PARTNERS IN CRIME
"Herod was delighted when Jesus showed up. He had wanted for a long time to see Him; he'd heard so much about Him. He hoped to see Him do something spectacular. He peppered Him with questions. Jesus didn't answer -- not one word. But the high priests and religion scholars were there, saying their piece, strident and shrill in their accusations.
"Mightily offended, Herod turned on Jesus. His soldiers joined in, taunting and jeering. Then they dressed him up in an elaborate king costume and sent Him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became thick as thieves. Always before they had kept their distance." Luke 23:8-12 (The Message).
Now it's Herod's turn -- the other authority figure responsible for justice in the land. It takes a run-in with the truth to show his true colours. He emerges as an even more unsavoury character than Pilate, who was at least honest enough to consider the accusations and acknowledge Jesus' innocence.
To Herod, Jesus was nothing but an object of amusement and a plaything. When Jesus refused to dance to his tune, he tossed Him aside with contempt. It was not justice he was after but entertainment for his own pleasure. He led the way, giving the soldiers permission by his own attitude, to humiliate Jesus by their words and actions.
It was also the soldiers' turn to confirm their guilt in this saga. By their behaviour they condemned themselves to the same fate as all the others. They had no personal axe to grind with Jesus and yet they treated Him like an enemy, cornered prey that they could torment before killing because, for a short time, they had Him in their power, so they thought.
Always, in the background, the religious hierarchy pranced around like hyenas, there in force to ensure that the prey did not escape.
Each one in this unfolding drama reveals his true self and confirms his culpability before God. And so with us. The value of this record would be lost to us if we did not place ourselves somewhere in this story. We may not occupy a seat of justice or rulership but we have to face the same Jesus and make a decision regarding who He is.
Like the people directly responsible for His death, we have to come up with a verdict. Was He an imposter, guilty of blasphemy or treason, or was He the Son of God and King of kings? If we declare Him guilty as charged, we have not honestly evaluated the evidence. If we declare Him innocent, we stand guilty with those who condemned Him to death unjustly, because all humanity was represented in that act.
The sequel to this bizarre chain of events was the unlikely alliance that came about that day. In their unwillingness to fulfil their duty to serve justice on a condemned man, Pilate, the arrogant and ruthless representative of Roman government and Herod, the half-Jew playboy ruler of Galilee, joined hands in condemning Jesus to death and became partners in the worst crime ever committed by human beings. Pilate, by handing an innocent man over to the will of a religious mob and Herod, by his callous indifference, washed their hands of God then, but have to face Him again.
What about us? If we choose to wash our hands of Jesus now, as Pilate did then, we too will have to face Him again, and this time He will be in the seat of justice. His perfect justice will be to give us exactly what we want - nothing to do with Him.
Peter and his fellow disciples were equally guilty on that day. One denied and they all deserted Him, but they came back and Jesus forgave them on the same grounds that He always forgives, "They do not know what they are doing." They had no idea of the implications of their behaviour. Neither did Pilate or Herod but they never returned to receive the same mercy and forgiveness extended to the disciples.
How much better to return now and acknowledge your part in Jesus' death. He was the sacrificial lamb put to death for you, blood for blood, so that you may receive the gift of His life, and never have to face the judgment that would sever you from Him forever.
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