The Gospel of Luke - Part 102
The Crucifixion and Burial — Luke 23:26-56

January 6, 2008
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)


Last lesson, we continued our study of the crucifixion. We picked up the story in Luke after Jesus had been severely beaten as many as three times and then was required to carry at least the cross member of his cross, which would have weighed about 100 pounds. On the way to Golgotha, where he was to be crucified, probably due to his weakness from the beatings, the Roman guards enlisted Simon of Cyrene to carry the heavy timber for Jesus.

Even in that state, Jesus focused on the women in the crowd following him and prophesied how bad it was going to be. From our historic perspective He seemed to be prophesying about the destruction of Jerusalem, but may also have been prophesying about the end times described by John in Revelation.

Then we saw Jesus showing mercy and forgiveness to the people who were crucifying him. We noted that this is probably the most challenging case of unconditional forgiveness found in the Bible. It is a role model that should challenge us.

We saw that there were two thieves also being crucified with Jesus, one on either side.

This Morning, let’s pick up with the verbal interchange between the two thieves and Jesus.

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” —Luke 23:39-43
The First Thief:
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him. —Luke 23:39
Every person, including this thief, has a choice to make. The first thief shows the attitudes of a spiritually hard-hearted person. He clearly refuses to take seriously that Jesus might actually be the Christ.
“Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” —Luke 23:39
The Second Thief: What can we learn from Jesus’ response to the second thief? Paradise: This Greek word παραδεισος [parádeisos] is used only two other times in the New Testament:

Then the earth has heartburn.

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. —Luke 23:44-49
Two supernatural events are recorded by Luke: Jesus' final word:

We now come to the last statement by Jesus while on the cross:

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. —Luke 23:46
Jesus’ last words were a quotation of Scripture from the Psalms:
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. —Psalm 31:5
We see the importance of the Scriptures to Jesus up to His last breath. We also see the importance of memorizing and meditating on Scripture. There will be times for us as well when we won’t have access to the Bible. And the only Scriptures we’ll have at that time are those we have memorized.

Jesus’ last words, as recorded by Luke, are words of faith and submission. Jesus died as He lived, in full obedience and submission to His Father.

The Centurion:

At this point the injustice that had been done was clear, even to the bystanders.

Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” —Luke 23.47
The Centurion may have been a soldier in charge of the soldiers responsible for handling the crucifixions. A centurion was an officer in the Roman army, nominally in command of one hundred soldiers.

Mark records an additional comment by this centurion:

And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” —Mark 15:39
Seeing Jesus on the cross and hearing His words apparently brought this man to faith in the Lord.

As Jesus demonstrates here, a godly response to suffering is a powerful witness to the world of the truth of the Gospel message.

Can you think of someone you’ve known who really honored the Lord by the way they responded to adversity and suffering?

Rob Mahon tells of just such a witness. Steve Garrett, a friend of his who used to live here in Albuquerque,  is a CPA now living in Lubbock, Texas. He is dying of A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). But Steve’s faith and joy and peace has been a powerful witness. Thousands of people have heard Steve share his testimony of how God has given him joy and peace during these difficult days. One of his children asked him if he could sum up his life in one word. Steve’s answer: “Blessed!” Steve has spoken at a noon Christian men’s luncheon. I and some others here have heard Steve. It is an impressive testimony.

So how do we respond to the words of Jesus? We can ignore them, refuse to believe them the way the religious leaders and one of the criminals did. Or we can believe and respond to them the way the other criminal and the centurion did. Only we can decide how we will respond to what Jesus says in His Word.

How do we respond to suffering? Do we continue to trust God? Do we rely on Him? Or do we blame God and become resentful and bitter? Remember, whether we realize it or not, others are watching how we respond.

The Burial:

Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. —Luke 23:50-56
This Joseph has never been mentioned in Luke before this verse, but we learn a great deal about Joseph in this passage.

He was a member of the Council. The word used here let us know that the council was the Sanhedrin — the council of seventy ruling religious leaders that led the movement to crucify Jesus.

He was a good and righteous man.

He had opposed the decision and actions of the Council. This shows us that the Sanhedrin was not united in opposition to Jesus. It also means that Joseph had stood up for Jesus and spoken out against His arrest and crucifixion.

He came from Arimathea. The term “Jewish town” means that Arimathea was a town in Judea, however, it’s actual location is not known.

Joseph was very brave. He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. This took great courage. He risked being linked to Jesus and suffering the same death. He also risked the anger and opposition of the rest of the Council.

This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone. —Luke 23:52-53
Notice how the neuter pronoun - “it” - is used instead of “him”. Joseph didn’t take Jesus down from the cross; just Jesus’ body. The spirit of Jesus was now separated from the body. Passages from the other gospels provide additional information about Joseph. Matthew adds that Joseph was rich, that he had been a disciple of Jesus, the tomb was intended for Joseph himself and that Joseph sealed the tomb with a big stone.
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. —Matthew 27:57-60
Mark adds that Joseph was a prominent member of the Council,
Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. —Mark 15:43-46
John adds that Joseph was a secret follower of Jesus and that Nicodemus was with Joseph and helped him with the burial.
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. —John 19:38-42
With the burial, we will stop the story for now.

Coming weeks:

For the next two Sundays (January 13 and 20), Pat and I will be in Australia. The third Sunday (January 27) we will be back, but we will have just returned from that trip and a business trip in Phoenix and I will probably not be in shape to prepare the lesson.

Series on Spiritual Warfare:

So for the next three Sundays, Mark Champlin will be teaching a series about his ministry which is focused on the spiritual warfare that is going on all around us.

I suggest that you do not play hookey and miss what Mark has to teach.