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. (Luke 23:5-7 NASB)
Pilate is still caught between the people he doesn’t want to help, and the silent guy in front of him he wants to help. In the end, he’s really just a person in a country of people. It’s just that, for Pilate, this Person really does seem different. Of all the characters involved, only Jesus is at peace. That’s very backward from the usual drama of Jerusalem.
But among the virulent accusations flying from the gaping gnashing holes of lies before him, Pilate hears, “…from Galilee” to describe Jesus. This is what Pilate’s been looking for, a back door off this stage, and out of this tragic comedy. So, he sends Jesus to the “Herod” who had already killed John the Baptist out of embarrassment. Easy-peasy, Jesus is as good as dead already.
Conveniently, Herod is actually in Jerusalem for the feast (so we think). It doesn’t say why Herod is in Jerusalem, only that he is. The Passover is going on, so perhaps that’s why. In the case of Herod, it could only be a political or social excuse. He’s the “Chief of a Fourth” so anything to get the other three-fourths is worth the effort. And it’s unlikely this king will be a part of a traditional Passover meal. He’s even less Jewish than his father, and never tried as hard to be accepted by the people he governed.
That being said, Pilate has found “Door Number 3”, and he’s taking it. We already know it won’t work, but let’s stop and look at ourselves in light of Pilate’s approach to Jesus. Pilate isn’t Jewish. He hasn’t been steeped in their traditions and teachings. He’s not even close to being a “believer”. He has centurions under him who are God-fearing gentiles, respectful of the Jewish people, and many of them well-liked. He is nothing like that. So his approach to Jesus is as a “political animal” rather than a “believing Gentile”.
If you’re reading this, presumably you already believe, at least to a degree, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and Savior of the World. From the outset, our approaches to Jesus differ from Pilate’s in this passage. While that initially gives us a great advantage, the similarities in our decisions about what to do with Jesus should be extremely telling. Think about a time, especially as a believer, you let Jesus be somebody else’s problem; you passed on the opportunity to stand for Him, you sought any other option than to endanger your position or comfort to stand for Him.
Now, that shame your feeling, (because who hasn’t done this) hold that emotion in your left hand (work with me here). Now, think back to Jesus in the upper room with His disciples. He’s just said they will eventually sit on thrones judging the tribes of Israel. And then He leans over and says to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith will be strengthened.” Do you remember that? Do you also remember that Jesus, immediately after, predicts Peter’s denial of Him? Take that shame in your left hand and hold it up to Jesus. It’s not like He didn’t know it was coming on you. But also hear from Him His prayer for your faith, because it’s at times like this that we need to return and strengthen others.
The thing about Pilate is that he does what Peter does, in a sense. And in that same sense, hasn’t surprised Jesus. So, Pilate has the same option to “return”, but in a different sense. To our shock, so do the religious leaders. Even Judas had the option. It’s not about the failure, it is, once again, about the response to the failure. Our relationship with Jesus is different than Pilate’s. And we have the chance, the calling, to return to that relationship rather than live in the shame of the failure.
So, yes, we’ve pulled a “Pilate”, and sought convenient options other than declaring Jesus as our King. But we also have the calling of our King to return to Him. Think that through. He knows we’re going to deny Him, but He calls us back anyway. We’re stuck in mediocrity between what we know and what we do. No shock to our Master. We’re not what we imagine we should have been by now. Didn’t surprise Jesus. We missed the bar we set for ourselves among our peers. Jesus, leaning on the fallen bar, holds out His hand to pull us to our feet. Is it possible that we’ve been looking at this relationship all wrong? Perhaps we should take that hand, be pulled to our feet, and listen to His explanation. There’s something we’re missing we desperately need to know.
What do you see through your knothole this morning?