Luke 23: A Timeline of Crucifixion Day

Lies Mixed With Truth

Maybe I’m crazy, but I really feel for Pontius Pilate. He’s just a Pagan Roman official minding his own business, trying to keep order, and all of a sudden the pesky Jews bring him the Son of God to judge. Their charges against Him are a mix of lies with truth, as is often the case when darkness gets involved. The Jews said Jesus was forbidding people to pay taxes to Caesar and “perverting the nation,” which were both lies. Oh, and He said that He is Christ, the King. Now, that one is the truth. I can imagine Pilate’s incredulity at that bit of info, a little ironic smile playing on his lips as he turned to Jesus.

“Are You the King of the Jews?”

Luke 23:3

Jesus’ answer is“It is as you say.” In other words: Bingo! So, Pilate says he finds no fault. But the Savior was slain from the foundation of the world. The series of events had already been put into motion, and the people were not giving up. They became “fierce,” saying that he stirred up trouble “throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.” Okay, now Pilate has his out. If Jesus was from Galilee, he can send him to Herod and let him deal with him.

Herod is not nearly as likable. Like a child, he is excited when he hears that he will see Jesus. He has heard the rumors and wants to see a miracle done by him. But when Jesus doesn’t put on a show for him, and, in fact, ignores his questions, he throws a fit. He and his men of war mock Jesus and dress Him in a gorgeous robe before sending Him back to Pilate. 

Pilate doesn’t understand a lot about the Jewish religion, but he does know an innocent Man when he sees one. He tries again with the Jews. 

“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; no, neither did Herod, forI sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him.

Luke 23:13-17

See, right before every Passover feast, it was tradition that one prisoner would be let go. If he could just scourge/whip Jesus and let Him go, everybody wins: the Jews get to see Him punished, and he doesn’t have (too much) blood of an innocent on his hands. In fact, in Matthew’s account of the same scene, Pilate makes a show of bringing a bowl of water and physically washing his hands of the guilt for Jesus’ death. But again, the Jews weren’t having it. Instead, they cry for him to release Barabbas, a man imprisoned for rebellion and murder, instead.

Three times, he asks the crowd to release Jesus. Three times, they shout for the crucifixion of Jesus instead. Pilate gives in and releases Barabbas.

Who Is Barabbas?

If you haven’t seen the video entitled “Who is Barabbas (This Made Me Cry),” you are missing a very important realization and KEY to understanding the whole scene here. I encourage you to watch this as soon as you can grab a couple tissues and sit down for eight minutes. 

Simon the Cyrian

Jesus is so weak from the scourging by now that officials ask another man to carry His cross for Him. His walk behind Jesus is a picture of all of us. When we are saved, we are called to take up our cross and follow after Jesus. This just means that we decide inside ourselves to fight the good fight of faith, deny the flesh and our worldly desires, and live our lives to serve Christ Jesus, our Lord. 

Jesus Warns the Crying Women

As Jesus passes a group of ladies crying for Him, He warns them not to cry for Him but for themselves. He doesn’t want them to forget His prophecies of the destruction of the temple and taking of Jerusalem. He turns to them and says the following:

 “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ ’ For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”

Luke 23:28

Jesus Forgives the Mockers

As Jesus hung on His cross waiting to die, people came by and mocked Him, sneering at him and giving him sour wine to drink. Above His head were the words “This is the King of the Jews” in three languages. It was meant to be ironic, but the words were there in black and white for all to see. But Jesus teaches us a lesson about turning the other cheek, about forgiving those who hurt us and praying for those who despitefully use us. He says a short prayer to His Father:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Luke 23:24

Even a criminal being crucified next to Him blasphemes Him. But the thief on His other side rebukes the man and asks Jesus to remember him in His kingdom. Jesus tells him that today, he will be with Him in paradise. This lets us know that until a person dies, we should never lose hope of someone’s salvation. Some people do find Jesus but at the very end of their lives.

Supernatural Signs & Jesus’ Last Words

From about 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, the sky turns dark, and then the veil of the great Jewish temple is torn in two. Jesus cries out “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit,” and then he breathes His last. When the centurion, a Roman guard over 100 soldiers, hears what happened, he said, “Certainly, this was a righteous Man!” In the Matthew account, he says, “Certainly, this was the Son of God!” Then the whole crowd beats their breasts and returns to their homes. Their hopes of seeing God take Jesus off the Cross to rule and reign as Savior were dashed. They still didn’t understand that Jesus came as a sacrificial lamb first. The second time, He will come as a ruling lion.

Joseph of Arimathea offers his own tomb for Jesus’ burial and requests the body from Pilate, wrapping it in linen, and placing it inside of the tomb. Then, he rolls the stone over the door. That day was the preparation for the Sabbath, so the women couldn’t come back until after the Sabbath rest to anoint Him with spices and fragrant oils.


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