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Friday, September 29th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Luke 23

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-25

  1. Intro:
    1. Compromise: A New York family bought a ranch out West where they intended to raise cattle. Friends visited and asked if the ranch had a name.
      “Well,” said the would-be cattleman, “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one son liked the Flying-W, and the other wanted the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it The Bar-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.” “But where are all your cattle?” the friends asked. “Well, none survived the branding!”
      1. Pilate sought this type of compromise seeking to please all!
    2. After His arrest, Jesus was paraded around to 6 illegal and dishonest trials in less than 6 hours…Justice? More like a kangaroo court!
      1. The 1st 3 trials were religious in nature and held by the Jews, while the last 3 trials were civil in nature and held by the Romans.
      2. The 1st trial took place at the home of Annas around 2 am.
        The 2nd trial was held in the home of Caiaphas at 3 am.
        The 3rd trial was a formal hearing before the Sanhedrin at 6 am.
        The 4th trial was before Pilate around 6:30 am
        The 5th trial quickly occurred before Herod.
        The 6th trial went back to Pilate and was done in just a few minutes.
    3. Outline: Pilate – Leave me! - Herod – Please me! - Barabbas – Free me!
  2. PILATE – JUST LEAVE ME! (1-7)
    2. Lessons: Avoiding Action; Avoiding Decision; the Sacrifice of Truth; Compromise; Capitulation; Caving in; Neutrality is Impossible.
    3. (1) To Pilate – An intensely cruel man. During 6 years of term he had done many rash things to alienate Jewish people & make for mutual hatred. (Griffith Thomas; pg.345.)
      1. Almost immediately on his arrival Pilate brought the Roman soldiers, which bore the image of the emperor, into the Holy City. A sacrilegious act.
      2. ​​​​​​​They knew they wouldn’t be able to reason with him, but they knew they could threaten his position with Caesar!
      3. Jn.19:12 “From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”
    4. (2) Jesus is accused of 2 crimes by the Pharisees:
      1. [1] He is a political rebel: They say he causes riots and tells people not to pay taxes to Caesar.
      2. [2] He is a religious blasphemer: He claims to be the Son of God.
    5. (3,4) Are you a king…yes…I find no fault??? –
      1. What’ missing is found in Johns account (18:36) “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
    6. I find no fault – Official Formula, Not Guilty! (see also 14,22)
      1. According to Roman Law there was only one thing to do!...Take his bonds off & set him free.
      2. At this point is where Pilate’s breakdown occurred.
      3. He uttered the verdict, Not Guilty!
    7. (5-7) Galilee – plan backfires!
      1. Galilee was known as a troubled district.
        1. “You know Pilate, bad guys come from there.”
      2. But when Pilate heard Galilee he endeavored to avoid action by sending Him to Herod!
      3. Pilate wanted to avoid making serious decisions about Jesus…many try the same today!
      4. Sent (7) – actually a technical term meaning “remitting a case to a higher court”. (not that Pilate would have admitted it was “higher”)
        1. ​​​​​​​But basically gave the case to him completely.
        2. Galilee word backfired!
    8. Pilate had enough contact with Christ to find light, but was led into darkness.
      1. His questions about Truth show he thought it didn’t exist (What is truth?)
      2. His desire for popularity caused him to be a man pleaser.
      3. His desire to secure his position made him vulnerable to others.
      4. His intellect was stronger than his moral sense. (he knew to do right, but wouldn’t do it)
      5. He was blind to Christ’s beauty & authority, because he was entirely engaged with self.
      6. He was a shirker of responsibility. And shirkers always suffer.
        1. Ask Adam(it was the woman!), or king Saul(What then is this bleating? the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God).
      7. He was a determined to sacrifice truth for selfish interest.
    9. Pilate asked the most important question in Mt.27:22 “What shall I do then with Jesus?”
      1. Q: Have you asked yourself that question?
      2. Never sell your conscience for convenience like Pilate did!
      3. His conscience must have been screaming: “Do the right thing man, though the heavens fall, though hell is moved, though Rome dismiss you, do the right. Stand square with your own conscience!”
      4. Q: Has your conscience been telling to you about doing the right thing…do it man!
    10. Lesson: The issue here seems to be one’s desire to try to avoid making a decision with Jesus.
      1. Here lies the dilemma of many…“How can I hear about Him & who he is, and still ride the fence? I know, I will not make a decision!”
      2. Which they don’t realize…is a decision!
        1. Jn.3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
      3. Q: Are you still dodging a decision regarding Jesus?
    11. Ps: How did compromise work out for Pilate?
      1. Extra-biblical history tells us that he lost it all very soon after this, was recalled back to Rome & was disgraced. Then suddenly history stops regarding him.
      2. Anatole Francois imagined him, in his book Mother of Pearl, in the days after his dismissal, when a friend came up to him & asked Pilate “There was a young Galilean thamaturgist(miracle-worker), His name was Jesus; He came from Nazareth, & he was crucified for some crime, I don’t quite know what. Pontius, do you remember anything about this man?” “Pontius Pilate contracted his brows, & his hand rose to his forehead in the attitude of one who probes the deeps of memory. Then after a silence of some seconds – “Jesus?” He murmured, “Jesus of Nazareth?” “I cannot recall him to mind.”
  3. HEROD – JUST PLEASE ME! (8-12)
    2. Herodian Dynasty:
      1. ​​​​​​​Founder – Herod the Great (died soon after Jesus birth. Killed the babies)
      2. 2nd Generation – (Land divided amongst 3 of his sons)
        1. Herod Antipas – (over Galilee/Perea; killed John Baptist)
        2. Herod Philip – (East of Jordan)
        3. Herod Archeleus – (over Judea & Samaria)
      3. 3rd Generation – Herod Agrippa 1 & 2 (in book of Acts)
    3. This Herod(Antipas) – was the basest of all Herod’s, cowardly, cruel, sensual. [the movie The Passion of the Christ did a great job depicting him]
      1. He with unhallowed gladness & vulgar curiosity welcomed opportunity at last to see Jesus. (he’d been waiting since 9:9)
      2. What a thrill for his degenerate, burnt-out life!
      3. Herod wanted to see Jesus do a miracle!
        1. The evil king tried to make the Son of God into a court entertainer.
        2. He didn’t treat Jesus as a criminal…but as a buffoon! (one who amuses others by clowning)
        3. Jesus not only didn’t perform any miracles, but he didn’t even speak a word to him. [Led to slaughter, & as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not His mouth]
        4. {I’m sure this goaded him to carry out vs.11}
        5. Herod had silenced God’s voice…& there was nothing left but divine judgment. [See 1 day Jesus & Herod will change places!!!]
        6. Herod had already silenced the voice(John the Baptist), no wonder he could not hear the Word(Jesus)!
        7. Heb.2:3 “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”
    4. He was motivated by curiosity & not by conscience!
      1. Curiosity: Sign in the window of an English company: We have been established for over one hundred years and have been pleasing our displeasing customers ever since. We have made money and lost money, suffered the effects of coal nationalization, coal rationing, government control, and bad payers. We have been cussed and discussed, messed about, lied to, held up, robbed, and swindled. The only reason we stay in business is to see what happens next.
    5. Lesson: The issue here seems to be one’s desire for Jesus to meet your needs.
      1. In Herod’s case he sought entertainment from Him.
      2. Q: What do you seek from him?
  4. BARABBAS – JUST FREE ME! (13-25)
    2. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Barabbas deserved to die but was set free because Jesus took his place!
      1. Set free to return to his old ways??? (we’re not sure)
      2. He was free, but still in the bondage of sin.
      3. What is liberty for? Gal.5:13 answers this, “not to serve the flesh but to serve others!”
      4. “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
    3. Such opposites(Jesus & Bar-abbas): Both called son of the Father. [A few old manuscripts give him the name Jesus Barabbas. Origen accepted as authentic]
      1. Bar-abbas = intended to set up a kingdom of the world, & fought, & blood was shed.
      2. Jesus = had said, “No, that is not the way of My Kingdom.”
      3. Thus they make the decision between the 2 kingdoms.
    4. There’s being such thing as being set free & being free indeed! [Story]
    5. Following three years of hazardous duty as a member of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition along the western frontier, John Colter turned to trapping beaver in the Three Forks area of the Missouri River, deep in Blackfoot Indian territory.
      One day, while inspecting traps by canoe, Colter and a companion were suddenly flanked by Blackfoot warriors. Colter’s friend was killed as he tried to escape, but Colter was captured. Stripped of his clothing, including his shoes, the adventurer was led out onto the prairie and then released as several hundred Blackfoot set off in pursuit. What followed was a legendary 11-day overland trek. Traveling day and night, Colter climbed mountains, scurried across fields, and tramped through woods, covering an unbelievable 300 miles as he made his way to safety.
      1. There’s being such thing as being set free & being free indeed!
    6. (23) The voice of the people – is not always the voice of God!
      1. Right is right whether people are for or against it.
      2. Pilate wanted to do right, but more…to please the Jews.
      3. Pilate’s knowledge was sufficient, his power adequate, yet preference often decides!!!
    7. (24) The Value of a Single Act!
      1. Oh how one foolish act has changed a man’s life(prison).
      2. Yet, it’s not always fair to judge a man by a single act or sudden decision. – But it does often reveal the character of one’s life.​​​​​​​
        1. ​​​​​​​Plate had been preparing for this act by living a life of cruelty & selfishness.
        2. The test is sure to come along that will find us out.
        3. Character & opportunity collide to show your true colors!
      3. Pilate made the mistake of his life by not standing by Jesus, by seeing right…& not doing it!
    8. Lesson: The issue here seems to be one’s desire to be free, yet not understanding who it is who makes you free.
      1. “I’ll take what you have to offer Jesus, but don’t expect me to follow you!”
      2. Q: You might have been freed from some bondage, but have you experienced being free indeed, freed completely?
    9. 3 Overall Lessons:
      1. ​​​​​​​Curiosity is Ineffectual! – You must not just be curious but have a conscience!
      2. Neutrality is Impossible! – You must decide for Jesus!
      3. Escape is Unacceptable! – You must not only seek to be free but free in Christ!
    10. Job 22:21(Eliphaz) “Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace; Thereby good will come to you.”

Verses 26-43

  1. Intro:
    1. Outline: Toward The Cross(26-31); On The Cross(32-43).
      1. Commandeered to Carry; Weeping Warning; Great Grace; Fantastic Faith; Absolute Assurance.
  2. TOWARD THE CROSS! (26-31)
    2. Simon apparently from Cyrene in Africa.
      1. He bears it “after” Jesus. That either can mean Jesus took the front & Simon carried the rear(lighter side). Or, Jesus took it to the gate of the city(which He did) then Simon carried it from the gate to Calvary.
    3. WEEPING WARNING! (27-31)
    4. The only words recorded as falling from His lips between His condemnation & the hours when He hung on the cross.
    5. Mourning should not be directed toward Him, but reserved for themselves.
      1. This points to the judgment coming on Jerusalem. [both 70ad & mid-trib]
    6. Don’t weep for me…weep because your sins made it necessary that He should die!
      Don’t weep for me…weep because your sins nailed the Redeemer to the tree!
      ​​​​​​​Don’t weep for the crucifixion…weep over your transgression!
      1. Key To weep over a dying Savior is to weep over the remedy!
        1. ​​​​​​​It’s wiser to wail over the disease then the surgeon’s knife.
      2. Jesus is never to be the object of pity but instead of wonder & true worship.
    7. (29) When persecution hits moms wouldn’t want their children to experience it. Plus all the problems with running for your lives & being separated from your kids.
    8. (31) A proverbial expression probably meaning here “If the Romans so treat the innocent Jesus, what will be the fate of the guilty Jerusalem?” (Search The Scriptures; Stibbs; pg.33)
      1. Fire consumes green(moist) wood slowly, but dry wood burns swiftly.
      2. If suffering was inflicted on an innocent man, how much more would be done to sinners?
      3. Jesus was the green wood which the Jews were kindling; but the days were to come when the Romans would do the same thing to the Jewish people, who were like dry wood ready to be consumed when Jerusalem was conquered.
  3. ON THE CROSS! (32-43)
    1. ​​​​​​​GREAT GRACE! (32-38)
    2. There they crucified Him – the 1st century counterpart to firing squads & electric chairs.
      1. Crucifixion – designed to torture & humiliate the victim.
      2. The gospels do not focus on the torment Jesus endured, but on the significance of His death!
        1. The cross – the center of human history.
          1. All the OT working up to it; the NT working out from it!
    3. Calvary – Whether the Greek Kranion; Latin Calvaria; Hebrew Golgotha each means the place of the skull. [explain hillside in shape of]
      1. Would you be opposed to a church being named “Skull Chapel”?
        1. That’s what Calvary Chapel means.
    4. (34) 7 sayings on cross – here we have 3 in Luke. (1st, 2nd, & 7th)
      1. 1st & last are prayers to the Father.
    5. Father, forgive them, they know not what they do –
    6. What Grace! – When someone wrongs me, I immediately think, “you know exactly what you’re doing!”
      1. ​​​​​​​Never let suffering drive you away from the throne of Grace, but rather let it drive you closer to it.
      2. The more suffering that came Jesus’ way, the more He sought out Grace from His Father!
        1. It seems the thicker the suffering, the thicker the Grace!
      3. No resentment, no anger, no lurking desire for punishment upon the men who were maltreating Him. [No, not even a little!]
      4. Wow…it’s as if God is saying that he doesn’t desire the death of a sinner, but rather that all should turn to Him & repent! (2 Pet.3:9)
    7. Forgive – contraction “forth” “give”, or give sin forth that it may go clean away, out of sight out of mind. (like the Scapegoat of old)
    8. They know not – do we ever? Sin is always greater than it seems, because sinners never know the extent of the loss involved.
    9. Q: Was this prayer answered?
      1. Acts 2:23 – emphasis on “you”. 3000 who were justly accused of his crucifixion became believers in Him(41).
        1. I would say Jesus’ prayer was answered!
    10. Well, Jesus’ plea was, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
      1. Our plea needs to be, “Father, forgive me, for I know now what I’ve done!”
    11. FANTASTIC FAITH! (39-42)
    12. 2 criminals raise the question of why some people believe & some don’t?
      1. Both seemed to have been exposed to the same sights & sounds.
      2. Yet one joined in the mockery of Jesus; & the other stopped & believed.
      3. “One saved that none should despair; only one that none should presume.”
    13. Let’s be honest, did Jesus look like He was able to save anybody, hanging there on the cross? – What Great Faith this thief showed.
      1. Probably this story of faith is the most remarkable in all the ministry of Jesus.
    14. Ok, so what did it for this one thief? - Why the remarkable turn around?
      1. Let’s crawl onto the cross & into the mind of this thief for a moment.
      2. Was it the gospel from his enemies? – “He saved others; let him save himself” - Hmm…He saved others? Maybe can save me??? ☺
      3. Was it from watching Jesus going through all the brutality of a crucifixion w/o any protest & w/o a whimper?
      4. Was it when he heard Jesus pray? – Talking to One beyond, & address Him personally as Father.
      5. Was it when he heard Jesus pray? – That the men who were wronging Him might be forgiven.
    15. (40,41) He speaks across the body of Jesus to the other thief & rebukes him.
      1. His confession of his sin – (41a “we…”)
      2. His confession of Jesus Holiness – (41b “but this man…”)
    16. (42) Then in a blaze of glory, this flame of light ignites, & recognizes Him as king, redeemer, & Lover & Savior of his soul!
      1. This man with no instruction, nor an invitation; becomes an accepted believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    17. He calls Him Lord! – This man hanging next to him, though on a cross also, has the power to get off the cross & save himself, but chooses not to save Himself but to save others instead.
      1. Was he the 1st to see the Lord…in the victim?
      2. He believed…Jesus had a kingdom. He believed…Jesus had power in it. He believed…being remembered by Jesus would be advantageous. He believed…Jesus would remember him in spite of sin.
    19. Paradise – We need a Middle-Eastern mindset.
      1. If you’re from an arid area, where there are very few trees & water is scarce, then what would Paradise be to you?
      2. Pardesa is a Persian word meaning garden. This word is used in Semitic language to mean a beautiful garden full of trees, flowers & springs of water. [very fertile, well watered, wild flowers, beautiful]
      3. Now how did paradise sound to this thirsty & suffering thief?
        1. A promise of him sitting in the shade under a tree. Green gardens all around him. His thirst quenched with ice cold water from a stream. Pain no more. Comfort, bliss, & beauty beyond imagination…with One who is now his new found Friend!
        2. Compare that to what he was facing just moments prior!
    20. Today – according to the Aramaic manner of speech, the emphasis in this text is on the word today!
    21. Assuredly I say unto you(even when dying on the cross, He had power over the unseen world), today(the emphasis in this text) you will be with me(not wait for the kingdom) in Paradise.
    22. An old poem by Miriam LeFevre Crouse reads, Three men shared death upon a hill, But only one man died; The other two –A thief & God Himself – Made rendezvous.Three crosses stillAre borne up Calvary’s Hill, Where Sin still lifts them high; Upon the one, sag broken men Who cursing die;Another holds the praying thief, Or those who, penitent as he, Still find the Christ,Beside them on the tree.
      1. ​​​​​​​Imagine….a thief & God Himself in rendezvous? (a pre-arranged meeting)
    23. Illustration about Faith – A thirsty man sees a water pump in the middle of the desert. His water bottles are empty and he comes upon this pump. Tied to it is a hand written note put there by someone before him. The note reads "I have buried a bottle of water to prime the pump. Don't drink any of it. Pour in half of it to wet the leather. Wait, and then pour in the rest. Then pump. The well has never gone dry, but the pump must be primed to bring the water up. When you are through drawing water, refill the bottle and bury it in the sand for the next traveler." Warning! You are going to be tempted to not believe this note, & want to just consume the bottle. If you do, you’ll soon be thirsty again, & so will be everyone else that follows you!
    24. That’s the choice that we all have. We can empty it all on ourselves, but then we’ll be empty again.
    25. Or, we empty it on onto God’s hands. If we do so He promises that He will give us living water that will become in us a fountain, springing up into everlasting life!

Verses 44-56

  1. Intro:
    1. Who was Jesus? [St. Gregory of Nazianzus, A.D. 381; Greatest work on the Trinity]
      He began His ministry by being hungry, yet He is the Bread of Life.
      Jesus ended His earthly ministry by being thirsty, yet He is the Living Water.
      Jesus was weary, yet He is our rest.Jesus paid tribute, yet He is the King.
      Jesus was accused of having a demon, yet He cast out demons.
      Jesus wept, yet He wipes away our tears.
      Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver, yet He redeemed the world.
      Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd.
      Jesus died, yet by His death He destroyed the power of death.
      1. That’s My Jesus…Do you know Him?
    2. Read 1 Cor.15:1-4 – the Gospel! [And so our Outline]
  2. DIED! (23:44-49)
    1. ​​​​​​​DARKNESS! (44,45a)
    2. Darkness – Was this what Amos was talking about? – See Amos 8:9.10
    3. 3 hours of darkness & no record of what happened!
      1. 3 hours of silence, as well as 3 hours of darkness.
      2. Yet, here lies probably the 3 most important hours of all human history!
        1. No wonder the sun buried its face, & hid its glory in!
        2. So tremendous that it cannot be described, it cannot be told.
      3. Poem “None of the ransomed ever knew, How deep were the waters crossed, Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through, Ere([air] before) He found His sheep that was lost.”
    4. VEIL! (45b)
    5. Veil torn – (This happened when he bowed His head) The curtain of the temple separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple.
      1. The curtain divided people from the place where God had localized His presence.
      2. The tearing from top to bottom (Mt.27:51) symbolized the fact that now, people had freer access to God as they no longer had to go through the sacrificial system.
        1. Jesus was the only Sacrifice needed to enable people to have a proper relationship with God.
    6. 7TH WORD! (46)
    7. Father into Your hands I commit My spirit –
      1. ​​​​​​​What were His 1st recorded words?(age 12) “I must be about My Fathers business.”
      2. Now, He says, “It is finished, Father, into Your hands I deposit My Spirit.” [The one who didn’t empty Himself of deity, but emptied Himself of the form of sovereignty & took on the form of a servant!]
    8. The Timing,…Impeccable!
      1. He was our Passover Lamb, it was Passover, it was 3pm!
        1. Ex.12:6 “Now you shall keep it(lamb) until the 14th day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.” (lit. “between the evenings” – i.e. between sunset & dark. To the Jews that was between 3-6pm)
      2. It was a death by appointment (not an accident!)
      3. This is how we die also, not according to the will of cancer, or from an erratic drunk driver. No we die under God’s providential care!
        1. We do not pray, “Father into the hands of accidents or the apparent randomness of ill health I commit my spirit.”
      4. “We will pass through the curtain according to God’s clock, not the timetable of random fate!” (Lutzer)
        1. Ps.31:14,15a “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand…”
      1. His testimony is a high point, serving as final witness to Jesus’ innocence.
      1. This was not the effect usually produced upon the crowd by a public crucifixion.
      2. They had seen & heard strange things that day. Terror of darkness. (forgive them, thief saved, earthquake, darkness)
        1. ​​​​​​​They run off smiting their chest…was this the set up for Pentecost? (i.e. w/a sense of tragedy)
      3. Already Jesus’ saying was coming true - “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
        1. The magnet of the cross had begun its work.
      1. That would be family & friends.
  3. ​​​​​​​BURIED! (23:50-56)
    1. ​​​​​​​JOSEPH AT THE CROSS/TOMB! (50-53)
    2. Joseph – What great courage. Joseph’s finest hour. (& Nicodemus)
      1. This is the hour of late blooming love that draws him out of the shadows…to fearlessly befriend His Savior.
      2. This godly, rich believer receives permission from Pilate to bury Jesus’ body. [Used his influence w/Pilate to get the body]
      3. He defiled himself for Passover week, but it made no difference, for he had met the Lamb of God & that’s all that mattered!
        1. Who cares about eating the Passover Lamb, when you have met the Lamb of God?
      4. No hand but the hand of love ever touched the dead body of Jesus. (G. Campbell Morgan; pg.274)
        1. They were lovers who took Him down from the cross.
        2. They were lovers who provided the grave.
        3. They were lovers who carried Him there.
      5. John tells us “he was a disciple…but secretly for fear of the Jews.”
        1. It’s interesting, it is often the loud-voiced Peters who say, “though all forget Thee, yet I will not” who fails, while the secret disciples suddenly gain courage.
      6. Even in the hour of deep disappointment Joseph’s action was that of love!
        1. Love is stronger than death! (S.S. 8:9 “is as strong as”)
        2. Rom.8:38 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God...”
    3. (51) He opposed what the group had done.
      1. Interesting, he remained with the group. He didn’t automatically leave the group.
    4. THE WOMEN AT THE TOMB! (54-56)
    5. (56a) Why this “waste”? Because love will always make sacrifices & find relief in so doing!
    6. (56b) They observe the Sabbath. [They must have found it hard to wait!]
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Luke 23". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/luke-23.html. 2017.
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