Red Letter Year: 9/16

Luke 23.1-12

23 Then the entire council took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor. They began to state their case: “This man has been leading our people astray by telling them not to pay their taxes to the Roman government and by claiming he is the Messiah, a king.”

So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Pilate turned to the leading priests and to the crowd and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man!”

Then they became insistent. “But he is causing riots by his teaching wherever he goes — all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!”

“Oh, is he a Galilean?” Pilate asked. When they said that he was, Pilate sent him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and Herod happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.

Silence by Ciudadano Poeta

Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle. He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer. 10 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the teachers of religious law stood there shouting their accusations. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus. Finally, they put a royal robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. 12 (Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day.)


Herod appears only in Luke’s telling of the trial of Jesus. The others mention Jesus’ silence with regard to Pilate, though he does speak the one sentence. Here it is with Herod that Jesus remains completely silent. In all accounts and before all questioners, Jesus has very little to say in his own defense. We spill a lot of words these days (easy to do because they are digital and mostly free) answering our accusers, trying to convince people who seem to willfully get things wrong, and engaging with those who use discussions as a Trojan horse from which to attack us. I am generally one to fight back and not give up, but I’m wondering if sometimes it isn’t better to just say, “No thanks,” to the large, hollow wooden horse, and not open our gates and let it in at all. Maybe sometimes it’s hard to tell honest dialogue from faith bullying, but I think most of the time we can tell. Jesus probably knew no amount of discussion was going to change anything, he was there to die on the cross and they were going to kill him, why drag it out with a lot of exposition? Maybe sometimes the best response to unholy attacks is holy silence. May the peace of Jesus fill you with holy silence today.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 9/13

Luke 22.47-55

47 But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. 48 But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” 50 And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear.

51 But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked, “that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 53 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness reigns.”

54 So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. 55 The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there.


Only a couple of things I want to point out today. First, we have already seen Luke downplaying Judas’ role in this telling. We see that again here, where Luke does not allow the betrayer to speak or to actually kiss Jesus. Both of these are changes from Mark and Matthew. Luke hits all the beats in the passion story, but he carefully edits his account to keep the focus as tightly fixed on Jesus as possible.

The other thing worth giving special attention to here is the healing of the ear. I talked yesterday about the oddity of Jesus apostles’ having swords at hand. Here Jesus rebukes them for engaging in violent resistance. Then Luke records Jesus doing something that none of the other Gospels has – in the midst of betrayal and an angry mob (in Luke composed only of religious leaders, not the people), Jesus calmly and quietly heals the severed ear. By this gesture, Luke shows us that to the end Jesus engaged in his primary ministry – bringing healing to people, and he also shows that the power and authority Jesus had been operating in is still in tact. Jesus is powerless before his arresters only by choice. Because Jesus only uses his power and authority to heal and make new.

The same is true for us in two ways. Jesus always brings healing and renewal into our lives. What brings harm cannot be from Jesus. And we are only acting as followers of Jesus when we engage in bringing healing and renewal to others and to the world. Jesus still gives his followers the power and authority to heal. But Jesus never gives anyone the authority to harm.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.