Summary: In this section of Luke we find individuals and groups of people – the Roman Soldiers, the Sanhedrin, Pilate and Herod – all uniting together against Jesus. In the face of such unity we need to ask the question – “Are we on the wrong side?”
You can listen to the full message here:-
Jesus Uniting Enemies
Uniting for a common cause.
Describe a bad car accident
• People will rush to help.
• No-one really votes on a leader, but everything just gets organised.
• Blankets, water, shade.
• People comforting.
People who are not normally working together are united.
The dead of Jesus also brings about unity. But it is a very unusual unity.
Read Luke 22:63-23:1
Who is working with whom here?
It is the Jewish Council - also known as the Sanhedrin - working with the Romans.
Not just the Romans guards.
They are working with Pilate.
Which says a lot about how much they hate Jesus.
The Jews have not had an independence for the last 100 years.
It started in 63BC when Pompey walked triumphantly into Jerusalem after a siege of three months. During the siege twelve thousand Jews had died and many more were taken as slaves.
To celebrate his victory Pompey walked triumphantly into the Holy of Holies.
To demonstrate his authority Pompey reduced the boundary lines of the Jewish territory which caused Jerusalem to swell with refugees.
To secure Roman rule Pompey put a local governor in place.
To complete the humiliation taxes were now imposed on the Jews.
That was the beginning of a history - as a result many Jews hated the Romans. This hate continued even though the Romans brought many benefits to Judea, including proper roads, greater security, expansion of cities, and more trade. This hate continued even though the Jews were exempted from participating in emperor worship and they were still allowed to practice their religion with very little interference.
Part of the current hate can be attributed to the reign of Herod the Great - the father of Herod Antipas who we will soon read about.
Herod ruthlessly put down dissent. Herod’s military were often cruel and over-reacted with great force. He turned the Jewish council into a puppet and he murdered many scholars because he felt threatened by them.
Just after his death a 1000 Jews were killed in a riot and 2000 Jews were crucified.
Even though he has been dead for 30 years the hate of his reign was still felt.
That hate was only encouraged by Pontius Pilate. Pilate has been the governor for about five years. His rule was characterized by corruption, violence, robberies, ill treatment of the people.
On one occasion he took money from the Temple treasury to pay for the construction of an aqueduct to supply the city of Jerusalem with water.
On another occasion he told his soldiers to disguise themselves in civilian clothes, with their swords hidden under their cloaks, and mingle with a crowd of demonstrators. After they were in position, he signalled for them to pull out their weapons and attack. In the ensuing bloodbath, hundreds of people were killed.
In Luke 13:1 we read that some in the crowd “told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.”
The Jews hated Pilate. They hated the Roman military. They hated the oppression, and the taxes, and the limitations and the occupation.
But here we are:-
The Sanhedrin uniting with the Roman military to arrest, beat and mock Jesus.
The Sanhedrin uniting with Pilate to get what they want.
And what do they want?
Let’s keep reading - Luke 23:2-12
So now we have another interesting unity take place. A unity between Herod and Pilate.
This is Herod Antipas who was one of the three sons to take over ruling the area after Herod the Great died.
Herod was not liked by the people. He had divorced his wife to marry Herodias - the former the wife of his half brother. Here is one result of that situation.
Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” On his birthday Herod gave a banquet where … the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered. Herod sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter.
The Jewish people loved John. Herod killed him. The people hated Herod.
Roman law declared that a person could either be tried in the place where he was accused or in the province where he came from.