Luke 23 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Luke 23)

Verse 4

[4] Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.

Then said Pilate — After having heard his defence-I find no fault in this man - I do not find that he either asserts or attempts any thing seditious or injurious to Cesar.

Verse 5

[5] And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.

He stirreth up the people, beginning from Galilee — Probably they mentioned Galilee to alarm Pilate, because the Galileans were notorious for sedition and rebellion.

Verse 7

[7] And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.

He sent him to Herod — As his proper judge.

Verse 8

[8] And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.

He had been long desirous to see him — Out of mere curiosity.

Verse 9

[9] Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.

He questioned him — Probably concerning the miracles which were reported to have been wrought by him.

Verse 11

[11] And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.

Herod set him at nought — Probably judging him to be a fool, because he answered nothing.

In a splendid robe — In royal apparel; intimating that he feared nothing from this king.

Verse 15

[15] No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.

He hath done nothing worthy of death — According to the judgment of Herod also.

Verse 16

[16] I will therefore chastise him, and release him.

I will therefore chastise him — Here Pilate began to give ground, which only encouraged them to press on. Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:6; John 18:39.

Verse 22

[22] And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.

He said to them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? — As Peter, a disciple of Christ, dishonoured him by denying him thrice, so Pilate, a heathen, honoured Christ, by thrice owning him to be innocent.

Verse 26

[26] And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

Matthew 27:31; Mark 15:21; John 19:16.

Verse 30

[30] Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.

Hosea 10:8.

Verse 31

[31] For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

If they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? — Our Lord makes use of a proverbial expression, frequent among the Jews, who compare a good man to a green tree, and a bad man to a dead one: as if he had said, If an innocent person suffer thus, what will become of the wicked? Of those who are as ready for destruction as dry wood for the fire?

Verse 34

[34] Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Then said Jesus — Our Lord passed most of the time on the cross in silence: yet seven sentences which he spoke thereon are recorded by the four evangelists, though no one evangelist has recorded them all. Hence it appears that the four Gospels are, as it were, four parts, which, joined together, make one symphony. Sometimes one of these only, sometimes two or three, sometimes all sound together.

Father — So he speaks both in the beginning and at the end of his sufferings on the cross: Forgive them - How striking is this passage! While they are actually nailing him to the cross, he seems to feel the injury they did to their own souls more than the wounds they gave him; and as it were to forget his own anguish out of a concern for their own salvation. And how eminently was his prayer heard! It procured forgiveness for all that were penitent, and a suspension of vengeance even for the impenitent.

Verse 35

[35] And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.

If thou be the Christ; Luke 23:37.

If thou be the king — The priests deride the name of Messiah: the soldiers the name of king.

Verse 38

[38] And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; John 19:19.

Verse 39

[39] And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

And one of the malefactors reviled him — St. Matthew says, the robbers: St. Mark, they that were crucified with him, reviled him. Either therefore St. Matthew and Mark put the plural for the singular (as the best authors sometimes do) or both reviled him at the first, till one of them felt "the overwhelming power of saving grace."

Verse 40

[40] But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

The other rebuked him — What a surprising degree was here of repentance, faith, and other graces! And what abundance of good works, in his public confession of his sin, reproof of his fellow criminal, his honourable testimony to Christ, and profession of faith in him, while he was in so disgraceful circumstances as were stumbling even to his disciples! This shows the power of Divine grace. But it encourages none to put off their repentance to the last hour; since, as far as appears, this was the first time this criminal had an opportunity of knowing any thing of Christ, and his conversion was designed to put a peculiar glory on our Saviour in his lowest state, while his enemies derided him, and his own disciples either denied or forsook him.

Verse 42

[42] And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

Remember me when thou comest — From heaven, in thy kingdom - He acknowledges him a king, and such a king, as after he is dead, can profit the dead. The apostles themselves had not then so clear conceptions of the kingdom of Christ.

Verse 43

[43] And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

In paradise — The place where the souls of the righteous remain from death till the resurrection. As if he had said, I will not only remember thee then, but this very day.

Verse 44

[44] And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

There was darkness over all the earth — The noon-tide darkness, covering the sun, obscured all the upper hemisphere. And the lower was equally darkened, the moon being in opposition to the sun, and so receiving no light from it. Matthew 27:45.

Verse 45

[45] And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

Mark 15:38.

Verse 46

[46] And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Father, into thy hands — The Father receives the Spirit of Jesus: Jesus himself the spirits of the faithful.

Verse 47

[47] Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.

Certainly this was a righteous man — Which implies an approbation of all he had done and taught.

Verse 48

[48] And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.

All the people — Who had not been actors therein, returned smiting their breasts - In testimony of sorrow.

Verse 50

[50] And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:

Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; John 19:38.