Luke 23

Listen to Luke 23
1 Then the entire council took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor.
2 They began to state their case: “This man has been leading our people astray by telling them not to pay their taxes to the Roman government and by claiming he is the Messiah, a king.”
3 So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
4 Pilate turned to the leading priests and to the crowd and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man!”
5 Then they became insistent. “But he is causing riots by his teaching wherever he goes—all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!”
6 “Oh, is he a Galilean?” Pilate asked.
7 When they said that he was, Pilate sent him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and Herod happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.
8 Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle.
9 He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer.
10 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the teachers of religious law stood there shouting their accusations.
11 Then Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus. Finally, they put a royal robe on him and sent him back to Pilate.
12 (Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day.)
13 Then Pilate called together the leading priests and other religious leaders, along with the people,
14 and he announced his verdict. “You brought this man to me, accusing him of leading a revolt. I have examined him thoroughly on this point in your presence and find him innocent.
15 Herod came to the same conclusion and sent him back to us. Nothing this man has done calls for the death penalty.
16 So I will have him flogged, and then I will release him.”
18 Then a mighty roar rose from the crowd, and with one voice they shouted, “Kill him, and release Barabbas to us!”
19 (Barabbas was in prison for taking part in an insurrection in Jerusalem against the government, and for murder.)
20 Pilate argued with them, because he wanted to release Jesus.
21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22 For the third time he demanded, “Why? What crime has he committed? I have found no reason to sentence him to death. So I will have him flogged, and then I will release him.”
23 But the mob shouted louder and louder, demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their voices prevailed.
24 So Pilate sentenced Jesus to die as they demanded.
25 As they had requested, he released Barabbas, the man in prison for insurrection and murder. But he turned Jesus over to them to do as they wished.
26 As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.
27 A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women.
28 But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
29 For the days are coming when they will say, ‘Fortunate indeed are the women who are childless, the wombs that have not borne a child and the breasts that have never nursed.’
30 People will beg the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and plead with the hills, ‘Bury us.’
31 For if these things are done when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry? ”
32 Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him.
33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine.
37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?
41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.
45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle.
46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
47 When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent. ”
48 And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow.
49 But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.
50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council,
51 but he had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.
52 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.
53 Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock.
54 This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.
55 As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed.
56 Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.

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.

Footnotes 12

  • [a]. Some manuscripts add verse 17, Now it was necessary for him to release one prisoner to them during the Passover celebration. Compare Matt 27:15 ; Mark 15:6 ; John 18:39 .
  • [b]. Cyrene was a city in northern Africa.
  • [c]. Hos 10:8 .
  • [d]. Or If these things are done to me, the living tree, what will happen to you, the dry tree?
  • [e]. Sometimes rendered Calvary, which comes from the Latin word for “skull.”
  • [f]. This sentence is not included in many ancient manuscripts.
  • [g]. Greek by casting lots. See Ps 22:18 .
  • [h]. Ps 31:5 .
  • [i]. Greek the centurion.
  • [j]. Or righteous.
  • [k]. Greek went home beating their breasts.
  • [l]. Greek It was the day of preparation.

Luke 23 Commentaries