“And the chief priests and the scribes stood there and made impassioned accusations against him. And Herod, along with his soldiers, were showing him contempt and mockingly clothed him in shining garments and sent him back to Pilate.”
And the mocking continues as Jesus refuses to perform the feats that Herod had hoped to see. What is interesting is that Herod does not just have him sent home and put to death — certainly Herod had the blood of John the Baptist on his hands, why not Jesus also? With Pilate giving up jurisdiction, Herod could easily have sentenced the man to death, pleased the priests and perhaps even won him some favor amongst the Jerusalem elite. Herod opts not do to so, and returns Jesus to Herod. Of course, this is a fulfillment of prophesy that Jesus would be hanged on a tree, but from a human perspective, it is fascinating to me to see all of these puzzle pieces laid into place. Certainly Herod, by returning Jesus to Pilate, is no less guilty of Jesus’ death, but perhaps in his own mind he can wash his hands of the man just as Pilate would later do. Perhaps Herod has as much contempt for the priestly establishment as Pilate does and Herod sees this as a way to frustrate them even more as he sees them practically begging for this man’s death. This may be the reason that Luke makes the comment about Herod and Pilate’s friendship that develops over these things in the next verse. Politics often makes strange bed-fellows.
There is another aspect of these verses, that is often overlooked, and that is the garment that is placed on Jesus’ shoulders. Many of our translations will render this word as “an elegant robe” (NIV), “splendid clothing” (ESV), “a gorgeous robe” (KJV & NASB), etc… and perhaps brings to mind the remarkable garment that Joseph was given by his father in the Old Testament. The word that Luke uses here is lampro/ß (lampros), which is the root from which we get the English word, “lamp.” In Greek, we sometimes translate lampro/ß (lampros) as splendid or opulent, but most commonly the term reflects something that is full of light or sparkles. This is the term that is used of the angel that presented himself to Cornelius (Acts 10:30) as well as the angels that John describes in heaven (Revelation 15:6) and the heavenly garment given to the Church as the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:8).
It should be noted the radical difference between that which is glorious of heaven and that which is considered glorious on earth. There is simply no comparison. Once again, Jesus is made to bear the shame of fallen man — this time being arrayed in the best of human making when the best of heaven is that which he rightfully deserves. To take the analogy further, Jesus is clothed in the garments of men so that his bride may be brightly arrayed in the garments of heaven (as we see in Revelation 19:8). It is an exchange that Jesus was pleased to make, but it is an exchange that we do not deserve to receive. One more thought along those lines — the garments with which the bride is to be clothed are described as the “righteous deeds of the saints.” May we always remember that the origin of those deeds is not within us here on earth, but in heaven, for indeed, these works have been prepared for us from before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 2:10) and done not in our strength, but in the strength of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). Jesus substitutes himself in our place to give us what we could never hope to give ourselves — why then do we so often pursue the splendor of this world when Christ himself offers us the splendor of heaven.