Sustained by God’s Word of Hope
Luke 23:1-43: The council leaders take Jesus to Pilate for questioning. Pilate, finding no reason to condemn Jesus, sends him to Herod. The chief priests bring charges against him, and Jesus refuses to answer the charges. Jesus is returned to Pilate, the crowd calls for his crucifixion, and Pilate sentences Jesus to death. The soldiers lead Jesus away and nail him to a cross. Two criminals are also crucified with Jesus, and one of them receives Jesus’s promise that he will be in Paradise with Jesus.
Jesus said to him, “I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.”
1The whole group rose up and took Jesus before Pilate,2where they began to accuse him: “We caught this man misleading our people, telling them not to pay taxes to the Emperor and claiming that he himself is the Messiah, a king.”
3Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“So you say,” answered Jesus.
4Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no reason to condemn this man.”
5But they insisted even more strongly, “With his teaching he is starting a riot among the people all through Judea. He began in Galilee and now has come here.”
6When Pilate heard this, he asked, “Is this man a Galilean?”7When he learned that Jesus was from the region ruled by Herod, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.8Herod was very pleased when he saw Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been wanting to see him for a long time. He was hoping to see Jesus perform some miracle.9So Herod asked Jesus many questions, but Jesus made no answer.10The chief priests and the teachers of the Law stepped forward and made strong accusations against Jesus.11Herod and his soldiers made fun of Jesus and treated him with contempt; then they put a fine robe on him and sent him back to Pilate.12On that very day Herod and Pilate became friends; before this they had been enemies.
13Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people,14and said to them, “You brought this man to me and said that he was misleading the people. Now, I have examined him here in your presence, and I have not found him guilty of any of the crimes you accuse him of.15Nor did Herod find him guilty, for he sent him back to us. There is nothing this man has done to deserve death.16So I will have him whipped and let him go.”
18The whole crowd cried out, “Kill him! Set Barabbas free for us!” (19Barabbas had been put in prison for a riot that had taken place in the city, and for murder.)
20Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, so he appealed to the crowd again.21But they shouted back, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22Pilate said to them the third time, “But what crime has he committed? I cannot find anything he has done to deserve death! I will have him whipped and set him free.”
23But they kept on shouting at the top of their voices that Jesus should be crucified, and finally their shouting succeeded.24So Pilate passed the sentence on Jesus that they were asking for.25He set free the man they wanted, the one who had been put in prison for riot and murder, and he handed Jesus over for them to do as they wished.
26The soldiers led Jesus away, and as they were going, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon who was coming into the city from the country. They seized him, put the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus.
27A large crowd of people followed him; among them were some women who were weeping and wailing for him.28Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem! Don't cry for me, but for yourselves and your children.29For the days are coming when people will say, ‘How lucky are the women who never had children, who never bore babies, who never nursed them!’30 That will be the time when people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Hide us!’31For if such things as these are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32Two other men, both of them criminals, were also led out to be put to death with Jesus.33When they came to the place called “The Skull,” they crucified Jesus there, and the two criminals, one on his right and the other on his left.34 Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father! They don't know what they are doing.”
They divided his clothes among themselves by throwing dice.35 The people stood there watching while the Jewish leaders made fun of him: “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah whom God has chosen!”
36 The soldiers also made fun of him: they came up to him and offered him cheap wine,37and said, “Save yourself if you are the king of the Jews!”
38Above him were written these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
39One of the criminals hanging there hurled insults at him: “Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40The other one, however, rebuked him, saying, “Don't you fear God? You received the same sentence he did.41Ours, however, is only right, because we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.”42And he said to Jesus, “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!”
43Jesus said to him, “I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.”
Initially, Pilate could find no reason to condemn Jesus. Why did he then sentence Jesus to death?
What did his action reveal about his character? Have you ever felt pressured to do something even though it went against your conscience? What did the two criminals who were being crucified say to Jesus? Why did Jesus promise one of the criminals that he would be in Paradise with him?
Lord Jesus, for my sake you were sentenced to death by crucifixion even though you were innocent. You even prayed for God to forgive those who had tortured and crucified you. Thank you, Jesus, for your undying and sacrificial love for me. With a humble and grateful heart, I praise and magnify your holy name. Amen.
Those attending Good Friday services
Luke 23:44-56: Jesus dies and is buried.