In Shakespeare’s comedy, The Tempest Trinculo, a jester washes up on an island after being shipwrecked. The storm rages and he seeks shelter in the cloak of a deformed native. That’s when he says, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”
It’s not just storms at sea that generate strange bedfellows. So does politics and this was true in the first century.
Tiberius Caesar appointed Pilate in AD26 to be prefect over Judea, Samaria, and Idumea. More than thirty years earlier Augustus Caesar had appointed Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, to be king of Galilee and Perea. They competed to maintain their influence in Rome and their kingdoms in the Holy Land.
They were not friends, but when a Galilean prophet was accused of insurrection, rabble rousing, blasphemy, and claiming to be a king in opposition to Caesar, Pilate saw it as an opportunity to pass the buck to a more experienced ruler in Palestine, and Antipas was thrilled. He wanted to see this miracle worker that everyone was talking about do one of his wonders.
Like many politicians down through the ages, neither Herod nor Pilate had the spine to stand for justice and truth. But they did become friends because of the trial of Jesus.
“Now when Pilate heard this, he asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem in those days.
Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was very happy because for a long time he had wanted to see him on account of all that he had heard about him and he was hoping to see some miraculous sign done by him. So he questioned Jesus for quite some time, but Jesus did not give an answer to him.
The chief priests and religious legal experts stood there vehemently accusing him. Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt. They dressed him in gorgeous, shining clothing, mocking him, and they sent him back to Pilate.
That very day Pilate and Herod became friends, while previously they had been at odds with one another.” Luke 23:6-12
Many Americans are cynical because much of the present day politics has degenerated into lies, attacks, and strange bedfellows sleeping together to achieve their own aims and objectives. This kind of politics has been around since at least the first century. Before accepting that this is the way it is in politics, those running for office might want to consider the verdict of history on Pilate and Herod Antipas.
LORD, when an innocent victim is falsely accused and brought into court, the judge has one overriding priority according to Your instructions about government. They must do right, defend the innocent, no matter what the political cost. Use the spinelessness of Pilate and Herod’s brutal passion for mocking and for a show to convict our political rulers in all branches of government to stop playing this foolish game that will end in Your judgment.
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