Luke 23:8-12 (NIV) When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no 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. 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.
Herod had been trying to see Jesus ever since word of His miracle-working power had reached him. A big reason for his desire to see Jesus was his absolute terror that Jesus was in fact John the Baptist risen from the dead to avenge his wrongful beheading by Herod (Mark 6:16).
Herod was greatly relieved the moment he saw Jesus face to face. This was not, in fact, John, but some other holy man. As soon as his mind was relieved of that worry, he turned his thoughts to the hope that Jesus might be persuaded to do a magic trick, a miracle for him like those he had heard so many stories about. But it was not to be.
Instead, Jesus stood silently in His bonds while the chief priests and scribes loudly shouted their accusations at Herod and urged him to judge Jesus guilty of something. While they did this, Jesus didn’t look angry or sullen, as Herod had seen many prisoners look. He just looked a bit weary, and maybe even a little bored with the whole thing. This man was clearly not a threat to Rome. And it was equally clear that Herod was in no danger of losing his throne to this stoic preacher, despite the protestations of the leaders that He fancied Himself the Messiah.
It was then that an impish idea struck Herod. Jesus was being accused of being, the Messiah, the true king of Israel. They would just see what kind of a king He would be. Herod draped one of his own royal robes across Jesus’ shoulders, and he and his soldiers bowed down to Him in mock adoration. But that game grew tiring after only a couple of minutes.
Herod had gone from worried, to amused, to annoyed in the space of these few minutes. His annoyance was not directed at Jesus, poor wretch that Herod saw Him to be. And it was not directed at Pilate for sending Jesus to him in the first place. In fact, Pilate’s stock had actually gone up several points in Herod’s eyes at his recognition of his sphere of authority. No, he was annoyed at the leaders, the chief priests and scribes. They had clearly trumped up these charges against this poor man, had gotten up Herod’s hopes that he might get to see a miracle, and then had completely wasted his time with someone who was so clearly a nobody. With the royal robe still draped across His shoulders, Jesus was quickly dispatched back to the governor.
Father, it is fascinating to me that neither Pilate nor Herod could see who Jesus really was. Despite the fact that the beatings and ridicule He had already endured had not caused Him to lower His head in shame, despite the fact that He stood alone, tall and calm, in the face of His storming enemies, they could see nothing beyond the bruised and battered visage. Despite their cross-examinations, they had absolutely no idea who it was who was standing before them. Truly they had eyes but could not see, and ears but could not hear. Empower me, Lord, to be able to see truly at all times, to be able to see past the surface of things to the reality beneath, so that I can not only know You better, but so that I can see other people as they truly are, just like Jesus (John 2:25). Amen.