This Week's Focus Passage

Luke 23:12 ‘And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day.’

Luke 23:12 ‘And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day.’

We are informed by Luke in this passage that during the passing back and forth of Jesus between them, that Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day. Luke has not told us how or why this period of the trial of Christ made them to become friends. The only clue Luke has left is the statement following where we learn that before they were at enmity between themselves. Neither do we know what it was that had brought about that enmity between them. We would have taken it almost for granted that some sort of enmity existed between the Herod the Tetrarch and Pilate the Governor. After all, Herod was essentially the Jews’ governor over one-fourth of Judaea and Pilate was Rome’s governor of Judaea.

The Pulpit Commentary suggests that this matter of a union of whatever sort was realized between Herod and Pilate is referred to in Acts 4:27 as the first recorded hymn of the Christian church. Upon looking at the context of Acts 4:27 it seems very straightforward that the ‘hymn’ sung at this gathering was Psalm 2. The point being made, nonetheless, is that (whether 1st Century hymn, or a Psalm of David) it speaks prophetically of rulers and kings joining themselves together against the Lord’s anointed, and they apply it to Herod and Pilate.

They lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, O Lord, thou that didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the Holy Spirit, who by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, didst say,

Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth set themselves in array, And the rulers were gathered together, Against the Lord, and against his Anointed:

for of a truth in this city against thy holy Servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel foreordained to come to pass.—Acts 4:24-27

It appears obvious that, whatever the local or temporal reasons behind their complicity in the matter of this ‘upstart Jewish Rabbi, it is still what brought them together who had beforehand been at enmity with one another. They who had been political enemies were able to discover a common denominator that would be of advantage to each.

Strange bedfellows, Herod and Pilate, it would appear. The familiar aphorism has been made to apply to numerous usages, such as ‘Politics makes strange bedfellows; Adversity makes strange bedfellows, War makes strange bedfellows, etc. etc. What makes strange bedfellows? Politics; Adversity; War? What else? It is asserted by some that this line has been taken from Shakespeare’s Tempest wherein Trinculo famously puts it, ‘misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.’ Ironically, we find it set forth that in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, ‘Trinculo is a minor comic character whose main ambition is to align himself with whoever is the perceived leader in any situation he finds himself in.’ Perhaps it was under God’s foreordination that Herod and Pilate were each ‘comic characters whose main ambition was to align themselves with whoever is the perceived leader.’ They aligned themselves with one another, each seeing some personal advantage in it. How marvelous are the sovereign designs of our omnipotent, omniscient, God, doing whatsoever He will to bring to pass His own purposes. Herod and Pilate effectively destroy, each one the other, the credibility of their rival. And yet they seem to be both pleased with the outcome, and become friends.

The Scripture have something to say about the folly of the wicked colluding with each other; no lasting good can come of it. The Psalmist has declared: Ps. 1:1.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers.

Neither does it go well for the wicked to walk in the counsel of the wicked; stand in the way of [other] sinners; or sit in the seat of scoffers. At least the righteous has the law behind him as his delight, and he depends upon his Lawgiver. He has a refuge; he has something to lean on; a High Tower; the case of wicked colluders is not so. Once again does the psalmist speak of the reality; in Psalm 119:61; we may read;

The cords of the wicked have wrapped me round; But I have not forgotten thy law.

David’s son and successor, King Solomon, has given words of understanding:

Though hand join in hand, the evil man shall not be unpunished; But the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.

Though Herod and Pilate joined hand in hand, they were not in control of the events as they imagined themselves to be. Though they became friends who had recently been enemies, their ‘joy’ would last only a moment, as it were. Job, the man that was upright, and one that feared God, and turned away from evil has a word for them:

Knowest thou not this of old time, since man was placed upon earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment? Though his height mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: They that have seen him shall say, Where is he?—Job 20:4-7.

We could add citation upon citation from the Word of God, but will be content to allow James to have the final word in this matter. He puts it in proper perspective:

Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God.—4:4.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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