Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other. (Luke 23:8-12 NASB)
For some reason, Herod Antipas is a character on whom Luke spends time. The other Gospels barely mention him except in relation to John the Baptist. Matthew 14 and Mark 6 are the other two Gospel references to this “tetrarch”. But Luke has chapters 9, 13, and 23 in his Gospel. The “Herod” later in Acts is most likely Agrippa I. For Luke, the Herodian line of rulers holds interest. It’s very possible that they would also hold interest for Luke’s audience or at least for Theophilus.
Luke also seems to know something of the household of Antipas. Knows enough to know that this ruler wanted to see Jesus, had heard of Him, and sought to see a miracle (sign). We can only surmise why that might be, but the life in Roman and regional politics offers lots of opportunities to become jaded toward anything truly supernatural. On the other hand, the opportunity for entertainment through the miraculous is also a possible reason. Either way, or some other, Jesus decides to not play along. Herod gets nothing out of Him, no sign, no words, no defense, no entertainment or proof of any sort.
Antipas then joins in the derision of Jesus, possibly lending weight to the “entertainment” reason for wanting to see a sign. Herod’s soldiers and he treat Jesus with contempt and mock Him. Herod throws a “gorgeous” robe on Him, and Jesus is sent back to Pilate. It had to be somewhat depressing, and real “killjoy” for this wealthy center of attention. There is a game rulers play called “puppet master”, where the king and those around him attempt to get everyone else to be their “puppet” and do what they want. Trickery, lies, intimidation, and even torture are valid methods to achieve success in this game. Jesus refuses to play.
Ironically, the chief priests and scribes are playing the game. They like it too, only they play the “Jewish Leadership” version, which has more rules for religious hypocrisy, subterfuge, and mob control. It’s often a popular edition widely available in churches today. This group stands and accuses Jesus of everything they can think of, and somethings suggested by others on the way to Herod’s. Again Jesus just stands at the center of the swirling maelstrom of vehemence and contempt, totally at peace.
Jesus’ peace came from a teleological perspective. He had already given up His will to avoid what is coming. He had only the view point of the end. For Him, the end passed through being tortured to death, and separation from the substance of God. But able to see beyond, He had a resurrection and ascension on which to focus.
I think we’ve largely lost that teleological perspective. We can have it too, but 2,000 years just seems so long to wait. So much has happened to jade our view of the miraculous. We too, now focus on entertainment over substance. We content ourselves with the “games people play” rather than the “…prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
There is an alternative. We can consider heaven. We can dream of it. We can imagine the Descent of the Lord, the shout of heaven, the voice of the archangel, the trumpet of God, and the rising of the dead in Christ. But we don’t. We should, but we don’t. Instead we fall into the quagmire of “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” theology that seeks “relevance” marketed as a “good-return-on-investment”. As if what we receive here is worth going through what we go through here. It’s not, and it can never be. Friendship with the world is hatred toward God. So, it’s time to dream of something else.
Jesus looks at the splendor of Herod, the wealth and power of the religious leaders, and the military might of Pilate and the Romans. He does see it. But He also sees the glory of heaven, the brilliance of the armies of God, and the sheer overwhelming power of the Giver of Life. His perspective is different. But Jesus shares this perspective with us! He doesn’t keep it to Himself, He doesn’t bogard the riches of His Kingdom, He does not consider equality with God to be plunder.
The real question is whether or not we will avail ourselves of the perspective of Jesus. Will we take the long view? Because the view of where we are from where we are is really depressing. Isn’t it much more sensible to look at where God is? Isn’t the face of Jesus a much more pleasant view? What would happen here if we were more concerned about what’s happening there? Probably not what you think.
That’s my view through this knothole this morning. What’s yours?