Luke – Chapter 23

Jesus Before Pilate and Herod

At soon as it was daybreak the pharisees and the chief priests were all ready to start the trial of Jesus. Such a mass operation could not have been a spur of the moment thing but a carefully drawn out plan.

“If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”…….

Luke 22:67

Why did Jesus not just come out and say that he was the Messiah, why stay silent when being questioned by the temple leaders. The times are only known by the Father and the time for revealing the glory of the Son of Man had not yet come. Jesus simply repeated their word saying,

He replied, “You say that I am.”

Luke 22:70

Surely that would have reminded the pharisees of the time when God met Moses in the burning bush and introduced himself as ‘I am’. That pushed them over the cliff and fueled their anger even more .

Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”

Luke 23:1-2

The charges against Jesus have been altered here. Jesus never spoke against paying the taxes due to the government but added that give to God what belongs to Him (Mark 12:17). Such baseless were their claims that they could not even coordinate their false witnesses to lie properly.

Jesus was presented before Pilate but when he found that Jesus was Galilean he immediately shipped the case of the King of the Jews to Herod in whose district the alleged crime had taken place. Most probably, both Herod and Pilate were present in the city of Jerusalem during the busy Passover festival period to keep a close watch on the riot sickened city.

Herod gets to finally meet Jesus face to face. Ever since he had beheaded his cousin John the Baptist, he wanted to meet the man who people were comparing to John.

“I beheaded John,” Herod said, “but who is this man I hear such things about?” And he kept trying to see Jesus.

Luke 9:9

But after seeing Jesus powerless and not what he had imagined in his mind he started ridiculing Him and dressing Him up in a kingly robe, they handed Him back over to Pilate.

That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

Luke 23:12

Pilate and Herod, who were sworn enemies before this encounter, now were friends, as they had found a common ground between them. That’s how satan works bringing harmony amongst people that will further his cause.

In a similar way the pharisees, sadducees and rabbis who never got along, got together to take down their common threat, Jesus. Such works of false harmony are prevalent in our churches too, as long as this harmony between men keeps them away from knowing God.

Since both Pilate and Herod could not find any grounds to execute Jesus on, Pilate suggested the release of the “Jewish King”

But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!”

Luke 23:18

Barabbas was an anti-government terrorist responsible for several riots and murders in the city. Then why did the Jews want the release of Barabbas? That is precisely why they rejected Jesus in the first place. More than a connection with God, the Jews desired for liberation from the current regime.

When they realized Jesus was not going to take down the Roman empire they turned to someone they felt who was fighting for their cause. God is intangible to us and we cling to tangibles. We desire what is right in front of us and do not have the patience to wait for God’s gift of redemption in our lives.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

The long route to Calvary might have seemed like an eternity for Jesus and for the women following the roman soldiers. Seeing Jesus struggle, the soldiers caught hold of a passerby named Simon who was from Cyrene and forced him to carry the heavy cross. Simon Peter was nowhere to be found along with rest of Jesus’s disciples. But God provided another Simon to help Jesus carry the cross.

On reaching the mount, they crucified Jesus along with the two thieves next to him. Even in his moment of anguish, Jesus prayed to His Father for us

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 22:34

Everyone present there mocked Jesus, from the soldiers to the temple leaders. The Jewish leaders challenged him to save himself and prove that He indeed was the Son of God. The soldiers offered him wine mixed with vinegar. Even the prisoner who was hung on a cross next to Jesus joined in the mockery.

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:40-41

The criminal who was given the grace to recognize Jesus, even in the final moments of his life, got to enter paradise with Jesus. Not just enter paradise but enter with the owner. The parable of the eleventh hour wage workers is so truly applicable in this situation.

The Death of Jesus

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46

It was about noon when darkness came over all the land as the sun stopped shining. The temple curtain was torn and Jesus breathed his last. Among those standing there were soldiers who acknowledged,

“Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.

Luke 23:47-48

The Burial of Jesus

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. …Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.

Luke 23:50-52

Being a member of the same council that gave the verdict to kill Jesus, it would have been tough for Joseph to go to Pilate and ask for Jesus’s body. Like him there were perhaps many pharisees who would have believed in Jesus but did not stand against the overwhelming majority. Do we stand with Jesus against the majority or passively agree with the masses?

Jesus’ disciples neither buried him nor carried the cross, rather they were nowhere to be found at these scenes. It was the day of rest and the mourners and accusers both retired to their homes to observe the sabbath. But according to the Gospel of Matthew, the Pharisees went on sabbath to Pilate to ask to secure the tomb.

Hypocrisy is alive and well. The same crime that the pharisees had accused Jesus of committing when he healed the sick on Sabbath, was now blatantly violated by them to try and secure the tomb as they perhaps believed that Jesus would rise again or His disciples might come and steal His body and claim that He had risen.

Even if they believed that Jesus would rise again, they would have done everything in their power to prevent God from completing His plan. As they were (as Jesus had described them) in the hands of satan.

Do we let God accomplish his plan in our lives or like the pharisees we know what is required of us but turn a blind eye to God.

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