Herod Antipas Mocks the King of Glory!

And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. — Luke 23:11

In that day when Jesus refused to meet Herod’s expectations, Luke 23:10 tells us the chief priests and scribes were so infuriated that they stood up and “…vehemently accused him.” That word “vehemently” means at full pitch, at full volume, strenuously, or vigorously. That means those men must have been screaming like crazy maniacs who were totally out of control! They were most likely saying something like, “Some miracle worker! You have no power! You’re a fraud! If You can work miracles, why don’t You work one right now? You’re nothing but a charlatan!”

Once the screaming match stopped and the volume of their voices was turned down enough for Herod’s voice to be heard, Herod gave the official order for himself and his men of war to deliberately humiliate, mock, make fun of, and heckle Jesus. Suddenly the people in that room in Herod’s residence turned into a booing, hissing, mocking, laughing mob, with all their venom directed toward Jesus. Luke 23:11 tells us about this event, saying, “And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.”

Notice that Herod was gathered there that day with “his men of war.” Who were these men of war, and why were they at Herod’s side when Jesus stood before him? The word for “men of war” in Greek is strateuma. This Greek word could signify a small detachment of Roman soldiers, but most likely it suggests that these men were Herod’s personal bodyguards, selected from a larger group of soldiers because they were exceptionally trained and prepared to fight and defend if called upon — thus, the reason the King James Version refers to them as “men of war.”

The Bible informs us that Herod, with the assistance of his bodyguards, took Jesus and “set him at nought.” This phrase is developed from the Greek word exoutheneo, a compound of the words ek and outhen. The word ek means out, and the word outhen is a later form of the word ouden, which means nothing. Taken together, it means to make one out to be nothing. It can be translated to make light of, to belittle, to disdain, to disregard, to despise, or to treat with maliciousness and contempt.

Jesus had already endured the insane yelling and screaming that the chief priests and elders unleashed on Him. But now Herod and his bodyguards entered center stage to start their own brand of humiliating Jesus. Luke uses the word exoutheneo to let us know that they were malicious and vindictive and that their behavior was nasty and ugly. Then Luke tells us that Herod and his men “mocked him.” This gives us an idea of how low they sank in their ridiculing of Jesus.

The word “mocked” is the Greek word empaidzo, the same word used to portray the mocking behavior of the soldiers who guarded Jesus before He was taken into Caiaphas’ high court (see April 15). The word empaidzo meant to play a game. It was often used for playing a game with children or to amuse a crowd by impersonating someone in a silly and exaggerated way. It might be used in a game of charades when someone intends to comically portray or even make fun of someone.

Herod Antipas was a Roman governor — supposedly an educated, cultured, and refined man. He was surrounded by finely trained Roman soldiers who were supposed to be professional in their conduct and appearance. But these men of war, along with their king, descended deep into depravity as they began to put on quite a show impersonating Jesus and the people He ministered to. They probably hammed it up, acting as if they were healing the sick; lying on the floor and quivering as if they were being liberated from devils; groping around as if they were blind and then pretending to suddenly be able to see. It was all a game of charades intended to mimic and make fun of Jesus.

Then Luke tells us, “…they arrayed him in a gorgeous robe….” The word “arrayed” is the Greek word periballo, which means to throw about or to drape about, as to drape around one’s shoulders. The words “gorgeous robe” are the words esthes and lampros. The word esthes describes a robe or garment, while the word lampros depicts something that is resplendent, glistening, or magnificent. It was frequently used to depict a garment made of sumptuous, brightly colored materials.

It is doubtful that this was the garment of a soldier, for even a bodyguard of Herod would not be arrayed in such resplendent garments. In all likelihood, this was a garment worn by a politician, for when candidates were running for public office, they wore beautiful and brightly colored clothes. More specifically, however, this was almost certainly one of Herod’s own sumptuous garments that he permitted to be draped around Jesus’ shoulders so they could pretend to adore Him as king as part of their mockery of Him.

Although Herod apparently enjoyed this maltreatment and abuse of Jesus, Luke 23:14,15 says he could find no crime in Jesus worthy of death. Therefore, after the conclusion of these events, Herod “…sent him again to Pilate” (Luke 23:11).

When Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, he sent Him clothed in this regal robe. One scholar notes that since this garment was one usually worn by a candidate running for office, Herod’s decision to send Jesus to Pilate in this robe was the equivalent of saying, “This is no king! It’s only another candidate, a pretender, who thinks he’s running for some kind of office!”

When I read of what Jesus endured during the time before He was sent to be crucified, it simply overwhelms me. Jesus committed no sin and no crime, nor was any guile ever found in His mouth; yet He was judged more severely than the worst of criminals. Even hardened criminals would not have been put through such grueling treatment. And just think — all this happened before He was nailed to that wooden Cross — the lowest, most painful, debasing manner in which a criminal could be executed in the ancient world!

Before you do anything else today, why don’t you take a few minutes to stop and thank Jesus for everything He went through to purchase your redemption? Salvation may have been a free gift to you, but purchasing salvation was not free for Jesus. It cost Him His life and His blood. This is why Paul wrote, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

And here’s one more suggestion for you: Rather than keep the Good News of Jesus Christ to yourself, why don’t you find an opportunity today to tell someone else all that Jesus did so he or she  can be saved? God’s Spirit might use you to lead someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus this very day!

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My Prayer for Today

Lord, I want to take this moment to say thank You for everything You went through for me. It is amazing that You loved me so much that You were willing to endure all of this for me. I know that my salvation was purchased with Your blood and that I could never pay for my salvation. But I want to tell You that I will serve You faithfully for the rest of my days as a way to show You my gratitude! Jesus, thank You for loving me so much!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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My Confession for Today

I confess that I am redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ! God loved me so much that He sent His only begotten Son to take away my sin, my sickness, my pain, my lack of peace, and my suffering on the Cross. Because of Jesus, today I am forgiven; I am healed; I am free of pain; I am filled with peace; and I am a joint heir with Him!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

sparking gems from the greek

Questions to Answer

1. What did you learn new from today’s Sparkling Gem?

2. Have you ever felt mocked for your faith? If so, how did you respond to those who mocked you?

3. Can you think of someone you can share the Gospel with today? If your answer is yes, who is that person?