5 July 2012

Luke 23:1-25

"That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies." (v. 12)


Having detailed (in yesterday's passage) the opposition of the religious authorities to Jesus, Luke's Gospel now details the attempts of Jesus accusers to prove he is a threat to the political leaders of his day. As leader of the occupying Roman armies, Pilate has little interest in a local man accused of blasphemy. The scribes know this, however, and are therefore at pains to state that if Jesus is setting himself up as Messiah, he is they argue claiming to be "king".

Having failed to find Jesus guilty of any crime, Pilate realises that Jesus is in fact from Galilee and that the Galilean king, Herod, is in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. He may have been motivated in part by a desire to stand clear of any potentially unjust execution but Pilate also sees in Jesus an opportunity to ingratiate himself as occupying ruler with the region's king.

But Herod quickly loses interest in Jesus when he fails to perform any kind of sensational miracle or "sign" (v. 8). In his willingness to hand Jesus over to more gratuitous humiliation at the hands of his guards we see a lack of compassion in Herod that is beyond belief. And in Pilate we see a man whose conscience moves him only as far as protesting Jesus' innocence before caving in to the pressure of the crowd and handing Jesus over to be crucified.

Luke's final words on this matter give us much to think about. Jesus has been wrongly accused, wrongfully convicted and will shortly be executed for no reason. But from this time on, Herod and Pilate will be friends. Both men have chosen to further their political agendas rather than listen to their conscience and have valued them above the life of a fellow human being. 

To Ponder

  • Where do you see the greatest injustices in our world today?
  • Where do you think the Church most needs to advocate for the disempowered in 2012?
  • To what extent can we express our faith by our involvement in politics?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jenny Wilkes

Jenny Wilkes studied at the Wesley Study Centre in Durham. She is stationed to the United North East Circuit and was ordained in July 2009.