John T. Willis

Monday, January 20, 2014

Jesus Handed Over Unjustly to be Crucified--Luke 23:1-25

Luke says that after the Jewish authorities attacked Jesus in various ways, they handed him over to the Roman and Jewish authorities: Pontius Pilate and Herod Antipas. When Pilate and Antipas could find no fault in Jesus, the Jewish crowds demanded that Pilate officially have Jesus crucified. This portion of the Gospel of Luke appears in Luke 23:1-25, and naturally falls into four parts.

I. The Jerusalem Sanhedrin hand Jesus over to Pontius Pilate. Luke 23:1-5. Compare Mark 15:1b-5; Matthew 27:2, 11-14.
    a. The "assembly" in 23:1 is the same as the Sanhedrin named in Luke 22:66. The Jerusalem Sanhedrin brought two accusations against Jesus to Pilate: (1) Jesus forbids the Jews to pay taxes to the emperor; (2) Jesus claims that he is the Messiah, a king. The hearer or reader of Luke already knows very well from Luke 20:20-26 that the first accusation is clearly false. Jesus told his audiences to "give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's." The taxes intended here are the capitation fees imposed by Rome on the populace in all the provinces such a police taxes, guard taxes, bath taxes, poll taxes, and the like. The Jewish authorities had been trying to find some fault with Jesus for a very long time. As to the second accusation, Jesus had sternly told his disciples to tell know no one his identity as the Messiah. Luke 9:20-21. 23:1-2.
    b. Knowing that the first accusation is obviously false, Pilate ignores this and turn to the second accusation. In Roman thought, it was a violation of the law for a person to declare himself a king or emperor as a rival to the present emperor. So, for verification, Pilate asked Jesus point blank: "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus refused to answer this question, saying to Pilate: "You say so." By responding in this way, Jesus immediately in completely in control of the whole situation. 23:3.
    c. Knowing that Jesus is right, Pilate turns to the chief priests and the crowds, saying, "I find no basis for an accusation against this man." At best, Pilate considers Jesus a harmless enthusiast, who certainly does not deserve capital punishment. 23:4.
    d. Grasping for straws, the Jewish authorities said that Jesus stirs up the Jewish people by teaching throughout all Judea from Galilee where he began even to this place. Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judah, but his parents lived in Nazareth in North Israel, where Jesus spent most of his life. 23:5.

II. Pilate sends Jesus to Herod Antipas. Luke 23:6-12.
     a. Knowing the insistence of the Jewish authorities, Pilate asked whether Jesus was a Galileean. When he learned that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate send Jesus to Herod Antipas, who was over the jurisdiction of the people in Galilee, and right now Antipas was in Jerusalem, apparently to participate in the annual Passover, probably visiting in the family's Hasmonean palace in Jerusalem. 23:6-7.
     b. Antipas had wanted to see Jesus in person for a long time--Luke 9:9. Now, he has a golden opportunity to speak with Jesus face to face. Antipas had heard a great deal about Jesus, and now hoped that Jesus would perform a "sign" or a "miracle" before Antipas. See further Luke 11:16, 29; John 12:21. 23:8.
     c. Antipas questioned Jesus at some length, but Jesus refused to respond. The Jewish chief priests and scribes were standing by, vehemently accusing Jesus. In time, Antipas became angry with Jesus because Jesus did not respond, and Antipas and his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt and mocked him. To mock him, they put an elegant robe on him gesturing that no king would receive such mockery without responding. Not knowing what else to do, Antipas sent Jesus back to Pontius Pilate. 23:9-11.
     d. That very day Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate became friends; prior to this, they had been enemies. Ironically, Jesus reconciles enemies before him. If Antipas and Pilate had been honorable, upstanding, courageous people, they would have released Jesus. But, like many people in high positions, they were cowards, fearful of their position, fearful of the crowds. 23:12.

III. Pilate makes his Decision about Jesus. Luke 23:13-16.
      a. When Pilate appeared before Jesus and the Jewish authorities, he told the Jewish authorities that Pilate had examined Jesus in their presence, "and have no found this man guilty of any of your charges against him." Furthermore, Herod Antipas had examined Jesus and sent Jesus back to Pilate, and declared that Jesus "has done nothing to deserve death." It is very clear in Pilate's mind that Jesus is innocent. 23:13-15.
     b. In a desperate attempt to pacify the Jewish authorities and crowds, Pilate declares that he will flog Jesus and release him. 23:16.

IV. Pilate hands Jesus over to the Jewish Authorities to Crucify Him. Luke 23:17-25.
      a. A careful study of the Greek text reveals that Luke 23:17 does not have good support in this gospel.
      b. When Pilate said he would release Jesus, the Jewish authorities shouted out together, "Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!" Luke tells his audience that Barabbas had been put in prison for an insurrection in Jerusalem and for murder. The Aramaic word Bar-abbas means "Son ofo the father." It is ironic that the Jewish authorities wanted to release an individual like this with this name. 23:18-19.
      c. Pilate still thought it was only right to release Jesus. So he made another effort to persuade the Jewish authorities. But they insisted: "Crucify, crucify him!" 23:20-21.
      d. Pilate tries for a third time to change their minds, saying, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him." Pilate was trying to bluff the crowd because of his authoritative position. 23:22.
      e. But the Jewish people far outnumbered Pilate, and finally their cry to crucify Jesus prevailed. So Pilate gave in and granted their demand that Jesus is to be crucified, and that Barabbas was to be released to the people. 22:23-25.

This was a very dark day in human history. Satan and his forces persuaded wicked people to do what is unjust and sinful. They set the stage to crucified Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Share YOUR insights and shortcomings and fears and beliefs and aspirations with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


Post a Comment

<< Home