Luke 23:1-12: “Injustice on Display, Part 2”
“Then the whole company of them arose and brought Him before Pilate, and they began to accuse Him, saying, ‘We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar and saying that He Himself is Christ, a king. Pilate asked Him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ And He answered him, ‘You have said so.’ Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, ‘I find no guilt in this man.’ But they were urgent, saying, ‘He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea from Galilee even to this place.”
“When Pilate heard this, he asked whether this man was a Galilean. And when he learned that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was glad, for he had long desired to see Him because he had heard about Him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by Him. So, he questioned Him at some length, but He made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by and were vehemently accusing Him. Herod and his soldiers treated Him with contempt and mocked Him. Then arraying Him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Pilate and Herod became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other” (Luke 23:1-12, ESV).
Before we continue looking at the path to the cross and beyond, let us focus on the Lord Jesus Himself as He undergoes the continuous questioning. He also endured physical abuse, constant outrage and venomous hatred from His accusers, and mocking from sadistic guards who have had their sick thrill of humiliating and hitting Him through the night and into the early morning hours. He needs immediate medical attention due to dehydration, blood loss, wound care, nausea, blunt force trauma from the beatings, lack of nutrients, and physical exhaustion.
If He had been brought into a modern trauma center of a local hospital, the ER staff would give Him the appropriate blood transfusions, fluids through a permanent IV every two to three hours, and antibiotics for wound treatment and possible infection. He would have had x-rays to detect broken bones or organ damage, a probable EKG to detect heart irregularities, an MRI for potential brain injury due to the physical assaults, hygiene such as a sponge bath, and tests for pupil dilation. They would have admitted Him to ICU for observation and long-term care until He was no longer classified as being in critical condition.
After nearly twenty years of service as a hospital trauma chaplain watching ER personnel treat everything you can imagine, I can be certain that what I have just described would be standard procedure.
However, the LORD does not have that kind of care or treatment available, nor would it be offered to Him if He asked for it. The cruelty towards Him by His accusers is vicious and void of any sense of decency or compassion. The illegal, unjust mockery of right and wrong has not stopped to give the LORD relief or rest from either the fanatical Sanhedrin, or from further questioning by the Roman authorities, and in particular, the regional governor, Pontius Pilate.
Pilate was commissioned by Emperor Tiberius Caesar to serve as governor of the region of Syria and Judea in A.D. 26. His actions against the Jews, such as the attempt to place the symbol of Rome in the area of the Jewish temple, ended in riots and unrest as well as the deaths of citizens and officials in Jerusalem. The Pharisees had informed Tiberius of these atrocities and gave Pilate a stern warning of what would happen to him if any more trouble occurred there.
Pilate knew to try and keep the local population content and to avoid trouble. When Jesus was brought before him in the early morning, the Pharisees and Sadducees presented their accusations. They said that Jesus had encouraged the people to refuse paying their taxes to the Romans, which was a blatant lie due to the encounter they had with Him in the temple on this very issue a few days earlier (Luke 20:19-26). He was also charged with “perverting the nation” by proclaiming that He was the true king of Israel. Caesar did not take well to anyone declaring that for anyone but himself. That was clearly treason and insurrection against Rome and a sure penalty of death by crucifixion.
I am certain that Pilate would have had Jesus arrested earlier had this accusation been valid. He had a network of trained soldiers who would have rid the region of any attempt of rebellion by Jesus or anyone else by putting Him and those who followed Him to immediate death.
There were undoubtedly spies for Rome in every area of the empire who would hear of and look out for any signs of unrest and report it to the governing authorities, who would quickly crush it. Pilate was not the sharpest ruler in Roman history, but he was not stupid either. He looked at the beaten, bloody man before him and quickly realized that the charges against Jesus were just so much hearsay and bluster. Pilate offered Him amnesty and declared Him innocent. Jesus’ accusers would have none of it. Upon hearing that Jesus was from the region of Galilee, Pilate decided to pass Him off to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Judea who was in Jerusalem at that time. The demonically inspired group then went to where Herod was staying to see if anything would be done by him to rid the area of Jesus for good.
Antipas had been tetrarch of Galilee since 4 A.D. and would remain in that post until he was exiled to Gaul in A.D. 39 by order of the emperor, Caligula, along with his niece/wife whom he took from his brother Herod Phillip years before. It was Antipas who had John the Baptist executed for preaching against their unlawful and incestuous union.
Jesus had called Herod a “fox,” which was a verbal insult implying Herod’s underhanded and deceptive nature. Herod had wanted to kill Jesus earlier, believing that He was John the Baptist risen from the dead, returning to condemn him. There was no love lost between the Lord Jesus and this pitiful waste of oxygen who sat on the bloody throne of the Herodian Dynasty. Now the despot would have the Nazarene in his palace and try to get Him to do a miracle for his sick and twisted pleasure and feigned interest. Jesus had nothing to say to this robed, pampered, and pathetic excuse for reprobate behavior. Herod treated Jesus with contempt and insult and sent him back to Pilate.
The mutual feeling of apathy and disrespect that these two weasels had toward Jesus ended up forging a friendship between them, but nothing else of merit or honor on their part.
So, Jesus ends up being shuffled like so much baggage back to Pilate, who must figure out what to do with this bloodied and beaten man in front of him. He can release Him and be done with the matter, earning the scorn of the Pharisees who can make life miserable for him by contacting Tiberius Caesar. Or he can punish Him without reason or cause and make an example of Him before the crowd, which satisfies no one. Or he can bank on what sympathy the people might have for Jesus by having them choose between letting Him go free or releasing a convicted robber and murderer. Either way, there is no real justice for Jesus, and the outcome will initiate the greatest travesty of right and wrong in all recorded history.
The next time you tend to wallow in self-pity over some alleged wrong done to you, think on the fact that only One person in all of civilization had the right to protest against His unfair and unjust treatment, but He endured it for your sake and your salvation.