Luk_23:12. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.
IT was truly said of Christ at the time of his birth, that “he should be a sign that should be spoken against, that the thoughts of many hearts should be revealed:” for by means of him, throughout all his ministry, and especially at the close of his life, such depravity was brought to light, as one would scarcely have conceived it possible for man to indulge. To go no further than the immediate context: Pilate had been constrained to declare him innocent; yet, instead of liberating him, had availed himself of the mention of Galilee to send him to Herod, under whose jurisdiction that province was. The Scribes and Pharisees, enraged rather than pacified by Pilate’s attestation of his innocence, followed him to Herod’s judgment-seat, loading him with all manner of accusations, and making up in vehemence and clamour what they wanted in truth and evidence. Herod, after trying him, was forced to confirm the verdict of Pilate; yet, instead of protecting this persecuted person, arrayed him in mock-majesty, and with his men of war poured contempt upon him, and sent him back again to Pilate as an object worthy only of derision. Thus, while the Scribes and Pharisees unremittingly urged against him their malignant accusations, Pilate and Herod complimented each other at his expense, and made their injuries to him the means of reconciliation between themselves.
From this last circumstance we notice,
That sin is a common bond of union among men—
Sin certainly has produced in families and nations the greatest disunion: and generally causes the fiercest animosities among them that are nearest to each other. But it is also true, that sin often forms a bond of union among men.
This is true of sin in general—
[The friendships of the world at large originate almost entirely in sin. The gay unite for the indulgence of their pleasures; the licentious, for the gratification of their lusts; the convivial, for the exercise of (what they call) good fellowship; the worldly and ambitious, for the pursuit of wealth or honour; yea, the very infidels for the purpose of confirming and propagating their fatal tenets.]
It is true of enmity against Christ, in particular—
[Persons who have no other point of contact whatever, are brought together by means of this. The Scribes and Pharisees were far from being friends either to Pilate or Herod; and these two were “at enmity between themselves.” Yet behold, how they all agree in persecuting Christ! It had been foretold that they would do so [Note: Psa_2:1-2.]; and the history before us is declared to be an accomplishment of that prophecy [Note: Act_4:25-28.]. But how can we account for this? How can we account for that union, which has subsisted in all ages between persons of all ranks, habits, and dispositions, in opposing Christ? It can only be accounted for from hence; that every man has in his own bosom a rooted principle of enmity against Christ; and that he will break down all common rules of propriety in order to give it vent: yea, rather than not have confederates in his opposition to Christ, he will associate himself with the vilest of mankind, and avail himself of any help for the suppression or extinction of vital godliness.]
But, however desirable the esteem of our fellow-creatures may be, we must say,
That friendships cemented by sin are no objects of envy or congratulation—
Doubtless a reconciliation between any parties that are at variance, is desirable. But it may be purchased at too dear a rate:
It was so in the present case—
[Pilate and Herod were appealed to as judges; and, when they found the accused person innocent, they should have rescued him out of the hands of his oppressors. It was no fit occasion for paying compliments to each other, when the life of an innocent person was at stake; nor were they at liberty to sport with such sacred interests. And what was the natural effect of this solemn trifling? What, but to encourage each other in sin; to harden each other in impenitence; and to aggravate each other’s eternal condemnation? Say now, whether a friendship so formed could afford any solid satisfaction to their minds? Say, whether it would not have been better for Herod to have continued at enmity with Pilate, and even to have subjected himself to all manner of indignities for espousing the cause of Jesus, than to have brought such guilt upon his soul for the sake of gratifying a fellow-worm?]
It is so, whenever we sacrifice a good conscience in order to obtain it—
[We many conciliate the favour of men by “putting our light under a bushel,” and conforming to the maxims and habits of the world. We may make “the world love us, by becoming of the world.” Probably many, who would have condemned Demas for continuing faithful to his high calling, commended him when they found that he had relinquished it together with the society of the Lord’s people. But what do we think of his conduct? or what does he himself think of it now? Has he not learned long since, that the purchase of the whole world at the expense of the soul is an unprofitable bargain? Have not many apostates borne testimony to that effect, even while they have been yet in possession of the things they coveted? Yes; many would gladly have restored, like Judas, their ill-acquired wealth or honour, if they could but regain the peace of mind which they have lost. Know then, that the testimony of a good conscience is the first of blessings; and nothing, not even life itself, is to be desired, unless in perfect consistency with that.]
Let us not be surprised if there be confederacies against us—
[As long as there continues in the hearts of unregenerate men a principle of enmity against God, we must expect it to operate as it ever has done, and to combine against us all the powers of the world. When the Gibeonites made a covenant with Joshua, all the kingdoms of Canaan confederated to destroy them. Let not us think that the world will be at peace with us, if we unite ourselves to the Lord Jesus. “The servant cannot be greater than his Lord.” When therefore we suffer like indignities with him, let us not account it hard, but rather rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer shame for his sake [Note: 1Pe_2:19-23; 1Pe_4:12-16.].]
Let a principle of faith and love unite and animate us—
[We blame not the union of Herod and Pilate, but their union in a bad cause. We have a cause in which it will be our honour to unite; and a principle, which, if truly operative in our souls, will combine us all in the prosecution of the noblest ends. See what an union was produced among the converts on the day of Pentecost [Note: Act_2:41-47.]. O that the Holy Ghost might descend on us also, and that we might be all of one heart and one mind in the service of our God! Then shall we exemplify the change which divine grace effects, and glorify Him who endured such indignities for us.]