The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
|Albrecht Dürer - Christ before Herod|
We return to the Gospels for this part of the trial. We will continue Nicodemus' account later.
"But they were more earnest, saying: * He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.' (Luke xxiii. 6, 7.) And Pilate, hearing of Galilee, asked if the man was a Galilean ? And when he understood that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him away to Herod, who himself was also at Jerusalem in those days."
Another account is as follows. " When Pilate heard Galilee mentioned he paused, reflected for a moment, and asked, ' Is this man a Galilean, and a subject of Herod ?' They made answer. ' He is. His parents lived at Nazareth, and his present dwelling-place is Capharnaum': " Nahum's dwelling."
" 'Since that is the case,' replied Pilate, * take him before Herod, for he is here for the festival, and can judge him at once, as he is his subject.' Jesus was at once led out of the tribunal, and Pilate sent an officer to Herod to in form him that Jesus of Nazareth, who was his subject, was about to be brought to him to be judged.'
Pilate had two reasons for doing this. In the first place he was delighted to escape having to pass sentence himself, for he felt very uncomfortable about the matter, and in the second place he was glad of an opportunity of pleasing Herod, with whom he had had a disagreement, and he knew him to be curious to see Jesus. Besides this, the Roman law directed, that any one accused of crime must be sent to the ruler of the place in which he was born. Herod was the ruler of Galilee, in which was situated Nazareth, where Christ had been brought up, whence he was called the Nazarene. Herod did not have any jurisdiction outside the limits of his territory, but he could judge his own subjects in any place.
It was before Herod Antipas that Jesus was brought that morning. The Tetrarch had come up to Jerusalem from his new-built city of Tiberias to be present at the feast of the Passover. He occupied a part of the Antonia built by his father—his apartments being to the north side of the same palace building occupied by Pilate and his legions. When Pilate gave orders to bring Christ before Herod an escort of Roman soldiers from the rugged mountains of southern Switzerland joined the vast multitude of Jews in the Forum, and surrounding the band of Temple guards and priests as an escort, the procession starts for Herod's halls. The priests and enemies of Jesus were furious at the delay, and they vented their anger on the poor Victim.
Pilate's messenger had hurried over to notify Herod that he had sent a prisoner to him, and in a spacious apartment Herod was seated on a pile of soft cushions spread on a divan at the farther end of the large hall. The chief priests, Scribes and Pharisees, with the leading Jews, entered and stood beside Herod, leaving Jesus standing at the door, with the Temple servants and the Swiss guards around him.
Herod was delighted because Pilate had in such a public manner acknowledged his right to judge Galileans, and also because he saw the famous Prophet of Galilee before him in such a state of degradation. His curiosity had been excited by the high terms in which he had heard that John the Baptist had announced Jesus as the Messiah, the long looked for Redeemer foretold by Israel's prophets. He had sent his spies to watch Jesus' every movement during his public life, and they had reported to him his words and acts, and he wanted to question him before his officers, courtesans and servants, to show forth his own knowledge of the Law, the Prophets, and the history of Israel.
Pilate had sent him word that: "He had found no cause in the man," and he took this as a hint that Pilate wanted him to treat the accusers with contempt. In haughty tones Herod asked them what was the accusation against the Prisoner. At once they all began to shout their accusations, to which Herod hardly listened, being only intent on asking Jesus questions.
But when he saw him standing before him, stripped of all his garments, except the seamless garment of the priest, his girdle, and the remains of a torn mantle, his face disfigured and swollen from the missiles thrown at his head, and hardly able to stand, Herod turned away in disgust, and with the name of God on his lips, he turned to the priests and leading Jews standing by, and said.
"Take him away, and bring him not back in such a deplorable state." The guards took Jesus out into the court before the entrance, got water in a basin and washed his soiled garments, and wiped the- mud and blood from his swollen face. But they could not restrain their brutality, and paid no attention to his wounds with which he was covered.
Herod, bred in the lap of luxury, was an effeminate prince, but he was touched at the sight of the terrible state of the Prisoner, and he turned to the priests and Rabbis and said : " Your behavior is like that of butchers, and you begin your sacrifices rather early in the morning." The chief priests with Caiphas and Annas begin their accusations again, in a lower and more dignified way, as they stand near Herod's seat.
When Jesus was brought in again before him, Herod offered him a glass of wine, but the Lord turned his head away and refused it because he was a Nazarite, and they were forbidden to drink wine. Then Herod began to tell all that he had heard regarding Jesus, of the wonderful works he heard he did, and asked him to perform a miracle then and there before him. To all this Jesus replied not a word, standing there before the Tetrarch with his head down, his eyes on the floor. This conduct both irritated and confused Herod.
The Gospel gives a summary of this scene with the usual simplicity and conciseness. "And Herod seeing Jesus, was very glad, for he was desirous of a long time to see him, because he had heard many things of him, and he hoped to see some miracle wrought by him. And he questioned him with many words. But he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and Scribes stood by earnestly accusing him." (Luke xxiii. 8-10.)
Herod tried to conceal his anger, and continued his questioning with persuasive words. " Is it possible, Jesus of Nazareth, that it is thou thyself, that appearest before me as a criminal ? I have heard thy actions so much spoken of. Thou art not perhaps aware, that thou didst grievously offend me by setting free the prisoners I had confined at Thirza, 1 but possibly thy intentions were good. The Roman governor hast sent thee to me to be judged. What answer canst thou give to all these accusations ? Thou art silent ? I have heard much concerning thy wisdom, and the religion thou teachest; let me hear thy answer and confound thy enemies. Art thou the king of the Jews ? Who art thou ? Art thou the Son of God? Thou art said to have performed wonderful miracles, work one now in my presence. I have the power to release thee. Is it true that thou hast restored sight to the blind, raised up Lazarus from the dead, and fed two or three thousand persons with a few loaves ? Why dost thou not answer ? I recommend thee to work a miracle quickly before me ; perhaps thou mayest rejoice afterwards at having complied with my wishes."
But Jesus kept silent, and Herod continued his questions.
"Who art thou ? From whence has thou thy power ? How is it that thou no longer possess it ? Art thou he whose birth was foretold in such a wonderful manner ? Kings came from the East to my father to see a new-born king of the Jews, is it true that thou wert that child? Didst thou escape when so many children were massacred, and how was thy escape managed ? Why hast thou been for so many years unknown. Answer my questions. Art thou a king ? Thy appearance is certainly not kingly. I was told that thou wast conducted to the Temple a short time ago in triumph. What was the meaning of such an exhibition ? Speak out at once. Answer me."
1 The Bible mentions no place of this name. But there was a city called Thersa on a high mountain in the tribe of Manasse near the Jordan which Jeroboam made his seat, and where the kings of Israel lived till Amri moved the government to Samaria. This may have been the city mentioned in this ac count of the trial before Herod, which we have taken from Cath, Emmerich.