Week 5 - Day 5 - Luke 23:1-5

 The Passion of Christ in the Gospel of Luke

A Guide to Meditation and Prayer


Week 6 - Day 1

Christ on Trial

Jesus Before Pilate and Herod


Meditation on Scripture- Read Luke 23:1-12 and write your reflections in the workbook. Use the summary below for further reflection on the passage. Prayer- Use the Guide for Prayer. 


Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of the southern part of the nation of Israel. While Herod Antipas was tetrarch of the northern region of the nation, Galilee, the southern region, including Jerusalem, had been under direct Roman control since 6 A.D. Since it was a major festival, Pilate was in Jerusalem in order to personally keep the peace during this potentially volatile time. Because he heard cases first thing in the morning, the chief priests brought Jesus to him early. 


Though the Jewish leadership had convicted Jesus of blasphemy, the charge they brought to Pilate was sedition against Caesar and Rome. Pilate recognized the weakness of their case and sent Jesus to Herod as a way to hopefully avoid involvement. Pilate will discover however that he will not be able to do so. 

Herod Antipas was the tetrarch of Galilee, the region in the northern part of Israel. There are a number of Herod’s in the New Testament, all related to the most famous of them, Herod the Great. Herod the Great rose from relative obscurity to become the king over all of Israel. He was brilliant, brave, handsome, and cruel. He also became paranoid later in life, putting to death two of his own sons for supposed treachery and also his favorite wife. Caesar Augustus would say of Herod that it was safer to be a pig in Herod’s household than one of his sons. 


Herod Antipas was one of the sons to whom Herod left a portion of his kingdom, the northern region of Galilee. Another of the sons, Herod Archelaus, was given Jerusalem and the southern region. He was cruel and his rule was disastrous. He was deposed and exiled by Augustus only ten years after his reign began, in 6 A.D. At that point his region became a Roman protectorate. This was the reason Roman governor, Pontius Pilate had authority in Jerusalem at the time of Christ. 


Herod Antipas governed better than Archelaus and continued to rule in Galilee, though he was never given the title of “king” by Caesar. At the point of the passage, Herod and Pilate were at odds. An incident is recorded in Josephus where Pilate had a group of Galileans killed for insurrection at the Passover. It may have been this incident that was the cause of their animosity. 


History records Herod as a vain and unexceptional ruler. Since much of Jesus’ ministry was in Herod’s region of Galilee, he had obviously heard a great deal about him. But he had never seen him. His interest in Jesus however was not spiritual but he only wanted to see a miracle. Jesus would not answer him. He would appear to be following his own teachings here for he said, in the Sermon on the Mount, “do not cast your pearls before swine.” We see the cruelty of Herod, like his Father before him (Matthew 2:16-18), in the contempt he and his court show for Jesus. 


Things to consider – 


·     One aspect of the trial of Jesus was how hard it was for them to find anything for which to accuse Jesus. Why do you think Pilate did not simply let Jesus go free? 

·     Do you ever have occasions in which you give in to outside pressure, against your wishes? 

·     The Jews played on Pilate’s fear of a riot when they told him that Jesus stirred up the people. Do you think that wicked people today prey on the fears of others? In what way? 

·     This is an account that reminds us how wicked, cruel, and callous evil can be. Where do you see this in the world today? 

·     Notice that God allowed Jesus to experience the full inhumanity and cruelty of humans.

·     The splendid clothing with which they arrayed Jesus when sent back to Pilate was to mock him. What do you think God’s judgment will be on those who have contempt for him? Should we pray for those who do? 

·     This is an account that reminds us how wicked, cruel, and callous evil can be. Where do you see this in the world today?  


Guide for prayer – 


·     Take one minute to calm your mind and gather your spirit

·     Thank God for this country and its judicial system that, for whatever its faults, is very fair compared to many places in the world. 

·     Pray for judges in all our courts.

·     Thank God for the grace with which Jesus faced his trial. 

·     Pray for our civil leaders at all levels. Ask that they would be committed to telling the truth. 

·     Ask God for help doing the right thing, even when it runs against the tide. 

·     Pray for our nation. 

·     Pray for someone in need. 

·     Pray one honest and authentic prayer. 

·     Take some moments to offer your own prayers to God. Offer whatever prayers and praises seem appropriate.