Commented Bible Passages

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of 3 to 10 people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.

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Luke 23:3-11: Jesus before Pilate and Herod
Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
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 a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. (Luke 23:3-11)

This text invites us to ask ourselves: what are the criteria that determine and govern our world? How could the life and death of Jesus change our ways of living together?

We all need—in one way or another, some more, some less—to influence situations, to succeed in projects, to gain recognition. But if, as a society, we reward only what works and what is impressive, life risks becoming a competition, a kind of game where some win and others lose.

How does Jesus position himself in the face of this dynamic? He is presented in turn before Pilate and Herod. Pilate asks him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” But Jesus only answers him:, “You have said so.” Pilate raises the question of power and influence. He wants to know if Jesus can be useful to him or if he represents a threat. Jesus does not enter this game. So, Pilate considers him unimportant and seeks to get rid of this useless case.

Herod, for his part, is looking for what is spectacular. For him, what impresses and what pleases matters. But Jesus also refuses this game. He does not even answer him. He does not seek to fulfil the expectations of others or to create an image. Herod and his guards mock him. They are still trying to get a little fun from this disappointing meeting. Then they send this uninteresting man back to Pilate.

For Jesus, refusing the game of power and image is not a winning strategy. He ends alone and abandoned on the cross, a shameful and unimpressive death. According to all the usual criteria, this is a failure in this world. The fact that he is being killed seems to show that even God has abandoned him. But, shortly afterwards, some of his friends claim that God has identified himself with Jesus. The disciples are convinced that God was with him, even in failure and in death.

This message changes everything for the disciples, but also for us and for our world. If God is present in the failure of Jesus, our criteria for success are changed. What counts is no longer what has power and influence. What matters is not what impresses and pleases. If God is on the side of the losers, we win nothing by winning.

Jesus agreed to lose. By rejecting the rules of the game, Jesus released us from it. He paid the price. He died. But he has also opened for us an area of freedom and life. The old game continues and continues to cause suffering. But we can live in a new way: we do not need to flee the suffering of others or to despair of ours.

The message of the cross can allow us to sense that God does not lose sight of what seems useless and uninteresting. If we follow his gaze, we will get closer to those who suffer. And in our difficulties, we can believe that God is just as present in our failures as in our successes, in our sorrows as in our joys, in our death as in our life. In the eyes of God, a new and different game has already begun.

- In my opinion, what criteria determine the course of our societies?

- According to which ones do I orient my own life?

- How could the life and death of Jesus impact our lives and our societies?

Other bible meditations:

Printed from: - 20 April 2019
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