Today’s Readings: Luke 23:1-12 and 1 Timothy 1:12-17
As we read this narration in Luke, Jesus is literally hours from his crucifixion … for it is his time.
At this point, Jesus had already been beaten before being brought before Pilate, so physically he would have been a mess (Luke 22:63). This together with the hype of the multitude who led Jesus before Pilate and Pilate’s position, would certainly have meant Pilate would have questioned Jesus more closely than simply asking the one question, to reach the conclusion that there were no grounds for any political charge against Jesus.
When Pilate asks Jesus ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’
Jesus’ response was short, to the point and almost a brush off.
‘It is as you say.’ Luke 23:3
John’s Gospel gives a little more content to the conversation, and certainly Jesus’ explanation of his Kingship was not what the Jews of the time believed.
‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’ ‘What is truth?’ Pilate asked. John 18:37-38
And truth was about to be revealed in the cross …. but that’s jumping ahead.
Pilate knew Jesus had committed no crime, but with an insistent and very vocal crowd which was fast starting to get out of control, Pilate was able to draw Herod into the process once Galilee was mentioned, for this was Herod’s jurisdiction. Pilate may even have been seeking Herod to support his decision that Jesus was innocent of charges.
Herod was on hand for Jesus to be redirected for interrogation because both Herod and Pilate were in the one location. It was common practice for them to visit Jerusalem during the Passover period due to the large Jewish crowds that gathered.
When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. Luke 23:8
Herod’s ‘pleasure’ at seeing Jesus was not born out of respect or positive engagement. Earlier in Luke we read of Herod’s opinion of Jesus; what was at the heart of his desire to meet him.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who then is this I hear such things about?” and tried to see Jesus. Luke 9:7-9
Then again in Luke 13:31, we read how ‘some of the Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
But brought before Herod, Jesus did not respond to either his questioning or his desire to see Jesus perform ‘tricks’; instead Jesus gave him no answers. Luke 23:9b
At that moment, Jesus had the resources of heaven at his finger tips and could have performed a miracle to remove himself from Herod, Pilate and the crowd but he chose to do nothing, not because he was not in control, but rather, because he knew God was in total control.
Ridiculed and mocked by Herod and his soldiers, this was the time not to act or react because it was his time; it was what he had shared with his disciples as they sat around the table at the Passover meal and it was what he had prayed before he was arrested;
“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the Kingdom of God.” Luke 22:15
….. Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you ….” John 17:1
Fast forward to the start of the early church in Acts where Luke records for us the prayer of the believers upon the release of Peter and John from interrogation by the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:27-29). As we seek to share with others the good news of Jesus Christ; to boldly step forward it is good to be reminded that we are part of God’s mighty plan for his world.
God has demonstrated through time, over and over again as we read through the scriptures, that he will use all circumstances and free will decisions (even when meant for evil or wrong like Pilate and Herod) to achieve his saving purpose.
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Acts 4:27-29
So when we feel the world is against us, it is good to be reminded that we too can call on God in prayer for courage and strength against predictable as well as unforeseen opposition. Paul as he wrote to encourage Timothy, speaks words of support as he reflects on his own testimony and God’s saving grace.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once (insert your own personal testimony statement here) I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that we in Christ ……. so that in me Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:12-16