I was reading this afternoon the account of Jesus before both Pilate and Herod in Luke’s gospel (Lk 23.1-25). What caught my attention as I was reading was the two different responses these men had while Jesus was standing in their presence. One, Pilate, responded in a political manner. He was far more concerned with keeping the peace-and his job-than he was with justice. Because he feared that the Jewish leaders and their followers would riot if they did not receive the judicial outcome they so lusted after, he gave into their blood-thirst and had Jesus traded for (ironically) a man guilty of insurrection and murder. Jesus was to be crucified all because Pilate did not have the spine to stand up to a people under his own authority.
On the other hand, Herod was far more interested in the miracle worker that he heard so much about. He cared far less for the accusations and charges that were levied against Jesus. All he wanted was for Jesus to put on a show and entertain him. So when Jesus refused to entertain Herod’s childish request, Herod had him humiliated and mocked and sent back to Pilate to face his accusers one last time.
The responses by Herod and Pilate to Jesus is no different then as it is today. Many people refuse to submit to the sovereignty of Christ because he threatens their way of life. To turn to Christ is to turn from the accolades of this world. Others, instead of turning from Christ turn to him for a religious high or religious experience. One has to look no further than the television to see men supposedly casting out demons and healing people’s headaches or whatnot. These people will follow Jesus when they feel a religious high or experience. But the instant things go south, and life begins to bring trials into their lives they are gone like the wind.
The true followers of Christ follow him to the cross. They cling to him when things are good and when life is a living hell on earth. They know that they have left everything to follow Jesus, and they will follow him to death if necessary. So I ask myself: What kind of follower am I?
Lord, grant us this day to turn our eyes from the pleasures of this world and to turn our eyes and hearts to the beauty of your cross. Amen