Summary: Jesus was silent before Herod Antipas and His accusers because He understood that His words would not sway them, but His actions have changed the hearts of millions...
Luke 23:6-12 [ESV]
6When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other."
Jesus has been arrested in the middle of the night in the Garden of Gethsemane. He has been abandoned by His disciples and publicly denied by His lead disciple. He has been mocked, ridiculed and severely beaten for hours by the Temple guard, and then He was marched in front of the Roman Procurator to be judged.
The Roman Procurator, a man named Pilate, did not think Jesus was worth dealing with, and after questioning Jesus his verdict was that Jesus was NOT guilty of any crime against Rome. The religious leaders press him on this issue and expand the charges to Jesus causing dissention among the people, which was serious charge for Rome as they wanted the peace kept, at all costs.
Pilate still does not see any reason to charge and punish Jesus, but he hears that Jesus had been serving in Galilee, and he quickly desires to pass the buck to the local Jewish ‘king’ … King Herod, who was in Jerusalem at the time.
Now why did Pilate send Jesus to Herod? It could be that Pilate knew that these religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus… but he did not want to be the one to pass sentence on Him. In fact, we later see this to be the case… but here in this passage we see that Pilate hopes Herod will pass judgment and relieve him of this burden… and politically speaking relieve him of all the negative fallout that comes with sentencing a popular man to his death.
Another thought is that Pilate could have heard that Herod hated Jesus and wanted Him dead… and this could be why Herod and Pilate are considered friends after this day… [Bobby’s notes] in either regard, Pilate chose to pass the buck (so to speak) to Herod… and here is where we pick up our story!
VERSE BY VERSE COMMENTARY/STUDY:
6When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.
Now, biblically speaking, when we hear the name Herod, it was not so much a name as it was a title… And it was used by at least 3 men in the Bible…
First there was Herod the Great (whose name WAS Herod) was king when Jesus was born.
Then we see that there is a “Herod Agrippa” (grandson of Herod the Great) the king that Paul dealt with in Acts, and almost persuaded to proclaim Christ as Savior.
Then there is Herod Antipas that we see in our passage tonight (son of Herod the Great) we associate with the imprisonment and martyrdom of John the Baptist.
Herod Antipas had married his brother’s wife before his brother’s death… which was unlawful and sinful and John the Baptist proclaimed this sin to the masses. This is why John was eventually imprisoned by Herod, and executed (beheaded) by him.
In our passage tonight, we find Jesus being sent by Pilate to meet with Herod Antipas. Now from all indication in this passage, Herod seems excited to meet Jesus. The presupposition here is that Herod has heard about Jesus and what He has been doing (miracles/signs) but we come to the conclusion that Herod’s excitement was simply that Jesus would ‘perform’ for him.
However, when we look earlier in the book of Luke we can actually read about some of the religious leaders who were following Jesus… they warned Jesus that Herod desired to kill Him…Luke 13:31 [ESV] 31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you."
Why would Herod want to kill Jesus? Before that verse, Herod and Jesus had not been connected… but scripture does tell us that Herod had heard of what Jesus had done and that he believed that Jesus was the John the Baptist come back to life! He had put John to death, so that would have been reason enough for Herod to fear Jesus and desire Jesus’ death…