Luke 23

1 Then they all took Jesus to Pilate
2 and began to bring up charges against him. They said, "We found this man undermining our law and order, forbidding taxes to be paid to Caesar, setting himself up as Messiah-King."
3 Pilate asked him, "Is this true that you're 'King of the Jews'?" "Those are your words, not mine," Jesus replied.
4 Pilate told the high priests and the accompanying crowd, "I find nothing wrong here. He seems harmless enough to me.
5 But they were vehement. "He's stirring up unrest among the people with his teaching, disturbing the peace everywhere, starting in Galilee and now all through Judea. He's a dangerous man, endangering the peace."
6 When Pilate heard that, he asked, "So, he's a Galilean?"
7 Realizing that he properly came under Herod's jurisdiction, he passed the buck to Herod, who just happened to be in Jerusalem for a few days.
8 Herod was delighted when Jesus showed up. He had wanted for a long time to see him, he'd heard so much about him. He hoped to see him do something spectacular.
9 He peppered him with questions. Jesus didn't answer - not one word.
10 But the high priests and religion scholars were right there, saying their piece, strident and shrill in their accusations.
11 Mightily offended, Herod turned on Jesus. His soldiers joined in, taunting and jeering. Then they dressed him up in an elaborate king costume and sent him back to Pilate.
12 That day Herod and Pilate became thick as thieves. Always before they had kept their distance.
13 Then Pilate called in the high priests, rulers, and the others
14 and said, "You brought this man to me as a disturber of the peace. I examined him in front of all of you and found there was nothing to your charge
15 And neither did Herod, for he has sent him back here with a clean bill of health. It's clear that he's done nothing wrong, let alone anything deserving death.
16 I'm going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."
18 At that, the crowd went wild: "Kill him! Give us Barabbas!"
19 (Barabbas had been thrown in prison for starting a riot in the city and for murder.
20 Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go, and so spoke out again.
21 But they kept shouting back, "Crucify! Crucify him!
22 He tried a third time. "But for what crime? I've found nothing in him deserving death. I'm going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."
23 But they kept at it, a shouting mob, demanding that he be crucified. And finally they shouted him down.
24 Pilate caved in and gave them what they wanted.
25 He released the man thrown in prison for rioting and murder, and gave them Jesus to do whatever they wanted.
26 As they led him off, they made Simon, a man from Cyrene who happened to be coming in from the countryside, carry the cross behind Jesus.
27 A huge crowd of people followed, along with women weeping and carrying on.
28 At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, don't cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children.
29 The time is coming when they'll say, 'Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!'
30 Then they'll start calling to the mountains, 'Fall down on us!' calling to the hills, 'Cover us up!'
31 If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they'll do with deadwood?"
32 Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.
33 When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.
34 Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing."
35 The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, "He saved others. Let's see him save himself! The Messiah of God - ha! The Chosen - ha!"
36 The soldiers also came up and poked fun at him, making a game of it. They toasted him with sour wine
37 "So you're King of the Jews! Save yourself!"
38 Printed over him was a sign: this is the king of the jews
39 One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: "Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!"
40 But the other one made him shut up: "Have you no fear of God? You're getting the same as him.
41 We deserve this, but not him - he did nothing to deserve this."
42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom."
43 He said, "Don't worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise."
44 By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours -
45 a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle.
46 Jesus called loudly, "Father, I place my life in your hands!" Then he breathed his last.
47 When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: "This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!"
48 All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home.
49 Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.
50 There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character.
51 He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea.
52 He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
53 Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used.
54 It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.
55 The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus' body was placed.
56 Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded.

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.

Luke 23 Commentaries