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Luke 23:1. Led him, probably in formal procession.
Unto Pilate. It is a question whether Pilate resided in a palace formerly belonging to Herod, or in the Castle Antonia (see on Matthew 27:27).
Luke 23:1-5. THE ACCUSATION BEFORE PILATE. See on Matthew 27:2; Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:1-5; John 18:28-38.
‘Here we have the description, on the one hand of the series of maneuvers used by the Jews to obtain from Pilate the execution of the sentence, and on the other, of the series of Pilate’s expedients or counter-maneuvers, to get rid of the case which was forced on him.’ Godet. The account is condensed, but the appearance before Herod (Luke 23:6-12) is peculiar to this Gospel.
Luke 23:2. Began to accuse him. The first approach to Pilate is narrated by John only, but Luke gives this charge with most precision.
We found. This implies investigation they had never made.
Perverting, giving a false direction to, our nation. They thus represent themselves as genuine friends of the people.
Forbidding, etc. This was a downright falsehood.
And saying, etc. This involved what was true. But from this single element of truth they deduced certain political results, which had never occurred, and by putting these false inferences in the foreground sought to obtain sentence of death against our Lord.
Luke 23:3. And Pilate asked him. This took place within the praetorium (John 18:33).
Art thou the King of the Jews? Pilate’s question implies some knowledge of the Messianic expectations of the Jews.
Thou sayest it = Yes. So Matthew and Mark. But fuller details of the interview are given by John (John 18:34-38). Pilate’s language in Luke 23:4 implies some further conversation.
Luke 23:4. I find no fault in this man. Pilate speaks as a judge. Knowing that the Sanhedrin would have no desire to put to death any one for the political crime alleged, he examines our Lord and satisfies himself that no such political crime was involved in His claim to be King of the Jews.
Luke 23:5. And they were the more argent. They strengthened their charge, urging anew the charge of perverting the people: He stirreth up the people, etc.
From Galilee. This was probably designed to arouse Pilate’s resentment against Him as a Galilean, since the governor hated the Galileans (comp. chap. Luke 13:1), and was at enmity with Herod (Luke 23:12). But they were disappointed.
Luke 23:6. Heard it; probably the name Galilee.
Luke 23:6-12. OUR LORD BEFORE HEROD.
Luke 23:7. Herod’s jurisdiction. As an inhabitant of Galilee, Jesus was under the authority of Herod Antipas, who was Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea.
He sent him. The word used is a legal term generally applied to the transfer of a cause from a lower to a higher tribunal. Hence it was not to get Herod’s opinion, but to relieve himself by transferring his prisoner to Herod’s judgment. There may have been a thought of thus doing a courtesy to reconcile Herod. Their quarrel (Luke 23:12) had probably been caused by some question of jurisdiction.
In these days. Probably for the purpose of attending the Passover feast.
Luke 23:8. Was exceeding glad. This joy of Herod seems all the more frivolous and unkingly, if we suppose that the case of Jesus was actually offered to his jurisdiction.
Had heard. This was the reason of his desire.
And he hoped. The original indicates that this hope was contemporaneous with the continued desire. The present occasion is not directly referred to here. Yet the frivolous joy arose from the confident expectation that now his long continued desire and hope would be met ‘Jesus was to him what a skilful juggler is to a seated court an object of curiosity.’ Godet.
Luke 23:9. And he questioned. The character of the questions may be inferred from Herod’s reception of Jesus, as well as from the next clause: but he answered him nothing. For such a judge, the incestuous adulterer, the murderer of the Baptist, He had neither miracles nor words.
Luke 23:10. And the chief priests, etc. Pilate had sent them there. There is no hint that Herod took any steps toward real investigation. Finding his curiosity was not to be gratified, he treats the case with contempt.
Luke 23:11. And Herod. Failing of his expected entertainment, the monarch seeks amusement in the way here narrated. The motive was resentment at the silence of Jesus, though actual contempt was doubtless felt.
With his soldiery (a peculiar word), i.e., his attending body guard.
Set him at nought, treated Him contemptuously, and mocked him, with words and actions alike.
And arraying him in gorgeous apparel. This garment was put on in mockery, and hence brilliant. It may have been the same scarlet cloak which is spoken of in Matthew 27:28, and thus indicated contempt of His claims to royalty, or a white robe, such as candidates for office wore. The sneer in the latter case is obvious. Still the word itself does not mean ‘white,’ and the question is an open one.
Sent him back to Pilate. This may have been designed to conciliate Pilate, but it is in keeping with the frivolous conduct of Herod throughout.
Luke 23:12. Became friends with each other, etc. If the cause of the quarrel was some question of jurisdiction connected possibly with the occurrence mentioned in chap. Luke 13:1, we see a reason why a reconciliation now took place. As early as Acts 4:27, we find believers alluding in their prayers to this coalition of Herod and Pilate. Even if neither was directly hostile, practically the indecision of the one and the indifference of the other conspired to nail our Lord to the cross. It is easy to harmonize this account with those of Matthew and Mark, but more difficult to insert the occurrence in John’s narrative. The probable position is after John 18:38.
Luke 23:13. When he had called together, etc. After the return from Herod. Matthew (Matthew 27:17) alludes to this.
And the people. The multitude, doubtless now more numerous, was called to hear a proposal in which their wish was concerned.
Luke 23:14. Said unto them. Luke, who gives the charge most fully (Luke 23:2), also states the reply of Pirate more formally.
Perverteth. Here the word (Pilate’s) is milder than that of Luke 23:2 (the Sanhedrin’s).
Before you. John tells of a private interview, which was the main reason of Pilate’s state of mind, but both Matthew and Mark speak of a public questioning in distinction from this.
Luke 23:13-25. FURTHER EXAMINATION BEFORE PILATE. See on Matthew 27:15-26; comp. Mark 15:6-15; John 18:39-40. Luke gives, in this paragraph, few new details, although the form of his narrative is peculiar to himself.
Luke 23:15. Nor yet Herod, who knew Jewish affairs so well.
For he sent him back to us. The correct reading more fully proves Pilate’s assertion.
Hath been done by him, i.e., Herod’s examination failed to elicit any proof that He had committed a crime.
Luke 23:16. I will therefore chastise him. Pilate ought to have said: I will release without any punishment. His want of moral earnestness now appears. This was a concession, and an illegal one, since he declares Jesus to be innocent. This first wrong step was the decisive one, since the Jews understood how to follow up the advantage thus given them. If he was willing to chastise Jesus illegally, why could he not be forced to crucify Him. This proposition of Pilate was repeated (Luke 23:22), but Luke does not mention the fact of the scourging. See on that fact, Matthew 27:26; John 19:1.
Luke 23:17-25. The account before us is brief, introducing scarcely any new features. Luke 23:17, while supported by some authorities, is to be omitted.
Away with this man is virtually a demand for execution.
Prevailed (Luke 23:23), gained the mastery, i.e., over Pilate.
Gave sentence. Final and official sentence. Luke passes over the scourging and crowning with thorns, the presentation to the people ( Ecce Homo), the final effort to release our Lord, the washing of Pilate’s hands, and the final taunt made by the governor with our Lord (John 19:13-16), presenting the contrast between Barabbas and Jesus in brief and telling words (Luke 23:25).
Luke 23:26. When they led him away. See on Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21. (John omits this incident.)
To bear it after Jesus. The hinder part alone was laid upon Simon. The relief was comparatively slight; there is no proof that our Lord was sinking under the load. He who bears the cross after Jesus, bears the lightest end of it.
Luke 23:26-32. THE WAY TO THE CRUCIFIXION. Here Luke is most full, but gives no support to the various legends of the Via Dolorosa.
Among the peculiarities of Luke’s description we notice particularly the scene on the way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-32), and the story of the penitent robber (Luke 23:39-43). Both of these accord with the general spirit of the whole Gospel, as do the three words from the cross (Luke 23:34; Luke 23:43; Luke 23:46) which Luke alone has preserved for us.
Luke 23:27. A great number of the people. The ordinary crowd at an execution.
And of women. Such a crowd would be largely made up of women. These were not the Galilean women (Luke 23:49), but women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:28).
Bewailed and lamented him. This does not of itself indicate any real attachment to Him. It was the natural sympathy usual to the sex at such a time. Some among them may have wept from deeper motives, especially since our Lord spoke to them as He did. The later Jewish tradition that expressions of sympathy for a malefactor on the way to execution were unlawful, is not well enough sustained to prove that the conduct of the women was unexampled.
Luke 23:28. Daughters of Jerusalem. A natural address, but solemn and pointing to their relation to a doomed city.
Weep not for me. Comp. Hebrews 12:2. He not only endures the cross, but forgets His sorrows, so heavy, to tell the truth to those who manifested for Him only a human sympathy.
But weep for yourselves. Appropriate words for those who even now make of the crucifixion a mere popular tragedy. Doubtless many of these very women lived until the siege of Jerusalem, about forty years afterwards, but the catastrophe was to fall most directly upon their children: and for your children. Comp. Matthew 27:25: ‘His blood be on us and on our children.’
Luke 23:29. Bays are coming. As certainly coming, as He was going to death.
They shall say. ‘They’ refers to those in Jerusalem, especially the women in Jerusalem, at the time foretold. His disciples would not be there, and there is here implied a warning to escape. But the whole tone of the prediction implies also that few of them do so.
Blessed, etc. A fearful woe is introduced by the word ‘Blessed.’ Hosea 9:12-16, contains the same thought as this verse. The days will be so terrible that it will be a curse to be a mother instead of a blessing. When being a mother is reckoned a curse, the days are indeed evil!
Luke 23:30. Begin to say, etc. The language is quoted from Hosea 10:8. ‘Begin’ does not necessarily imply a repetition of the saying, but there is probably an allusion to another and a greater day of wrath. The prediction had a primary reference to the siege of Jerusalem and a literal fulfilment then, for the Jews in multitudes ‘hid themselves in the subterranean passages and sewers under the city.’
Luke 23:31. If they do these things in the green tree, etc. In proverbial form our Lord here contrasts what is coming upon Himself, ‘the green tree,’ the fruitful vine, the innocent one when He bore our sins, with what would come upon them, ‘the dry tree,’ the unfruitful ones standing to bear their own judgment. ‘These things’ must be interpreted as a judgment on sin, or the contrast fails. ‘ They’ is used impersonally of human agency in general. Other explanations have been suggested; but none of them seem worthy to be final utterances of our Lord as a Teacher. At such a time nothing could be more appropriate than an allusion to His vicarious work. He could not avert the judgment. He must announce, but even at the last joins with it a thought of His work for sinners.
Luke 23:32. Two others. The sympathy seems to have been, not for them, but for Him alone.
Led with him. Luke alone narrates this.
Luke 23:33. Skull. Comp. the Hebrew Golgotha (Matthew, Mark, and John), which also means this. ‘Calvary’ is of kindred meaning, but taken from the Latin version. The name probably arose from a resemblance to a skull in the shape of the slight elevation where the crosses were placed. Mount Calvary is an erroneous expression. It could scarcely have been the usual place of execution (see on Matthew 27:33). There is even now no special place of execution in Jerusalem.
Luke 23:33-38. THE CRUCIFIXION AND MOCKING. See on Matthew 27:33-43; Mark 15:22; Mark 15:33; John 19:17-24. Luke’s account is the briefest. He mentions (the others do not) the mocking offer of drink by the soldiers (Luke 23:36). Here only do we find the touching prayer, usually called the first word on the cross. The casting lots for our Lord’s garments is briefly mentioned, and the mocking of the people is only hinted at (see on Luke 23:35). On the mode of crucifixion, see the notes on the parallel passage in Matthew.
Luke 23:34. And Jesus said. During the act of crucifixion, as it would appear from the language which follows. This first of the seven words on the cross, preserved by Luke alone, is perhaps the one best adapted to ‘draw all men’ unto Him ‘when lifted up.’
Father, forgive them. Even in the act of crucifixion He speaks as ‘Son of God!’ And thus offering Himself, He also intercedes, performing His twofold priestly work. Comp. Isaiah 53:12: ‘He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.’ ‘Them’ refers, first of all, to the four soldiers who actually crucified Him, since they are spoken of in all the other clauses. It is true they only obeyed orders; but Luke 23:36-37 show that they had a certain pleasure in their cruel duty. They acted as the agents, directly, of the Jewish rulers, in a wider sense, of the Jewish nation, and most widely and truly of mankind. All sinners conspired to nail Him there.
For they know not what they do. Comp. Acts 3:17. This is the motive, not the ground, for forgiveness. Ignorance may diminish guilt, but does not remove it, else no prayer for forgiveness would be needed. It is one design of this record, showing us the forgiving love of our Lord as He died for the sins of men, to awaken in men, through the application of it by the Holy Spirit, a knowledge of what they do as sinners in nailing Him to the cross, that they may repent and be forgiven for His sake. The prayer is only for those who in some way help in the great crime. Those who deny that they are sinners deny that it is for them. The whole prayer is omitted in a few manuscripts, but it is regarded as genuine by all modem critics.
Luke 23:35. And the people stood beholding. At the time when the prayer was uttered. A crowd would not, however, remain still long on such an occasion, and others would be coming from the city, so that there is no disagreement with the accounts of Matthew and Mark.
But the rulers, etc. As if in contrast with the people, but the latter joined in the mockery (see Matthew). Luke tells of the charge of Peter (Acts 2:23: ‘Ye have taken... and slain’).
If this one, etc. The tone is that of contempt.
Luke 23:36. Offering him vinegar. It was about midday, when they would be eating and drinking, and they drunk to Him, holding out to Him in mockery the sour wine (vinegar) they used. Thus the incident is natural, and at the same time totally distinct from the one related by the other Evangelists, which occurred about three hours later.
Luke 23:37. If thou art the King of the Jews, save thyself. This scoff was learned from the rulers no doubt (Matthew 27:42), but it included a sneer at the Jews as well.
Luke 23:38. And there was also a superscription over him. See notes under the text Luke mentions the title later than the other Evangelists; the sneer of the soldiers suggested the mention of Pilate’s mockery in writing this superscription.
Luke 23:39. One of the malefactors. Alford: ‘All were now mocking: the soldiers, the rulers, the mob; and the evil-minded thief, perhaps out of bravado before the crowd, puts in his scoff also.’ This fourfold mocking is a fearful revelation of the extent and power of sin. The better attested form of the taunt is striking: Art not thou the Christ? Save thyself and us.
Luke 23:39-43. THE PENITENT ROBBER. Peculiar to Luke. John makes no allusion to the conduct of the malefactors, while Matthew and Mark intimate that both scoffed at our Lord. While those accounts may be regarded as simply more general, we think it probable that both robbers began to revile, but during the time they hung there, so long to them, one of them was moved to penitence. See on Matthew 27:44.
Luke 23:40. But the other a nswered, the word ‘us’ had included him, and he protests against being made a partner in the mockery. It is very improbable that this man was a Gentile. The two were probably placed on either side of Jesus to carry out the taunt that this was the King of the Jews, and these the (Jewish) subjects. It is now generally conjectured that these robbers were companions of Barabbas, in whose place the innocent Jesus was crucified.
Dost not thou even fear God, (not to speak of penitence and devotion). Others explain: ‘even thou,’ who art a fellow sufferer. The reason he ought to fear God is: seeing thou art in the same condemnation, i.e., with this One whom you are railing at. He thus recognizes the fact that Jesus is crucified as a sinner, going on to confess that he was himself a sinner, but the One who hung beside him altogether innocent. This recognition of Christ in the place of a sinner must not be overlooked in considering the faith of the penitent robber.
Luke 23:41. And we indeed justly, etc. He speaks like a true penitent; for the connection with the last verse involves a reference to God’s justice. Too many forget it under the shadow of the cross!
But this man hath done nothing amiss. A strong statement of innocence. ‘Even had the robber said nothing more than this, yet he would awaken our deepest astonishment, that God in a moment wherein literally all voices are raised against Jesus, and not a friendly word is heard in his favor causes a witness for the spotless innocence of the Saviour to appear on one of the crosses beside Him’ (Van Oosterzee). His faith becomes stronger, for he now turns to Christ Himself. He believed in Christ’s innocence, yet believed in the justice of God. There must have been a practical acceptance of our Lord’s atoning sacrifice, or the bold faith of his petition has no sufficient foundation.
Luke 23:42. And he laid, Jesus, remember me, etc. He does not ask liberation from the cross, but is satisfied to cast himself on the personal love and care of the Being hanging in torture beside him.
When thou comest in thy kingdom, i.e., at thy coming in thy kingdom. ‘Into’ is incorrect, and leaves out of view that the man’s faith recognized Jesus, not as one who would become King, but who was King, and as such would appear again, not as now, but in His royal dignity. It detracts nothing from the man’s faith to suppose that he himself cherished some of the common Jewish expectations when he thus spoke. But whatever his belief about the kingdom, his faith in the King was implicit.
Luke 23:43. Verily I say unto thee. A Divine assurance in response to faith.
Today, i.e., before that day ended. The Roman Catholics, to sustain the doctrine of purgatory, join this with ‘I say unto thee,’ but there was no need of asserting that He was speaking ‘today.’ The promise implies first of all that both should die that day, instead of lingering long, as was often the case, and then that both should that day pass to the same place: shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Our Lord would that day be in Paradise, and the penitent robber with Him. The man’s faith was in Christ as a Person, and Christ’s promise was of personal association with Himself. If this is borne in mind we have a check to the many fancies which are wont to gather about the word Paradise as here used. (1.) It means the place (or state) where the soul of Jesus was between His death and resurrection. The clause in the Apostles’ creed: ‘He descended into hell,’ or ‘Hades,’ must be explained or supplemented by our Lord’s declaration that He was that day in Paradise. (2.) In choosing a word used by the Jews our Lord designed, not chiefly to indorse the Jewish views on the subject, but to convey to the dying robber a promise of blessedness which he understood, though certainly not to its full extent. The Jews thus termed that part of the world of disembodied spirits which is opposed to Gehenna (or Hell); the happy side of the state of the dead. Comp. chap. Luke 16:22: ‘Abraham’s bosom.’ Most expositors are content to accept this as the meaning here, although they claim of course that the reality which Jesus promised transcended the Jewish expectations, and that this promise implied necessarily a participation in the resurrection glory of the just. This view distinguishes between Paradise, here and in 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7 (‘the paradise of God’). There is, however, a more extended view: that our Lord went down into the depths of death to announce His triumph and thus transfer those in ‘Abraham’s bosom’ into ‘the Paradise of God’ (comp. 1 Peter 3:18-19), and that as the robber died after Him (John 19:32-33) the former passed at once into this Paradise. This view suggests a solution of some of the difficulties in regard to Old Testament believers, while it does not at all imply conversion after death. Such an event as our Lord’s death could have such an effect, and the change could take place in a moment. Both views imply that this Paradise is not the fulness of glory at God’s right hand. Our Lord passed to that forty days afterwards, in the body, and thither His people go when they too have been raised. Bliss belongs to ‘Paradise’ indeed, but it will be perfect only after the resurrection. Only on these latter points does the New Testament speak plainly; the danger has ever been in going beyond its statements.
Luke 23:44-46. THE CLOSING SCENE. See on Matthew 27:45-53; Mark 15:33-38. Luke’s account is very brief, passing over the tender scene narrated in John 19:26-27, the lamentation mentioned by Matthew and Mark, and the last refreshment recorded by all three, but it alone has preserved for us the last word on the cross.
Luke 23:45. The ran failing, i.e., its light. This was the cause of the darkness. It can scarcely imply that the sun had been visible during the darkness and at last itself disappeared.
And the vail of the temple, etc. Matthew, who is more detailed, speaks of this after our Lord’s death. It probably took place at the moment He expired. Luke places it here, without implying that it occurred before that moment.
Luke 23:46. Crying with a loud voice. Matthew and Mark mention this without giving the words.
Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. Our Lord dies with Scriptural words on His lips (Psalms 31:5). The whole Psalm is not necessarily Messianic, for, by saying ‘Father,’ our lo rd gives the whole its higher meaning for this hour. ‘Spirit’ here means the immaterial part of Him who was dying. It is idle to say that the soul went to Hades and the spirit to His Father, for He had told the robber that He, the Personal object of His faith, would be in Paradise that day (Luke 23:43). In this prayer which came after the sixth word (‘It is finished’), with its announcement of the completed work, our Lord freely gives up His spirit to the Father. The dying would indeed come in the course of nature, but this represents it as the supreme act of love and obedience.
Ullmann: ‘Whoever could think that Jesus, with these words, breathed out His life forever into the empty air, such an one certainly knows nothing of the true, living spirit, and, consequently, nothing of the living God, and of the living power of the crucified One.’
Luke 23:47. Saw what was done. Mark is most exact here: ‘that he so cried out.’
He glorified God. The original implies a continued action and thus favors the idea that the centurion was really converted by the sight
Certainly this man was righteous. ‘Righteous’ means here first innocent, then just, truthful. The centurion knew that He had been accused of making Himself ‘Son of God;’ and this verdict implies the truthfulness of the claim. Both confessions might have been made, but if only one were uttered in words, it seems more probable that the other Evangelists give it accurately.
Luke 23:47-49. THE EFFECT ON THE SPECTATORS. See on Matthew 27:54-56; Mark 15:39-41. Luke inserts a new detail in Luke 23:48.
Luke 23:48. And all the multitudes, etc. No mention is made of the rulers. Jerusalem was crowded, and the ‘multitudes’ were great. This sight, or ‘spectacle.’
The things which were done. These put an end to mockery.
Returned smiting their breasts. In self-reproach, for they had cried out for His crucifixion. Luke alone speaks of this, but it is not implied that the people had taken no part in the previous mockery. Such a change is by no means uncommon. This accords with the Pentecostal inquiry (Acts 2:39), and may be regarded as the result of our Lord’s prayer (Luke 23:34).
Luke 23:49. And all his acquaintance. Peculiar to Luke. ‘All ‘now present in Jerusalem. The Eleven may be included, though John had led Mary home. Possibly they were not there, fearing to come, a view favored by the fact that no mention is made of them in connection with the burial. The account is so brief, that it cannot be considered as contradictory, John 19:25.
Luke 23:50. A councillor. A member of the Sanhedrin, as the next verse plainly shows.
Good, in moral character.
And just. In the Old Testament sense. ‘Good’ is more than ‘just’ (comp. Romans 5:7), but the former always includes the latter.
ON the leading events of this section, see especially Matthew 27:57-66.
Luke 23:51. He had not consented. From chap, Luke 22:70, we may infer that he was absent from the morning meeting of the Sanhedrin, probably from all.
Their counsel. The formal decision, which resulted in the deed, i.e., crucifixion.
Of, or ‘from,’ Arimathea. He was ‘of’ that city, but it is possible he came ‘from’ that place at this time.
Luke 23:52. See Mark 15:43-45, for the particulars of the request to Pilate.
Luke 23:54. And it was the day of the Preparation, i.e., the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42)
And the Sabbath drew on. The word used of the natural day, is applied here to the legal day, which began at sunset. The time was probably between five and six in the evening.
Luke 23:55. And the women, etc. Matthew and Mark mention the two Marys alone; it is probable that others were with them, but that these two alone remained at the sepulchre. None of them, nor even Nicodemus, seems to have been with Joseph when the body was taken down.
Luke 23:56. And prepared spices and ointments. It would seem that this preparation of spices took place that evening, while Mark (Mark 16:1) implies that it took place later. The other women, who did not remain at the sepulchre, may have made immediate preparations. The last clause of this verse is to be joined with what follows, so that the resting is not said to have taken place after the preparation of spices. We may thus paraphrase: ‘After they had viewed the grave, they ought (not stated when?) spices, and rested indeed the Sabbath day, according to the law, but when this was over they went with the spices as quickly as possible to the grave.’ On the relation of their purpose to the embalming by Nicodemus, see on Mark 16:1; John 19:39-40.
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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 23". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany