The Subject of Herod

But they were more earnest, saying: "He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judaea, beginning from Galilee to this place." And Pilate, hearing Galilee, asked if the man were a Galilaean. 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. - Luke 23:5-7

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1. The examination had been in private; the priests therefore did not know what had passed between the judge and their Victim. But something assured them that the charge of high treason had gone home. They must cling to that. So they fall back upon it, this time colouring the truth so that it seems the blackest lie. For, indeed, what they now have to say is only the simple truth; He had stirred up the people, He had taught throughout all Judaea, He had begun from as far as Galilee and had reached even up to that place. Every where he had proclaimed His Kingdom, saying: "Do penance, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." He had so won the hearts of men that these scribes and Pharisees and priests and ancients had met together in dismay, saying: "What do we? for behold all the world goes after Him?" He had gone about doing good; the good He had done had been acknowledged even by His enemies; and now because He had done it, because He had given Himself unsparingly for God and man, therefore, with the cleverness of Satan, it could be shown that He was a danger to the State. And the argument still holds.

2. "Pilate, hearing Galilee, asked if the man were a Galilaean." This would seem to show conclusively that Pilate had heard little or nothing of Our Lord before. Though "all the world" had been going after Him; though there had been the great display of palms on the Sunday before; though in the booths and the market-place the question whether Jesus of Nazareth were or were not in the city was on the lips of many; still, the great ones in the land knew nothing of Him, and those who guided the destinies of nations had never heard of the man that was revolutionizing the world. "Jesus of Nazareth passes by"; and only the blind see Him, and the lame follow Him, and the deaf hear Him, and the weak things of this world are. chosen to confound the strong; but the great and the strong do not know Him, never hear of Him, or if they do only know Him as one who "stirreth up the people" and must be suppressed.

3. "He sent Him away to Herod." Here begins Our Lord's third procession through the city; we cannot recall these processions without reminding ourselves of their peculiar sufferings, the special insults to which they exposed Him "in the house of them that loved Him" insults which, in the crowded interest of the rest, are too easily overlooked. On Pilate's part it was an act of cowardice, a deliberate shirking of responsibility; since he could not bring himself as yet to put an innocent man to death to please the mob, he hoped the less scrupulous Herod would do it for him. He had played with the situation from the beginning; now his playing was bringing its results growing guilt upon himself; increasing suffering for Our Lord.


1. The new charge, found in the truth, the wells having been poisoned.

2. The ignorance of Our Lord shown by Pilate, in spite of many circumstances.

3. Pilate's cowardice before temptation, increasing his own guilt and the suffering of Our Lord.

- from The Crown of Sorrow, by Archbishop Alban Goodier