“He plied him with many questions,
but Jesus gave him no answer.”
Luke 23:9 (NIV)
In commenting on a devotional recently a dear friend of mine spoke of the Greek professor I had talked about in that day’s devotional. The professor I had referred to had also been a pastor and my friend attended his church for some time. He could turn a phrase wonderfully well and when he did you never forgot what you heard from him.
It seems one Sunday morning he was speaking about the scene of our Lord standing before Herod Antipas, the Roman ruler in Galilee who had brutally murdered our Lord’s cousin, John the Baptist (Matthew 14:10-13). When Jesus heard that His cousin had been executed He sought a lonely place to mourn His loss and to pray.
Apparently the first time that Jesus and Herod faced each other was when Jesus was on trial for His life. Pilate, the Roman governor in Judea, the area around Jerusalem to the south had sent Jesus to Herod for him to examine Him. Jesus was from Herod’s area so Pilate saw an opportunity to be rid of the problem of trying to release Jesus and yet satisfy the Jewish crowd.
Herod had executed John the Baptist a year before. The injustice of Herod had been burned into Jesus’memory and He now stood before the man who murdered His beloved cousin.
Herod was excited to see Jesus because he had heard of how Jesus performed many miracles. All Herod wanted from Jesus was a magic show. He greatly desired to see Jesus use His powers or sleight of hand, whatever it was, and amuse him and his court.
Herod plied Jesus with many questions but for some reason Jesus did not answer Him. Jesus never said anything to Herod nor did He perform a miracle in his presence. Why was Jesus silent at this particular time? Why did He say nothing to Herod?
What my professor said in describing Jesus’ silence when He was before Herod was, “Jesus had nothing to say to Herod because when Herod beheaded John he silenced the voice of God!” Herod was doubly guilty as he had the power to release Jesus but did not and he slew John. Herod had crossed the line and there was no turning back. He refused the warning of John and in the case of Jesus he did not release the innocent One.
Alas, Herod did not have a humble spirit in the presence of Jesus. He was, in truth, a party animal, and nothing else. For such as him God has nothing. But listen to the description of Jesus in Luke 15:2 “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (NIV). We might think Herod was a suitable person to come to Jesus. Sadly, Herod was not only a sinner, but delighted to be one. People like him are the sinners who silence the voice of God.
All who know they are sinners and are also weary of being sinners are more than welcome to hear the voice of Jesus calling them to Himself. We are invited to come and find in our Creator all we need for this life and the next. Only if we hold on firmly to our sin will we “silence the voice of God.”