Hey I’m Josh Hawkins, this is Episode 141 of Opening Up the Gospels. In episode 140 I talked about Jesus and His interaction with Pilate in the Praetorium from Matthew 27, Luke 23, and John 18. As the Jews waited outside so as to not become ritually unclean, Jesus was interrogated inside Pilate’s residence where He affirmed His identity as the king of Israel and spoke about how His kingdom would be established. I noted that it seems like something had happened to Pilate such that he now had reservations about condemning Jesus. So, going back out to the Jews who were on the Pavement, Pilate said “I find no fault in this man”. He had discerned what manner of a man Jesus was. Yet the people even more vehemently shouted and hurled accusations against Jesus. And Jesus uttered not a single word. Nothing. And as Matthew 27 says, Pilate marveled at this, having seen so many others in this same position, yet having the completely opposite reaction as Jesus. Undoubtedly this made yet another mark on Pilate’s heart. Now in today’s episode, we’re going to see Jesus being sent to Herod. Let’s read from Luke 23:
"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 the 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."
(Luke 23:5–7 ESV)
So Pilate, upon hearing the people give an indication that Jesus might be from Galilee, had found a way out of having to sort out the conflict of the accusations with his own conscience. Herod was in Jerusalem at the time, so that’s where Jesus was sent. Now before I talk about this meeting with Herod, let’s review the sequence of time we’ve been looking at since Episode 134. We began with Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. He’s escorted from the Garden by the Romans and the Temple guards to the house of Annas first. Then, He goes to the house of Caiaphas. Caiaphas didn’t know what Jesus was going to be like, so he interrogates Him privately. This is something only John’s Gospel records. And third, Jesus appears before some of the Sanhedrin at Caiaphas’ house, likely sometime after midnight. Fourth, Jesus appears before the full Sanhedrin at daybreak. Fifth, Jesus is led to Pilate in the Praetorium. And sixth, what we’re looking at today, Jesus is delivered by Pilate to Herod.
Let’s talk about Herod for a second. What casual readers of the Gospels don’t realize is that there are several “Herods” in the Gospels and the book of Acts. I talked about this back in Episode 30. The first Herod, known as “Herod the Great”, died in 4BC. He was the Herod that sought to kill Jesus when the magi came from the east to visit him in Jerusalem. When he died, his son Archelaus gained and then lost power quickly in Judea. Then leadership was given to the Roman governor Pilate, who shared power with the Jewish high priest and the Sanhedrin. Herod's other sons also stayed in power - Herod Antipas in Galilee and Herod Philip in Trachonitis. So the Herod that Jesus goes to see here just hours before His crucifixion is Herod Antipas, one of the sons of Herod the Great, the Herod who sought to kill Him after His birth. With this in mind, let’s read from Luke 23:
"When Herod saw Jesus, he was very 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, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other."
(Luke 23:8–12 ESV)
Let’s take a quick look at our map. As I mentioned in Episode 139, Pilate, the Roman governor, was dwelling in the expansive mansion built by Herod the Great, which was here, in the western part of Jerusalem. However, Herod the Great’s son, Antipas, was unwelcome in his father’s house, but was forced to stay in the palace of the Hasmoneans, which was here. I talked about the Hasmoneans back in Episode 35 - they were the Maccabean family who had helped retake Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt, and this was the palace for their family. How ironic was it that Herod Antipas couldn’t even dwell in the house his father had built? Surely this was one of the reasons why there was strife between Pilate and Antipas. Now as you can see, these two locations were not that far apart, so Jesus was escorted from the Praetorium to the Hasmonean palace.
Luke alone records this scene before Herod, saying that Herod had long desired to see Him and see a sign done by Him. And to Herod’s questions, Jesus gave no response. Complete silence. This is the guy that had killed His cousin and friend, John the Baptist. And as the chief priests and scribes stood by, hurling false accusations and insults, Jesus just stood there. Think about this - Jesus was bloody, weary, and hungry, and yet He didn’t utter a syllable of self-defense or self-clarification during the most severe injustice of human history. With just one word, or even still, with just one thought, Jesus could have caused the earth to open its mouth and swallow all who were in the Hasmonean Palace. But He didn’t. A day is coming when He will consume the wicked with the breath of His mouth, as Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. But that day was not today. He didn’t use His power to put an end to injustice. It was a time for amnesty, patience, and longsuffering, and until that day the rest of the Scriptures call “the Day of the Lord”, this very thing is what the Bible calls us to emulate. The way Jesus handled injustice is to be the pattern for our discipleship, the way we respond to wickedness and injustice. The apostles say it over and over again - “imitate Him in this, in the way He acted in the face of suffering and mistreatment.” It’s in the events of this day that we see the words of Isaiah’s prophecy playing out. Jesus was like a lamb led to the slaughter, and yet He did not open His mouth.
Now after being mistreated by Herod and the chief priests and scribes, Jesus is led back to Pilate. But before we look at what the Gospels say about His final sentencing, let’s read something else that Matthew records for us in Matthew 27:
"Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”"
(Matthew 27:3–10 ESV)
Like Peter had a change of heart after His three denials, Matthew tells us that Judas, after seeing how the Sanhedrin had condemned Jesus, changed his mind about betraying Him, and brought the 30 pieces of silver back to them, likely in the Temple. Yet the Jewish authorities had no plans to reverse their condemnation. And upon this, Judas goes out and hangs himself. The book of Acts records that the scene was gruesome - Acts 1:18 says:
"(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)"
(Acts 1:18–19 ESV)
Now I imagine the chief priests picking up the silver coins and then discussing among themselves what they should do with them. Of course they sought to be outwardly obedient to the Law, and thus they didn’t want to put the money into the Temple treasury because it was “blood money”, or money used to betray Jesus. Matthew is showing us that this phrase alludes to Jesus’ death as well. So this unclean or ritually impure money is used to buy a field to use as a cemetery for strangers, or resident aliens in Israel. Matthew calls it the “potter’s field”, quoting Jeremiah, as if it was a place that was well-known at the time. Let’s look at a map for a second. Traditionally, this field was to the east end of the Valley of Hinnom, which is just south of Jerusalem, here. Because of Judas’ hanging and the gruesome details of his death here, this place gets a new name - it became known as the “Field of Blood”.
Matthew is once again using typology through allusions to both Jeremiah 19:1-13 and Zechariah 11:12-13. Zechariah specifically mentions the thirty pieces of silver thrown into the house of the Lord to the potter, and the portion of Jeremiah uses phrases like “the blood of the innocent”, “the potter”, and even mentions the renaming of a place in the Valley of Hinnom. Through these allusions, Matthew is reminding us that the story of Jesus is the story of the nation of Israel as well.
Well, in the next episode we’ll see Jesus escorted back to Pilate for His final sentencing, which is something that all four Gospels describe. So be sure to come back next time. If you’ve missed any of the past episodes in this series, you can find them all on my website - www.joshuahawkins.com/gospels. God bless, and I hope to see you then.