Luke 23

Listen to Luke 23

Jesus Before Pilate

1 1Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate.
2 And they began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man 2misleading our nation and 3forbidding us to give tribute to 4Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, 5a king."
3 6And Pilate asked him, 7"Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, 8"You have said so."
4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, 9"I find no guilt in this man.
5 But they were urgent, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, 10from Galilee even to this place."

Jesus Before Herod

6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean.
7 And when he learned that he belonged to 11Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.
8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, 12for he had long desired to see him, 13because he had heard about him, and he was hoping 14to see some sign done by him.
9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer.
10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him.
11 And Herod with his soldiers 15treated him with contempt and 16mocked him. Then, 17arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate.
12 And 18Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and 19the rulers and the people,
14 and said to them, "You brought me this man 20as one who was misleading the people. And 21after examining him before you, behold, I 22did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him
15 Neither did Herod, for 23he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him.
16 24I will therefore punish and release him."[a]

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

18 25But they all cried out together, 26"Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas"--
19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and 27for murder
20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus,
21 but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!
22 A third time he said to them, "Why, 28what evil has he done? 29I have found in him no guilt deserving death. 30I will therefore punish and release him."
23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.
24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted.
25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison 31for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, 32but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

The Crucifixion

26 33And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.
27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were 34mourning and lamenting for him.
28 But turning to them Jesus said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
29 For behold, 35the days are coming when they will say, 36'Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!'
30 37Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Cover us.'
31 For 38if they do these things when 39the wood is green, what will happen 40when it is dry?"
32 41Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
33 42And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, 43one on his right and one on his left.
34 And Jesus said, "Father, 44forgive them, 45for they know not what they do."[b] And they cast lots 46to divide his garments.
35 And 47the people stood by, watching, 48but 49the rulers 50scoffed at him, saying, 51"He saved others; 52let him save himself, 53if he is 54the Christ of God, 55his Chosen One!"
36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and 56offering him sour wine
37 and saying, 57"If you are 58the King of the Jews, save yourself!"
38 59There was also an inscription over him,[c]"This is 60the King of the Jews.
39 61One of the criminals who were hanged 62railed at him,[d] saying, "Are you not 63the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
40 But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong."
42 And he said, "Jesus, remember me 64when you come into your kingdom."
43 And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in 65Paradise."

The Death of Jesus

44 66It was now about the sixth hour,[e] and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,[f]
45 while the sun's light failed. And 67the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
46 Then Jesus, 68calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, 69into your hands I 70commit my spirit!" And having said this 71he breathed his last.
47 Now 72when the centurion saw what had taken place, 73he praised God, saying, "Certainly this man was innocent!"
48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home 74beating their breasts.
49 And all 75his acquaintances and 76the women who had followed him from Galilee 77stood at a distance watching these things.

Jesus Is Buried

50 78Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man,
51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he 79was looking for the kingdom of God.
52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and 80laid him in a tomb cut in stone, 81where no one had ever yet been laid.
54 It was the day of 82Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.[g]
55 83The women 84who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid.
56 Then they returned and 85prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested 86according to the commandment.

Luke 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

Christ before Pilate. (1-5) Christ before Herod. (6-12) Barabbas preferred to Christ. (13-25) Christ speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem. (26-31) The crucifixion, The repentant malefactor. (32-43) The death of Christ. (44-49) The burial of Christ. (50-56)

Verses 1-5 Pilate well understood the difference between armed forces and our Lord's followers. But instead of being softened by Pilate's declaration of his innocence, and considering whether they were not bringing the guilt of innocent blood upon themselves, the Jews were the more angry. The Lord brings his designs to a glorious end, even by means of those who follow the devices of their own hearts. Thus all parties joined, so as to prove the innocence of Jesus, who was the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Verses 6-12 Herod had heard many things of Jesus in Galilee, and out of curiosity longed to see him. The poorest beggar that asked a miracle for the relief of his necessity, was never denied; but this proud prince, who asked for a miracle only to gratify his curiosity, is refused. He might have seen Christ and his wondrous works in Galilee, and would not, therefore it is justly said, Now he would see them, and shall not. Herod sent Christ again to Pilate: the friendships of wicked men are often formed by union in wickedness. They agree in little, except in enmity to God, and contempt of Christ.

Verses 13-25 The fear of man brings many into this snare, that they will do an unjust thing, against their consciences, rather than get into trouble. Pilate declares Jesus innocent, and has a mind to release him; yet, to please the people, he would punish him as an evil-doer. If no fault be found in him, why chastise him? Pilate yielded at length; he had not courage to go against so strong a stream. He delivered Jesus to their will, to be crucified.

Verses 26-31 We have here the blessed Jesus, the Lamb of God, led as a lamb to the slaughter, to the sacrifice. Though many reproached and reviled him, yet some pitied him. But the death of Christ was his victory and triumph over his enemies: it was our deliverance, the purchase of eternal life for us. Therefore weep not for him, but let us weep for our own sins, and the sins of our children, which caused his death; and weep for fear of the miseries we shall bring upon ourselves, if we slight his love, and reject his grace. If God delivered him up to such sufferings as these, because he was made a sacrifice for sin, what will he do with sinners themselves, who make themselves a dry tree, a corrupt and wicked generation, and good for nothing! The bitter sufferings of our Lord Jesus should make us stand in awe of the justice of God. The best saints, compared with Christ, are dry trees; if he suffer, why may not they expect to suffer? And what then shall the damnation of sinners be! Even the sufferings of Christ preach terror to obstinate transgressors.

Verses 32-43 As soon as Christ was fastened to the cross, he prayed for those who crucified him. The great thing he died to purchase and procure for us, is the forgiveness of sin. This he prays for. Jesus was crucified between two thieves; in them were shown the different effects the cross of Christ would have upon the children of men in the preaching the gospel. One malefactor was hardened to the last. No troubles of themselves will change a wicked heart. The other was softened at the last: he was snatched as a brand out of the burning, and made a monument of Divine mercy. This gives no encouragement to any to put off repentance to their death-beds, or to hope that they shall then find mercy. It is certain that true repentance is never too late; but it is as certain that late repentance is seldom true. None can be sure they shall have time to repent at death, but every man may be sure he cannot have the advantages this penitent thief had. We shall see the case to be singular, if we observe the uncommon effects of God's grace upon this man. He reproved the other for railing on Christ. He owned that he deserved what was done to him. He believed Jesus to have suffered wrongfully. Observe his faith in this prayer. Christ was in the depth of disgrace, suffering as a deceiver, and not delivered by his Father. He made this profession before the wonders were displayed which put honour on Christ's sufferings, and startled the centurion. He believed in a life to come, and desired to be happy in that life; not like the other thief, to be only saved from the cross. Observe his humility in this prayer. All his request is, Lord, remember me; quite referring it to Jesus in what way to remember him. Thus he was humbled in true repentance, and he brought forth all the fruits for repentance his circumstances would admit. Christ upon the cross, is gracious like Christ upon the throne. Though he was in the greatest struggle and agony, yet he had pity for a poor penitent. By this act of grace we are to understand that Jesus Christ died to open the kingdom of heaven to all penitent, obedient believers. It is a single instance in Scripture; it should teach us to despair of none, and that none should despair of themselves; but lest it should be abused, it is contrasted with the awful state of the other thief, who died hardened in unbelief, though a crucified Saviour was so near him. Be sure that in general men die as they live.

Verses 44-49 We have here the death of Christ magnified by the wonders that attended it, and his death explained by the words with which he breathed out his soul. He was willing to offer himself. Let us seek to glorify God by true repentance and conversion; by protesting against those who crucify the Saviour; by a sober, righteous, and godly life; and by employing our talents in the service of Him who died for us and rose again.

Verses 50-56 Many, though they do not make any show in outward profession, yet, like Joseph of Arimathea, will be far more ready to do real service, when there is occasion, than others who make a greater noise. Christ was buried in haste, because the sabbath drew on. Weeping must not hinder sowing. Though they were in tears for the death of their Lord, yet they must prepare to keep holy the sabbath. When the sabbath draws on, there must be preparation. Our worldly affairs must be so ordered, that they may not hinder us from our sabbath work; and our holy affections so stirred up, that they may carry us on in it. In whatever business we engage, or however our hearts may be affected, let us never fail to get ready for, and to keep holy, the day of sacred rest, which is the Lord's day.

Cross References 86

  • 1. Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1; John 18:28
  • 2. ver. 14; [Acts 17:6, 7; Acts 24:5]
  • 3. [Luke 20:25]
  • 4. Luke 2:1; Luke 3:1
  • 5. John 18:33, 36, 37; John 19:12; [Acts 17:7]
  • 6. Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2
  • 7. ver. 37, 38; Matthew 2:2; John 18:39; John 19:3
  • 8. See Luke 22:70
  • 9. ver. 14, 22; John 18:38; John 19:4, 6; [Matthew 27:24; 1 Peter 2:22]
  • 10. Luke 4:14; Matthew 4:12, 23; Mark 1:14; John 1:43; John 2:11
  • 11. See Luke 3:1
  • 12. Luke 9:9
  • 13. Matthew 14:1; Mark 6:14
  • 14. See Matthew 12:38
  • 15. Mark 9:12; Acts 4:11
  • 16. Luke 18:32
  • 17. [Matthew 27:28; Mark 15:17]
  • 18. Acts 4:27; [Psalms 2:2]
  • 19. See Luke 24:20
  • 20. ver. 2
  • 21. Acts 3:13
  • 22. ver. 4
  • 23. ver. 11
  • 24. ver. 22; John 19:1; [Acts 5:40]
  • 25. For ver. 18-25, see Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; John 18:39, 40; John 19:16
  • 26. [Acts 21:36; Acts 22:22]
  • 27. Acts 3:14
  • 28. [ver. 41; John 8:46]
  • 29. ver. 14, 15
  • 30. ver. 16
  • 31. ver. 19
  • 32. John 19:16
  • 33. Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; [John 19:17]
  • 34. Luke 8:52; Matthew 11:17
  • 35. See Luke 17:22
  • 36. Luke 21:23; Matthew 24:19; Mark 13:17
  • 37. Hosea 10:8; Revelation 6:16; [Isaiah 2:19]
  • 38. [Proverbs 11:31; 1 Peter 4:17]
  • 39. Ezekiel 20:47
  • 40. Ezekiel 20:47
  • 41. Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; John 19:18; [Matthew 20:21]
  • 42. Matthew 27:33; Mark 15:22; John 19:17
  • 43. [See ver. 32 above]
  • 44. Isaiah 53:12; See Matthew 5:44
  • 45. [Mark 10:38]; See Acts 3:17
  • 46. Psalms 22:18; Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; John 19:23
  • 47. Psalms 22:7, 17
  • 48. Matthew 27:41, 42; Mark 15:31, 32
  • 49. See Luke 24:20
  • 50. Luke 16:14
  • 51. [Luke 4:23]
  • 52. [Matthew 26:53, 54; John 10:18]
  • 53. [Luke 4:3, 9]
  • 54. See Luke 9:20; Matthew 1:17
  • 55. Luke 9:35; Isaiah 42:1; [Matthew 12:18; 1 Peter 2:4]
  • 56. [Psalms 69:21; Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:36; John 19:29]
  • 57. ver. 35
  • 58. See ver. 3
  • 59. Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; John 19:19; [John 19:21, 22]
  • 60. [See ver. 37 above]
  • 61. [Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32]
  • 62. See Matthew 27:39
  • 63. ver. 35, 37
  • 64. [Matthew 16:28]
  • 65. 2 Corinthians 12:3; Revelation 2:7
  • 66. Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; [John 19:14]
  • 67. Exodus 26:31-33; 2 Chronicles 3:14
  • 68. [Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; John 19:30]
  • 69. Cited from Psalms 31:5; [Acts 7:59]
  • 70. 1 Peter 4:19
  • 71. [John 10:18]
  • 72. Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39
  • 73. See Luke 7:16
  • 74. Luke 18:13
  • 75. Psalms 88:8
  • 76. ver. 55; John 19:25; See Luke 8:2
  • 77. Psalms 38:11
  • 78. For ver. 50-56, see Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; John 19:38-42
  • 79. Luke 2:25, 38
  • 80. [Isaiah 53:9]
  • 81. [Mark 11:2]
  • 82. See Matthew 27:62
  • 83. Matthew 28:1
  • 84. ver. 49
  • 85. Luke 24:1; Mark 16:1; [John 19:39]
  • 86. Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:14

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Here, or after verse 19, some manuscripts add verse 17: Now he was obliged to release one man to them at the festival
  • [b]. Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus... what they do
  • [c]. Some manuscripts add in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew
  • [d]. Or blasphemed him
  • [e]. That is, noon
  • [f]. That is, 3 p.m.
  • [g]. Greek was dawning

Luke 23 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.