Peace be with you!
Yesterday Pilate sends Jesus, a Galilean, to see Herod since Galilee is his jurisdiction (see Luke 23:6-7). Herod is glad to finally meet Jesus; he has heard a lot about him and wants to see Jesus perform a miracle (see Luke 23:8). However, Herod likely wants see “famous” Jesus perform a sign as a spectacular—not as a believer. Early in Jesus’s ministry, Herod expressed intent to cause harm to Jesus out of jealousy (see Luke 9:9; 13:31). King Herod is jealous of his popularity and feels threatened by Jesus’s claim to kingship, though it means something different to Jesus than it does to Herod. His interest in Jesus performing signs is likely Herod’s way of trying to find a reason to cause harm to him, not to see his glory.
Herod questioned Jesus at length, but Jesus did not answer any of his questions (see Luke 23:9) or perform any signs, and therefore, Herod has no reason to cause him harm. The chief priests continue to argue that Jesus is causing a ruckus throughout Judea and Galilee (see Luke 23:10).
The scene with Herod is a power play as the chief priests and the scribes try to convince him to crucify Jesus, even when they have no evidence for their accusations. As stated yesterday, Jesus is not challenging the Roman government, did not tell his followers not to pay their taxes, nor did he claimed to be the Messiah. Although both parties have a common goal of causing harm to Jesus, without evidence there can be no death penalty. With the help of his soldiers, Herod treats Jesus with contempt and mocks him by dressing him in an elegant robe (see Luke 23:11). This mockery points to Herod’s disregard of Jesus causing a ruckus throughout Judea and Galilee. Herod just wants one reason to have Jesus crucified and is coming up empty handed.
Feeling defensive, Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate (see Luke 23:11). Both Herod and Pilate find no reason to crucify Jesus, yet they both make sport of Jesus and of the chief priests whom they despise. Herod is theatrical in his treatment of Jesus, having him in an elegant robe and agonizing the chief priests with his long questioning of Jesus. Herod and Pilate both perform power plays when they have Jesus on trial.
Pilate calls the chief priests, scribes, leaders, and the people back together and says, “You have brought me this man who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him” (Luke 23:13-16 NRSV). Pilate upholds his verdict from when he first he questioned Jesus. The chief priests, scribes, leaders, and the people have not provided any new evidence to change Pilate’s mind.
However, the chief priests, scribes, leaders, and the people will not allow Pilate to release Jesus. The whole crowd keeps yelling, “Away with Jesus! Release Barabbas for us!” (Luke 23:18 NRSV). Now, Barabbas has caused protests in the city and has even killed a few people (see Luke 23:19). Pilate cannot understand why the crowd wants Barabbas released instead of Jesus. Pilate asks the crowd what he should do with Jesus, and the people say, “Crucify, crucify him!” (see Luke 23:20-21). Pilate appeals to the crowd one last time: “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” (Luke 23:22 NRSV).
The crowd continues to yell, “Crucify, crucify him!” No amount of pleading with the crowd will change their minds. The more Pilate pleads to have Jesus flogged and released, the more the crowd yells, “Crucify, crucify him!” (see Luke 23:23). Finally, Pilate gives into the crowd’s demands and orders his soldiers to crucify Jesus and releases Barabbas (see Luke 23:24-25). Pilate succumbed to the pressures of the Jewish leadership by releasing the criminal and having the innocent man crucified. Jesus takes the place of the criminal and is sent to his death, despite being found innocent by both Herod and Pilate. Jesus takes on the sin of the world, so we may have the forgiveness and have a relationship with God the Father.
Dear Jesus, Thank you for taking our beating, our cross, our punishment for us. Help us to live a life worthy of your sacrifice. Grant us the courage and the strength to follow Jesus to the cross. Thank you for the power of your love. Amen