************ Sermon on Luke 23:11 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 24, 2002
"Mocked as a King"
On this Palm Sunday we remember that Jesus entered Jerusalem acclaimed as King. But as He entered He knew that He would suffer and die, that He would be mocked and insulted and ridiculed.
When we look at what Luke writes about the suffering and death of Jesus, we see that mocking is a prominent theme. Jesus is mocked in the house of the high priest (Lk 22:63-65). He is mocked by Herod and his soldiers (23:11). He is mocked by the soldiers at the cross (23:36). He is mocked by one of the criminals who hung beside Him (23:39).
In the house of the high priest we saw that Jesus was mocked as a prophet. Today, we see that Jesus is mocked by Herod and his soldiers as a king – a very fitting theme for this Palm Sunday.
I Ridiculed and Mocked
A "Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate" (Lk 23:12).
What does it mean to ridicule? In the Greek language the word for ridicule means to despise or disdain someone, treat someone with contempt, reject someone with contempt, view someone as being contemptible. We know, for instance, that the Apostle Paul was viewed with contempt by those who found his letters to be weighty and impressive but found his appearance to be unimpressive and his speaking skills to amount to nothing (2 Cor 10:10).
What does it mean to "mock"? In the Greek language the word that is used belongs to a large group of words for the disparagement or low estimation of others in word, attitude, or act. It includes things like contemptuous speech, scorn and insult, ridicule, speaking ill, turning up the nose, shaking the head, whistling, spitting, finding fault, dissecting, backbiting, dragging in the dust, mocking, whispering, ridiculing, disparaging, bantering, making fun, disdaining, deriding.
B "Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate" (Lk 23:12). What does Luke all have in mind here? In mind are the kinds of details that we find in Mark's Gospel:
(Mk 15:17-19) They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. (18) And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" (19) Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.Though Jesus was a prisoner, Herod and his soldiers pretended that Jesus was a king. They dressed Him up like a king. They greeted Him like a king. They bowed before Him like a king. They played their game of "Pretend." The Sanhedrin said Jesus claimed to be Christ, a king. So they went along with this and pretended that Jesus is Christ, the king.
Here is someone bloodied and bruised and tired and worn. Don't forget, He has been arrested. He has been questioned with hostility by the Sanhedrin. He has been mocked and spit upon and hit and beaten. He has gone more than 24 hours without sleep. By now His clothes are probably dirty and torn. There is nothing "kingly" about His appearance. That's why they dressed Him in an elegant robe and pretended He was their king.
C "Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate" (Lk 23:12). What is especially amazing is that Jesus was treated this way even though both Pilate and Herod found Him to be innocent of the charges leveled against Him. Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, "I find no basis for a charge against this man" (Lk 23:4). Herod, too, "found no basis for ... [the] charges against him" (Lk 23:15).
Someone innocent was ridiculed and mocked by one of the highest officials of the land. What an injustice! What cruel mockery! What malicious fun!
I don't know if you caught the sad note that Luke ends on. We notice that Pilate and Herod became friends because they were, so to speak, partners in crime. Luke writes:
(Lk 23:12) That day Herod and Pilate became friends-- before this they had been enemies.Two enemies were joined together in mocking and mistreating an innocent man and they became friends. As we read in the book of Acts:
(Acts 4:27) ... Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in ... [Jerusalem] to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.
It is fair to say that up to this point Pilate and Herod were bitter enemies. There is a number of reasons for the enmity that existed between them. Luke 13 tells us about the time Pilate mingled the blood of Galilean pilgrims with their sacrifices. Since Herod was the tetrarch or governor of Galilee and Perea, this means that Pilate acted against people belonging to Herod. Also, Philo, an early Jewish interpreter of Scripture, tells us about the incident of the Golden Shields. In the Herodian palace at Jerusalem Pilate dedicated shields coated with gold; the shields were dedicated to the Roman Emperor Augustus, a title or name that refers to his divinity and would be abhorrent to the Jews. In response, a protest was made to Pilate by a multitude of Jews with four Herodian princes at their head. When Pilate resisted, they warned him that he was provoking an uprising and even war. They threatened to send an ambassador to the emperor against him. When they did so, the emperor rebuked Pilate and ordered him to take the shields from Jerusalem to Caesarea.
Because of this history, we can understand why Pilate was hesitant to spill the blood of Jesus, another Galilean, at a feast without the blessing and input of Herod. In fact, Herod was so pleased by Pilate's action that, as a consequence, they became friends. They were joined together in conspiring against an innocent man.
D "Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate" (Lk 23:12). Need I remind you that this is part of the pain and suffering of Christ? Don't forget the words of prophecy that predicted Jesus would undergo the agony of mockery:
(Is 50:6) I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.He was mocked. He was ridiculed.
(Ps 22:6-7) But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. (7) All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads ...
I want you to notice that Christ said nothing when Herod asked him many questions. I hear echoes of Isaiah in this:
(Is 53:7) He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
We all know why Jesus underwent this, don't we? The pain and suffering, the ridicule and mockery, was part of His work as our Savior and Redeemer and Mediator.
Over and over again in the Gospel story we see that the suffering and pain of Christ brings forgiveness and healing. Even in the midst of His own trials Jesus reached out to heal and to save. We saw that earlier in the Garden of Gethsemane. At that time, if you remember, Jesus healed the ear of the servant who came to arrest Him (Lk 22:51). He reached out again to heal and to save when He comforted the women who followed Him to Golgotha Hill (Lk 23:28-31). Even upon the cross He reached out to those around Him when He asked the Father to "forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk 23:34).
Jesus does the same for you and me. He endured the ridicule and mockery, the pain and suffering, in order to save those who – by grace – repent and believe.
I said earlier how sad it was that Pilate and Herod became friends because of Christ. But there is also something beautiful to be seen here. In this instance, Jesus has provided the occasion of grace for both Pilate and Herod by healing their enmity. Because of Christ, enemies become friends. Because of Christ, enmity and bitterness is replaced by unity and friendship.
II As a King
A "Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate" (Lk 23:12). They ridiculed and mocked Jesus as a king.
We need to ask why they did this? Why did they mock Jesus as a king? Verse 8 gives us a clue:
(Lk 23:8) When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle.Herod had heard about Jesus. Jesus did not appear before him as someone unknown, as someone he had never heard of before.
So what did Herod hear about Jesus? What was he told about Jesus? What conclusions did he come to about Jesus before the incident before us this morning?
We can answer these questions by looking at the three other times that Herod appears in the Gospel of Luke. The first instance concerns John the Baptist:
(Lk 3:19-20) But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and all the other evil things he had done, (20) Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.Herod, we see here, does not tolerate any criticism of or opposition to his rule. John got locked up because he dared to speak out against Herod's sins.
The second instance concerns Jesus' sending out the Twelve to preach in the villages of Galilee:
(Lk 9:7-9) Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, (8) others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. (9) But Herod said, "I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?" And he tried to see him.Herod was upset by Jesus and Jesus' ministry. He was concerned about Jesus' identity. He wanted to know if Jesus was a threat to His rule. If Herod did not hesitate to kill John the Baptist, there was no reason to believe he would not do the same with Jesus.
The third instance is when Jesus makes His way from Galilee to Jerusalem:
(Lk 13:31-33) At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you." (32) He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' (33) In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day--for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!Herod decided that Jesus was a threat that needed to be eliminated.
Now, don't forget that the chief priests and teachers of the law were standing before Herod, vehemently accusing Jesus (vs 10). Presumably, they were saying the same things now that they were saying to Pilate:
(Lk 23:2) "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king."
(Lk 23:5) "He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here."
Don't forget, too, what happened just a few days earlier. I'm talking about Palm Sunday. Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowd of disciples joyfully praised God for all the miracles they had seen:
(Lk 19:38) "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"Notice, Jesus was acclaimed on Palm Sunday as a wonder-working King.
All of this background tells us why Herod "was greatly pleased" when he saw Jesus before him. This is something he has wanted to do for a long time already. And now, without cost or effort on his part, Jesus is before him – to do with as he pleases.
Herod plies Jesus with questions – hundreds of them. But Jesus gave him no answer. Herod hoped to see a miracle but Jesus does nothing. In light of this Herod looks at Jesus and sees in Him no threat at all. Herod looks at Jesus and sees only a small, pathetic man – tired, dirty, bruised. Jesus is not a rival king. Jesus is not a threat to his rule.
That's why Herod and his soldiers decide to have their little game of "Pretend." Let's pretend Jesus is a king. Let's ridicule and mock Him as a king. Let's dress Him up like a king. Let's greet Him like a king. Let's bow before Him like a king.
B You know as well as I know that Herod was wrong. Jesus was and is and always will be King. At His birth the angels proclaimed Him to be "Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:12). The crowds of Palm Sunday greeted Him as King. The Pharisees accused Him of claiming to be King.
The miracles that Herod wanted to see and that the crowd acclaimed pronounced Him to be King.
Jesus showed Himself to rule over disease when He healed:
-Peter's mother-in-law (Lk 4:38-39)
-the Leper (Lk 5:12-13)
-the Centurion's servant (Lk 7:1-10)
-the bleeding woman (Lk 8:40-48)
-the boy with epilepsy (Lk 9:38-43)
-the man with dropsy (Lk 14:1-4)
-the ten lepers (Lk 17:11-19)
Jesus showed Himself to be Lord of the body when He cured:
-the paralyzed man (Lk 5:18-25)
-the man with the withered hand (Lk 6:6-10)
-the crippled woman (Lk 13:10-13)
-the blind man (Lk 11:14; Lk 18:35-43)
-the servant with the cut off ear (Lk 22:50-51)
Jesus showed Himself to be King over death when He raised:
-the widow of Nain's son (Lk 7:11-17)
-the daughter of Jairus (Lk 8:49-56)
Jesus showed Himself to rule over the spirit world when He cast out evil spirits (Lk 4:31-37; Lk 8:26-39; Lk 9:37-45).
Jesus showed Himself to rule over Creation when He:
-caused the disciples to catch a large number of fish (Lk 5:1-7)
-calmed the storm (Lk 8:22-25)
-multiplied the loaves and fish (Lk 9:12-17)
Over and over again Jesus' miracles showed Him to be King. That's why the Palm Sunday crowds greeted Jesus as King. Herod heard about these miracles. He wanted to see proof of these miracles for himself. But with Jesus standing before him, Herod had a hard time believing what he had heard. So he decided to have a little fun. Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked Jesus as King.
Jesus was ridiculed and mocked as King. But Herod was wrong. Pilate was wrong. The Scribes and Pharisees were wrong. Jesus is King. And, His rule is a threat to all other rulers. As the Psalmist put it:
(Ps 2:10-11) "Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. (11) Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling"
Like Herod and his soldiers, like the Scribes and Pharisees, we either mock Jesus as King or, like the Palm Sunday crowds, we acclaim Him as Lord.
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