Luke 23: 6-12 – Jesus before Herod


The episode of Jesus’ appearance before Herod (the tetrarch of GalileeLuke 3: 1) who happens to be in Jerusalem, is found only in the passion narrative of Luke. The reason why Pilate sends Jesus to Herod is difficult to understand. It may be that the mention of Galilee and Jesus’ teaching there (Lk 23: 5) suggested to Pilate a means to getting rid of a difficult case. It is also suggested that by sending Jesus to Herod Pilate sought to placate Herod and make amends for his murder of the Galileans (cf. Lk 13: 1). Possibly Luke sees in this episode an allusion to Psalm 2: 2, “The Kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take councils together, against the Lord and his anointed.” Again, by narrating this story Luke probably wanted to emphasize the innocence of Jesus. Neither Pilate nor Herod finds any crime in Jesus deserving of punishment.

Herod was already anxious to see Jesus (Lk 9: 9), in order to witness some miracles performed by him. He now gets an opportunity to satisfy his desire to see Jesus. But to a person who is led by curiosity, Jesus has nothing to give. He does not even reply to Herod who “question Jesus at some length” (Lk 23: 10). Despite the accusations by the Jewish leaders, Herod could find no crime in Jesus. But Herod treated Jesus with contempt, mocked him and sent him back to Pilate (Lk 23: 11). Luke mentions the mocking of Jesus by Herod and his soldiers briefly and in general terms. But he will not record any mistreat of Jesus by the Roman soldiers after Pilate delivered Jesus to the demand of the Jewish leaders (but cf. Mk 15: 16-20).

In sum the Lukan narrative of Jesus’ appearance before Herod has the effect of proving Jesus’ innocence once again. Herod did not find Jesus guilty of any of the charges brought against him (cf. Lk 23: 15). This episode also shows how Jesus,, even in suffering and humiliation, brings about a reconciliation between two enemies (Lk 23: 12).


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