Luke 23:8-9 “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. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.”
Sometimes, we like to be the center of attention. Generally speaking, we don’t like to be ignored. We want people to value us enough to listen, and to share with us what is important to them.
At other times, we don’t want people to look at us at all. When my son used to do something cute, and we looked at him and smiled, he became embarrassed: “Don’t look at me, daddy.” In public, we know that it is impolite to stare. When we catch someone staring at us, we immediately suspect that there is something odd about our appearance. Do I have food hanging from my chin? Is there something in my hair?
It makes a difference why we are getting the attention. It did to Jesus, too. That is why he did not respond to the kind of attention King Herod was giving him.
Herod had wanted to see him for a long time. To say that Herod was “greatly pleased” is a rather mild way of translating his reaction to finally meeting Jesus. Herod was overjoyed. He wanted to celebrate the opportunity in front of him. What a wonderful thing, it might seem, the lone bright spot in this darkest day in Jesus’ life.
Can we imagine that a desire to see Jesus would ever be anything but good? Though our Savior wants to be known to all people and be their source of joy, Herod reveals the human heart is so twisted that, yes, even the desire to see and know Jesus can be evidence of evil, and not good.
What did Herod want from Jesus? “From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle.” Here is Jesus, the Son of God, Creator of the Universe, Redeemer of the World, standing in front of Herod at last, and what is Herod thinking? “Hey, I’ve got Harry Houdini here.” He wanted to see a miracle, not because he was coming to Jesus in desperate need of his mercy. Not even because he was looking for a sign to bolster his faith. Herod wanted nothing more than a magic trick, something to entertain him, a pleasant diversion from the pressures of palace life.
Herod’s reasons for seeking Jesus still appeal to some today. God still can and does work miracles in the lives of his people. But recognize the danger when people make them the center of attention in Christian life and worship. Jesus easily becomes a sideshow. In our own more sober circles, we may ask ourselves why we value our worship time. Do we recognize it as the source of our spiritual life? Or do we desire to be entertained for a little while–whether at church, or in our reading, or in the music we listen to. Humor in our lives is good, but is Jesus an appropriate subject of our jokes? Or is that a vain misuse of his name? Do we have irreverent reasons for the time we seek with him?
Jesus’ answer to Herod’s irreverence is powerful. “Jesus gave him no answer.” Jesus would not perform for the king. How easy it would have been for Jesus to do just one quick trick and put an end to the humiliation. Maybe he could have even so endeared himself to Herod that he could have been set free!
But for us, Jesus’ silence is golden. Jesus displays his perfect love, even for Herod, by not giving in to his childish desires. He will not reinforce this kooky king in his sin, but he treats him with silent respect, even when that respect was not returned.
And here’s the point that Jesus is making to us: Not that he is someone we should pity for being made a sideshow, but that he is someone we revere, and love, and trust, because he has no other reason to put up with this than that it was necessary to save us from our sins. This is another stop on his trip to the cross. It is his love for us that keeps him silent and makes him willing to endure these blasphemies. He let them treat him like someone with absolutely no value, so that he could share his priceless value with us, and so that God might consider us his most dear and precious possessions.
In suffering such irreverence and dishonor, Jesus pays us the highest respect and the greatest honor, because he is revealing just how much you and I are worth to him.