Luke Chapter 23

Posted by Dion Todd October 5th, 2015 4,398 Views 0 Comments

Bible Study on Luke 

Luke Chapter 23

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Luke 23 Outline:

23:01-05 Jesus appears before Pilate.
23:06-12 Jesus appears before Herod.
23:13-25 Jesus is sentenced.
23:25-26 Simon carries the cross.
23:27-31 The daughters of Jerusalem.
23:32-38 The crucifixion.
23:39-43 The penitent thief.
23:44-49 The death of Jesus.
23:50-56 The burial of Jesus.

Fun Facts:
— Nicodemus brought a hundred pounds of spices for the burial of Jesus. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin and a scribe.

Study Notes:
Luke 23:01 The whole company of highly religious people who thought they were doing God a service, brought Jesus before Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. They charged Jesus with three things and charges two and three would have certainly been serious in a Roman court.

1) “Perverted the nation” probably meant inciting the people to rebel against the Romans.

2) “Forbidding us to pay taxes to Caesar” was a twist of His words from Luke 20:25. “He said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

3) “Saying that he himself is Christ, a king” though Jesus had only told them: “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you won’t believe” (Luke 22:67).

The Jewish leaders had prepared Pilate to meet a resistance fighter but on meeting Jesus, Pilate immediately saw through this charade.

Pilate simply asked Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus could not lie, but He was not the king in the sense that Pilate meant. Jesus was the heavenly King of Kings, not an earthly ruler. Jesus answered “So you say.” Luke shortens the proceedings because Pilate obviously asked more than one question before giving his verdict.

Pilate declared to all of them that he found no fault in Jesus, but they insisted that he was stirring up the people all the way to Galilee. When Pilate found that Jesus came from Galilee, he sent him to Herod who ruled over Galilee.

Luke 23:6 Pilate wanted nothing to do with this case and that is made plain in all four gospels. He knew that the Jews were framing Jesus and an easy way out of it was to send Jesus onto Herod, so he did just that.

Herod was visiting Jerusalem during the passover, and Jesus was a Galilean, so technically under Herod’s jurisdiction. Jesus was brought before Herod and Herod was glad to see Him. He had long heard about Jesus and wanted to see a miracle performed by Him.

Herod asked Jesus many questions, but Jesus said nothing. Herod is the only person recorded to which Jesus said “Nothing.” The chief priests and scribes accused Jesus in front of Herod lest He release Jesus, and if they could get Him condemned, then even better.

I find it peculiar that the people that met Jesus, loved Him, but the religious leadership of the day absolutely hated Him and saw Him as a threat to their organization. We need to be really careful that we are on the right side. You can be very religious, very zealous, and very wrong.

Herod should have released Jesus because he confirmed that He was innocent (23:15), but when Herod did not get his miracle, he soon lost interest. They dressed Jesus up in royal clothing. It was probably an older royal robe that was no longer used. They placed it on Jesus and made fun of Him being a king.

The robe and mocking made it clear that they thought the charges of Jesus being a king was absurd and Herod did not take the charges seriously. Jesus was just a harmless carpenter. While the Son of God stood before them, the King of Kings, they could only make fun of Him, while He remained silent. After they mocked Him, they sent Him back to Pilate.

Luke 23:13 Pilate wanted to release Jesus because he knew that Jesus was innocent. Four times he said this (Luke 23:4, 14-15, 22, John 18:38, 19:4, 19:6). The Jewish high priests were pressuring him to sentence an innocent man to death.

Pilate tried his best to avoid the situation by asking them to deal with themselves (John 18:31). He sent Jesus to Herod to let him deal with it (Luke 23:7). Then he tried to get the Jews to accept releasing Jesus at the Passover (Mark 15:6). He even offered to beat Jesus, and then release Him (Luke 23:16), but in the end, he could not avoid it.

Pilate and Herod both examined Jesus and could not find anything wrong with Him. He was indeed the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God. “Your lamb shall be without blemish” (Exodus 12:5).

When Jesus was found to be innocent, He should have been released and should not even have been beaten, but Pilate was trying to strike an agreement with the Jewish leaders and spare Jesus’ life, so he offered to “chastise” Him. A lighter form of punishment.

Barabbas was a member of the resistance movement and probably the murder had taken place during an uprising. The high priests knew how to manipulate the small number of people that were in the praetorium and stirred them up. This was not the large crowds of Jesus’ disciples but a small crowd composed mostly of His enemies and friends of Barabbas.

Pilate tried again to reason with them and release Jesus but they began shouting “Crucify Him!” The crowd turned into an angry mob and the situation became increasingly ugly. Finally to avoid a riot, Pilate gave into them and the mob’s shouts won.

He released Barabbas and sentenced Jesus to death. The one guilty of murder was pardoned, and the innocent Man took his place. It was the Jewish chief priests and their followers that called for Jesus’ execution, not the Romans. His own people rejected Him, or really the religious spirit that controlled them.

Pilate washed his hands in front of them and said “I am innocent of this Man’s blood” (Matt. 27:24). Then they scourged Jesus (Matt. 27:26). It was customary to scourge people in preparation of crucifixion and was a detailed and cruel punishment.

They took a whip of leather cords with pieces of sharp metal and bone tied along it, tied Him to a post, exposed His back and chest, and beat Him with it. The lashes were to wrap around you, one third on your chest and two-thirds on your back. The sharp metal pieces would dig into your skin and rip away, tearing the meat away with it.

The law limited the stripes to forty (Duet. 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 treatment at least five times (2 Cor. 11:24). The Romans did not care about Jewish law and beat people as long as they wanted.

Luke 23:26 Jesus started out carrying His cross (John 19:17), but apparently He became so weak from the scourging that He could not continue. Rome had conquered the territory and Jerusalem was “occupied” by Romans at the time. Roman law stated that a 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” (Matthew 5:41).

When Jesus could no longer carry His cross, the Romans grabbed Simon, who happened to be coming in from the country, and compelled him to carry the cross for Jesus. Simon’s family was known to the church. He was the father of Rufus (Mark 15:21) who was probably mentioned in Rom. 16:13).

As they went out of the city, a great multitude of the people followed them, including mourning women. This is only found in Luke. It should be noted that it was a small crowd that could squeeze in around the judgement hall that pressed for His execution, but there were still many in Jerusalem that admired Jesus. There was a great multitude that mourned and lamented what was happening.

Jesus turned to them and told them to weep for themselves and what is coming. Basically the sins of the nation is catching up. If they will crucify a Man they know is innocent, what will happen to the guilty who condemned Him?

Luke 23:32 They crucified two others with Him, one on either side. Luke tells us they are criminals, while Matthew and Mark name them as thieves. They were brought to a place called “The Skull” (Latin: calvaria, where we get ‘calvary’). Jesus was in the middle, in the midst of transgressors (Isa. 53:12).

They crucified Jesus. He prayed and asked the Father to forgive them for they did not know what they were doing. It was customary for the executioners to inherit the clothing of a condemned person and Jesus apparently wore some clothing that was nice enough they all wanted it, so they cast lots (John 19:23) for it fulfilling Psalm 22:18 which David wrote hundreds of years before.

Executions were popular functions and a crowd stood watching all of this. The religious rulers had finally gotten their satisfaction and they stood mocking Him, speaking to each other and making fun of the Chosen One. This fulfilled Psalm 22:6.

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

It was customary to have a sign or placard on the cross above the victims head announcing the crime that they had committed. All four gospels mention the sign on the cross that read “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” That was the crime that Jesus was crucified for, and also Pilate was getting revenge on the Jewish leaders that had hounded him relentlessly to do this. They were infuriated with the sign and asked Pilate to change it, but Pilate said “What I have written, I have written (John 19:21).

Luke 23:39 Only Luke mentions that one of the thieves repented on the cross. One of the thieves reviled Jesus but the other turned to Him and repented. He simply asked Jesus “Please remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus told him that today they would be together in paradise, and the word here is referring to the garden of eden. It would be a happy place, and Jesus would be there with him (with me).

Luke 23:44 The sixth hour was always noon. 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 said “it was about the sixth hour” (John 19:14) or late morning when Pilate gave the sentence. Mark said that it was the third hour (Mark 15:25).

Luke tells us that darkness came over the entire land for three hours, until the ninth hour. The sun was darkened in the sky. The Passover happened during a full moon, and a solar eclipse is impossible during that time. A full moon occurs when the moon is completely illuminated by the sun shining on it. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks out the sun. So the darkness had to be completely supernatural.

The veil of the temple was a thick curtain that separated the Holy of Holies where the presence of God dwelt, from the rest of the temple. Only priests could enter into the Holy of Holies, once a year (Heb. 9:7), and then probably only once in their lives. They drew lots to see who would go in like Zacharias did (Luke 1:9). God reached down and tore this veil open from top to bottom making the way for everyone to come into His presence.

Luke 23:46 Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 tell us that He said “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” For a time as He took our sins on Him, He was separated from the Father. Then Jesus said “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” quoting Psalm 31:5, a beautiful way to go out.

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.

Luke 23:50 All the gospels agree that Joseph of Arimathea took the lead 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. He was also a disciple of Jesus (Matt. 27:57). Joseph also was a member of the Sanhedrin, but had not consented to the execution (50). He must have been absent at the night time trial. Joseph got Pilate’s permission to bury Jesus in his own tomb.

The “Day of Preparation” was Friday, the day when people prepared for the Sabbath (which is Saturday at the time). You could not do work on the Sabbath, nor touch a dead body, and 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 end and mentioned several times (56). They went to the tomb and then 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.


Study Questions: (if your answers are very long, you may want to type them first in something like Notepad, which doesn't require an Internet connection, then copy and paste (Ctrl-A to select, Ctrl-C to copy, Ctrl-V to paste), to prevent mishaps. Also, there is a 3K character limit, so if they are super long, feel free to post more than once, and just answer a couple of questions at a time. You are welcome to post any questions you may have, as well. We look forward to your thoughts!)

1. Jesus answered “You have said so” when Pilate asked if He was the king of the Jews. Why do you think He did not answer more directly?

2. In Luke 23:12, it was said that Herod and Pilate became friends after Herod has mocked and treated Jesus with contempt. Why do you think they became friends over that?

3. Why do you think the crowd in Luke 23:18-19 would wish to set a murderer free (Barabbas), rather than Jesus, who had done nothing wrong?

4. What do you think were the qualities of the second thief on the cross that allowed him to be forgiven, while the other was not? 

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