Luke chapter 23

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What does Luke chapter 23 mean?

Luke 23 records the civil trials of Jesus, as well as His crucifixion, death, and burial. The long-time plan of the Jewish religious leaders (Mark 3:6) is finally coming to fruition. This was enabled by the betrayal of Judas, Jesus' own disciple (Luke 22:1–6). The Sanhedrin sent servants and soldiers to arrest Jesus in the dead of night. They beat Him, interrogated Him, and got Him to claim He is the Son of God (Luke 22:47–71). They believe they have sufficient charges against the Mosaic law to condemn Jesus, but they're afraid of the people (Luke 22:2) and they aren't authorized to execute people (John 18:31). They want the Roman governor, Pilate, to execute Jesus. So, they take Jesus to Pilate and use the teaching that the Messiah will be king to claim Jesus is a threat to the emperor.

Luke 23:1–5 transitions the narrative from the trials conducted by the Jewish religious leaders to those before the civil leaders Pilate and Herod Antipas. The religious leaders have the charge of blasphemy they need to justify trying to get Pilate to kill Jesus: He claims to be the Christ (Luke 22:66–71). The Christ is the Son of David whom God promised would reign over Israel (2 Samuel 7:12–16). If Jesus is the Christ, and the Christ is king, Jesus—so the Sanhedrin say—must be planning to rebel against the emperor. In addition, they claim Jesus misleads the Jews and encourages them to not pay taxes. Despite those efforts, Pilate finds Jesus has done nothing worth punishment. Matthew 27:11–14, Mark 15:1–5, and John 18:28–33 also cover this first meeting with Pilate; John 18:34–38 includes more detail on Jesus and Pilate's conversation.

In Luke 23:6–12, Pilate realizes Jesus is from Galilee and sends Him to Herod Antipas. Antipas has been wanting to see Jesus for a long time, and he's elated (Luke 9:7–9). The meeting doesn't go as he'd hoped: Jesus refuses to speak. Antipas allows his soldiers to humiliate Jesus then sends Him back to his new friend Pilate. Only Luke includes this trial.

Luke 23:13–19 records Pilate's second attempt to free Jesus. He reiterates that Jesus has done nothing illegal. Pilate offers to scourge Jesus before letting Him go. The religious leaders demand that Jesus be taken away and Barabbas, a convicted insurrectionist and murderer, be released. Matthew 27:15–21 and Mark 15:6–11 give a bit more detail about Barabbas.

In Luke 23:20–25, Pilate tries again to convince the religious leaders to let Jesus go. He asks why they desire Jesus' death and offers to punish Jesus and release Him. John 19:1–16 describes how Pilate "punishes" Jesus and includes a last conversation between Pilate and Jesus. But the leaders have convinced people to continue to demand the release of Barabbas and add that they want Jesus crucified (Matthew 27:20–26; Mark 15:12–15). Pilate concedes. John 19:1–16 describes how Pilate "punishes" Jesus; this is an attempt to convince the leaders to let Jesus go. The passage includes a last conversation between Pilate and Jesus.

Luke 23:26–31 describes Jesus' journey to the cross. The soldiers force Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross beam. Some women mourn for Jesus, but Jesus tells them things are going to get worse for them in the future. Neither Matthew 27:27–32 nor Mark 15:16–21 mention Jesus' short conversation with the women.

Luke 23:32–43 outlines the insults thrown at Jesus while He hangs from the cross. These come from religious leaders, the soldiers, and one of the thieves. The religious rulers make the point that if He's the Christ, He should be able to save Himself; the soldiers and one of the thieves repeat this. Jesus asks God to forgive them, and one of the thieves sees his chance. He asks Jesus to save him; Jesus promises He will. Matthew 27:33–44, Mark 15:22–32, and John 19:17–27 add different details.

In Luke 23:44–49, Jesus dies and the bystanders react. The land goes dark as Jesus commits His spirit to the Father and breathes His last. The temple curtain tears. The centurion overseeing the execution realizes Jesus is innocent, and the bystanders beat their chests in mourning. Meanwhile, the women who follow Jesus and other acquaintances stand at a distance, watching. Again, Matthew 27:45–56, Mark 15:33–41, and John 19:28–30 include specifics Luke doesn't.

Luke 23:50–56 gives a summary of Jesus' burial. Joseph of Arimathea asks for Jesus' body and buries it. Some of the women who follow Jesus watch, then prepare spices and perfumes to add later. Then they rest for the Sabbath. Mark 15:42–47 includes much of the same material. Matthew 27:57–66 includes similar material and additionally describes how the Pharisees ask Pilate permission to secure the tomb so the disciples can't steal Jesus' body. John 19:31–42 adds that the soldiers break the legs of the thieves but only pierce Jesus' side; he also gives more detail about how Joseph and Nicodemus bury Jesus.

Luke 24 records the resurrection of Jesus and its discovery by His followers. Luke then presents a sequel to explain to Theophilus how the disciples react to Jesus' ascension and their efforts to build the church: the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–4).
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