121-124 Luke Chapter 23
False Charge 1-5
The entire Sanhedrin took Jesus and went before Pilate. Pilate was the chief Roman official in Judea from AD 26-36. The Sanhedrin had condemned Jesus for the sin of blasphemy. (Mark 14:64; Matthew 26:65) This charge was not a crime in the Roman government. The Sanhedrin then accused Jesus of being a revolutionary. In addition to the general charge of perverting the people, they accused Jesus of forbidding the people to pay taxes and they said He claimed to be the King. These were false charges. Jesus had taught that people should pay their taxes. (Luke 20:19-26) Jesus had refused to be a threat to the Roman government. (John 6:15) This explains Jesus’ ambiguous answer to the question of Pilate. Jesus was the King of the Jews but not in the since that Pilate would have understood. (John 18:33-38) Pilate believed Jesus and his verdict of verse 4 should have been the official verdict. “I find no guilt in this man.” His charges should have been dismissed but the Sanhedrin were insistent and Pilate did not act decisively.
Before Herod 6-12
Pilate was in a dilemma and when learning that Jesus was from Galilee he sent Him to see Herod, as Galilee was in Herod’s jurisdiction. Herod Antipas was the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. He was the one who imprisoned Joh the Baptist and killed him. For a long time he was superstitious and curios about Jesus. Herod was wanting to see Jesus and have Him perform a sign. Jesus refused to speak to Herod and was treated cruelly and mocked. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate and did not impose a sentence upon Him. Pilate thought this to mean that Herod had found Jesus to be innocent. Neither of these men had excuse for the shameful miscarriage of justice.
Sentenced by Pilate 13-25
Pilate tried another way to release Jesus. He stated that Jesus was innocent of a crime warranting death and offered to have Him chastised and then released. Roman law allowed a man to be beaten as a warning for future crimes. Pilate had hoped that this compromise would satisfy the accusers of Jesus.
It did not satisfy them and even made them more persistent. They called for the release of Barabbas, an insurrectionist and murderer, and send Jesus to be crucified. Pilate repeated his innocent verdict and his offer to have Jesus beaten. But the accusers became even louder crying out to have Him crucified. Finally Pilate gave into their demands. The irony here is that Jesus was condemned to die for the crimes that Barabbas had committed.
Why did Pilate give into the demands of the Jewish Leaders? Mark 15:15 says that he wanted to satisfy the Jewish crowds. John 19:12-13 says that the Jewish leaders threatened to report Pilate to Caesar. Pilate was not innocent, as he knew the Sanhedrin was using him to crucify an innocent man. Pilate had resisted not so much for a sense of justice as from his abhorrence of being controlled by the High Priest. Pilate knew that Tiberius Caesar was suspicious enough to have believed the false accusation against Jesus by the highest Jewish court in the land. Therefore, Pilate did what he had to do and sentenced Jesus to be crucified.
Dying for Sinners
In the first century the cross was at the heart of the gospel message, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) but the Christians encountered much prejudice against accepting a crucified person as the Savior of the world. (1 Corinthians 1:22-23) Luke wanted to show his readers that the crucifixion of Jesus was not what it appeared to be, a routine execution of a condemned revolutionary, rather the death of Jesus was a divine act of on behalf of sinners. On one hand, therefore, Luke stressed the fact that Jesus was completely innocent. This was the repeated verdict of Pilate. The penitent thief and the centurion recognized Jesus innocence. Luke focused on the real meaning of the cross in the three sayings of Jesus. Even the mockery of Jesus enemies points to the truth that Jesus refused to save Himself in order to save others.
Simon of Cyrene 26
Simon carried the cross behind Jesus. Jesus was on His way to the cross, but he had called others to follow Him on the way to the cross. The Romans forced Simon to do what the followers of Jesus should do voluntarily.
Women of Jerusalem 27-31
Only Luke records this incident and it points to the judgment coming to Jerusalem. Jesus calls out to the women of Jerusalem to weep about the coming ruin of their city. A barren woman was an object of pity, but during the throes of Jerusalem’s death barren women will be glad they have no children to go through such suffering. It will be a time of such suffering that the people will pray for the mountains to fall upon them.
Two Criminals 32
“Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)
Prayer for Sinners 33-34
Crucifixion was a death that was designed to humiliate and torture the victim. None of the Gospels focus on the torment that Jesus had endured on the cross. Their focus is on the significance of His death. The Gospels record seven sayings that Jesus spoke on the cross. One in (Mark 15:34) and in (Matthew 27:46), three in Luke (Luke 23:34, 43, 46) and three in John. (John 19:26-27, 28, 30)
Two of the sayings in Luke are prayers. As Jesus was being crucified He kept praying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Most during crucifixion screamed and cursed and some would pray for a quick death. But Jesus prayed for those who had crucified Him. This prayer included all who were involved in His crucifixion. (Acts 3:17; Acts 13:27; 1 Corinthians 2:8) Jesus died for the redemptive plan of the Father and His prayer must have been that all would experience divine forgiveness.
Serving Self or Others 35-38
Luke records the responses of three groups. The people who watched, the Jewish leaders who scoffed, and the soldiers who mocked. The rulers were saying that if Jesus was the Messiah then He could save Himself. This is a prophetic truth as Jesus could have saved Himself. But Jesus knew that if He saved Himself He could not save others. For this reason, out of His love for mankind, He refused to save Himself. His enemies could not imagine or expect that God would allow His chosen One to suffer such a fate. But the Christian good news is, “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
Today … in Paradise 39-43
When looking at the two thieves the question becomes why some believe and some don’t. The two thieves had seen the same sights and sounds. They knew of Jesus and the many marvelous things that He had done. But one thief mocked Him and the other believed. The penitent thief expressed an amazing faith. While to some of the followers of Jesus all seemed lost and this thief in his darkest hour believed in the Christ. He didn’t know of the ministry of Jesus and probably did not understand what he did know of it. But He believed that Jesus was the Messiah and that His Kingdom was coming. This thief saw himself as he was, as sinner.
He asked Jesus to remember Him in His coming Kingdom. Jesus promised the thief that he would be with Him in paradise that very day. At death those who believe in Jesus depart the body to be with Jesus. (Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8)
Darkness and Death 44-49
The darkness that fell across the earth at Jesus’ death has a cosmic significance. The cry recorded by Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 show that the forces of darkness did their worst to Jesus during this time. The prayer of Jesus recorded by John “it is finished” shows that Jesus had won the final victory. (John 19:30)
The tearing of the curtain in the Temple showed that the death of Jesus opened the way for all people into the presence of God. No longer would man need a sacrificial system for the removal of sin, Jesus had paid that wage.
The Roman soldier’s response is another ray of light. By what he had witnessed he is convinced that Jesus was innocent. As a result he praised God.
Joseph of Arimathea 50-53
Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin who opposed their plans to crucify Jesus. In an act of faith and courage he provided a tomb for the body of Jesus.
The Women 54-56
These verses in Luke serve as a bridge between the death and resurrection of Jesus. The women had served Jesus during His ministry and they would do what they could for Him after He was dead.