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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

JESUS BEFORE HEROD

Luke 23:6-12 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the Man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that He belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see Him of a long season, because he had heard many things of Him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned with Him in many words; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. And Herod with his men of war set Him at nought, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

In the verse preceding the lesson text, the Jewish leaders, in the presence of Pilate, had condemned Jesus in a fierce manner, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. The fact everyone knew, including the Jewish leaders, was that Jesus' ministry began in the Jewish province of Galilee. This prompted Pilate to inquire whether Jesus was a Galilean. Since Pilate found no fault in Jesus actions, and since His Jewish accusers still clamored for His death, this seemed to be an ideal way to transfer Jesus to the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas, who was then tetrarch of Galilee. For the record, this was the same Herod whom John the Baptist severely criticized for his illicit marriage, and who later had John imprisoned and beheaded. Because Jesus was deemed a Galilean, Pilate commanded Jesus be sent to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. Some bible scholars contend that Herod was converted and became a Jewish proselyte. If that were true, it is probable that he happened to be in Jerusalem at this time to celebrate the Jewish Passover feast.

No doubt the fame of Jesus had spread throughout the Jewish nation, and Herod was well aware of the effect His teaching and compassionate miracles had on the multitudes that gathered around Him, believed in His deity, and followed Him during His ministry. Evidently Herod had not personally met Jesus. Upon seeing Him, Herod was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see Him of a long season, because he had heard many things of Him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him. One cannot conclude that Herod desired to see Jesus in order to hear, and better understand, the doctrine He taught. Herod was merely inquisitive; desiring to satisfy his curiosity by persistently questioning Him about the things He was known to have said and done. And, as Luke records, Herod, by his questioning, hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him. Every miracle compassionately performed by Jesus during His earthly ministry served to undeniably prove Himself to be he Son of God, and establish His doctrine as coming directly from His Heavenly Father. To answer Herod's questions and to perform a miracle before him, just to satisfy his curiosity, was immediately denied by Jesus' silence - He answered him nothing.

The Jewish leaders, that accompanied Jesus before Pilate and now Herod, were the same members of the Sanhedrin that had accused Jesus of blasphemy and sought His death. Not satisfied with the manner Herod was dealing with Jesus, and fearing he too would find no fault in Him, the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him in the presence of Herod. No doubt their accusations were, not that of blasphemy, which under Jewish law was punishable by death, but that of sedition and treason against the Roman government, such as those noted in verse 2 above. Although they were false accusations made by these Jewish leaders, if they could convince these Roman magistrates that they were true, the death penalty would be administered under their law. Probably because Jesus failed to respond to his desires, rather than the accusations brought by the Jewish leaders, caused Herod to have his soldiers treat Jesus mockingly and, with contempt, placed a kingly robe on Him. These actions did not seem to be judicial punishment, because there had been no evidence presented from which guilt could be established. Rather Herod seems to be denouncing Jesus in order to please these Jews. This being done, Herod relinquished his authority over Jesus' trial and sent Him again to Pilate. Evidently enmity existed between Pilate and Herod, but the reason is not given. However, it seems that because of this incident their friendship was restored.