Thoughts from the Pastor

A New Kingdom

That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.” Luke 23:12

Lost in our Holy Week celebrations is this seemingly obscure and random commentary from the Gospel writer Luke. Two of the rulers responsible for questioning the arrested Jesus were considered enemies but their interactions with Jesus somehow led them to friendship. Some commentators suggest that their friendship was brought about by a common enemy (Jesus) and yet if we read Luke 23 in its entirety it is hard to argue that Pilate and Herod saw Jesus as their enemy.

In fact, both Herod and Pilate conclude that they find no reason to sentence Jesus to death and seem reluctant to do much of anything with Jesus. Herod even treats Jesus as a celebrity of sorts, excited to finally meet him. Herod has heard stories of Jesus’ miracles and is hoping he would perform some in his presence as if he were a court jester. Herod seems genuinely disappointed when Jesus refuses to respond and resorts to mocking him instead.

It is not entirely clear why Pilate and Herod become friends after their encounter with Jesus, but it does not appear that they view Jesus as a threat nor an enemy. Perhaps it is their reluctance to act and their shared confusion over the situation that brought them together. Regardless, what is clear is that the powers of Jesus’ day were perplexed by the very prospect of Jesus. An individual the people call King, an individual with a great following, an individual who has been said to perform great miracles, but also an individual that does not use these for personal gain.

Jesus’ encounter with Pilate and Herod is an important reminder that the message of Jesus will often make no sense to the powers of the day. The Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaims will provoke and perplex the kingdoms of this world. They cannot understand a Kingdom built upon the foundations of sacrificial love and servanthood. We must not respond to the radical Kingdom of God like Herod and Pilate – with mocking and dismissal. This Holy Week let us remember the true power to be found in a different type of Kingdom, one taught to us by a savior who rejected earthly power. One who washed feet, ate with sinners, and willingly gave his life so that we might know God’s love more fully.

~ Pastor Nathan