The Frailty of the Wicked
Reading: Luke 23:1-12
Then the whole body of them got up and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” So Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him and said, “It is as you say.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they kept on insisting, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee even as far as this place.” When Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time. Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other. [NASB1995®]
The scene Luke shows us is perverse. Jewish leaders are all too committed to killing Jesus. They plan his death, and for that reason, they do not hesitate to ally themselves with Pilate and Herod to achieve it. Pilate, a civil servant of the oppressive Roman power. Herod, a Gentile, an edomite. The priests and scribes have no qualms about allying themselves with the enemies of their people. It looks like the club of the wicked.
An absolute falsehood: Those who want to kill Jesus accused him of blasphemy. That is why he was arrested and taken to the Sanhedrin. But because they have no authority to sentence him to death, they take him to the authorities. The authorities are not involved in religious matters, so they do not hesitate to change the accusation. Jesus is now, according to them, a rebel who opposes authority. In the same way, they will not hesitate to lie, to present false witnesses and to do what is necessary to achieve their goal. Their sin becomes increasingly evident; they are increasingly sunk in the darkness.
An unthinkable partnership: Herod and Pilate were distanced, but end up being friends. Pilate does not want to condemn Jesus. His innocence is so obvious, even to this evil man. But for him, the most important thing is to maintain his status. He tries to take the pressure off himself and sends Jesus to Herod, as Jesus is from Galilee. But Herod just wants to see magic tricks and cheap miracles. Disappointed by Jesus’ silence he ends up sending him back to Pilate. Due to their petty interests, Herod and Pilate end up as unlikely allies.
Jesus: Throughout this scene, the wickedness, hypocrisy and falsehood of Herod, Pilate and the Pharisees provide the backdrop so that we can better contemplate what is really important: Jesus. He is not in their hands, as they believe. He is, and always was, in control. Although the situation seems chaotic and confusing, he is perfectly calm.
He withstands ridicule; He withstands whipping; He withstands insolent questions, He withstands lies in silence. The wonderful thing, always, is why he does it. Don’t forget it.
In this ridiculous scene of falsehoods, the figure of Jesus, fulfilling his redemptive mission out of love for us, stands out in a glorious way.
Although the wicked scheme, they are as vain and fragile as their thoughts. We read in this passage the wonderful story of God carrying forward His salvation in our lives.
MEDITATE: Circumstances can confuse us; they can be difficult, but the truth that sustains us is this: God is sovereign. He is at work in us. He sustains us.
Scripture quotation taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Translation by: Emily Stader