Luke Chapter Twenty-Three
v.1 “1And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.”
The whole multitude or company got up and led Jesus to Pilate. Jesus has been through a three stage Jewish trial, before Annas and Caiaphas before daylight and the Sanhedrin Council afterward. The council did not have the authority to put someone to death so they have to take him to the Romans. He will now go through a three stage trial there as well.
v.2 “2And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.”
They start to bring charges against him; they want Pilate to ratify the death sentence they have already imposed upon him but wicked as he is he won’t do that without cause. Luke’s record indicates that one of the first things they do is lie. What lie did they tell? Jesus never forbid that tribute be paid to Caesar, in fact, he taught just the opposite (Luke ). He did admit to being a King and he is a King, the King of God’s spiritual kingdom, the church.
v.3 “3And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.”
Pilate asks Jesus a simple, straightforward question. Luke records the short answer, John helps us understand that Jesus explained that his kingdom was spiritual rather than of this world:
John “36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”
His statement “THOU SAYEST” is a confirmation of what Pilate said, he is a king.
v.4 “4Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.”
Apparently a multitude of people have now gathered at the court of Pilate along with the council. After Pilate questions Jesus as John records he declares that he has committed no crime. Under reasonable circumstances is it wrong to claim to be a king? No, people might wonder about our mental stability but it’s not a sin or a crime. The Holy Spirit confirms that through Peter:
I Peter “22Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:”
v.5 “5And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.”
This is not the response the council came to hear. Pilate has no interest in their religious squabbles, Jesus claim to be a king doesn’t violate Roman law so they have to make him look like one of those who we studied about earlier that claimed to be the Messiah and led men to try to overthrow Roman rule.
v.6-7 “6When Pilate heard of
When Pilate hears that
Jesus is a Galilaean he thinks he has found a way out of this situation. Herod Antipas, the one who beheaded John the
Immerser, is in
v.8 “8And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.”
Luke records that Herod had been wanting to see Jesus for some time. He had heard all about his miracles, he was curious; he was looking to be entertained or witness some fabulous occurrence. He probably thought of Jesus as some magician who would put on a show similar to that of David Copperfield of our day.
v.9-11 “9Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. 10And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. 11And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.”
When Jesus is brought before Herod he stands mute, giving no answers to this wicked man’s questions. Herod is described as “weak and sensual and cunning, but superstitious and cruel; he was revengeful”, the very opposite of the kind of man that Jesus was in his life. When he refuses to answer or entertain Herod they make sport of him and we’re reminded of the prophecy of Isaiah:
Isaiah 53:3 “3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
After abusing him for their amusement, Herod returns Jesus to Pilate.
v.12 “12And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.”
Neither scripture or secular history records the reason for this disagreement between Herod Antipas and Pilate. Perhaps it was a jurisdictional dispute, perhaps something related to the fact that they were political rivals. However, in sending Jesus to Herod, Pilate performed a political courtesy toward Herod that apparently overcame those differences. This is another example of just how the life of the Son of God is woven into the secular history of the times in which he lived.
v.13-15 “13And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.”
Herod didn’t’ solve Pilate’s problem but rather sent Jesus back to him. Herod agreed with Pilate in that there was no reason to execute this man. Both Pilate and Herod have examined him and judged him to be innocent of any crime. And especially; they have not found him guilty of subverting the people or acting in rebellion to the Roman government. In fact throughout scripture we’re taught just the opposite of rebellion and insurrection; Paul’s instructions come to mind:
Romans 13:1-2 “1Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”
v.16-17 “16I will therefore chastise him, and release him. 17(For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)”
Pilate proposed that he
“CHASTISE” Jesus, that is scourge him, and release him. At the time of this feast in
v.18-19 “18And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: 19(Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)”
Pilate’s suggestion generates a tumult. The “THEY” in verse 18 includes the chief priests and rulers of the Jews and the mob that all of the unusual activities has generated. They demand the death of Jesus and the release of an insurrectionist and murderer; someone who is actually guilty of the crimes that they have accused Jesus. This is a violation of the Mosaic Law, the very law that they are supposed to obey and uphold:
Leviticus 24:17 “17And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.”
Peter reminds them of this in one of his later sermons:
Acts 3:13-14 “13The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;”
v.20-21 “20Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. 21But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.”
Pilate has a problem. He is a weak man, his wife had a dream about this Jesus (Matthew 27:19-20), he’s superstitious, afraid and knows that Jesus is innocent. But the mobs, stirred up by the chief priests, are bordering on the point of rebellion, they have one focus, destroy Jesus. God’s plan for the redemption of mankind marches relentlessly forward, he’s not directing them, he’s not influencing them at all but allowing the events of the day to take their natural course.
v.22 “22And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.”
Three times Pilate comes to the chief priests and rulers, he’s persistent. Jesus is innocent, he has done nothing that would require him to die. The scourging that Pilate is suggesting is simply an attempt to placate these people in their demands. Jesus wasn’t guilty of any crime that would require even this kind of punishment. But the Jews are all the more adamant about what they want. This is the opportunity they have been searching for. Their wildest dreams about removing Jesus permanently are within their reach and they are not going to let go. Again we see the weakness of Pilate and the natural result of politics used to determine a course of action rather than righteous judgment. Pilate abdicates his responsibility as ruler and judge and gives in to the screaming mob.
Mark “And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?”
v.23-24 “23And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. 24And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.”
Absolutely nothing but Jesus’ death by crucifixion would satisfy the Jewish rulers. Pilate is too weak to stand up and follow his own good judgment so the stage is set for the sacrifice required to redeem the souls of all mankind. Pilate washes his hands, claiming innocence of Jesus’ blood (Mathew 27:24) and gives the instructions that the Jew’s demands be carried out.
v.25 “25And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.”
v.26 “And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.”
Based upon Pilate’s instructions they lead Jesus away to be crucified. This was done outside the city, why? There are two reasons. Jesus is being sacrificed as the atonement for sin and that was part of the Mosaic Law:
Hebrews 13:11-12 “11For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”
And it was also part of the Mosaic Law that all executions take place outside the camp and later outside the city gates:
Numbers “35And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.”
We see the same pattern followed in the stoning of Stephen; Acts .
We also see here another man involved by time and circumstance, Simon by name, from a city in North Africa and the father of two who were later apparently prominent enough in the church for Mark to mention them in his record; Mark 15:21.
v.27 “27And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.”
In addition to the mob stirred up by the Jewish rulers there are other people following the event of the day and follow along as they take Jesus outside the city. There hasn’t been any further mention of his disciples during this part of his trial but apparently some are there, especially the women. They know what is coming and they are mourning him before his death.
v.28 “28But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.”
These women are not the
Galilean disciples but rather women of
v.29-30 “29For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. 30Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.”
The day would come when they would envy those who had no children and beg the mountains to fall down and cover them up to protect them from the ravages to come. This is also a fulfillment of prophecy:
Isaiah 2:19-20 “19And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. 20In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;”
Hosea 10:8 “8The high places also of Aven, the sin of
v.31 “31For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?”
Jesus here uses a known proverb to describe his situation. The green tree represents righteousness, the dry tree wickedness. If an innocent man such as Jesus is to suffer the kind of wrongs visited upon him, then what more punishment shall be reserved for the wicked. Peter asked the same question:
I Peter 4:17-18 “17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
v.32 “32And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.”
There are two others, real criminals who are also being crucified with Jesus. Another fulfillment of prophecy:
Isaiah 53:12 “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
v.33 “33And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.”
The Hebrew for the
location of Jesus crucifixion is “
v.34 “34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
No one present knew the true significance of the events being carried out on that day. Peter emphasizes their ignorance:
Acts “17And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.”
Paul tells us that if they had really known that Jesus was the Son of God he wouldn’t have been executed.
I Corinthians 2:8 “8Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
v.35 “35And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them
derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save
himself, if he be Christ, the
Many of the people present mock and make fun of Jesus; telling him that if he was really the Son of God he would miraculously come down from that cross, save himself. But that was not God’s purpose. This scorn and mockery was also a part of prophecy that confirms to us who Jesus was:
Psalms 22:7-8 “ALL THEY THAT SEE ME LAUGH ME TO SCORN; THEY SHOOT OUT THE LIP, THEY SHAKE THE HEAD, saying, HE TRUSTED ON THE LORD that HE WOULD DELIVER HIM: LET HIM DELIVER HIM, SEEING HE DELIGHTED IN HIM.”
v.36-37 “36And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.”
The Roman soldiers join
in on the mocking and making fun of Jesus.
To them another insurrectionist, one who claimed to be a king, has been
crushed under the power of
v.38 “38And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
An inscription or what
we would today call a sign was made and placed over him in the three common
languages used in
v.39 “39And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”
One of the malefactors, criminals, (robbers or thieves, Matthew 27:44) being crucified with Jesus joins in the mockery, challenging him to save himself and them from their common fate.
v.40-41 “40But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.”
The other thief defends Jesus; rightly pointing out that they earned their demise, Jesus did not. He says that they were all going to their appointed judgment before God and the condition of their souls should make them set out on that journey in fear.
v.42 “42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
The second thief
appears to know more about the coming
v.43 “43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Jesus has been silent through all the derision but tells this man, who has repented of his sins that “TO DAY” he will be with him in paradise. Again we remember the study of Luke 16:19-31 and understand that the Jews called this Abraham’s bosom, the place of the faithful dead until judgment; the pleasant part of the hadean world.
v.44 “44And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.”
From about until about , about three hours, darkness covers the earth. It would seem as though God is hiding this vicious scene, not wanting to see it, but in reality it is symbolic of sin and death ruling the world. Just as the light returned and the rule of darkness was broken; the rule of sin and death was broken by the events of this day of crucifixion.
v.45-46 “45And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”
While the sun was darkened the veil between the holy place and the holiest of holies in the temple is torn from top to bottom and the dwelling place of God under the Mosaic Law is thrown open. Jesus places his spirit in the hands of
God, just as David did in his deepest despair:
Psalms 31:5 “INTO THINE HAND I COMMIT MY SPRIIT THOU HAST REDEEMED ME, O LORD GOD OF TRUTH.”
v.47 “47Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.”
The events that he has witnessed, the darkness, the forgiving spirit of Jesus has converted the centurion over the Roman soldiers, he is now a believer.
Matthew says that he, and others surrounding the cross, were fearful and confess that “TRULY THIS WAS THE SON OF GOD.” (Matthew 27:54).
v.48-49 “48And all the people that came together to that
sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.
49And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from
What does it mean that
the people smote their breasts? This was
an expression of grief. I don’t think
they are grieving for Jesus but for themselves.
They have observed the physical phenomena of the mid-day darkness, the
earthquake as recorded in other places and have come to the conclusion that
everything is not as it seemed. They are
like a lynch mob that slinks away and hides after the foul deed is done. They leave
v.50-52 “50And, behold, there
was a man named Joseph, a counsellor;
and he was a good man, and a just: 51(The
same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the
Luke tells us some
things about this man Joseph who begged the body of Jesus. He was a counselor or lawyer, one of the
council but a good man and a just man who did not consent to their decision to
destroy Jesus or participate in their scheming.
The exact location of the city of Arimathea is not known but the name
means “heights” and it is thought to be the first century name of the place
called Ramah in I Samuel 1:19. This place is close enough to
v.53 “53And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.”
Joseph took the body of Jesus, prepared it for burial and placed it into a brand new tomb, hewn out of solid rock and that had never been used. He is placed in the tomb of a rich man, probably in a burial ground of similar tombs prepared for those who were rich and prominent. Again a fulfillment of prophecy:
Isaiah 53:9 “9And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.”
v.54 “54And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.”
Luke tells us that it was the day of preparation for the Sabbath. Most of the time that would be a Friday and scholars have debated this over the years with some contending that it was Thursday as the Friday before a high Sabbath was also a holy day. In fact I heard a preacher state that position just a few weeks ago in his sermon. I’ve read the arguments and know enough to say that I don’t know, though the arguments for Friday make sense.
v.55 “55And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.”
The women, apparently those of the families of Jesus and his disciples follow and witness where he is laid.
v.56 “56And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”
They return to the city, their places of stay, prepare the burial spices and ointments and observe the Sabbath according to the law (Exodus ). This is one of the arguments that is used to show that the crucifixion and burial was on a Friday.