Jesus Offers Forgiveness
Explore the Bible Series
Background Passage: Luke 23:1-56
Lesson Passage: Luke 23:32-47
Introduction: The predicted and dreaded hour had come. The events recorded in this chapter draw readers into the vortex of human sin and hatred against God; nevertheless, these verses also raise the heart to warm and tender adoration for the Lord Jesus. Frankly, any true expositor, it seems to me, recoils a bit from handling the profound and glorious things in this chapter. The Gospel writers record these things with gracious simplicity. Approach this passage with great humility and prayer. Consider the significance of the events Luke described. Refuse to allow your familiarity with the text to foster an inattentive spirit. Above all, cultivate an attitude of worship as you meditate on the glorious redemptive work of the Savior.
I. Jesus Before Pilate and Herod (Luke 23:1-25)
The initial questioning before Pilate (Luke 23:1-5):
Pontius Pilate came to power in
1. The charges of the Jewish leaders (v. 2): The Sanhedrin had already accused Jesus of blaspheme (See Matthew 26:65-66 and Mark 14:63-64); however, they knew this charge would carry no weight with the Roman procurator. They leveled three charges against Jesus: he perverted the nation (this is the general charge, and the next two indictments state specifically how the Jews believed Jesus led the “nation” astray), he forbid paying taxes to Caesar, and Jesus declared himself as a king.
2. Pilate’s verdict (vv. 3-5): Luke, of course, gave only a summary of the proceedings before Pilate. The procurator, according to Luke’s account, focused on the charges related to Jesus’ claim to be king. The Roman ruler apparently saw through the charges of the Jewish leaders, and he found Jesus innocent of their indictments. The Jews became more insistent and “creative” in their charges. Finally, they touched on a Roman sore spot, social unrest (“He stirs up the people”).
Before Herod Antipas (vv. 6-12): Antipas became
C. The second appearance before Pilate (Luke -25):
1. For a second time, Pilate affirmed the innocence of Jesus and announced that Herod had not rendered a guilty verdict either. The text reveals that Pilate really wanted to release Jesus, but he apparently lacked the moral resolve to do what his conscience demanded (See v.20).
2. Pilate’s efforts to pacify the crowds: The desperate procurator tried to appease the violent crowd in two ways: he offered to “chasten” Jesus, and he proposed that they set him free rather the releasing the notorious criminal Barabbas. Matthew and Mark give a more thorough account of the horrific scourging Jesus endured and provide some detail related to the mockery of the Roman soldiers. We know little about Barabbas. His name means “son of the father.” This may serve only as a nickname for this murderer and insurrectionist. Some early church Fathers wrote that his name was Jesus Barabbas (Origen, in particular, pointed this out).
3. Pilate, for the third time, affirmed the innocence of Jesus (v. 22) turned the Lord over to the Roman soldiers to carry out the will of the Jewish religious leaders and the jeering crowds.
II. The Crucifixion of Jesus (Luke -49)
The journey to
B. Jesus was crucified with two malefactors (vv. 32-33 and 39-43): All four Gospels mention the two criminals crucified with Jesus. One of the men joined the taunts of the crowds, but the other man called upon the Lord’s mercy. He apparently knew little about the Lord’s teachings, and his request seems a bit clumsy; nevertheless, his simple petition met with the warm grace of the Lord. Jesus promised that this poor, suffering sinner would, that day, be in paradise with the Lord.
C. Jesus endured the mockery of the crowds and forgave the sin of those who crucified him (vv. 33-38): While the disciples of Jesus largely abandoned him in this hour of suffering, the Jewish leaders proved quite persistent in their ridicule of the Savior. The crowds joined with the leaders in a chorus of cruel mockery. The Roman soldiers added their voices to the cacophony, and, amazingly, even one of the thieves lent his voice to the disgraceful chorus. The Lord responded to this unseemly scene by praying for the forgiveness of his tormentors.
death on the cross (vv. 44-49): The last hours of the cross brought some amazing
and mysterious consequences. Around
a great darkness covered the earth. Even
the creation seemed to groan under the weight of this grievous event. Luke also recorded the tearing of the veil of
III. The Burial of Jesus (Luke -56)
A. Joseph of Arimathea requested the body of Jesus (vv. 50-54): We know little about this man. He apparently was a secret follower of Jesus; yet, the crucifixion seems to have emboldened him. He bravely went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. The burial had to take place quickly because the Sabbath neared. Joseph and a group of women carried Jesus’ body to a tomb hewn out of rock.
Conclusion: As the text implies, this is not the end of the story. Next week will rivet our attention to the marvelous account of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.