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Luke Chapter Twenty-three


I. Content of the Chapter


The Son of Man the Savior’s being Judged, Crucifixion and Burial

I. He was judged by Pilate for the first time (v.1-7).

II. He was judged by Herod (v.8-12).

III. He was judged by Pilate again and the condemnation was made (v.13-25).

IV. Simon bore the cross for Him and the women mourned and lamented Him (v.26-31).

V. He was hanged on the cross with two criminals (v.32-43).

VI. The scene of His death (v.44-49).

VII. He was buried in a new tomb (v.50-56).


II. Verse by Verse commentary


Luke. 23:1 “Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate.

   YLT: “And having risen, the whole multitude of them did lead him to Pilate,”

   The Background: at that time, the Jews were under the dominion of the Roman Empire and they were given limited autonomy. It was not lawful for the council to put any one to death except the Gentiles who rushed presumptuously into the inner courtyard (See John. 18:31).

“Pilate” was the fifth governor in the land of Judea posted by the Roman Empire from 26 to 36 A.D. His administrative headquarter was set in Samaria and he also had the official mansions in Jerusalem. During the Feast of the Passover, the Jews in all parts of the world were gathered in Jerusalem. Pilate would also come to the city of Jerusalem to guard against disturbance or rebellion which might take place at any time. According to the description of the Jewish Historian Joseph, Pilate was a stubborn and marble person.    

Literal Meaning: “then the whole multitude of them arose” “the whole multitude of them” refer to the members of the Judaic council because the people had not been gathered at that time.

It had been the morning on Friday (See 22:66). It was illegal for the council to hold a meeting at night. Therefore they held a meeting purposely in the morning and condemned the death of Jesus officially (See Mark. 14:64) and immediately led Him to the Roman governor.

“Led Him to PilateIn order to “put Him to death” (See Mark. 14:55), the council had to deliver Him to Pilate the governor and let him condemn Jesus and put Him to death according to the law of the Roman Empire.


Luke. 23:2 “And they began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.’”

   YLT: “and began to accuse him, saying, ‘This one we found perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying himself to be Christ a king.’”

   Meaning of Words: “pervert”: agitate, distort, mislead.

   Literal Meaning: “we found this fellow perverting the nation” means that He colluded with rioters.

  “And forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar” means that He resisted the government decree.

  “Saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” means that He rebelled against the government publicly.

  Please note that the Judaic council condemned Him to death for His calling Himself “the Son of God” (See 22:70-71; Mark. 14:64). However, the Roman governor usually did not ask about the religious disputes of the Jews and therefore the council did not accuse Jesus of the religious charge and the council brought a false political charge against Him. If Jesus called Himself “a king of the Jews”, it means that He was against the Roman Government and committed the rebellion. The Jewish religious leaders fabricated the groundless sin with the purpose of killing the Lord Jesus and it completely shows their hypocrisy and deceit in religion.


Luke. 23:3 “Then Pilate asked Him, saying, Are You the King of the Jews? He answered him and said, It is as you say.’”

   YLT: “And Pilate questioned him, saying, `Thou art the king of the Jews?’ and he answering him, said, `Thou dost say [it].’”

   Literal Meaning: “Are You the King of the Jews?” Pilate condemned Jesus to death for the reason of “the King of the Jews” later (See v.38).

  “He answered him and said, ‘It is as you say.’” “It is as you say” is the strong affirmation. Though Jesus acknowledged that He is the King, He said that His kingdom was not of the world (See John. 18:33-38). And therefore Pilate did not think that He committed the rebellion and declared that he found no fault in Him again and again (See v.4, 14, 22).


Luke. 23:4 “So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, I find no fault in this Man.’”

   YLT: “And Pilate said unto the chief priests, and the multitude, `I find no fault in this man;’”

   Literal Meaning: “I find no fault in this Man” means that he declared that Jesus did not commit any political crime.

   Enlightenment in the Word: the Lord Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John. 1:29). And therefore such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26).


Luke. 23:5 “But they were the more fierce, saying, He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.’”

   YLT: “and they were the more urgent, saying `He doth stir up the people, teaching throughout the whole of Judea having begun from Galilee unto this place.’”

   Literal Meaning: “throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place” From this sentence we could know that “throughout all Judea” includes the districts of Galilee and Jerusalem.

  In this verse they accused Jesus of stirring up the people and rising in rebellion throughout all Judea.


Luke. 23:6 “When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean.

   YLT: “And Pilate having heard of Galilee, questioned if the man is a Galilean,"

   Literal Meaning: “he asked if the Man were a Galilean” This question was caused by “beginning from Galilee” in the previous verse.


Luke. 23:7 “And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

   YLT: “and having known that he is from the jurisdiction of Herod, he sent him back unto Herod, he being also in Jerusalem in those days.”

   The Background: the area of Galilee and Villa were also under the control of Herod Antipas.

   Literal Meaning: “he sent Him to Herod” According to the position and authority of Pilate, he did not need to send Jesus to Herod the king. He did so and it was only a diplomatic way to please the other party (See v.12). Probably, Pilate may not want to deal with this groundless case (See v.14; Matt. 27:18-19).

  “Who was also in Jerusalem at that time.” “At that time” was the period of the Passover (See 22:1). It is said that Herod the Great, the father of Herod, joined the Jewish nationality and therefore he went to Jerusalem for the feast from Tiberias.


Luke. 23:8 “Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.

   YLT: “And Herod having seen Jesus did rejoice exceedingly, for he was wishing for a long [time] to see him, because of hearing many things about him, and he was hoping some sign to see done by him,”

   Literal Meaning: “for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him.” Herod had not met Jesus, however, he heard of all that was done by Jesus (See 9:7-9) and he said that he would kill Him (See 13:31).

  “And he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.” Herod may mean that since He did miracle to save others and couldn’t He do miracle to save Himself?

   Enlightenment in the Word: Herod “hoped to see some miracle done by Him”. But the Lord disregarded him (See v.9). If we have the intention of “seeing miracle” in the spiritual pursuit------unusual feeling, vision that could be seen by eyes and etc, we will have neither part nor lot in “Christ crucified” (See 1Cor. 1:22-23).


Luke. 23:9 “Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.

   YLT: “and was questioning him in many words, and he answered him nothing.”

   Meaning of Words: “many”: competent, ample.

   The Background: according to the Roman law at that time, if the defendant did not defend for himself, he would be condemned.

   Literal Meaning: “but He answered him nothing” It fulfills the words in Is. 53:7.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Once one is disregarded by the Lord (“he answered him nothing”) and He gives him up, it is the most dreadful thing (See Rom. 1:26, 28).

2) Who, when He was reviled, did not revile again; when He suffered, he did not threaten; but committed Himself to God that judges righteously (See 1Pet. 2:23). This is the example of the Lord for us.

3) If one clearly knows the will and guidance of God and commits himself unto God, he will have rest in God and have no defense for himself in any difficult circumstance.

4) Believers should bridle their tongues and do not say meaningless words, as it becomes saints.


Luke. 23:10 “And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him.

   YLT: “And the chief priests and the scribes stood vehemently accusing him,”

   Meaning of Words: “vehemently”: intensely, mightily.


Luke. 23:11 “Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.

   YLT: “and Herod with his soldiers having set him at nought, and having mocked, having put around him gorgeous apparel, did send him back to Pilate,”

   Meaning of Words: “contempt”: despise, least esteemed, set at nought; “gorgeous”: brilliant, bright, light, white.

   Literal Meaning: “Herod, with his men of war” “his men of war” refers to the members of the guard of the king instead of the soldiers of the Roman Army.

  “Treated Him with contempt and mocked Him” Probably Herod was enraged by the attitude of the Lord Jesus that “He answered with him nothing” (See v.9). However, he found no fault in Him (See v.15) and he had to mock Him so as to give vent to his anger.

  “Arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe.” “Gorgeous” is used to describe the clothing of the rich (See James. 2:2) and angels (See Acts. 10:30; Rev. 15:6; 19:8).

  “And sent Him back to Pilate.” This behavior shows that Herod admitted that He was sinless.


Luke. 23:12 “That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.

   YLT: “and both Pilate and Herod became friends on that day with one another, for they were before at enmity between themselves.”

   Literal Meaning: the reason why “previously they had been at enmity with each other” may be that Pilate had killed Galileans and had mingled their blood with their sacrifice (See 13:1), thus violating the royalty of Herod.

  “That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other.” The “sending” and “sending back” probably expressed their esteem to each other and they honored each other.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The world usually becomes friends because they are all hostile to Christ (e.g. the antitheists get united to oppose Christianity). However, this kind of men shall be judged by God (See Rev. 16:2-11).

2) The devil could persuade wicked persons to set aside their enmity in order to do evil (See Mark. 12:13; Ps. 83:5-7). However, Christians couldn’t keep the worldly friendship in order to do good.

3) The coming of Christ has two-sided aims (See 2:14): making men have peace------“Pilate and Herod became friends”; glorifying God ------“he glorified God” (v.47).


Luke. 23:13 “Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people,

   YLT: “And Pilate having called together the chief priests, and the rulers, and the people,”

   Meaning of Words: “called together”: convoke; “rulers”: leaders, magistrates.


Luke. 23:14 “said to them, You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him;

   YLT: “said unto them, ‘Ye brought to me this man as perverting the people, and lo, I before you having examined, found in this man no fault in those things ye bring forward against him;”

  Literal Meaning: “having examined Him in your presence” “in your presence” is stressed in the original, showing that they knew that Pilate had examined this case thoroughly.


Luke. 23:15 “no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him.

   YLT: “no, nor yet Herod, for I sent you back unto him, and lo, nothing worthy of death is having been done by him;”

   Literal Meaning: “neither did Herod” It shows that Herod who was familiar with the Jewish Law and custom did not find fault in Him.


Luke. 23:16 “I will therefore chastise Him and release Him’”

   YLT: “having chastised, therefore, I will release him,’”

   Literal Meaning: I will therefore chastise Him” “Chastise” does not show the degrees of seriousness of the punishment in the original and therefore it could be “beaten slightly” or “whipped seriously”.


Luke. 23:17 “(for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast).

   YLT: “for it was necessary for him to release to them one at every feast,”

   Literal Meaning: this was the special convention of “amnesty” at that time with the purpose of showing the kindness of the rulers.


Luke. 23:18 “And they all cried out at once, saying, Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas--

   YLT: “and they cried out the whole multitude saying, ‘Away with this one, and release to us Barabbas,’”

   Literal Meaning: probably the crowd thought that Jesus was condemned by the council and no longer conformed to the image of the Messiah in their hearts. However, Barabbas who was thrown into prison for a certain rebellion (See v.19) was contrarily shown as a national hero. Therefore, the people had this request.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) We have been “released” because the Lord had been crucified for us. If Jesus was not destroyed, Barabbas would not be released. Thank God, since the Lord Jesus was destroyed for us, we, the sinners (Barabbas), could be released.

2) Since man had inherited sin from the father the devil, all of us became servants of sin (See John. 8:34), and would die in our sins (See John. 8:21, 24). However, Jesus the Son of God the Father in heaven came to “release” us and we became really free (See John. 8:36).

3) Religionists would rather ask for the murder and robber (See John. 18:40) than ask for the Lord Jesus, thus exposing the darkness of religion. Today, many zealous religionists (including the extreme Christians) often disregard morality and do not have witness in life.

4) The slogan of the cross is that “away with this man!” The cross is to “get rid of” our old creation so that the new creation could have more position in us.

5) The first and foremost aim of the cross is to “get rid of” our constitution that has been judged to death by God. God’s salvation brings men to zero and lets His life become more and more abundant.


Luke. 23:19 “who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder.

   YLT: “who had been, because of a certain sedition made in the city, and murder, cast into prison.”

   Meaning of Words: “Barabbas”: son of father, son of Abba; “rebellion”: revolt;

   Literal Meaning: “Barabbas”, this man might be a leader of the Canaanite, which was a Jewish revolutionary organization. He was cast into prison for having committed a murder in a revolt (See v.25).

   Spiritual Meaning: “Barabbas” typifies that sinners were of their father the devil which was a murderer from the beginning and was a liar, and the father of it (John. 8:44).


Luke. 23:20 “Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them.

   YLT: “Pilate again then wishing to release Jesus called to them,”

   Meaning of Words: “wish”: intend, desire; “call out”: address, cause, summon.


Luke. 23:21 “But they shouted, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him!’”

   YLT: “but they were calling out, saying, `Crucify, crucify him.’”

   The Background: the “Crucifixion” was the cruel torture used by the Roman Empire to punish serious criminals at that time. Only those who were of the most heinous guilt, such as robbers, murderers, arsonists, betrayers of a country and etc., should be executed by crucifixion. Moreover, the Roman citizens would not be tortured by such torture.

   Literal Meaning: “crucify Him!”------It fulfilled the prophecy that the Lord had said previously (See Matt. 20:19; 26:2).


Luke. 23:22 “Then he said to them the third time, Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.’”

   YLT: “And he a third time said unto them, `Why, what evil did he? no cause of death did I find in him; having chastised him, then, I will release [him].’”

   Literal Meaning: “what evil has He done?” The governor asked this question at the end of the judgment, showing that he could not inquire any sin of the Lord and admitted He was innocent. Pilate held that He was the “innocent man” all the time (See Matt.27:24; Mark. 15:5, 9, 12; John 18:38; 19:4, 6, 12).

   Enlightenment in the Word: Pilate declared three times that he could not find fault in the Lord Jesus (See v.4, 14), showing that He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us (2Cor. 5:21) in order to redeem sinners.


Luke. 23:23 “But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.

   YLT: “And they were pressing with loud voices asking him to be crucified, and their voices, and those of the chief priests, were prevailing,”

   The Background: “that He be crucified” it is said that when the Jews killed the lamb of the Passover in old days, they tied the four limbs of the lamb on the wooden framework of the cross and let it shed its blood and be dried up unto death. Therefore the Lord was “crucified”, thus fulfilling that He was the type of the lamb of the Passover (See Is. 53:7-8; 1Cor. 5:7; John. 1:29). The cruel torture of the cross was only used for a short time around the time when the Lord Jesus was on the world in the history of the Roman Empire. It seemed that it was specially arranged by God for the fulfillment of the prophecy and typifications of the Old Testament (See Num. 21:8-9; Deut. 21:23; Acts. 13:29; Gal. 3:13).

   Literal Meaning: “And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.” It means that Pilate surrendered to the demonstration of all the people and ignored the truth and conscience in order to take his rights, interests and position into consideration.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Pilate is indeed a typical politician. On one hand he shirked his responsibility------“he sent Him to Herod” (v.7) and on the other he took the opinion of all the people into consideration------“the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed”. If we want to be witnesses of Christ, we should learn a lesson from him.

2) If the voices of the flesh “prevail” in the church, Christ will suffer grievance innocently. And therefore we should try our best to open our mouth to bear witness to Christ so that the voice of Christ would be as the sound of many waters (Rev.1:15) that would overcome every voice of the flesh and Christ would have all the positions in the church.


Luke. 23:24 “So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested.

   YLT: “and Pilate gave judgment for their request being done,”

   Literal Meaning: Pilate’s giving such sentence fully exposes the darkness and corruption of politics.


Luke. 23:25 “And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

   YLT: “and he released him who because of sedition and murder hath been cast into the prison, whom they were asking, and Jesus he gave up to their will.”

   Literal Meaning: “to their will”: let the Lord Jesus be crucified according to their will (See v.23). It not only fulfilled the Lord’s own word concerning how He should die (See Matt. 20:19) but also fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament (See Deut. 21:23; Num. 21:8-9; Gal. 3:13).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The deeds of Pilate are the typical representative of the world (especially politicians)------they confuse what is right, ignore the truth and only try to please the people.

2) Many leaders of the Christianity often would rather sacrifice the principle of the truth and adopt expediency in order to gratify the crowd, and however it makes our Lord undergo loss.

3) Pilate disobeyed his conscience and sacrificed the Lord Jesus for the purpose of gratifying the crowd. It was a great warning! We shall never run counter to our conscience and sacrifice the Lord Jesus that we believe for the sake of gratifying the world.

4) If we want to be strong to the end to bear witness of Christ, we cannot often make everyone glad. If we seek to please men only, we are not bondmen of Christ (Gal. 1:10).

5) Thank the Lord. Since He was “delivered”, the condemned prisoners like us were “released”. What the salvation!


Luke. 23:26 “Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.

   YLT: “And as they led him away, having taken hold on Simon, a certain Cyrenian, coming from the field, they put on him the cross, to bear [it] behind Jesus.”

   Literal Meaning: “a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian.”------ “Cyrenian” was the name of a place in North Africa; “Simon” was a Jewish name. He might be a Jewish who lived in Cyrene (See Acts. 11:20; 13:1) and he specially came to Jerusalem to the feast.

And they laid hold of a certain man. It indicates forcing men to serve by threatening ways.

And on him they laid the cross that he might bear it”, the cross was often taken by the prisoner himself. Probably, Jesus was too weak to bear the cross at that time.

Spiritual Meaning: he might bear it after Jesus”: to have communion with His suffering and to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in the flesh (See Col. 1:24). 

Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The whole family of Simon of Cyrenian was saved because he took the cross of the Lord (See Rom. 16:13). Believers were laid on” the cross under the sovereignty of God, however, the “being laid on” is the way of being blessed. 

2) “Being laid on”, it means going against our interests, natural feelings and etc. However, many precious spiritual lessons are usually hidden in many things we dislike.

3) Whoever partakes in the cross of Christ, he will partake in the salvation of Christ.


Luke. 23:27 “And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him.

   YLT: “And there was following him a great multitude of the people, and of women, who also were beating themselves and lamenting him,”

   Meaning of Words: “mourn”: beat the breast, the expression of grief; “lament”: bewail, mourn.


Luke. 23:28 “But Jesus, turning to them, said, Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.

   YLT: “and Jesus having turned unto them, said, `Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves weep ye, and for your children;”

   Literal Meaning: “Daughters of Jerusalem” “daughters” means “inhabitants”.

  “But weep for yourselves and for your children” It means that they themselves and their children shall suffer greater tribulation.

   Enlightenment in the Word: every time we see the Lord on the cross, we should remember our sins------“weep for yourselves and for your children’------because of the Lord on the cross and weep for ourselves and repent and turn to the Lord.


Luke. 23:29 “For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!'

   YLT: “for, lo, days do come, in which they shall say, Happy the barren, and wombs that did not bare, and paps that did not give suck;”

   The Background: in ancient times, the Jewish women regarded that they were blessed to bear children and the barren would be regarded as unfortunate.

   Literal Meaning: “For indeed the days are coming” indicate the days of the desolation of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (See 21:20-24). At that time, those who did not have children suffered less tribulation than those who had children and therefore they were blessed contrarily (See Matt. 24:19; Mark. 13:17).


Luke. 23:30 “Then they will begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us! and to the hills, Cover us!’”

   YLT: “then they shall begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us, and to the hills, Cover us;”

   Literal Meaning: men prefer to die in a moment in order to free themselves because they could not suffer the continuous tribulation (See Hos. 10:8; Rev. 6:16). 


Luke. 23:31 “For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?’”

   YLT: “for, if in the green tree they do these things in the dry what may happen?’”

   Literal Meaning: this verse may be a proverb at that time and the Lord Jesus stated this in order to mean that: “the green wood” should not be burnt and now it is burnt------the sinless Jesus should not suffer the death and now He was sentenced to death by the Roman regime. “The dry” should be burnt------the Jews who had been condemned by the Roman regime because of the rebellion (including the common Jews who had been involved because of the rebellion) shall suffer more in future. The Lord Jesus said in prophecy that God will execute the judgment to the Jews when women mourned Him because He was about to suffer death.

   Spiritual Meaning: “the green wood” symbolizes the Lord Jesus------He is living and full of life.

  “The dry” symbolizes the Jews (especially those who are of the Jewish faith)------they lacked the juice of life and therefore they were dead.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The Lord Jesus is a “green wood” and the juice of life is full in Him. The suffering of the cross just presses out His abundant juice and He becomes our provision. He whoever is joined unto the Lord and abides in Him shall bring forth much fruit (John. 15:5).

2) Those who have erred concerning the faith are “the dry”------they are trees whose fruit withers, without fruit, twice dead (See Jude. 12).


Luke. 23:32 “There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death.

   YLT: “And there were also others two evil-doers with him, to be put to death;”

   Literal Meaning: “There were also two others, criminals” They may be the two thieves who were with Barabbas in the insurrection (See Matt. 27:38; Mark. 15:7, 27).


Luke. 23:33 “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.

   YLT: “and when they came to the place that is called Skull, there they crucified him and the evil-doers, one on the right hand and one on the left.”

   Meaning of Words: Calvary (Skull): the place to stack the skull.

   Literal Meaning: “called Skull” It was said that the shape of this hill was like the skull of dead ones and thus there was the name. “Skull” is “Golgotha” in the Hebrew (See John. 19:17). It was called “Calvary” in KJV which was translated from Latin. The Lord Jesus was crucified there and had the same meaning with Golgotha.

  “There they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.” This sentence shows that:

  a) The prophecy is fulfilled that “He was numbered with the transgressors” (See 22:37);

b) He was on the tree with the position of a sinner and therefore He His own self bore our sins (See 1Pet. 2:24).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The natural mind and old concepts of us are “the skulls of dead ones”. We should crucify them in “Skull” and never let them stir up trouble.

2) Christ crucified is the center of mankind and all and He will draw all to Him (See John. 12:32).

3) Men’s fates depend on Christ crucified. If one receives Him, he will be saved and have eternal life; if one refuses Him, he will perish and enter the everlasting fire.

4) He, on the cross, destroyed, through death, him that had the power of death, that is, the devil and deliver them (i.e. robbers) who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (See Heb. 2:14-15).


Luke. 23:34 “Then Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. And they divided His garments and cast lots.

   YLT: “And Jesus said, `Father, forgive them, for they have not known what they do;’ and parting his garments they cast a lot.”

   The Background: “and they divided His garments and cast lots” According to the Roman tradition, the belongings of those who were put to death belonged to those who carried out the death sentence. 

   Literal Meaning: “Father, forgive them” “Them” were the Jews and Romans who put Him to death.

  “They divided His garments and cast lots.” It fulfilled the prophecy in Ps. 22:18.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) “Father, forgive them.” The Lord Jesus made intercessions for the enemy. It not only shows His tolerance and forgiveness but also shows that He makes intercessions according to His achievement that He had bore the punishment for us. And therefore His intercessions are qualified and effective. 

2) The spirit of the cross of Christ shows the infinite forgiveness to men------“Father, forgive them”. Today He is in heavens and makes intercessions for us (Heb. 7:26). And therefore we should not lose heart or faint and let us come boldly unto the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).

3) “Father, forgive them.” Believers in whom is filled with the spirit of Christ do not have grudge and complaint towards others.

4) “For they do not know what they do.” Many religionists persecute Christians and think that they render service to God (See John. 16:2). They do not know what they do.

5) The world usually stresses on good works of the Lord Jesus (“divided His garments”) and is unwilling to receive the life of Christ (they crucified Him).

6) Believers always attend to trifles and neglect the essentials. They are fervent in searching the Bible, however, they are unwilling to come to the Lord to have life (See John. 5:39-40).


Luke. 23:35 “And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.’”

   YLT: “And the people were standing, looking on, and the rulers also were sneering with them, saying, ‘Others he saved, let him save himself, if this be the Christ, the choice one of God.’”

   Literal Meaning: “let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” It shows men’s natural religious concept and they think that God will deliver the one in whom God delights from the outward harm and suffering.

  The Lord Jesus was mocked by three groups of people------the people, rulers and the criminal who was hanged (See v.39). The key of the mockery is that if He is Christ (the Messiah), He should have the power to save Himself and God won’t at least sit by and watch Him be crucified unto death.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) God’s will is to achieve His plan of salvation through the death of the cross. Those who are held by God in His will always “save others and themselves they cannot save”. And only those who do not save themselves are able to save others. If He saves Himself, He could not save us.

2) Those who really have the power would be able restrain themselves contrarily. The unbridled ones who walk as they please are manifested that they are weak and powerless. 

3) The death of the cross is the way to resurrection------supply life through death------if death works in us, life will work in others (See 2Cor. 4:11-12).

4) The cross is to deny oneself (See 8:34) and therefore the meaning of the cross is to save others and not save oneself; he whoever is self-centered needs to receive the dealing of the cross.


Luke. 23:36 “The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine,

   YLT: “And mocking him also were the soldiers, coming near and offering vinegar to him,”

   Literal Meaning: “offering Him sour wine” This behavior of the soldiers shows their mockery (See Matt. 27:47-49). “Sour wine” refers to sour wine mingled with gall (See Matt. 27:34) and it has the function of narcosis. Once man drinks it, he would be like one who had took the anesthetic which could release the pain (See Pro. 31:6-7). However, the Lord did not take it (See Mark. 15:23), showing that He was willing to bear the punishment of sins unto death (See Ps. 69:21).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The Lord Jesus bore the suffering of the cross Himself and refused any help or comfort from men. Those who truly take up the cross never seek any help or comfort besides God.

2) He who feels painful in themselves and needs comfort of others is not the one who takes up the cross.

3) The Lord Himself had tasted the suffering for us, so He is able to be touched with our feelings (See Heb. 4:15).


Luke. 23:37 “and saying, If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.’”

   YLT: “and saying, ‘If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.’”

   Literal Meaning: “If You are the King of the Jews” “You” is stressed in the original.


Luke. 23:38 “And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

   YLT: “And there was also a superscription written over him, in letters of Greek, and Roman, and Hebrew, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’”

   Literal Meaning: “And an inscription also was written over Him” “An inscription” refers to the one on which the sins were written.

  “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS” In the sight of men, the inscription was ironic to the Lord as well as the Jews (See John. 19:21). It also indicated that He was crucified exactly for this cause.

   Spiritual Meaning: according to the old scripture and the records of the Gospel of John, the inscription was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin (See John. 19:20). Hebrew represents the religion, Latin represents the politics and Greek represents the culture. These symbolize that the Lord Jesus was rejected by the union of the religion, the politics and the culture.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The life of king can only be manifested through the death of the cross.

2) Men in the world become the king by attacking cities or seizing lands, but believers reign in life (See Rom 5:17) by the death of the cross.


Luke. 23:39 “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’”

   YLT: “And one of the evil-doers who were hanged, was speaking evil of him, saying, `If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.’”

   Literal Meaning: “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” It shows that they he did not know the principle of God and he thought that Christ could walk as He pleases (See John. 8:28). We should know that the Lord Jesus did not come down from the cross and this is the clear proof that He is Christ------the Son of God (See Rom. 1:4).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Though believers are the children of God, God still does not always deliver us from sufferings. The apostle Paul deeply pleased God, but Paul suffered much more than us.

2) Natural men do not know the spiritual principle. The greatest power of the spiritual is to control and restrict themselves. Those who are truly of spirit can do all things through Christ who strengthens them (See Pill. 4:13). However, they do not do many things because they seek the profit of others, but not their own profit (See 1Cor. 10:23-24, 33).

3) It is the manifestation of the Son of God that He does not do what He is “able to do” (See John. 5:19, 30; 8:28). Moreover, those who truly believe in God not only believe that God will do something for them but also believe that God always does not do something for them. The greatest faith is to commit oneself unto God and believe that whether God does something or not depends on God Himself, and we shall merely thanks God for His goodwill (See Matt. 11:25-27; 1Thess. 5:18).


Luke. 23:40 “But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?

   YLT: “And the other answering, was rebuking him, saying, `Dost thou not even fear God, that thou art in the same judgment?”

   Meaning of Words: “answering”: respond; “condemnation”: judgment.

   Literal Meaning: “but the other, answering” “The other” criminal may also mock the Lord at first (See Matt. 27:44; Mark. 15:32) and later he was lightened by the Lord and confessed his sins and repented because of the Lord’s words and attitude on the cross.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The effect of the cross would make the scorner fears God.

2) Concerning the two who are on the two sides of Jesus Christ, one is saved and the other perishes. Which side do you stand on concerning the cross?


Luke. 23:41 “And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’”

   YLT: “and we indeed righteously, for things worthy of what we did we receive back, but this one did nothing out of place;’”

   Meaning of Words: “wrong”: improper, out of place.

   Literal Meaning: “for we receive the due reward of our deeds” It is to confess his sins, implying his repentance.


Luke. 23:42 “Then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’”

   YLT: “and he said to Jesus, `Remember me, lord, when thou mayest come in thy reign;‘”

   Literal Meaning: “then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord’” It is written in the old scriptures that “he said to Jesus, ‘the Lord’”.

  “When You come into Your kingdom.” It is written in some old scriptures that “when You come in Your kingdom”.

  The prayer of this robber was short, but it has the profound meaning. It shows that:

  a) Though the body dies, the soul still exists.

  b) Death does not end all things. There is judgment after death (Heb. 9:27).

  c) Though the Lord Jesus suffered death, He shall rise and be taken into the heaven and reign in the kingdom.

  d) After the Lord has gained the kingdom, He will come back.

  e) If men repent, they could partake in His kingdom.

  f) Men’s prayers will be remembered by the Lord.


Luke. 23:43 “And Jesus said to him, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’”

   YLT: “and Jesus said to him, ‘Verily I say to thee, To-day with me thou shalt be in the paradise.’”

   Meaning of Words: Paradise”: a park, place of future happiness (it is Persian and later it is changed into Greek).

   Literal Meaning: “today you will be with Me in Paradise.” “Paradise” is the place where souls of men stay temporarily after their death and they will rest there, waiting the coming of the time of their being raised and raptured (please see the notes in 16:23).

  The word of the Lord Jesus in this verse reveals several important truths:

  a) One’s being saved does not depend on good works (See Eph. 2:9) because this robber did not have any chance to do good.

  b) One’s being saved does not depend on baptism because he did not have any chance to be baptized.

  c) One’s being saved depends on one’s repenting and believing and calling upon the name of the Lord (See Rom. 10:9-13).

  d) Men still have the chance to be saved before death and one shall be saved the moment he believes in the Lord.

  e) Believers shall be with Christ after they depart (See Pill. 1:23).


Luke. 23:44 “Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

   YLT: “And it was, as it were, the sixth hour, and darkness came over all the land till the ninth hour,”

   Literal Meaning: “about the sixth hour…until the ninth hour”: from twelve o’clock at noon to three o’clock in the afternoon.

The Lord Jesus was crucified at the third hour (nine o’clock in the morning) (See Mark. 15:25) and therefore there were six hours from the third hour to the ninth hour (three o’clock in the afternoon). In the first three hours, He suffered the pain of being persecuted and being mocked by men. In the next three hours, He suffered the pain of being judged and being forsaken by God.

   Spiritual Meaning: “there was darkness over all the earth” “Darkness” symbolizes that God hid His face from Him and forsook Him. The Lord Jesus was forsaken by God because He bore sins of men. It showed how horrible the sins that He bore were.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) May all the believers realize the horribleness of sins and preciousness of the presence of God.

2) “There was darkness over all the earth.”------It showed our sin, sins and all dark and negative things were judged and dealt with by God with the Lord on the cross.


Luke. 23:45 “Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

   YLT: “and the sun was darkened, and the vail of the sanctuary was rent in the midst,”

   The Background: the veil of the temple is the veil of inner layer dividing the holy place and the most holy (See Exod. 26:33). In the times of the Old Testament, no one could enter the most holy, except for the high priest who entered in with blood through the veil once a year (See Heb. 9:7).

Literal Meaning: “then the sun was darkened” means “the sun did not shine”.

“And the veil of the temple was torn in two.” The veil in the temple, made of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen (See 2Chron. 3:14), was very thick and firm and was difficult to be broken. No wonder that when the priests saw it, they felt it was far above the ordinary. There were even many priest believing the Lord (See Acts 6:7).

Spiritual Meaning: “the veil of the temple”, it typified the body of the Lord. “Was torn in two”, it typified that the body of the Lord was broken for us and therefore He opened a new and living way so that we could have boldness to enter into the holiest by Him and come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (See Heb. 10:19-20; 4:16).

There was cherubim made on the veil (See Exod. 26:31), which typified the entire creature. When the veil was broken, the cherubim on it would also be broken at the same time, symbolizing the all-inclusive death of Christ------when Christ died, the entire old creature of us was also crucified with Him on the cross together (See Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Christ is our way (See John. 14:6); only through Him are we able to come to God.

2) When the Lord breathed His last on the cross (v.46), the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, showing that the power of the cross would not be manifested until the experience of the cross had come to the height. Though we are often brought into the experience of the cross, we are unwilling to die until we have breathed the last. No wonder that the great power of the cross is difficult to be manifested sufficiently.


Luke. 23:46 “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit."' Having said this, He breathed His last.

   YLT: “and having cried with a loud voice, Jesus said, `Father, to Thy hands I commit my spirit;’ and these things having said, he breathed forth the spirit.”

   Literal Meaning: “cried out with a loud voice” man was often totally exhausted and breathed his last in a coma without any voice when he was crucified on the cross. However, the Lord Jesus still had strength to cry out and it manifested that His death was distinct from the common people (See v.47).

  “Into Your hands I commit My spirit.” It is quoted from Ps. 31:5.

  “He breathed His last.” Note that all the four Gospels do not mention that the Lord Jesus “died”, but that He breathed His last (See Matt. 27:50; Mark. 15:37), or “He yielded up His spirit” (See John. 19:30), showing that His death was not due to natural reasons or the exhaustion of strength, but was that He yielded up His spirit unto God.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The life of the Lord was not taken by men. He laid down His life for the sheep willingly (See John. 10:15, 18).

2) The moment the Lord Jesus said that “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit’”, He breathed His last and then He entered the rest. It tells us a spiritual principle: if we suffer pain and awkwardness, we should commit all unto God and then we could enjoy the rest of hearts.

3) This verse reveals the spirit of Christ of the cross in two aspects: a) full commitment unto God------“Father, into Your hands”; b) full death towards Himself------“He breathed His last”.


Luke. 23:47 “So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous Man!’”

   YLT: “And the centurion having seen what was done, did glorify God, saying, ‘Really this man was righteous;’”

   Literal Meaning: “centurion” was the officer who was present and supervised the soldiers executing the death penalty. Since he often saw the condition when those who were crucified breathing their last (See v.46 Literal Meaning), when he saw the unusual phenomenon of the Lord Jesus, he firmly believed that he was not a common person.

“Certainly this was a righteous Man!” The appellation “a righteous Man” (See Matt. 27:54; Mark. 15:39) is actually equal to “the Son of Man”. “A righteous Man” is the one who is close to God. Please note that not only the centurion said that He is a righteous man, but also Herod and Pilate (See v.14-15) and the robber who was hanged (See v.41) called Jesus the righteous man.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The centurion said that, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!” because he saw the testimony of Him who obeyed unto death. The true power of the gospel is here.

2) The centurion represented the Gentile unbelievers. Since they saw the effect of the Lord’s death, they had to admit that, “Certainly this was a righteous Man.” The most effective way for believers to preach the glad tidings is to let others see the death of the Lord on us------to display the fact that the cross of Christ had done on us before others.


Luke. 23:48 “And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned.

   YLT: “and all the multitudes who were come together to this sight, beholding the things that came to pass, smiting their breasts did turn back;”

   Literal Meaning: “And the whole crowd who came together to that sight” refer to the multitudes who were against the Lord Jesus and the indifferent spectators.

  “Beat their breasts and returned.” “Beat their breasts” denotes sorrow and regret. Obviously they were scared of the thing which they partook in and returned with regret.

   Enlightenment in the Word: the Lord is not mocked. All those who mock the Lord shall “beat their breasts” and cry bitterly and regret deeply in their lifetime.


Luke. 23:49 “But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

   YLT: “and all his acquaintances stood afar off, and women who did follow him from Galilee, beholding these things.”

   Literal Meaning: “all His acquaintances” are different from “the whole crowd” in the previous verse.

  “And the women who followed Him from Galilee” The names of the women were all recorded in other Gospels in detail (See Matt. 27:56; Mark. 15:40; John. 19:25).


Luke. 23:50 “Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man.

   YLT: “And lo, a man, by name Joseph, being a counsellor, a man good and righteous,”

   Literal Meaning: there was a man named Joseph, a council member” “a council member” refers to his identity in the council.


Luke. 23:51 “He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God.

   YLT: “he was not consenting to their counsel and deed from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who also himself was expecting the reign of God,”

   Literal Meaning: “He had not consented to their decision and deed.” It indicates that he did not agree to the condemnation of the council towards the Lord Jesus.

  “He was from Arimthea, a city of the Jews.” “Arimathea” was a small town in mount Ephraim and was about twenty miles away from Jerusalem in the northwest.

  “Who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God.” Joseph, like Nicodemus, was a disciple of Jesus in secret (See John. 19:38-39). He was courageous to show his identity because he was moved by the love of the Lord who died for us on the cross (See v.52).

   Enlightenment in the Word: the one who “is waiting for the kingdom of God” will certainly not “consent to their decision and deed” and will be upright and unyielding for the truth. Only the one who stands for the truth really “waits for the kingdom of God”.


Luke. 23:52 “This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

   YLT: “he, having gone near to Pilate, asked the body of Jesus,”


Luke. 23:53 “Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.

   YLT: “and having taken it down, he wrapped it in fine linen, and placed it in a tomb hewn out, where no one was yet laid.”

   Literal Meaning: “wrapped it in linen” means wrapping closely in the original.

  “And laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock” This tomb was not hewn under the earth but hew out of the rock. This sentence also fulfills the words in Is. 53:9b.

   Spiritual Meaning: the tomb where the Lord was buried was originally hewn by Joseph for himself (See Matt. 27:60). And therefore in a sense, Joseph also buried himself. It typifies that the old men of believers had been crucified with the Lord Jesus and buried into death by baptism (See Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:12). Therefore the body in the tomb could also refer to the old men and old members of believers.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Believers are separated from the world by being buried with the Lord.

2) “Wrapped it in linen” The life of believers should be clean, holy, gentle and even and believers should not let sin reign in the mortal body (See Rom. 6:12).


Luke. 23:54 “That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.

   YLT: “And the day was a preparation, and sabbath was approaching,”

   Literal Meaning: the Sabbath was from six o’clock after the sunset of that day (Friday) to six o’clock after the sunset of the next day (Saturday). Since the Jews could not act or work on the Sabbath at will, they had to make preparations in the previous day, which was called “the Preparation Day”.


Luke. 23:55 “And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid.

   YLT: “and the women also who have come with him out of Galilee having followed after, beheld the tomb, and how his body was placed,”

   Enlightenment in the Word: these women represented common and weak believers who are despised by others. They always followed and served the Lord quietly and when other disciples forsook the Lord and fled (See Mark. 14:50), they kept following the Lord until the cross, i.e. following the Lord until the death. Therefore they could bear witness of His death and resurrection (See Acts. 3:15). If we want to be the Lord’s witnesses, we have to follow Him until the death. 


Luke. 23:56 “Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

   YLT: “and having turned back, they made ready spices and ointments, and on the sabbath, indeed, they rested, according to the command.”

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The savior the Lord Jesus accomplished the redemption for human beings and all. It is the true rest for all that are chosen by God and even the whole universe.

2) If we die with Christ and are buried with Him (See Rom. 6:4), we shall be at rest and we shall no longer struggle and suffer pain.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


Those Who Crucify the Lord        

I. Those who only cared for religious doctrines and did not care for the Savior Himself (v.1-5).

II. Those who played the trick and did not care for the justice (v.6-12).

III. Those who only feared to offend men and did not fear to sin against God (v.13-25).

IV. Those who were dastardly and despised the rights of men (v.26).

V. Those who only considered the things at present and did not know the future (v.27-31).

VI. Those who committed sins and did evil and did not care for their end (v.32-33).

VII. Those who did things and did not know what they did (v.34-38).

VIII. Those who were stubborn to the end and did not know the chances of salvation (v.39).


What Crucifies the Lord Jesus?

I. The old self (v.1-7)------the Judaic leaders and Pilate only cared for their dignity.

II. The old way (v.8-11)------Herod was crafty and played the trick.

III. The old world (v.13-15)------Pilate was greedy for the world and did not walk justly.

IV. The old flesh (v.26)------men’s way is to take up the cross by the flesh.

V. The old emotion (v.27-31)------the women wept for their emotions instead of their own sins.

VI. The old sinners (v.32)------the two criminals died for their own sins and the Lord died for the sins of all.

VII. The old greed (v.33-38)------the soldiers divided His garments and cast lots.

VIII. The old hardness (v.39-43)------one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed the Lord.

IX. The old stubbornness (v.44-49)------though they saw the cross with their eyes, they still could not partake in the salvation.

X. The old religion (v.50-55)------they buried the body of the Lord in order to keep the religious ceremony.

XI. The old regulation (v.56)------they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.


The Aim of Christ’s Birth (See 2:14)

I. Make men have peace------Herod and Pilate became friends (v.12).

II. Make God have glory------glorify God (v.47).


Several Kinds of People Who Are on the Side of the Cross------the Attitude of the World to Jesus the Savior

I. Simon a Cyrenian who bore the cross for the Lord (v.26)------he took up the cross for the Lord.

II. The women who mourned and lamented for the Lord (v.27)------their emotions were easy to be excited.

III. The soldiers who divided His garments and cast lots and mocked Him (v.34, 36)------they mocked and humiliated Him.

IV. The people stood looking on (v.35a)------they were indifferent to Him.

V. The rulers who sneered at the Lord (v.35b)------they mocked and sneered at Him.

VI. Pilate who wrote the inscription of the Lord (v.38)------he said that He deserved the death.

VII. One of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him (v.39)------he did not repent until death.

VIII. The criminal who confessed his sins and prayed to the Lord before death (v.40-42)------he confessed his sins and repented.

IX. The centurion who testified that the Lord was a righteous Man (v.47)------he saw the scene of His death.

X. The whole crowd who beat their breasts and returned (v.48)------they also saw the scene of His death.

XI. All His acquaintances and the women who followed Him from Galilee (v.49)------they loved Him to the end.

XII. Joseph, a council member, who buried the body of the Lord (v.50-53)------he encouraged himself to confess that he believed in the Lord.


Different Crosses

I. The cross of Simon (v.26)------the cross that is forced to take up.

II. The cross of the women (v.27)------the cross of sympathy.

III. The cross of the Lord Jesus (v.33a)------the cross for the death of redemption.

IV. The cross of the robbers (v.33b)------the cross that one deserves for his sins.

V. The cross of the soldiers (v.34, 36)------the cross which they despise and regard as foolish.

VI. The cross of the people (v.35a)------the cross of the cold onlookers.

VII. The cross of the rulers (v.35b)------the cross which they regard as wrong.


The Spirit of the Cross of Christ

I. The infinite forgiveness to men------Father, forgive them (v.34).

II. The full commitment unto God------Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit (v.46a).

III. The full death to self------He breathed His last (v.46b).


Joseph of Arimathea

I. He was a good and just man (v.50).

II. He had not consented to their decision and deed (v.51a).

III. He was waiting for the kingdom of God (v.51b).

IV. He went to Pilate boldly and asked for the body of Jesus (v.52).

V. He did his utmost to bury the Lord (v.53).


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Sharon Ren