THERE THEY CRUCIFIED HIM
(Lesson 83 - Book of LUKE)
Text: LUKE 23:32-49
- I am going to preach about Calvary tonight (Luke 23:33). This is the only reference to Calvary in the Bible. The Greek word means, "cranium” or “skull.”
- Matthew 27:33 (and Mark 15:22) says, “And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull.”
- John 19:17 says, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha.”
- The word “Calvary” is left out of the new Bible translations. I am glad it is in the King James Bible!
Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty,
By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned
Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary! William R. Newell
- When we study the details surrounding our Lord’s crucifixion, we see that Luke has more details then the other writers.
- For example, I mentioned last week that Luke 23:27-32 is not found in Matthew, Mark or John.
- And the conversion of the repentant thief is found only in Luke 23:39-43.
- TWO THIEVES
- THE ONLOOKERS
- OUR LORD’S DEATH AND FINAL WORDS
I. TWO THIEVES (23:32, 39-43)
- The cross of Christ is central. Towards the cross everything converged – all the way from Adam and Eve and all through the Old Testament.
- And from the cross, everything flowed – all the way through the book of Acts and the epistles to the book of Revelation, where the Lord Jesus Christ is repeatedly referred to as “the Lamb.”
- John the Baptist introduced Christ by saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36).
- This week the Jews are celebrating their Passover. First Corinthians 5:7 says, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.”
- Seven hundred years before Calvary, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be “numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many” (Isa. 53:12).
- This was fulfilled on Mount Calvary when our Lord was hung between two thieves – He was "numbered with the transgressors, and He bare the sin of many."
- When they were first put up on the cross, both thieves mocked our Lord. But the repentant thief understood that he had been wrong and he wanted to get right with God before he died (cf. Matt. 27:38, 44; Mark 15:32).
- For a criminal (“malefactor” – verses 32, 39), the repentant thief had a very good understanding of the Word of God.
- He believed in the existence of God, and he understood the fear of God (23:40). The Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10).
- Proverbs 16:6 says, “By the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
- The repentant thief knew that he was a sinner (23:41). Ezekiel 18:4 says “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
- As he was dying on a Roman cross with only a few minutes to live, no one had to explain to the repentant thief what Ezekiel 18:4 means. He was experiencing it. No one needed to explain Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death…"
- The repentant thief believed in divine retribution (23:41). “The due reward of our deeds” is eternity in hell.
- “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).
- The repentant thief believed in the sinlessness of Christ (23:41). He understood that the Lord Jesus Christ was the sinless Son of God. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
- Hebrews 4:15 says Christ “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
- First Peter 2:22 says Christ “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”
- First John 3:5 says, “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”
- Jesus said to His adversaries, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” (John 8:46).
- The repentant thief believed in the Lordship of Christ (“Lord,” 23:42).
- The repentant thief believed in Bible salvation (23:42).
- The repentant thief believed in our Lord’s future kingdom (23:42).
- People foolishly say, “You die and they bury you, and that’s it.” But the repentant thief knew better than that!
- The repentant thief believed in the consciousness of the future state (23:42, 43). This means “paradise” (heaven) for those who believe in Christ, and eternal damnation (hell) for those who reject Christ.
- J.C. Ryle said, “Few are ever saved on their deathbeds. One thief on the cross was saved, that none need despair; but only one, that none should presume.”
II. THE ONLOOKERS (23:35-38)
- Some were just curious. “And the people stood beholding” (23:35). They hung around, just watching.
- The “rulers” were hostile (23:35). They derided him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.”
- The Greek lexicon says the word translated “deride” means, “to deride by turning up the nose, to sneer at, to scoff at.”
- Whereas many of the bystanders were curious and indifferent, the religious leaders were mean and nasty. They mocked our Lord (23:35).
- Then, there were the cruel Roman soldiers (23:36).
- Yet even when they mocked our Lord, they inadvertently spoke the truth – “He saved others” (23:35).
- And they were even right when they said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” (Matthew 27:42; cf. Luke 23:39).
- They were even right because if our Lord would have come down from the cross He would not be our Saviour.
- D.A. Carson said, “In a way they did not understand, they were speaking the truth. If he had saved himself, he could not have saved others; the only way he could save others was precisely by not saving himself. In the irony behind the irony that the mockers intended, they spoke the truth they themselves did not see. The man who can’t save himself — saves others” (Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus).
- The superscription was drawn up by Pontius Pilate (23:38), in the language of the Greeks, Romans, and Jews.
- In the Gospel of John, we see that the chief priests did not like this superscription. John 19:21 says that they said to Pilate, “Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.”
- “Pilate answered, What I have written I have written” (John 19:22).
III. OUR LORD’S DEATH AND FINAL WORDS
- Here we see our Lord in agony, and the whole world in darkness (23:44-46).
- Verse 45 says, “and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.”
- This heavy, thick veil separated the holy place from the most holy place. It served as a barrier between God and man.
- The Jewish temple in Jerusalem was divided into three parts:
- the outer court, which was open to everyone
- the holy place, to which the ministering priests had daily access to burn incense and trim the lamps
- the “most holy place” (or the “Holy of Holies”), where only the High Priest was permitted to go, and that was only once a year, on the Day of Atonement.
- For the other 364 days, the most holy place was silent and dark.
- Between the holy place and the most holy place hung this thick veil, whose heavy folds only one man, the High Priest, was permitted to lift or to pass.
- Matthew 27:51 says, “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”
- This means God did it. No man could tear that big heavy veil in half “from the top to the bottom.”
- The Jewish historian Josephus said the veil in the temple was thick and heavy and thirty feet high, and that big horses could not have torn it.
- The rent veil was a sign from God (for only God could have done it) that the repentant sinner can now have access into the presence of God -- on the basis of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The rent veil signifies the end of the Mosaic Law, the end of Judaism and ritualism, and the end of the Jewish priesthood.
- First Timothy 2:5 says, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
- The veil in the temple represented the barrier between God and man.
- Therefore, the rent veil illustrates the doctrine of reconciliation Christ's death has removed the barrier that separated us from God.
- The rent veil illustrates the doctrine of atonement a way of access to God was opened for every sinner who trusts in Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Now we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16).
- The rent veil illustrates our communion with God No longer would God dwell in the thick darkness behind the veil. Our Lord said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
- Even the high priest could only go into the most holy place once a year on the Day of Atonement. But now we enjoy fellowship “by a new and living way,” according to Hebrews 10:20.
- The rent veil illustrates the doctrine of propitiation. Matthew Henry said that after the veil was rent, we can now “see that the mercy-seat signified Christ the great Propitiation.”
- The rent veil illustrates that the division between Jew and Gentile can be removed by the blood of the cross. Ephesians 2:14 says, "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us."
- Immediately after the veil was torn, our Lord yielded His spirit and “gave up the ghost” (23:46).
- And the Roman centurion (a captain of a hundred soldiers) “glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man” (23:47).
- Matthew and Mark tell us that the centurion said, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matt. 27:54; Mark 15:39), indicating this centurion got saved.
- The people, who had been so cold an indifferent, now “smote their breasts,” and went home, sad and remorseful that they were part of the mob that demanded our Lord’s crucifixion.
- “And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off…” (23:49).
- Since today is “Resurrection Sunday,” we shouldn’t end with Jesus hanging on the cross, or buried in Joseph of Arimathaea’s grave (23:50-56).
- Let us stop off tonight at Luke 24:1-8.