilate found no fault in Him. However, as we have seen, the previous segment ends with the opposition losing it and demanding He be found guilty. Remember my last line in Gem 1248 – Their closing response then puts the onus back on Pilate. “You can’t do this, He is dangerous. Do something. Give us the death penalty as we have asked”. Luke makes it very clear that the High Priest and Teachers of the Law and others of the Sanhedrin are fixated on forcing the death penalty for Jesus. Not only that but they follow as a group everywhere Jesus is taken in order to force the issue. Yes, in answer to the person’s question the other day, these are indeed the same high priests and teachers of the law who were present at the earlier trial phases. I suspect however, the soldiers in this case were members of Herod’s own soldiers from Galilee who guarded him as he travelled. Notice in verse 11 how inextricably linked Herod is to his soldiers. They are acting together in this.
Now comes the significance of the reference to Jesus being a “Galilean”. I am not going to answer all the questions related to the Galilee issue. It may be true that some versions leave out “Galilean” but by far the majority of versions I have include it. I don’t have all of my resources here in Indonesia. But all I do have indicate “Galilean” ought to be in the text. What is interesting is that the Chief Priests, etc, were not necessarily suggesting Jesus was Galilean. Rather, they were saying that He was stirring up trouble from Galilee to Judea and Jerusalem. On learning that Jesus’ activity was from Galilee to Jerusalem, Luke tells us Pilate seized on the fact that Jesus did these things in the jurisdiction (or area) of Herod’s authority. Pilate apparently saw this as his opportunity to get out of a sticky situation. So he sends Jesus to Herod. Now the person judging Jesus is a Jew so all the members of the Sanhedrin follow along hoping to press their case. J***, you were right in asking, “Ian, why do they say He is Galilean when Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea?” He wasn’t by birth but He was operating in the area of Galilee for most of His ministry and therefore as Pilate recognised, came under Herod’s authority. Pilate was looking to shirk his responsibility in the matter and not get caught up in this Jewish religious issue. To pass Jesus off to Herod was an easy matter because Herod Antipas was in Jerusalem for the Passover. It was just a matter of traveling to another part of the city to be heard in Herod’s court.
Why was Herod so pleased for the chance to talk with Jesus?
Luke tells us. “Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about Him and had been hoping for a long time to see Him perform a miracle.” Clearly the news of what Jesus had been doing in Galilee had reached Herod’s ears. If that was the case, why didn’t he seek Him out in Galilee? It would not have been hard to find Him. Just ask anyone, they would tell you where to find Jesus. But he didn’t because he really didn’t want to know. Luke tells us Herod was more interested in seeing a miracle. The word [semeion] in this case is used in the sense of a magic feat or signs and wonders. Other places the idea is that the signs point to the spiritual truth behind the acts of Jesus. Herod was not interested in the spiritual truth, he was only interested in the magic acts. Luke tells us Herod questioned Jesus “at length” or “with many words”. The action is also in the imperfect tense implying “kept on questioning”. I suspect Herod went on and on asking Jesus about the signs. This is the same disease the members of the Sanhedrin had. Everything focused on the sensational and not the deeper spiritual significance. You can probably come up with the questions Herod asked for yourself. Just let your mind run free.
- How do you do the signs Jesus?
- How many miracles have you performed?
- What’s the greatest one you have ever done?
- Can you teach me to do them too?
- Do one for me now.
- Are you for real or do you have a trick to them like the magicians?
- I heard that you did one in Capernaum that was pretty amazing, is that true?
- Did you really raise someone from the dead?
- Can you do that one for me? I would love to see it.
- Was he really dead or was he a “plant” from the crowd?
Why did Jesus refuse to answer Herod? If this was indeed the basis on which Herod was asking, it is little wonder that Jesus refused to answer him. That must have driven Herod nuts. Jesus had already called him a “sly fox”. I’m sure that comment had got back to Herod too. Herod was clearly grandstanding and putting on a show. But Jesus was not drawn in by it at all and remained silent. How that must have irked Herod. The Chief Priests and scribes then joined in again and pressed their case vehemently. It was becoming a circus, you have to admit. As someone asked the other day, “Why did they put a royal robe on Jesus? And whose royal robe did they use?” Luke continues this refrain of the mocking that took place. The early mocking was directly under the nose of the Sanhedrin but they condoned it. Now there is more mocking. Jesus was mocked at every turn and it went on and on through these series of trials. Luke makes that very clear. In this case not only was it under the nose of Herod but apparently Herod joins in. “Then Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus.””Finally, THEY put a royal robe on Him and sent Him back to Pilate.”Who is “they”? Herod and the soldiers. Herod is actively involved in the mocking. I reckon the royal robe, [periballo – super beautiful, gorgeous] and [lampros] bright shining radiant, was actually one of Herod’s, maybe an old cast off one or maybe just one that was at hand. So THEY dressed Jesus in that robe and then continually mocked and belittled Him. “Here is your so-called-King.” The soldiers would surely have been made bolder in what they did to Jesus with the presence of King Herod participating as well.
Luke tells us that Herod and Pilate had been enemies before this. Why specifically, we are not told, but I suspect it was because of their areas of jurisdiction were adjacent to each other and the fact that Herod would always have had to defer to Pilate who was the Roman governor of the whole of Palestine. Herod however, was only the Tetrarch of Galilee and the three regions around it. As a result there was bound to be conflict between them. But due to this encounter Herod and Pilate became friends. First Pilate deferred to Herod. That must have pleased “the old fox”. By sending Jesus to Herod, Pilate was giving him authority to make the decision over and above the Roman governor. In giving Jesus back to Pilate, Herod was effectively saying I am in accord with whatever you do in this case. Pilate had hoped that he could wriggle out of it but it came back to haunt him in more ways than one. But in the course of this mutual deference it seems it cemented a bond between Pilate and Herod which would continue. Seemingly, the mutual deference in this case of “the Galilean” would draw them together in mutual respect. Something it seems they didn’t have before.
By telling us all of this, Luke makes it very clear that the abuse and the mocking continued unabated and he spells out clearly the role of the Sanhedrin in it all. Their dogged persistence in pressing for the death penalty. They were like a dog with a bone and would not leave the matter in the hands of the authorities. Luke has told us during the first trial phases that they attempted to find people who would offer false testimony just to ensure Jesus got the death penalty. They were pushing Pilate as the representative of Roman authority to hand down the death penalty. They knew they couldn’t do it, Pilate had to pass the judgment. He tries to “pass the buck” to Herod but the case comes back to him again. Now we return to the second phase of the trial before Pilate, where momentarily we left Matthew, Mark and John. Next Gem we will return to Pilate’s court again to pick up proceedings once more.
Time for you to prepare yourself before the court is open for business again.
Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.Anon
The phrase “fear not” is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a reminder from God to live every day fearless!Rick Godwin
Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.Anon
It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.Denis Waitley