Today’s Word: “When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign.” (Luke 23.8).
It’s sometimes noted that the Passion story is filled with otherwise simple remarks, which on closer inspection carry a depth of meaning which is worth exploring. Today, Luke recounts how the Chief Priests have begun to stir up the people (despite laying this accusation on Jesus!) and they are now beginning to prey on Pilate’s fears. Pilate seeks political cover by sending Jesus to Herod and it’s he who, we are told, hopes to see Jesus ‘perform some sign’ (8). It’s doubtful, of course, that Herod appreciated it but the ‘sign’ which he is given and to which our attention is directed today, is of course, the cross. Among the many things we might notice about this ‘sign’, the first, is that is that it draws us in. So, Simon of Cyrene becomes a prototype disciple carrying the cross behind Jesus (26) along with the veritable procession of others; ‘a great number of the people’ (27) following. Secondly, despite the easy assumption that Jesus is the victim in all of this (25), Luke wants us to know that from his cross Jesus has a much more active role. He is in fact the minister of forgiveness (34) and grace (43). “The people stood by, watching.” (35), witnessing the sign, the Coronation of the world’s true King (38) and so, today, do we.
Our Prayer for Lent is: “Lord Jesus, draw me into your friendship”.