Luke 23:6-12 (CEV)
6 When Pilate heard this, he asked, “Is this man from Galilee?” 7 After Pilate learned that Jesus came from the region ruled by Herod, he sent him to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at that time.
8 For a long time Herod had wanted to see Jesus and was very happy because he finally had this chance. He had heard many things about Jesus and hoped to see him work a miracle.
9 Herod asked him a lot of questions, but Jesus did not answer. 10 Then the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses stood up and accused him of all kinds of bad things.
11 Herod and his soldiers made fun of Jesus and insulted him. They put a fine robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. 12 That same day Herod and Pilate became friends, even though they had been enemies before this.
He Doesn’t Answer
Have you ever found yourself the victim of accusations?
Ever stood in front of a boss and been accused of something you didn’t do?
Or had your partner accuse you of something that never happened?
Or watched your child be accused of something that seemed grossly out of keeping with their character?
Or watched someone be accused of something by the media?
What do you tend to do in the face of accusations?
What do other people tend to do in the face of accusations?
The answer is almost always one of the following: to deny them; to rush in and try to offer a different, more positive view of the story; to try to offer an alibi or a witness or some sort of plausible excuse that will make the accusations go away.
But here’s Jesus, standing in front of Herod (who, by the way, was the son of the guy who had tried to have Jesus killed as an infant, and was also the guy who had killed John the Baptist) and he doesn’t answer.
Here he is with the religious leaders hurling all sorts of insults and criticisms and accusations about him into this far-cry from a just court room and Jesus doesn’t say a word.
And I have to wonder, how do you get to the place where you can be that calm in the face of accusations that you know will lead to your certain death?
How do you get to the place where you can quiet the fear that creates defensiveness and aggressiveness and a compulsiveness to speak?
How do you get to the point where you don’t need to answer your accusers?
It’s not like Jesus is spineless – he has shown us over and over again what he thinks of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. We know he sees straight through their evil, their lies, their conniving, their power and prestige games. And we know what he thinks of them – he hates them. He even goes so far as to call them hypocrites and ‘whitewashed tombs’.
And I don’t think Jesus is simply ‘giving in’ to the prophecies about him that said that he would be silent. His agonized prayers in the Garden just hours earlier make it hard to believe that would be the case. Jesus doesn’t really go for ‘giving in’ at any other point, and so I feel like that’s too easy an answer to the question we are asking.
There is clearly something to the relationship that Jesus has as part of the Divine that has left him filled with peace.
Something to the relationship that has left him feeling safe and loved and precious.
Something to the relationship that has left him feeling rooted in something far bigger than the events that are taking place at this exact moment.
But I also think that this is Jesus embracing his humanity fully.
As a human he could hardly have changed the course of events that day. Just like our defensiveness in the face of an accusation rarely helps us to escape the situation, no amount of human-Jesus arguments or defence was going to rescue him from the hatred and loathing of the Pharisees and religious leaders. He knew he’d pushed all their buttons. He knew they’d waited a long time for this. He knew there would be no placating them now.
And since the whole point of Jesus coming to earth was to show us what it meant for God to live as us on earth, he embraces his human limitations fully – with all of the peace and all of the love of his connection with God – and he simply doesn’t answer.
- When was the last time someone accused you of doing something?
- Were they telling the truth?
- How did it make you feel? Why?
- What did you want to do about it?
- What did you actually do about it?
- How did that work out for you?
- What would it have taken for you to have remained silent in the face of that accusation?