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Bible Study: Luke, Chapter Twenty-Three

  • RHM Bible Study, Luke Chapter Twenty-Three from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

    Transcript: Today we are going to continue our Bible study and we will be studying the first half of Luke Chapter 23 in depth. We are going to split this chapter into two parts because I feel like this is probably the most important part of the Bible, the very heart of what Jesus did for us, and what He went through. It would be a mistake to skim over it. At the end will be an interactive quiz to test your knowledge of this chapter. 

    You can follow along in your own Bible if you like. I will be reading from the World English Bible because it is the only modern English translation that is copyright free, and I can read the entire bible on video without legal issues.

    Let’s get started:

    First, let’s set our location and characters: after the Last Supper in the Upper Room, Jesus was betrayed by the apostle Judas Iscariot and arrested. He was first brought to the house of Annas, the previous high priest who was also the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the current high priest. Annas was still “the power behind the throne.” After this, Jesus was brought before members of the Sanhedrin at the house of Caiaphas. The Sanhedrin was the ancient Jewish supreme court. All of this was done during the night. Then at dawn, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin officially in a trial that had already been decided the night before.

    So why did the Sanhedrin meet to put Jesus on trial again, after they had already condemned Him during the trial in the night?

    1. Because the Sanhedrin’s own laws forbid trials like this at night. To begin with, according to Jewish law, all criminal trials must begin and end in the daylight. This second trial was held because they knew the first one, the real trial, had no legal standing.

    2. According to Jewish law, only decisions made in the official meeting place were valid. The first trial was held at the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, so they called together a second trial at daybreak, which was held at their council place.

    There were many other things wrong with this trial as well:

    * According to Jewish law, criminal cases could not be tried during the Passover season. They swept this one aside and pressed toward the goal.

    * According to Jewish law, only an acquittal could be issued on the day of the trial; a guilty verdict had to wait one night to allow for feelings of mercy to rise. In other words, they had to sleep on it for one night before convicting someone. They brushed this one aside as well.

    * According to Jewish law, all evidence had to be guaranteed by two witnesses, who were examined separately and could not have contact with each other. They were all in the same room openly discussing it among themselves, trying to put together a believable lie with which to frame Jesus.

    * According to Jewish law, giving a false witness was punishable by death, but nothing is done to the false witnesses in Jesus’ trial though many people stood up and openly lied.

    * According to Jewish law, a trial always began by bringing forth evidence for the innocence of the accused, before the evidence of guilt was offered; this was not the practice here. They dismissed all the good that Jesus had done and spent their time trying to twist His words into something worthy of death.

    * They said: “What further testimony do we need?” During the morning trial before the Sanhedrin, they made no effort to find testimony against Jesus at all, simply because there was none to be found. All the witnesses the night before had hopelessly contradicted themselves, so they didn’t dare bring forth those witnesses in public.

    Jesus emerged at dawn from His religious trial before the Sanhedrin, where its enraged members had concluded that He must die. His admission that He was the Son of God, which in their eyes was blasphemy, had launched them into a murderous, robe-tearing rage. They would have killed Him right then, but they lacked the political power to do so. The right to inflict capital punishment had been taken away from them by the Romans according to John 18:31, so they had to bring Jesus before the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, in hopes that they could convince him to put Jesus to death.

    Luke Chapter 23 beginning in verse 1, reading from the World English Bible: The whole company of them rose up and brought him before Pilate. 2 They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting the nation, forbidding paying taxes to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”

    After Jesus had been found guilty in their religious trial, the Sanhedrin frantically rushed Jesus over to Pilate for political judgment. The Roman governor Pilate was well known to be ruthless and cruel, and he had no respect for the Jewish people or their laws. He had caused riots in the city of Jerusalem by raiding the temple treasury, and having plain clothed Roman soldiers beat those who complained. His disrespect for the Jewish people caused several other uprisings. 

    The Jewish Sanhedrin knew that even though Pilate was ruthless and cruel, he would be unconcerned with what they had “convicted” Jesus of, which was blasphemy. So, they blatantly lied about it and made up other charges. The religious charges against Jesus are now transformed into a political one. Before the Sanhedrin, Jesus was asked if he claimed to be the Messiah. Now they told Pilate that Jesus is starting an uprising and challenging Caesar. They began with three political charges against Jesus:

    1. “We have found this man subverting our nation.”  This was a bald-faced lie. There was not a hint of sedition in any of Jesus’ teachings. He never taught anything bad against the Romans and never incited an uprising.

    2. “He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar” Another lie. They were twisting the words of Jesus when He said: “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” in Luke 20:25.

    3. “He claims to be Christ, a king.” Jesus had never claimed to be a King, and certainly not in the political sense that they charged Him with.

    John 19:13 tells that Pilate sat down in the judgment seat called the stone pavement, or Gabbatha. This was an elevated platform with a long bench where the judge could be heard above the crowd, and also high enough to protect them from riots. It would have looked similar to this one.

    3 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “So you say.”

    We can only wonder what Pilate thought when he first laid eyes on Jesus, beaten and bloodied by a religious mob, which included the high priest and their supreme court. He had to have thought “What are these pompous hypocrites whining about?” Jesus didn’t look like a king as He stood before Pilate, so the Roman governor probably sarcastically asked, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered Pilate and said literally: “You say it” or “It is you who say this” or “The statement is yours, Pilate.”

    4 Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

    Pilate was ruthless, but he wasn’t stupid, and he saw right through the motives of the Jewish leaders. He had no problem in sizing up Jesus, the whole situation, and rendering a verdict: “I find no fault in this Man.” Pilate could see that Jesus was harmless. “Case closed!”, and it should have ended there.

    5 But they insisted, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee even to this place.” 6 But when Pilate heard Galilee mentioned, he asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he found out that he was in Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem during those days.

    They were in the city of Jerusalem. When the Jews mentioned that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate decided to send Him to Herod, who was the Roman appointed ruler of Galilee and happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Will Rogers once said, “There have been two great eras in American history, the passing of the buffalo, and the passing of the buck.” Pilate passed this buck to Herod, who was half-jewish.

    This was Herod Antipas, and we should take a moment to find out who he was. He is the one whom John the baptizer had condemned for seducing and marrying his niece Herodias, because she was the wife of Herod’s half-brother, Phillip. Herodias divorced Phillip, and married Herod. John the baptizer apparently condemned them publicly and Herodias held a grudge against him for it (Mark 6:14-25). John held nothing back and told the “royals” flat out: “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” and it infuriated Herodias that a common man would speak out against her.

    Later, Herod had John arrested, probably because of political reasons, and the many followers who were gathering around John. Herod also feared John and believed that he was a righteous man. Mark 6:19-20 (WEB) records: “Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him, but she couldn’t, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he did many things, and he heard him gladly.”

    So Herod and John lived together for a while, Herod upstairs in the royal palace, and John locked in the dungeon below. Herod talked with John regularly, and he protected him from Herodias. Then Herod’s birthday came, and Herodias made secret plans. Stag birthday parties were common among the Herodians then and she knew there would be a lot of drinking and partying involved. As the evening wore on, they would want some “adult entertainment” brought out. Usually professional court dancers or prostitutes would come and do erotic dances for them, much like strippers today.

    The evening progressed and when Herodias felt that the crowd had enough to drink, she sent out Salome, her own teenage daughter, to “entertain” the men. This was unheard of by women of rank or nobility, but Salome pleased them so much that the wine-dazzled Herod promised that he would give her anything that she asked for. Salome went to her mother and asked what she should ask for, and Herodias told her: “The head of John the Baptist.”

    Salome went back to Herod, and added that she would like it on a platter. So Herod was deeply saddened, caught off guard, probably thinking she was going to ask for a horse. He wanted to protect John, but he was a politician and could not look like a fool in front of his guests. He had John beheaded, and brought Salome his head on a platter, who then gave it to her mother Herodias.

    This is the Herod they took Jesus to see.

    8 Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad, for he had wanted to see him for a long time, because he had heard many things about him. He hoped to see some miracle done by him. 9 He questioned him with many words, but he gave no answers. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood, vehemently accusing him.

    Mark 6:16 tells us that Herod believed that Jesus was John whom he had beheaded, and that he had been raised from the dead. Herod was anxious to see Jesus to learn if He was indeed John, or maybe see Jesus perform a miracle. He asked Jesus many questions, but Jesus didn’t say a word.

    Jesus saw right through this depraved, shallow man, and He has nothing to say to Him. The same man who murdered John the Baptist, now regarded Jesus as a miracle worker to be used for his entertainment. Even when the chief priests vehemently accused Him, Jesus had nothing to say to Herod.

    This is a scary thought, for Jesus was willing to reason with the scoundrel high priest Caiaphas, and even prophesied to him (Luke 22:69, 70). Jesus talked with Pilate and told him several things, like he would have no authority over Him had it not been given to him from above. (Luke 23:3; John 18:33–38). Jesus grieved over Judas and reached out to him in the Upper Room. With Herod though, Jesus maintained complete silence before. Herod’s day of grace, and time to repent was already over. There was nothing more to say.

    11 Herod with his soldiers humiliated him and mocked him. Dressing him in luxurious clothing, they sent him back to Pilate.

    Herod had no spiritual interest whatsoever in seeing Jesus. For him it was show time.

    When Jesus refused to entertain him, Herod entertained himself by mistreating Jesus. Mocking Jesus made it plain that he did not take Him seriously. With the Son of God standing before him, he could only make fun of Him. Herod held God in contempt. It is possible for a human being to become so hardened that they can stand face to face with Jesus Christ and feel nothing. Hebrews 4:7 (WEB) reads: “…Today if you will hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.”

    12 Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before that they were enemies with each other.

    To better understand this, we need to examine the political order of Palestine during that time. Pilate administered the hard-fisted power of the Roman empire which had conquered Israel, while Herod was the puppet representative of the local Hasmonean dynasty. Think of Herod in the position of King David, but in a country that had been conquered by the Romans, so without any real power or morality, and you would be getting close.

    There had been long-standing animosity between Pilate and Herod. Herod liked to imagine that he was more powerful than he really was, and he liked giving face-saving speeches. The two had existed in mutual disdain of each other for some time. But all that changed on the day Pilate sent Jesus to Herod for judgment: “That day Herod and Pilate became friends.”

    Pilate had simply passed on a politically explosive case to try and keep this Jesus issue from blowing up in his face, but Herod took it as a sign of Pilate’s respect in delegating the case to him. Herod’s interview of Jesus gave the same conclusion as Pilate’s, regarding Jesus’ innocence, despite the Jewish establishment’s wild charges. The two men seem to have had a similar smoldering dislike for the Jewish Sanhedrin, so Jesus’ trial created a political alliance between them.

    13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one that perverts the people, and behold, having examined him before you, I found no basis for a charge against this man concerning those things of which you accuse him. 15 Neither has Herod, for I sent you to him, and see, nothing worthy of death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore chastise him and release him.”

    Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, dressed in royal garments like a King in order to mock Him, so Jesus appears before Pilate a second time.

    Matthew 27:18 tells us: “For he knew that because of envy they had delivered him up.

    19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of him.”

    So we know that the chief priests and the religious leaders main problem with Jesus was envy. They were jealous and resentful that Jesus carried the power of God, and they did not. Jesus healed the people, cast out devils, multiplied food, and opened the eyes of the blind. His teachings were beyond human wisdom, and they could never seem to trap Him in His words. He talked to them too honestly. Jesus called them whitewashed tombs, pretty on the outside but full of dead bones (Matthew 23:27). He told them their father was the devil, and they wanted to do his bidding (John 8:44). Their hate for Him was pure jealousy, and Pilate knew it.

    We don’t know what Pilate’s wife dreamed about, but she was upset. Her message to Pilate was clear: “This man’s innocent, Pilate! Get out of this as fast as you can.” And Pilate thought, “Yes, I know He is innocent.” Pilate told them repeatedly: “I find no fault in this man and neither has Herod, but they kept insisting”. Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but John wrote (John 19:7 WEB) “The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” When therefore Pilate heard this saying, he was more afraid.”

    Pilate became afraid, and not unreasonably so. He was a politician and he had already caused several riots in the city by disregarding the Jewish laws, like allowing the Roman standards to be brought into the city, and raiding the temple treasury. Thousands had died during these riots. Pilate did not want to provoke another riot if he could avoid it. He needed to pick his battles, and Jesus was just not that important to him. He had tried to let Herod deal with it, but they sent Jesus back. Now Pilate sought for a way to release Jesus, and an idea came to him.

    Once a year during the Passover feast, a single prisoner was allowed to go free, anyone they wanted, and it just happened to be that time of year. This was one of Pilate’s ways to earn favor with the Jewish people. Pilate probably thought, “If Jesus was even the slightest bit hostile to Rome, then the crowd will love him. He did a lot of good in the world, had a big following. The Jewish leaders may not want Jesus to go free, but the crowd will want to release Him.”

    17 Now he had to release one prisoner to them at the feast. 18 But they all cried out together, saying, “Away with this man! Release to us Barabbas!”— 19 one who was thrown into prison for a certain revolt in the city, and for murder.

    There was a prisoner named Barabbas who was arrested for starting a revolt in the city, the very thing that they were now accusing Jesus of. Oddly enough, the name Barabbas means “son of the father”. This was the man the crowd demanded for release, instead of the Father’s true Son. The crowd, whom Pilate was convinced would release Jesus, instead condemned Him. Because of this, Pilate found it impossible to go against both the Jewish leaders and the crowd. The situation was quickly becoming out of control.

    Matthew 27:20 tells us that the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and to condemn Jesus. Many of the same people who had welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, and listened to Him teach, were now caught up in a mob mentality. Spurred on by the chief priests, they began to shout “CRUCIFY HIM!” over and over.

    It is a strange, insane scene: a cruel, ruthless Roman governor was trying to save the life of a miracle-working Jewish teacher, while the chief priests, Jewish leaders, and the crowd were shouting “CRUCIFY HIM!” as an angry mob. Their loud cries give the impression that a riot was beginning to build up. It became obvious to Pilate that the situation was becoming increasingly ugly, and he was well experienced with ugly.

    How could the crowd turn so quickly against Jesus? First, many of them were probably disappointed that this Messiah who rode into Jerusalem didn’t do what they expected a Messiah to do, which was to set Israel free from the Roman occupiers. Second, people are pretty quick to tear down the same heroes that they have built up; we see this in our culture today.

    20 Then Pilate spoke to them again, wanting to release Jesus, 21 but they shouted, saying, “Crucify! Crucify him!” 22 He said to them the third time, “Why? What evil has this man done? I have found no capital crime in him. I will therefore chastise him and release him.” 23 But they were urgent with loud voices, asking that he might be crucified. Their voices and the voices of the chief priests prevailed. 24 Pilate decreed that what they asked for should be done.

    Mark 15:15 (WEB) Pilate, wishing to please the multitude, released Barabbas to them, and handed over Jesus, when he had flogged him, to be crucified.

    Mark tells us that Pilate wanted to please the people, for when all was said and done, he was a career politician. Keeping the peace in Jerusalem, and the tax dollars flowing into Rome, was his main concern. Pilate always had a finger in the air to see which way the winds were blowing, and though he had resisted the Sanhedrin, he finally gave in when popular opinion began to shout for the crucifixion of Jesus.

    Matthew 27:24 (WEB) So when Pilate saw that nothing was being gained, but rather that a disturbance was starting, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this righteous person. You see to it.” 25 All the people answered, “May his blood be on us, and on our children!” 26 Then he released to them Barabbas, but Jesus he flogged and delivered to be crucified.

    Three times, Pilate had declared that Jesus was innocent, but Matthew tells us that when it began to look like a riot, Pilate washed his hands of it. He declared, “I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man”, and the Jews answered “May His blood be on us and on our children!”  Ouch…

    25 He released him who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus up to their will.

    Pilate released Barabbas, and sentenced Jesus to death. The one guilty of murder was pardoned, and an innocent Man took his place. Pilate himself eventually lost his position as governor after he ordered his calvary to attack a group of Samaritans assembled at Mt. Gerazim, who turned out to be on a religious quest. After his dismissal, his life became so bad that he committed suicide.

    The trial of Jesus before Pilate affirmed that Jesus was innocent three times, and undeserving of death. This court declared what is true of Jesus, that He was and is the spotless “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” as written in John 1:29. Jesus is the fulfillment of what was symbolized by the millions of unblemished lambs sacrificed under the Old Covenant.

    Along with this, Pilate’s substitution of innocent Jesus for Barabbas symbolized the substitutionary death of Jesus. Barabbas, the one guilty of death, was pardoned, and Jesus, the innocent one, died in his place.

    This is the gospel: Jesus dying as a substitute on the cross for us. As our substitute, he took all our sins upon himself, then gave us His life and His righteousness. Jesus’ gospel, the good news, is so simple. He says, “It’s My life for yours. It’s My purity for your sin. Will you take it? There is no other way.”

    Hebrews 9:27 (WEB) reads: “Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this, judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, without sin, to those who are eagerly waiting for him for salvation.”

    We should note that it was the Jewish chief priests, the elders, and their followers that called for Jesus’ execution, not the Romans. Jesus’ own people rejected Him, or really the religious spirit that controlled them. They wanted the old time religion, without Him in it. We still see this spirit alive and well today.

    We need to remember that living beings make decisions, while inanimate objects like stones, have decisions made for them. For instance, a stone may be placed on an altar, or the floor, wherever we would like it to be. It is under our control, we can decide what happens to it, and who sees it. We can hide it away if we like.

    A living being like a Lion, may get up and walk around the room because it wants to, and we can’t do a lot about it. The Almighty God is like the Lion, not the stone. He is alive and He does what He wants, when He wants, because He wants to. He can bring new things, new ideas, and new ways to spread His word - like we are doing here over the Internet. God is not living in the past, He is dragging us into the future, and He is more advanced in technology than we are. You think man invented the Internet? Hardly. It was put here for such a time as this, and we are just scratching the surface of what is coming.

    That concludes our Bible study on the first half of Luke Chapter 23. 


    Bible Study: Luke Chapter 23, Part 2

    RHM Bible Study, Luke Chapter Twenty-Three, Part Two from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

    Transcript: Today we are going to continue our Bible study and we will be studying the second half of Luke Chapter 23 in depth. You can follow along in your own Bible if you like. I will be reading from the World English Bible because it is the only modern English translation that is copyright free, and I can read the entire Bible on video.

    After the meeting today, or sometime this week, please take the matching quiz that I have prepared for you on the website. Having to answer questions about the subject will help reinforce and retain what you have learned. Thanks to everyone that has participated so far. Let’s get started:

    First let’s set our location and catch up on what has happened: Jesus was betrayed by the apostle Judas Iscariot late Thursday night and arrested. He was first brought to the house of Annas, the last high priest who was also the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the current high priest. Annas was still “the power behind the throne.”

    After this, Jesus was brought before members of the Sanhedrin at the house of Caiaphas. The Sanhedrin was the Ancient Jewish supreme court. They spent all night accusing and abusing Jesus. Then at dawn on Friday morning, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin officially in a trial that had already been decided the night before.

    Because the Jews had no power to put anyone to death, Jesus was brought before Pilate, the Roman governor, but Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, and wanted nothing to do with it. Jesus was born in Galilee, so Pilate sent Jesus to Herod for trial, who was the current leader of Galilee. Herod mocked Jesus, dressed Him in a royal robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.

    Pilate may have thought that if he had Jesus severely beaten and brought Him out bleeding before the crowd, that they would have mercy on Him and agree to release Him, so He had Jesus scourged.

    John 19:5 tells us that the soldiers made a crown out of heavy thorns and placed it on Jesus’ head to mock Him, and He was dressed in the royal robes from Herod. They put a mock staff in His hand, and then beat Jesus in the face with it.

    Scourging was a very serious beating, and a legal requirement for every Roman execution. Only women, Roman senators, or non-deserting soldiers were exempt from it. It was a very cruel and detailed form of punishment. They first tied the victim to a post, exposed their back and chest, then a soldier took a whip made up of several thongs fastened to a handle, like a “cat of nine tails”. Each strand had sharp pieces of sheep bone, and iron balls sewn along its length. 

    A soldier would beat the victim with this whip and the strands would wrap mostly around them, the sharp pieces digging into the flesh, while the heavy balls caused inner bleeding, chipping and breaking bones. Then the soldier would rip it off, taking a good bit of meat with it. The lashes were supposed to wrap around you, one third onto your chest and two-thirds on your back.

    The Jewish law limited the stripes to forty in Deuteronomy 25:3, and the Jews never wanted to go over that, so they used the “forty minus one” rule and stopped at thirty-nine stripes. Paul received this punishment at least five times according to 2 Corinthians 11:24. The Romans, however, did not care about Jewish law, and beat people as long as they wanted.

    The goal of this scourging was to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse and death. Crucifixion itself was a slow and painful death, but this sped it up greatly. The pain and blood loss generally set the stage for shock, and the amount of blood they lost usually determined how long the victim would survive on the cross. When the beating ended, ribs were exposed and broken, organs were sometimes coming out, their back was torn into shreds, and they were pouring blood from literally hundreds of places. Many people died during the scourging.

    After this, Pilate then brought Jesus back out in front of the crowd and attempted to set Him free. As Jesus stood there, He must have been quite a sight.

    David wrote prophetically about 1,000 years earlier in Psalm 22:17, which is a Psalm about the crucifixion: “I can count all of my bones. They look and stare at me.” The scourge had done its work. The flesh had been cut away from Jesus’ ribs as well as from his back. Some ribs were exposed. Add to this the prophetic words of Isaiah 52:14: “His appearance was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” The soldiers had hit Jesus in the face with the mock scepter until His features were unrecognizable.

    Even with Jesus standing there, pouring blood, ribs exposed, and His face beaten beyond recognition, the merciless Jewish priests and elders stirred up the people to crucify Jesus, and to release Barabbas instead. When it began to look like a riot was about to happen, Pilate the politician washed his hands in front of them, and handed Jesus over to be crucified. 

    Luke Chapter 23 beginning in verse 26, reading from the World English Bible: 26 When they led him away, they grabbed one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it after Jesus.

    Jesus had suffered physical and mental abuse at the hands of the Jews, and then the Romans. He had been without food, without water all night, and without sleep for over 24 hours.

    When this ordeal began, Jesus was probably in great physical shape. He had been a carpenter, and then in ministry, which required walking from town to town. All that changed beginning at about 9 PM on Thursday night until 9AM Friday morning. He was beaten repeatedly, scourged, spit on, and dragged from place to place. It is safe to say that Jesus would have been in what we call “critical condition” before the crucifixion ever began.

    At this point, Jesus was forced to drag the very instrument of His execution to the site where it would take place. It was an enormous wooden cross, which according to an architectural study in 1870, measured between 10-13 ft and weighed 165 pounds. Weakened by the beatings, He was not strong enough to complete the journey.

    The Romans grabbed a nearby man named Simon, and made him carry the cross for Jesus. Simon was from the city of Cyrene, which would have been located in Libya, North Africa, about 800 miles away. He had probably come to Jerusalem for the Passover.

    Rome had conquered the territory and Jerusalem was “occupied” by Romans at the time. Roman law stated that any Roman could compel “subjects” to carry something for them up to one mile. That is why Jesus said “Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” in Matthew 5:41. When Jesus began to stagger under the heavy cross, the Roman soldiers “compelled” Simon to carry it for Him.

    Just to note: according to (Mark 15:21 and Romans 16:13) Simon’s children later became leaders in the early Christian movement, so it is safe to say that Simon became a Christian at some point.

    27 A great multitude of the people followed him, including women who also mourned and lamented him.

    Though there was a religious mob in the judgement hall that had pressed Pilate for the crucifixion of Jesus, there were still many in Jerusalem who admired Him. A great multitude was present who mourned and lamented what was happening.

    The women here are not just the devoted followers who had traveled with Jesus from Galilee, who would stay with him to the bitter end (v. 49). These were devout women of Jerusalem, well-intentioned, sympathetic, and kind souls. Some were acting out the part of professional mourners as they literally “were beating themselves and bewailing Him.”

    28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29  For behold, the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30  Then they will begin to tell the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and tell the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31  For if they do these things in the green tree, what will be done in the dry?”

    Jesus turned to them and told them to weep for themselves, and for what was coming. Basically the sins of the nation were catching up. During the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, people ate their own children, or they were stolen and eaten by others. Even though barrenness was considered a curse, it would have been better to have been barren than to have children during that time. In the disaster that was coming, pregnant women would have be an easy target, and have a difficult time getting away from the mobs, or from the Roman soldiers.

    It is worthy to note that Christian persecution had driven most Christians away from Jerusalem before this siege began. What had appeared to be something bad, ended up saving their lives. We must remember that God can see the final outcome of bad things, and it may be working for our own good.

    32 There were also others, two criminals, led with him to be put to death.

    Luke tells us the two men crucified with Jesus were criminals, while Matthew and Mark named them as thieves. As they made their way to Calvary, a Roman guard led the procession with a sign that carried the condemned man’s name and crime, and called out the name and the crime along the way. Jesus’ sign read:

    “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS”.

    They usually took the longest possible route to the place of crucifixion, so as many people as possible could see that crime does not pay.

    We see pictures today of Jesus dragging the cross, but here we know that Simon carried the cross, and there were three condemned men in total, so it was not just Jesus. This would have been a long procession crowding along small streets.

    33 When they came to the place that is called “The Skull”, they crucified him there with the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.

    So what was crucifixion like? The Bible does not go into detail because everyone then knew what crucifixion was, but that was a long time ago and much has been forgotten, so we should examine it more closely.

    We get our English word “excruciating” from the Roman word “out of the cross.” The combination of scourging and crucifixion made death on the cross especially brutal. The victim’s back was first torn open by the scourging, then the clotting blood was ripped open again when the clothes were torn off before crucifixion. The victim was thrown on the ground to nail his arms to the crossbeam, and the wounds on the back were again be torn open and contaminated with dirt. Then, as he hung on the cross, with each breath, the painful wounds on the back scraped up and down against the rough wood.

    When the nails were driven through His wrists, it cut the large median nerve. This nerve produced excruciating bolts of fiery pain through both arms, and often gave the victim a death-claw-like grip in their hands.

    Beyond the excruciating pain, the major effect of crucifixion was suffocation. The weight of the body, pulling down on the arms and shoulders, made breathing extremely difficult. The lack of oxygen soon produced severe muscle cramps, which made breathing even more difficult. They would nail the feet to the cross with the legs slightly bent so that the victims could try and push themselves up to catch a breath.

    In order to breath, the victim had to push against the nails in the feet and bend the elbows, pulling from the shoulders. Putting the weight of the body on the feet produced searing pain, and bending the elbows twisted the wrists that were hanging on the nails. Lifting the body for a breath also painfully scraped the back against the rough wooden post each time. Every breath was agonizing, exhausting, and brought them a little closer to death.

    Commonly, insects would descend on them, and clouds of flies would burrow into the open wounds, the eyes, ears, and nose of the dying victim. Birds of prey and vultures circled above waiting for a feast.

    Death from crucifixion could come from many sources: shock from blood loss, exhaustion and being unable to breathe any longer; dehydration, stress-induced heart attack, or congestive heart failure. If the victims did not die quickly enough, the soldiers would break their legs so they could no longer breath at all. Suffice it to say that crucifixion was a horrible death and far worse than the pictures that you see. Jesus was a real man, in real pain.

    That said, Jesus was in control and He could have called for twelve legions of angels if He had chosen to do so (Matthew 26:53). Jesus said in John 10:18 essentially, no one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. Jesus laid down His life willingly and He endured the cross. 

    34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Dividing his garments among them, they cast lots.

    The Roman soldiers crucified Jesus and the two criminals on a hill called Calvary, Golgotha, or the place of a skull. This was probably just outside the walls of Jerusalem, and most likely along the road leading out from one of the city gates. Crosses of criminals often lined the roads so travelers could see them and be afraid. The victim hung there naked, exposed, and vulnerable for all to see. Jesus would have been completely naked and exposed on the cross, as humiliation was part of the punishment.

    Jesus prayed and asked the Father to forgive the soldiers for they did not know what they were doing, and that is true. The soldiers were only doing their job.

    There is no need to try and extend this forgiveness further than that and apply it to the religious leaders, who knew exactly what they were doing. Jerusalem was completely destroyed forty years later. So even if Jesus did forgive them, apparently God did not. The parable of the vine keepers was fulfilled; they killed His Son, so the Father came and killed them, and then gave the vineyard to someone else.

    Jesus fulfilled His own command to love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good for those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you as He said in Matthew 5:44.

    It was customary for the executioners to inherit the clothing of a condemned person. Since every Jew wore five pieces of clothing: sandals, a turban, a belt, an inner tunic, and an outer robe. There were four soldiers, so we can surmise what happened. First, each soldier chose one of the less expensive articles. Realizing it would be foolish to divide the robe, they gambled for it by casting lots while the dying owner looked down from the cross. This fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 22:18: “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing”, which David had written hundreds of years before. The world is a cold place to live. 

    35 The people stood watching. The rulers with them also scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself, if this is the Christ of God, his chosen one!”

    Executions were popular functions at the time and a crowd of people stood nearby watching all of this happen. The religious leaders had finally gotten their satisfaction and they stood mocking Jesus, speaking to each other, and making fun of Him.

    This fulfilled Psalm 22:5-8 (WEB): “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. 7 All those who see me mock me. They insult me with their lips. They shake their heads, saying, 8 “He trusts in Yahweh. Let him deliver him. Let him rescue him, since he delights in him.”

    36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming to him and offering him vinegar, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”

    At the beginning of the Crucifixion, they offered Jesus drugged wine but He refused (Matt. 27:34, Mark 15:23). Here they mocked Him and offered Him vinegar (soured wine, 23:36).

    38 An inscription was also written over him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

    It was customary to have a sign or placard on the cross above the victims head announcing the crime that they had committed and their name. All four gospels mention a sign above Jesus on the cross that basically read: “JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS” though each account is slightly different:

    Mark 15:26:  THE KING OF THE JEWS

    Luke 23:38:  THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS

    Matt. 27:37:  THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS

    John 19:19:  JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS

    So that was the crime that Jesus was crucified for, and Pilate was probably getting revenge on the religious leaders who had hounded him relentlessly to crucify Jesus. They were infuriated that Pilate put this on the sign and repeatedly asked him to change it to read “This man claimed to be king of the Jews”, but according to John 19:21 Pilate said: “What I have written, I have written.” More literally, he said “What I have written, I have written, and it will always remain written.”

    39 One of the criminals who was hanged insulted him, saying, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Don’t you even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 He said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

    Only Luke mentions that one of the thieves repented on the cross, while the other one mocked Jesus. Luke’s account of the cross is not about a good thief, but about a sinful, lost thief, and a good, good Savior.

    The repentant thief simply asked Jesus “Please remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus broke His silence and told him that today they would be together in paradise. The word here is referring to the Garden of Eden. What we do know is that it would be a happy place, and Jesus would be there with him, “with Me”.

    The “garden” is understood as describing the intermediate resting place for the souls of the righteous dead prior to the great resurrection. The New Testament writers used it two other times as a symbol of Heaven and its bliss. The first was when Paul referred to his experience of being “caught up to paradise” where he heard inexpressible things (2 Corinthians 12:3, 4), and second in the book of Revelation as the location of the tree of life from which the overcomer may eat (Revelation 2:7).

    Silence: 1 Peter 2:23 (WEB) reads: “When he was cursed, he didn’t curse back. When he suffered, he didn’t threaten, but committed himself to him who judges righteously.”

    Jesus had nothing to say to the ones mocking and reviling Him, not a word. As a sheep that before its shearers is silent, he didn’t open his mouth. Jesus didn’t say a word to the thief who insulted Him. Instead, He struggled to take a breath, and spoke to the thief who asked for mercy. Is that the still the way He acts today? Yes, it is. Those who mock God will only hear silence.

    When sinners cast themselves into the arms of Christ, they go into the presence of God—“away from the body and at home with the Lord” according to 2 Corinthians 5:8).

    44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 45 The sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

    The sixth hour was 12 noon when the sun reached its zenith. The day was divided into twelve parts and an hour could vary in length according to the time of year, but the sixth hour was always noon. They did not have clocks and watches then, and the gospels vary a bit on the time. John 19:14 said “it was about the sixth hour” or late morning when Pilate gave the sentence. Mark 15:25 says that it was the third hour (Mark 15:25).

    Darkness engulfed the cross at midday and remained for three terrible hours. Thirty-three years earlier there had been dazzling light in the night sky when Jesus was born. Now there was darkness at high noon as He died.

    What did it mean? The Old Testament identified darkness as a cosmic sign of mourning. Amos had long before prophesied that there would be darkness at the time of the Day of the Lord, saying, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.… I will make that time like mourning for an only son…” (Amos 8:9, 10; Zephaniah 1:15). The cross was draped in the mourning sackcloth of darkness. In those three dark hours, our sin was poured upon Jesus until He became sin.

    Isaiah 53:3-6 (WEB) reads: He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering and acquainted with disease. He was despised as one from whom men hide their face; and we didn’t respect him. 4 Surely he has borne our sickness and carried our suffering; yet we considered him plagued, struck by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

    The veil of the temple was a giant curtain as thick as a man’s hand that separated the Holy of Holies, where the presence of God dwelt, from the rest of the temple. It was woven with expensive yarns from Babylon in blue, white, red, and purple with representations of cherubim. Only the high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, once a year on the day of atonement, according to Hebrews 9:7. Now, in the darkened heart of the temple, this great curtain was slashed in two as if a great sword had sliced through it, from the top to the bottom.

    God reached down and tore this veil open making the way for everyone to come into His presence. Jesus took our sin away, and now we are welcome in God’s awesome presence because we wear the righteousness of Jesus. We no longer need a priest to go to God for us; we can come to Him ourselves.

    46 Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Having said this, he breathed his last.

    Luke 23:46 Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 tell us that Jesus said “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” For a time as He took our sins on Him, Jesus was separated from the Father, just as we were.

    At the cross, a divine exchange took place: Jesus who was welcome in the Father’s presence, took our sin, was separated from the Father, and died. We who were sinful and unwelcome, took His righteousness on us and thus we are now welcome in His presence.

    “Into your hands I commit my spirit” taken from Psalm 31:5, was the Jews’ traditional evening prayer that pious Jews offered before going to sleep. Jesus chose to pray this at the moment He entered the ultimate sleep: death.

    Jesus personalized the prayer and said “Abba” (Father). No one before Him prayed this way, or saw the almighty God as their Father. This was revolutionary, and it was the way that Jesus spoke about the Father, from first to last.

    The first recorded words of Jesus’ childhood was: “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). The voice that spoke from Heaven at his baptism said: “You are my Son, whom I love” (Luke 3:22). “Father” was the opening word of the prayer that He taught His followers to pray (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2).

    Father was also the word He chose in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). It was the first word spoken from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Now it was part of His last words before his death. “Father” was a deep part of Jesus’ life, and here at death it expressed His trust and peace that the Father would take care of Him, even through death.

    47 When the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous man.” 48 All the multitudes that came together to see this, when they saw the things that were done, returned home beating their breasts.

    The centurion who would have been in charge of the execution praised God and said “Certainly this was a righteous man.” The people who saw what had happened went home in sadness. This may explain the 3,000 that came to the Lord in this city on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). They knew something was different about the death of this Man.

    49 All his acquaintances and the women who followed with him from Galilee stood at a distance, watching these things.

    Who else was at the crucifixion? Besides the Roman soldiers, Jewish leaders, thieves, and people passing by, there were others. John 19:25 tells us that four women were there. The mother of Jesus, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene, as well as the apostle John.

     f we put all the gospel accounts together we can build this list:  (Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40-41, Luke 23:49, John 19:25)

    1. Mary Magdalene (mentioned by Matthew, Mark, and John)

    2. Mary the mother of James and Joses (mentioned by Matthew and Mark).

    3. The mother of Zebedee's sons (mentioned by Matthew).

    4. Salome (mentioned by Mark) -- Many scholars think that this is the same person as (3), the mother of Zebedee's sons.

    5. Mary the mother of Jesus (mentioned by John).

    6. Mary the wife of Cleophas (who was probably Joseph's brother) (mentioned by John).

    7. An un-named sister of Jesus' mother (mentioned by John) -- Many scholars think that this is the same person as (6), the wife of Cleophas.

    8. The un-named “Beloved Disciple” (mentioned by John).

    50 Behold, a man named Joseph, who was a member of the council, a good and righteous man 51 (he had not consented to their counsel and deed), from Arimathaea, a city of the Jews, who was also waiting for God’s Kingdom: 52 this man went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 He took it down, and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb that was cut in stone, where no one had ever been laid.

    All the gospels agree that Joseph of Arimathea took the lead at the burial of Jesus. He was a wealthy man because tombs carved out of rock were expensive, and he had a new one made just for him. Joseph was also a disciple of Jesus according to Matthew 27:57. He also was a member of the Sanhedrin, but had not consented to the execution of Jesus (v. 50). He must have been absent at the night trial. Joseph got Pilate’s permission to bury Jesus in his own tomb. 

    54 It was the day of the Preparation, and the Sabbath was drawing near. 55 The women, who had come with him out of Galilee, followed after, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid. 56 They returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

    The “Day of Preparation” was Friday, the day when people prepared for the Sabbath which spanned from Friday at sundown through Saturday at sundown. You could not work on the Sabbath, touch a dead body, or cook. So food and such had to be done the day before. It was now late Friday evening by the time they got Jesus down off the cross, so they had to hurry to complete the burial before the sun went down and the Sabbath began.

    The women that followed Jesus from Galilee were faithful to the very end and mentioned several times (v. 56). They went to the tomb and prepared spices and ointments to anoint the body of Jesus after the Sabbath. John tells us that Nicodemus brought spices that were buried with Jesus (John 19:39). The faithful women were going to bring more at the first of the week. They planned to return on Sunday morning, after the Sabbath day was over and their bring spices and ointments.

    The trial of Jesus before Pilate affirmed three times that Jesus was innocent, and undeserving of death. This final court unwittingly declared what is theologically true of Jesus, that he was and is the spotless “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

    This is the gospel: Jesus dying as a substitute on the cross for us. As our substitute, He took all our sins upon Himself, and gave us His life and righteousness. Jesus’ gospel is so simple. He says, “It’s my life for yours. It’s my purity for your sin. Will you take it? There is no other way.”

    I would recommend that you read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 to see how accurate the prophets of old spoke of the crucifixion a thousand years before it happened. It is amazing to read, but too long to share here. I will just read this. David wrote:

    Psalm 22:16-18 (WEB) “They have pierced my hands and feet. 17 I can count all of my bones. They look and stare at me. 18 They divide my garments among them. They cast lots for my clothing.”

    That concludes our Bible study on Luke Chapter 23. Thank you for watching and being a part of Refreshing Hope!

    Click here to take the quiz, or read below for the text version! 

     Quiz Questions on Luke 23:

    1. The whole company of them rose up and brought Jesus before _____. They began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man perverting the nation, forbidding paying taxes to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”
    2. Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the __________?” He answered him, “So you say.”
    3. Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” But they insisted, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from _____ even to this place.”
    4. When Pilate heard Galilee mentioned, he asked if the man was a Galilean. When he found out that Jesus was in _____’s jurisdiction, he sent him to _____, who was also in Jerusalem during those days.
    5. Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad, for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had heard many things about Him. He hoped to see some _____ done by Him. He questioned Jesus with many words, but Jesus gave him no answers.
    6. Herod with his _____ humiliated Jesus and mocked Him. Dressing Him in luxurious clothing, they sent him back to Pilate.
    7. Herod and _____ became friends with each other that very day, for before that they were enemies with each other.
    8. Now Pilate had to release one prisoner to them at the Passover feast. But they all cried out together, saying, “Away with this man! Release to us _____!”— one who was thrown into prison for a certain revolt in the city, and for murder.
    9. Then Pilate spoke to them again, wanting to release Jesus, but they shouted, saying, “__________!”  Pilate said to them the third time, “Why? What evil has this Man done? I have found no capital crime in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him.”
    10. But they shouted with loud voices, asking that Jesus might be crucified. Their voices and the voices of the chief _____ prevailed. Pilate decreed that what they asked for should be done.
    11. When they led Jesus away, they grabbed one _____ of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it after Jesus.
    12. A great multitude of the people followed Jesus, including women who also mourned and lamented Him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of _____, don’t weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
    13. There were also others, two _____, led with Him to be put to death. When they came to the place that is called “The Skull”, they crucified Jesus there with the _____, one on the right and the other on the left.
    14. Jesus said, “Father, _____ them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Dividing his garments among them, they cast lots.
    15. The people stood watching. The rulers with them also scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself, if this is the _____ of God, his chosen one!”
    16. The soldiers also mocked Jesus, coming to Him and offering Him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” An inscription was also written over him in letters of _____, Latin, and Hebrew: “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
    17. One of the crucified thieves said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with Me in _____.”
    18. It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The sun was darkened, and the _____ of the temple was torn in two. Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Having said this, He breathed His last.
    19. When the roman _____ saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man.” All the multitudes that came together to see this, when they saw the things that were done, returned home beating their breasts.
    20. Behold, a man named _____, who was a member of the council, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their counsel and deed), from Arimathaea, a city of the Jews, who was also waiting for God’s Kingdom: this man went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body.

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Sylvia Todd likes this
4 comments
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David & Dianna Earlywine
David & Dianna Earlywine

Thank you Pastor Todd.

Feb 25
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Deng Tembreza
Deng Tembreza

Thank you Pastor.

Feb 26
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Wesley Cox
Wesley Cox

Pastor Todd, Thank you for the time, the effort, the energy you put into this. I just watched this with my 15 year old. We always watch your sermons together. I love learning the history of the culture and the mystery that puts everything in the scripture together. We really appreciate the sermons. Thank you

 

Mar 4
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Patty Seckar
Patty Seckar

What a blessing these sermons and your ministry is on my life! Thank you and Sylvia  for your sacrifices!! I just wanted to let you know to not count the scores on my quizzes because I have found with my disability I learn better if I get it right the first time so I go through scripture as I'm taking the quiz. I don't want to be dishonest I really appreciate the time that you take to put these quizzes together and help enforce our learning. God bless

Aug 2