Luke 23:32-53 “A Criminal, Centurion, and Council Member”
Preached by Pastor Rick Hogaboam at Sovereign Grace Fellowship (ID) on April 2, 2010
Luke 23:32-49 (ESV)
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 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. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
Criminal and centurion get saved because they realized the significance. Joseph of Arimathea is also good news in the story. Everyone else, who is enslaved to self-preservation, could never figure why one wouldn’t save themselves. Not the type of leader they want to serve.
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
- 23:33 The place called the Skull. As usual Luke omitted the Aramaic term found in his Markan source (cf. 22:39; see Introduction 3). The word for skull in Greek is Kranion; in Aramaic, Golgotha (Mark 15:22; Matt 27:33; John 19:17); and in Latin, Calvariae, i.e., Calvary. The place probably was so-called because it looked like a skull. This is most likely the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In Jesus’ day this site was outside the walled city.
- Jesus is here proclaiming forgiveness upon the very ones putting Him on the cross, and yet they were at the same time fulfilling the mission for which Jesus came, to die for our sins. Ancient writers loved irony and Luke here presents the incredible scandalous irony of the cross. Ion fact, Jesus’ prayer is answered by His death, and only made possible because of His death.
- Some accuse Luke of not having a theology of the cross, yet I think he does in presenting Jesus’ intercession for His enemies, which is a big theme for Luke. He reaches out to outcasts and the most unlikely recipients of salvation
- “criminals” – laystai, could refer to revolutionaries, think them robbers.
35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”
- These rulers sound much like Satan from Luke 4 when Jesus was tempted. Satan appealed to Jesus to save Himself and abandon the mission to save others.
- Matt and Mk only mention 1 taunt, whereas Luke records 3 taunts. The irony is that salvation will only come through brokenness and death, not a triumphant display of power, that waits till Sunday in the resurrection and then later in the ascension.
- The key verb mock (ἐκμυκτηρίζω, ekmyktērizō, lit., to turn up one’s nose, to sneer) alludes to Ps. 22:7
- Psalm 22:7 (ESV) 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; (more…)