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Luke 23:6–12

“When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him” (vv. 8–10).

Pontius Pilate found no guilt in Jesus the first time that our Lord stood before him accused of sedition (Luke 23:1–4). This did not please the Jewish leaders who had brought Jesus to the Roman governor, so they pressed on, stating that Jesus had been preaching rebellion throughout Judea and Galilee (v. 5). As we see in today’s passage, this piqued Pilate’s interest, so he asked whether Jesus was a Galilean, presumably because of the mention of His preaching ministry in Galilee (v. 6). Hearing that Jesus was indeed from Galilee and thus was under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas, Pilate sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at the time (v. 7).

Luke does not tell us whether Pilate sent Jesus to Herod because Pilate just wanted to be rid of the issue or because the governor was trying to settle some differences with the Jewish tetrarch. Verse 12 says that to this point Pilate and Herod had been “at enmity with each other.” Perhaps it was because Pilate had gone out of his way to make it clear to Herod who had true dominion in the region. Philo, a Jewish philosopher from the first century, tells us that at one point, Pilate had forced Herod to hang shields in his palace that were inscribed with Pilate’s name as a show of who was really in charge. Such actions embarrassed Herod and led to strife between the two rulers. Maybe Pilate sent Jesus to Herod to honor Herod’s authority over Galilee and thus to ease the rivalry between the two leaders.

Whatever the reason that Pilate thought it prudent to include Herod in the proceedings against our Savior, Herod gladly received Jesus. The fame of our Lord had preceded Him, and Herod was hoping to see “some sign done by” Jesus (v. 8). He saw Jesus as One who might entertain him and not as the sovereign Lord over creation. We should be careful not to see Jesus and life in the church as mere entertaining diversions but must remember that Jesus is Lord and that the church is the place where His kingdom is made most manifest.

Herod tried for some time to get Jesus to answer the charges made against Him, but to no avail. So Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, but not before making a mockery of Jesus’ royal status (vv. 10–11). The result of the whole episode was to make Pilate and Herod friendly with each other once again. Often, the enemies of the church will make common cause against the church even when they can agree on little else. Matthew Henry comments, “Observe how those that quarreled with one another yet could unite against Christ.”

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Christians are not immune to facing hostility on many sides, often from groups that may have very little in common with one another. When this happens, we should pray for our enemies, even that the Lord will throw them into confusion on account of their differences and grant them hearts of faith and repentance. Their plans against God’s people cannot finally succeed.

For further study
  • Psalm 2
  • Matthew 27:24–26
  • Luke 23:39–41
  • 1 Peter 2:22
The bible in a year
  • Ezekiel 27–28
  • James 4

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Pilate Declares Jesus’ Innocence

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From the November 2023 Issue
Nov 2023 Issue