Articles

Luke 23:6-25

Luke 23:6-25 (ESV)

Jesus Before Herod

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

 

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time

The accusers probably saw the revelation that Jesus was a man from Galilee as a master stroke.

Galilee was a hotbed for revolution at the time.

Zealots and patriots from that time were always making trouble for the Roman government.

Jesus must be one of them.

When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer.

Jesus, before Caiphas and Pilate, had been mostly silent before them under accusation but he had also balanced this with testimony of Himself.

Before Herod it was different.

Herod never heard Jesus say anything at all.

Herod had had his full opportunity.  He had been talked to and reasoned with again and again but ignored the warnings.

Even now, when Herod had a chance to hear something, he was more interested in seeing something.

He had a perverse curiosity about Jesus as a miracle worker.

He wasn’t interested in hearing Jesus,

He wanted a show.

He received no answer from Christ and deserved none.

10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Herod was too scared to condemn Jesus to death as he had not forgotten what he had done to another innocent person, John the Baptist.

He was filled with haunting superstition.

But He was too angry with Jesus to acquit him of the accused crime because his curiosity had not been satisfied.

Herod was a broker in power and Jesus display was weak and pitiful in his sight.

He heaped scorn upon Christ and had his followers join in by mocking him and putting Him in a fine robe.

A man of power in this world could not accept such scorn so Herod mocked him with the power of this world.

Pilate and Herod had been enemies for many years but Pilate had honored Herod by sending Jesus to him for adjudication.

Herod returned the favor by honoring Pilate and in their unity of purpose against an innocent man, became friends in evil.

The peace between Herod and Pilate became one of mutual benefit.

Peace between them was based upon political alignment.

Contrast that to the peace that Christ would provide, according to Eph 2:14, by knocking down the wall of hostility between God and man in His flesh!

 

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”

Notice that when Jesus returns to him, Pilate did not merely summon the Sanhedrin to him but called the people as well.

He wanted to make a public announcement and seemed to want to bring the people in thinking, perhaps, that they might be on his side.

Pilate makes a startling announcement to the crowd:

1. That he found nothing to substantiate any of the charges brought.

2.  That Christ had done nothing that deserved the death penalty.

On no less than five occasions, if we factor in the data from the other Gospel accounts, Pilate proclaimed Christ’s innocence as a representative of human authority.

So now we have a right to conclude that Pilate will say:  “Since he is exonerated of all charges, I will release him.”

But what does Pilate actually say?  “I will punish him and then release him.”

A cowardly act as one too afraid of the Sanhedrin and the people to do what was his duty as a judge.

 

18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.

Pilate was becoming desperate.

He was eager to get rid of this case.

He had tried to return Jesus to the Sanhredrin and then to Herod but now he made an attempt to compromise by punishing Jesus and then release him and that had not worked.

A new opportunity arose and that was a tradition to let a criminal go free during the Feast of the Passover as Mark’s Gospel explains in greater detail.

So Pilate offered the people a choice between Jesus and a notorious criminal named Barrabas.

He gave them a choice between a convicted murderous, violent insurrectionist and Jesus.

The Sanhedrin had claimed the reason why Pilate must assume jurisdiction in Jesus’ case was that Jesus was an insurrectionist so how could they choose a convicted insurrectionist over Jesus?

But the people, prepared by the Sanhedrin, chose Barrabas.

Why?

1. Jesus’ triumphal entry had not turned out the way many of the Jews had hoped. They wanted a political Messiah, a Strong Man who would deliver them from the Roman yoke, not one who was meek and lowly, who wept and predicted punishment for them.

2. The choice for the people was not so much between Jesus and Barrabas but between the will of Pilate and the will of their own Sanhedrin.  Think about it.  They hated Pilate so much that they probably did not trust his verdict and went along, in a party spirit, with their own wicked leaders.  It does not excuse them nor does it excuse us when we engage in a party spirit and mob irrationality.

 

20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”

Why was Pilate so determined to release Jesus?

-A remnant of a sense of justice in his pagan heart?

-A thought that Jesus was more noble than his accusers?

-He hated the Jews so much that he didn’t want to yield to their wishes?

-Fear of what Christ had revealed to him about His divinity?

Perhaps it was a combination but his appeal was met with deaf ears.

“Crucify, crucify him!”  Over and over again.

They had been yelling so much, it had become a murderous refrain, and the crowd was becoming a riotous mob.  A screaming, emotional rabble.

 

22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.”

It is significant that Pilate was acting as a representative of the courts of human justice.

Three times he pronounced to the world that Christ had no guilt deserving death.

According to the judgment of humanity, Christ was without guilt.

Yet, Pilate again violates the demands of justice promising to scourge Jesus and release him to satisfy the demands of human sinfulness and bloodlust.

 

23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.

But the crowd would have none of this.

They became so urgent as to drown out all justice.

The Son of God had become so despised that humanity screamed for His humiliation and destruction.

 

 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

The riotous mob got its way.

The threat recorded in John 19:12 by the Sanhedring, that Pilate was no friend of Caesar if he released Jesus, had perhaps instilled political fear for his own skin if this mob got out of control.

Weak-kneed Pilate surrendered to the will of the people.

By democratic vote, mankind demanded the humiliating death of the Son of God.

Human jurisprudence had pronounced Jesus blameless but the hatred of man for the Servant of the Lord would only be sated by the death of God incarnate.

The most shocking travesty of justice the world has ever known.

You want to know about what  the problem of evil is in this world?

Mankind likes to think that the real problem of evil is God having to justify the world as it is to man.

Here’s the real problem of evil.

Mankind demanding the death of God’s Son.

The judgment of humanity acquitting the Son of God of any wrongdoing but putting Him to death.

God knows the problem of evil.

How can this Holy God possibly acquit humanity of this crime?

In order to highlight the injustice of it all, Luke contrasts the release of a rebel murderer with the sentence of death upon the Savior.

Two people were in front of Pilate.

He had to release one of them.

The one was a sinner against God and man, a criminal stained with many evils.

The other was the holy, harmless, and undefiled Son of God, in whom there was no fault at all. And yet Pilate condemns the innocent prisoner and acquits the guilty!

Does this remind you of anything?

Notice also what Luke highlights:  “but he delivered Jesus over to their will.”

How significant is this formulation as Luke parallels Isaiah 53 where the suffering Servant was delivered up for our sins and his soul was delivered up to death

The innocent is punished so that the guilty may go free.

To this day humanity as a whole, and each individual separately, is still faced with the choice:

Barabbas or Jesus?

And the temporal and eternal blessing or curse of everyone depends upon who is chosen.

J.I. Packer in his book, Knowing God, has this question that each of us must answer:  “Has the word propitiation any place in your Christianity?”

Propitiation is on display here in this account from Luke.

The wrath that God demands for your sin.

Are you prepared to bear it yourself or has Christ borne it for you?

Has Christ stood in your place?

J.I. Packer continues:

“In the faith of the New Testament it is central.

The love of God, the taking of human form by the Son, the meaning of the cross, Christ’s heavenly intercession, the way of salvation—all are to be explained in terms of it, as the passages quoted show, and any explanation from which the thought of propitiation is missing will be incomplete, and indeed actually misleading, by New Testament standards.

In saying this, we swim against the stream of much modern teaching and condemn at a stroke the views of a great number of distinguished church leaders today, but we cannot help that. Paul wrote, “Even if we or an angel from heaven”—let alone a minister, a bishop, college lecturer, university professor, or noted author—”should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (“accursed”, “outcast”, “damned”).  And a gospel without propitiation at is heart is another gospel than that which Paul preached.

Packer quotes John Murray from his book The Atonement where Murrray writes:

The doctrine of propitiation is precisely this: that God loved the objects of His wrath (the world) so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of His wrath. It was Christ’s so to deal with the wrath that the loved would no longer be the objects of wrath, and love would achieve its aim of making the children of wrath the children of God’s good pleasure.

If that’s too technical, I’d like to quote Bono from the rock group U2.

The following exchange between Bono and a reporter named Assayas took place just days after the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.

Reporter: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Reporter: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono:  I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Reporter: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono:  You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Reporter:  I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono:  That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Reporter:  The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono:  But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Reporter: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono:  No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius.

But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.”

And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you.

And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah.

At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this.

So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier.

This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it.

I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched …

 

Beloved, the choice is between Christ and Barnabas.

Choose the weakness of the Cross or the strength of the world.

Are you holding out for the approval of the world?

The approval of the crowd?

Are you following the respectable and powerful crowd that says Jesus’ claims are narrow, outdated, or even repugnant?

Are you crying out for the death of the Son of God because His weakness is an offense?

Or do you look to the Cross and realize that there’s no other hope?

We have all called for the overthrow of God in our sins.

We have each raised our hands in cosmic treason against the almighty with our sins.

Christ opens His arms and says:  “I have died for all who put their trust in me.”

Will you believe in Him?

Will you put abandon all other hope?

Barrabas or Christ?

Who will be your man?

 

Leave a Reply

    No Twitter Messages.
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!