Herod attempted to provoke Jesus by accosting him. Jesus didn’t so much as acknowledge the egotistical maniac who had murdered his cousin and mentor John the Baptist. Jesus gave him no answer. What fear – bully – accost you? Jesus showed us we don’t need to respond to bullies. I don’t know if there is a more demeaning response than saying nothing to a bully.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 23
Herod, Jesus Gave Him No Answer (Luke 23:1-25)
By Pastor Delbert Young
Herod, Jesus Gave Him No Answer (Luke 23:1-25)
Scriptures: Luke 23:1, Luke 23:2-4, Luke 23:5-7, Luke 23:8-12, Matthew 27:19, Luke 23:13-25, Matthew 27:24-25, John 19:12-16
We saw last time Jesus was hurriedly rammed through three Jewish indictments and trials within a few hours. The plan was to get a guilty conviction from the Jewish court at daybreak and, since the Jews were not allowed to execute, get a Roman conviction of death by crucifixion from the governor before any supporters for Jesus could bring witnesses or resistance. They thought the urgency was part of their diabolical plan. In reality it had been God’s perfect plan from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). We saw the entire wicked Jewish system was a mafia operation operating through fear and fear is a bully. Bullying is when a person(s) attempts to dominate and control others using fear. We saw something will always be attempting to bully us using fear. The question is not will we face the bully of fear. The question is what we will do with it. Will fear dominate and control us? Or, will we control fear? Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the presence of fear, but not allowing fear to stop us. Courage is doing it afraid. It would be amazing to know how much the bully of fear has robbed from only us in this room. We left the story with the Jewish council in a tirade ripping their clothes (Mat. 26:64-66), screaming, and calling for the death of Jesus. The bullying continued.
Luke 23:1 Then the WHOLE ASSEMBLY rose and LED HIM off to Pilate.
The whole assembly? This was uncommon. There is no record of this ever happening before or after. We’re not told how many were in this assembly. We know the total Sanhedrin council was seventy. Probably around fifty would be a quorum. The parade was another planned bullying act intended to discourage any resistance from the Jesus followers and to intimidate and bully Pilate. Jesus was paraded bound (Mat. 27:2) through the streets of Jerusalem like a lamb led to the slaughter (Isa. 53:7). This is God’s plan, not Satan’s. They led him to the governor Pontius Pilate who immediately realized he had a precarious situation and knew he was being bullied.
A little historical background about Pontius Pilate will help. To have the governor position meant Pilate had served in the Roman army. He became a general so he was a formidable soldier and leader. His primary duties were maintaining peace, collecting taxes, and overseeing Roman construction projects. Pilate served as the prefect of Judea from 26 to 36 A.D. and held the sole authority to order a criminal’s execution. On several occasions Pilate caused near insurrections among the Jews because of his insensitivity to Jewish customs such as bringing Roman standards into the city and temple area seen as idols to the Jews. Once, Pilate took money from the temple to finance an aqueduct. This resulted in the slaughter of many Jews. Though pictured in scriptures as a sensitive man toward Jesus, Philo, an ancient historian, wrote Pilate had “vindictiveness and furious temper.” As vile as Pilate was, the Jews were even viler. By the time Pilate was confronted with Jesus, he had received several warnings from Caesar of the emperor’s dissatisfaction, investigation microscope, and looming punishment which did come in 36 A.D.
Luke 23:2-4 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found THIS MAN subverting our nation. He OPPOSES PAYMENT OF TAXES TO CAESAR and claims to be Christ, A KING.” So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against THIS MAN.”
Matthew 27:18 For HE KNEW it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
Matthew and John give us much more of the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus. This was the fourth trial Jesus was put through in about two hours. It’s not yet 6 a.m. Pilate knew about Jesus. Pilate knew Jesus was no threat to Caesar, but was a threat to the Jews. Any governor would know the activities going on in their area.
Pilate’s verdict: Not Guilty! He knew Jesus didn’t oppose payment of taxes to Caesar (Luke 20:25). Nothing else was said about taxes. He knew he wasn’t attempting to be a king to contest Caesar. It seems to me Pilate defended Jesus to jab the Jews and not bow to their bullying tactics. The bully of fear is not simply going to go away. So, how do we respond when fear pressured? Here is one way we all respond.
Luke 23:5-7 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in GALILEE and has come all the way here.” On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was aGALILEAN. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
The bully of fear doesn’t simply go away. It insisted. “Galilee!” “Galilean!” Pilate saw a deflection. He could shift the responsibility to someone else. Do you ever do this? You know it’s your responsibility, but because of fear you don’t want to make the call. Herod Antipas, the governor of Galilee, was in Jerusalem for Passover. This was the Herod who’d taken his brother’s Phillip wife in an incestuous relationship, got enticed over his step daughter’s exotic dance, had John the Baptist beheaded, and the head put on a platter at the request of his wicked wife and stepdaughter (Mat 14). “Hell hath no fury like…” Pilate sent Jesus to some really nice people who are a picture of the bully of fear – vile, cruel, and wicked.
Luke 23:8-12 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been WANTING TO SEE HIM. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, BUT JESUS GAVE HIM NO ANSWER. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, VEHEMENTLY ACCUSING HIM. Then Herod and his soldiers RIDICULED AND MOCKED him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, theySENT HIM BACK TO PILATE. That day Herod and Pilate became friends – before this they had been enemies.
This was trial number five and not yet 6 a.m. The word piled means to accost one with an enquiry. Everyone wanted to see Jesus. If Herod knew about Jesus certainly Pilate did. Herod wanted to see a miracle, but Jesus did nothing and said nothing. Herod attempted to provoke Jesus by accosting him. Jesus didn’t so much as acknowledge the egotistical maniac who had murdered his cousin and mentor John the Baptist. Jesus gave him no answer. What fear – bully – accost you?
Jesus showed us we don’t need to respond to bullies. I don’t know if there is a more demeaning response than saying nothing. It aggravates me when I text someone and they don’t respond, so not responding to a bully is perfect. We don’t have to acknowledge every vile bully. Even though Jesus was ridiculed and mocked he did not succumb to their bullying.
I may appear weak not responding, but we all know it’s a much stronger person who can not respond when ridiculed and mocked than one who must. Allow God to execute vengeance and God did with Herod. We know what happened to the Jews who were annihilated by the vengeance of God in A.D. 70 (Luk 21:22). What happened to this wonderful person Herod? His wife’s brother, Agrippa who was also Herod’s nephew, became friends with Emperor Caligula. After a falling out between Agrippa and Herod, Agrippa convinced the Emperor his uncle/brother-in-law Herod was conspiring against him. In 39 AD, a few years after the death of Jesus, Herod Antipas was stripped of his money, rule and was exiled where he died or was killed by Caligula’s order. God will execute vengeance. Our part is to not bow to the bully of fear and do it afraid.
After being judged by Herod, Jesus was brought back to Pilate. Jesus just wouldn’t go away. No matter what you do, Jesus will not go away. He will continuously come back up in your life. You should be fairly familiar with the story from here on out. I’ll read several passages and point out a few key thoughts after Jesus was sent back to Pilate.
Matthew 27:19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with THAT INNOCENT MAN, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
It would be around this time there was a “Pssst, Pilate. There’s a message for you…” You men know how this feels. Now his wife’s weighing in on the dilemma! Interesting, every gentile said innocent. The Jews said Crucify him.
Luke 23:13-25 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me THIS MAN as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I WILL PUNISH HIM and then release him.” With one voice they cried out, “Away withTHIS MAN! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) WANTING TO RELEASE JESUS, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!” For THE THIRD TIME he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has THIS MAN committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” But with loud shouts THEY INSISTENTLY DEMANDED that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate DECIDED TO GRANT THEIR DEMAND. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
You may recognize this passage from last Easter’s This Man sermon. It’s as though they all were afraid to say the name of Jesus. This was the sixth and final trial Jesus was put through and the third time Pilate said: Not Guilty! The Jews didn’t want Jesus punished or even dead. They wanted him crucified – tortured, beaten, and humiliated. But, was it only their plan, or was it the plan of God from the creation of the world (Rev. 13:8)?
Matthew 27:24-25 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead AN UPROAR WAS STARTING, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”
What a chilling declaration! Sadly, it was on them. Washing the hands was actually a takeoff from a Jewish custom (Deu 21:1-9) to purge guilt from oneself. Pilate said he was innocent, but was he? No. We can say we’re doing the right thing, but all we’re doing is bowing to the bully of fear. Pilate could not afford an uproar. It would cost Pilate his career and a few years later one did.
John 19:12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, YOU ARE NO FRIEND OF CAESAR. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was THE DAY OF PREPARATION OF PASSOVER Week, about THE SIXTH HOUR. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.
…about the sixth hour would be about six a.m. (Roman time is as our time. The day began at midnight.) Pilate finally handed Jesus over to the death squad about 6 a.m. It was the day ofPreparation of Passover meaning the day the Passover lambs were slain. The Jews wanted Jesus executed, dead, and buried by sundown. So did God. They thought it was their agenda. It was God’s agenda.
To satisfy the crowd and protect his own career, Pilate released Barabbas and turned Jesus over to be crucified. Pilate sold his soul. Do people do this today? Is the pressure of the crowd more important to people than Jesus? Are our careers more important than Jesus? A question we each need to ask is what fear, what bully could cause me, cause you, to sell our souls.
What became of Pilate? About three years after crucifying Jesus in 36 A.D., Emperor Caligula recalled Pilate by the demands of the Jews and exiled him. Three years later Caligula ordered Pilate’s death by execution, or Pilate could commit suicide. It’s not certain which happened. The only thing known is Pilate died in 39 A.D.
Fear will take us out. Fear is a bully. It will arrest our lives, bind us, slap us around, mock, ridicule, and beat us mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It will cause us to sell our souls. We will all face the bully of fear. This is not the question. The question is what we will do when we experience it. Will it dominate and control us? Or, will we “do it afraid” wading through the fear and not allow fear to still from our lives?
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