Luke 23 Jesus' Crucifixion
Summary

Included in the next to last chapter of Luke one finds the appearances of Jesus before Roman officials, his crucifixion, and burial. The noble character of Jesus is contrasted to the total injustice of the actions taken against Him. Jesus is first brought before Pontius Pilate (vss. 1-5); then before Herod Antipas (6-11); and finally back to Pilate (11-25). While before Pilate the second time, an offer was given to the Jews to release a well-known criminal named Barabbas. When Jesus was delivered for crucifixion, a man named Simon was conscripted to carry His cross. Once at Calvary, Jesus was nailed to the cross and after about six hours, He died. He was buried in a tomb owned by a name named Joseph before the Jewish Sabbath.

Jesus Before Pilate

23Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

Question 1

If Pilate found no fault in Jesus, why would he turn Him over for crucifixion?

Jesus Before Herod

6When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

13Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16I will therefore punish and release him.”[1]

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

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

Question 2

Was there any legal reason the Jews would choose Jesus for execution over Barabbas?

The Crucifixion

26And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[2] And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him,[3] “This is the King of the Jews.”

Question 3

How should we explain the request of Jesus to forgive those who crucified Him?

39One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,[4] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

44It was now about the sixth hour,[5] and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,[6] 45while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Question 4

What did Jesus mean when he said to the thief that he would be with Him in paradise?

Question 5

What were the reactions of the people at the cross after Jesus had died?

Jesus Is Buried

50Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.[7] 55The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

People
  • Pontius Pilate
  • Roman Governor

  • Herod Antipas
  • King of the Jews

  • Barabbas
  • A known rebel leader and murderer

  • Simon, a Cyrenian
  • Chosen to carry Jesus’ cross

  • Roman soldiers
  • Crucified Jesus

  • Joseph of Arimathea
  • Buried Jesus’ body

Places
  • Jerusalem
  • Jesus was taken to Pilate’s venue there

    He was then taken to Herod’s palace

    He was sent back to Pilate’s quarters

  • Golgotha or Calvary
  • Where Jesus was then taken for crucifixion north of the city

  • Joseph's tomb
  • Where Jesus was buried nearby

Jesus Before Pilate

23Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

Luke 23:1

Pontius Pilate was 5th prefect or procurator of Samaria and Judea.

His major duties were to manage the Roman military, impose imperial taxation, decide civil and criminal cases in Judea, and supervise building programs such as roadways, aqueducts, etc.


Luke 23:2

The Jews leveled three charges against Jesus: subversion (“perverting the nation”); insurrection (“forbidding to pay taxes”); and treason (“saying that He Himself is Christ, a King”). These are civil (before the Romans). Of course, He was accused of religious blasphemy (before the Jews).


Luke 23:5

Notice after Pilate finds Him innocent, they accuse Jesus of inciting people to civil rebellion.

Jesus Before Herod

6When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Luke 23:7

Herod Antipas was ruler of Galilee. He had married his half=brother Philip’s wife, Herodias, and been condemned by John the Baptist for it. He subsequently beheaded John (Luke 3:19; Luke 9:7-9).

13Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16I will therefore punish and release him.”[1]

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

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

Luke 23:21

Crucifixion was a Roman means of execution dating back to the Persians.

Jews usually executed by stoning. They were demanding humiliation and torture.

The Crucifixion

26And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23:26

There were four types of crosses used by Romans: crux simplex, a post in form of an I; crux decussate in form of an X; crux commissa in form of a T; and crux immissa in form of a t. Probably Simon carried only the petibulum (the crossbar).


Luke 23:28

Jesus had predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. They and their families would suffer.

32Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[2] And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him,[3] “This is the King of the Jews.”

Luke 23:31

Jesus represents the “green wood.” The “dry” represents the nation which rejected Christ.


Luke 23:33

Luke calls the place “Calvary.” The other gospels call it “Golgotha” (place of a skull).


Luke 23:34

The forgiveness from God would not come until they repented (see Acts 2:23; Acts 3:13-18).

39One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,[4] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:38

The superscription in total must have said: “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (see Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; and John 19:19).

The Death of Jesus

44It was now about the sixth hour,[5] and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,[6] 45while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Luke 23:43

Paradise is a place of blessedness following death.

Jesus Is Buried

50Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.[7] 55The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Perspectives

Jesus was unjustly convicted after being pronounced innocent by the ruling authority.

Jesus forgave even his most violent enemies.

Jesus died and was buried to fulfill His mission in coming to earth.