“Jesus gave him no answer” Luke 23:9 (NIV)
The one to whom Jesus would not speak was a fascinating character indeed. I am polite in using the word “fascinating” of this man. His name was Herod Antipas and he was a son of Herod the Great. He had inherited his father’s passion for building and founded the city of Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee. He was an able man, likely the most capable of Herod the Greats sons.
Our first introduction to him is in Mark 6:14-28. Here we read of him putting John the Baptist into prison and executing him at the request of his step-daughter. Our other sight of Antipas in the Gospels is in the passage where Jesus refuses to speak to him. It was during the Roman trial of Jesus that Pilate presents Jesus to Herod for disposition. During His public ministry Jesus once referred to Herod as “that fox” Luke 13:32
Prior to examining this scene of Jesus’ silence, a little background on Herod will shed light on our passage. Herod seemed to everyone a happily married man until one time when he went to visit his half-brother Herod Philip in Rome. While there he and Philip’s wife got entangled and decided they could not live without one another. For Herodias’s part she was fed up with the boring life of a matron in safe, secure Rome.
The turbulent Maccabean blood in Herodias’s veins sought adventure and the wild side of life. Philip was a harmless man unlike his brother Antipas. He had nothing to offer Herodias except money and Antipas could cover that off as well as bring excitement to her dull life. To the happy couple it seemed the perfect match. Dumping their former spouses was a trifle, after all doesn’t everyone deserve to be happy?
Each of them spurned their legal spouses and off they went to one of the frontiers of civilization, Galilee. This was where Jesus had been raised and did so much ministry the last 3 years of His life. Antipas had a fascination for hearing the unusual John the Baptist preach and sometimes attended his gatherings. All the Jews in his kingdom were enraged at how he spurned his wife in order to have Herodias. This was against Jewish law and the people saw gross sin in the palace. When John the Baptist got wind of what Herod had done, he had the nerve to call sin for what it was. He publically denounced Herod’s new relationship as sinful. The story is in Mark 6:14-28.
This was too much for Herodias who was a powerful and violent woman. She insisted that her husband arrest and incarcerate the Baptist. Herod did not know what to make of John’s preaching but from time to time he called for him in prison and listened to him with great interest. Finally Herodias saw her golden opportunity and put her husband in a bind he could not escape from and he beheaded the Baptist.
So when Jesus stood before this man who heard the Gospel from John and heard the message often Jesus was very displeased with his lack of response. Compounding this was the fact that the man before whom Jesus stood had executed Jesus’ beloved cousin for reasons that were so unjust. Hence when Jesus appeared before Herod He was being judged by a vile and morally corrupt person who refused to turn from his sin and seek the Lord.
All Herod wanted from Jesus was to be entertained by a miracle. Herod wanted a magic show. He seemed determined to have Jesus do something that could not be explained. After all everyone likes a good show. Herod was no exception. Had Jesus done some miracle undoubtedly Herod would have sent Him back to Pilate with great acclaim. So Jesus seems to have had it in His power to gain release but refused to use His powers for the amusement of others or for personal gain.
Those who merely pay attention to religion or go to church for social convenience or to hear the latest gossip will discover in the end that Jesus has nothing to say to them. He will treat them as He did Herod.
But for anyone, anywhere who senses their need of a personal relationship with their Creator, Jesus has a lot to say to them. You see the God who made us social creatures who desire to have relationships with one another, He is a God who is personal and wants a relationship with us. Jesus called Himself the Way the Truth and the Life. He assured His listeners that they could only come to God the Father through Him.
Where are you in all of this? Are you suffering alone? Do you feel that no one cares about you? Are you afraid to answer honestly the question, “How are you?” in case no one really wants to know? Someone does want to know how you are. Jesus cares deeply for those who are weary of life and ready to pack it all in. But we must come to Him.
Does Jesus have anything to say to you? Be sure He does and be sure today.