Eyewitness to Easter: Herod Tries Jesus

Herod Antipas ordered for John the Baptist to be beheaded. However, Jesus avoids him until he is arrested and brought up on charges. Jesus is first taken before Pontius Pilate.

 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.”  {Luke 23:7}

Herod Antipas is over Galilee which is where Jesus came from. So, Pilate, who could find no fault in Jesus sends him to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at the time. So it would have been a short distance from one man to the other.

“Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. The Jews in their clamor against Pilate’s decision declared that Jesus was of Galilee; so he thought to get out of his difficulty by turning Jesus over to Herod, who was now in Jerusalem to attend the Passover.”   {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament}

When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him.” {Luke 23:8}

Herod admired John the Baptist and his teachings, although he didn’t follow all of them. So as word spread about Jesus, he became curious and eager to mee the man. Now the opportunity had presented itself.

“Herod had come from Tiberias to keep in favor with the Jews by showing his respect to their festival. Hearing that Jesus was a citizen of Herod’s province, Pilate saw an opportunity to do two things: first, by sending Jesus to Herod he would either shift or divide the grave responsibility in which he was placed; second, he would show a courtesy to Herod which might help to remove Herod’s enmity toward him.”  {The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels}

“That he might gratify his curiosity to see Jesus. This was the Herod who had murdered John the Baptist.”  {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament}

“From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.”  {Luke 23:9-10}

Herod had heard many things of Jesus in Galilee, and out of curiosity longed to see him. The poorest beggar that asked a miracle for the relief of his necessity, was never denied; but this proud prince, who asked for a miracle only to gratify his curiosity, is refused. He might have seen Christ and his wondrous works in Galilee, and would not, therefore it is justly said, Now he would see them, and shall not. Herod sent Christ again to Pilate: the friendships of wicked men are often formed by union in wickedness. They agree in little, except in enmity to God, and contempt of Christ. {Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary}

Herod Antipas hoped Jesus would perform a miracle or some sign, but he only stood there. So he bombarded him with questions, but again Jesus didn’t answer.

 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him.”  {Luke 23:11-12}

Herod Antipas couldn’t resist when Jesus refused to say or do anything. He quickly followed the chief priest and teachers who accused and mocked Jesus. Seeing him make a mockery of Jesus, his soldiers followed suit.

“Herod, as sated ruler, adulterer, and murderer, wished Jesus to turn juggler for his amusement; but the Son of God had nothing but silence for such a creature. The only contemptuous word which Jesus is recorded to have spoken had reference to this ruler.”  {The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels}

            Earlier in Jesus ministry, he’d been told “At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” {Luke 13:31}

            Jesus reply had been “He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’”   {Luke 13:32}

“Pilate was a better man than Herod. Though he yielded weakly to the clamor, he was not a trifler.” {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament}

“Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.”  {Luke 23:11-12}

Herod Antipas dressed Jesus elegantly, probably in a regal manner as he claimed to be King of the Jews. One can almost hear his mocking nature as he had the robe put on him.

“Because of Pilate’s courtesy in sending Herod a prisoner that belonged to his province. Why they were enemies is not stated.”   {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament}

“ Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people,and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.” {Luke 23:13-15}

Pilate tried one last time to release Jesus. After all, neither he nor Herod Antipas found anything wrong or any reason why Jesus should be put to death.

“These words occur in another effort of Pilate to release Jesus, and imply that Herod had sent word that he found no guilt in the prisoner.”  {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament}

Herod Antipas is not mentioned again in scripture, but we know from history he fell from power when he asked Caligula to appoint him king. Antipas feared his nephew, Agrippa, but his plan backfired when he bragged about over the amount of his weapons. In the summer of 39AD, he was charged with allegations of conspiracy, arrested and exiled in Spain. He remained in exile the remainder of his life, but it is unknown whether Caligula had him killed or he died a natural death.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.