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Disheveled Theologian: Performance review: A few thoughts during Lent, week 3

Well, Lent is ticking away and I have a third “stand-out” phrase for you today. This one comes along in Luke, Chapter 23. Jesus had been brought to see Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ arrest. He was brought to him because Pilate was trying to pass Jesus off on to Herod, hoping Herod would make the decision about what to do with him so that he, Pilate, wouldn’t have to.

Herod, however, made no such decision. Instead, he questioned Jesus and ridiculed him and mocked him, ultimately dressing him in an “elegant robe” and sending him back to Pilate. Oddly enough, the Bible notes that he and Herod became friends on that day, whereas before they had been enemies. Apparently they were united by their common dislike of the Christ.

Scripture tells us, “When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort.” Luke 23:8 NIV

But Jesus did no such thing. Instead, as Herod questioned him, he kept his mouth shut and gave him no answers, let alone performing for him.

Can you imagine? Herod wanted Jesus to perform! He wanted a magic show. But Jesus refused to even speak.

Jesus knew what was in Herod’s heart. He knew the motive behind the questions. He knew that Herod would have probably absolved him of all accusations if he just whipped up a batch of wine out of a barrel of water or straightened out a shriveled hand or threw off his chains and blasted his captors into oblivion. That’s what Herod wanted. A show of strength. A performance. Proof that he, Jesus, was God.

Such audacity on the part of Herod! Such baseness. Such self-centered blindness.

I can’t imagine doing such a thing! I would never behave in such a manner. Heaven forbid!

Would I?

The question must be asked: Have I ever asked Jesus to perform for me?

Well …?

What about that time when I was in high school and I prayed I wouldn’t get caught? “Please, God, just let Mom and Dad be asleep when I come creeping home past curfew. I’ll never doubt you again if you do.”

Or what about that time when I was trying to make a decision and I threw down my proverbial fleece a la Gideon (Judges, Chapter 6) and demanded that God give me a sign?

Or what about that time when … or that other time I … or every single time I think I know best and tell God what he ought to do.

Am I just as audacious as Herod? Do I expect Jesus to perform for me?

Or am I doing everything I do as a “sign of some sort” of my own willingness to perform for him?

Dear Lord, please open my eyes to my own audacity.

Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is gcodon@gmail.com.

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