Luke 23 - Jesus' Trial, Death and Burial
A. Jesus on trial.
1. (1-7) The first trial before Pilate.
Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, "We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King." Then Pilate asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" He answered him and said, "It is as you say." So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, "I find no fault in this Man." But they were the more fierce, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place." When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
a. Led Him to Pilate: The Jews had no authority to administer the death penalty, so they went to Pilate, who was the Roman governor over the region of Judea.
i. The Jewish leaders had reason to expect a favorable result when they went to Pilate. Secular history shows us that he was a cruel, ruthless man, completely insensitive to the moral feelings of others. Surely, they thought, Pilate will put this Jesus to death.
b. We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King: At the same time, they know Pilate would be unconcerned with what they had "convicted" Jesus of - blasphemy. So, they blatantly lied and brought up other charges.
i. Essentially, these are their charges:
- That Jesus was a revolutionary (perverting the nation).
- That Jesus incited the people not to pay their taxes (forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar).
- That Jesus claimed to be a king in opposition to Caesar (saying that He Himself is Christ, a King).
c. Then Pilate asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" We can only wonder what Pilate thought when he first laid eyes on Jesus, when he saw this beaten and bloodied Man before him. Jesus didn't look especially regal or majestic as He stood before Pilate, so the Roman governor was probably sarcastic or ironic when he asked, "Are You the King of the Jews?"
d. Though Pilate was a cruel, ruthless man; he wasn't stupid. He could see through the motives of the Jewish leaders, and had no problem in sizing up Jesus and the whole situation, and returning a verdict: I find no fault in this Man.
i. By any stretch of the imagination, that was a "not guilty" verdict. Pilate knows and declares that Jesus is innocent of any crime, and that He should be set free.
e. But they were the more fierce: In response, the Jewish leaders became more fierce, and emphasized their accusation that Jesus was a leader of insurrection. This was a crime that any Roman governor had to be very careful of.
f. And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod: Pilate remained perplexed and unwilling to make a hard choice for Jesus; so he tried to do nothing - he sends Jesus on to Herod, because Jesus was from Galilee, the area where Herod ruled.
2. (8-12) The trial before Herod.
Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.
a. When Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him: Herod had surely heard much about Jesus, but his only interest was a desire to be amused and entertained; he never took Jesus seriously.
b. Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing: Jesus saw right through this wretched, shallow man, and has nothing to say to Him. This, the same man who murdered John the Baptist, now regards Jesus as a miracle worker for his own entertainment. Even when others vehemently accused Him, Jesus had nothing to say to Herod.
c. Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him: This shows what Herod really thought of Jesus. When Jesus refused to entertain him, Herod entertained himself by mistreating Jesus.
i. "The mockery made it plain that Herod did not take the charge seriously. That is the really frightening thing about the incident. With the Son of God before him Herod could only jest." (Morris)
d. That very day Pilate and Herod became friends: Significantly, Herod and Pilate became friends that day. They found no common ground except their opposition to Jesus.
e. Thus far, we have seen three different attitudes towards Jesus; but they all agree on rejecting Him.
- The religious authorities hated Jesus.
- Pilate knew something of who Jesus was, but was unwilling to make an unpopular stand for Him.
- Herod didn't even take Jesus seriously; he was only interested in amusement and entertainment.
3. (13-17) The second trial before Pilate.
Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, said to them, "You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him" (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast).
a. Pilate could not say it more strongly: I have found no fault in this Man . . . indeed nothing worthy of death has been done by Him. Jesus was innocent of any crime, and Pilate declared Him so.
b. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him: This may sound like Pilate suggests a light punishment. But the chastisement he has in mind is not light at all. The Roman custom of scourging was a brutal whipping.
i. The victim of a Roman scourging was tied against a post, and struck with a whip that had bits of glass, sharp rock, and metal tied to the end of leather cords. The whip would be struck at the top and dragged down the back, until the victim's entire back was a bloody, open wound. Many people died just from this scourging.
ii. But if Jesus is an innocent man, why even this? Could we imagine a judge saying, "You're innocent, so you only need to pay a $10,000 fine"?
c. For it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast: But Pilate believed he had a way for Jesus to escape death. He planned to release Him according to the custom of releasing a prisoner every Passover season.
i. Pilate figured, "If this man claimed to be king, and was even the slightest bit hostile to Rome, then the crowd will love him. These Jewish leaders don't want Jesus to go free, but the crowd will sympathize with him."
4. (18-25) The crowd makes its choice.
And they all cried out at once, saying, "Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas"; who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder. Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. But they shouted, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" Then he said to them the third time, "Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go." But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
a. Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas: The crowd, whom Pilate was convinced would release Jesus, instead condemned Him. Because of this, Pilate found it impossible to go against both the Jewish leaders and the crowd.
b. But they shouted, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" It is a strange, almost insane scene: a cruel, ruthless Roman governor trying to win the life of a miracle-working Jewish teacher against the strenuous efforts of both the Jewish leaders and the crowd.
i. "Their loud cries give the impression that a riot was beginning to build up. It must have been obvious to Pilate that the situation was becoming increasingly ugly." (Morris)
ii. We may imagine that many in this crowd had, just a few days before, been crying "Hosanna" to Jesus. But there are always plenty of people who will do whatever the crowd does.
iii. How could the crowd turn so quickly against Jesus? There are many possible explanations. First, many of them were probably disappointed that this Messiah who rode into Jerusalem didn't do what they wanted a Messiah to do. Second, there is a tendency in many people to tear down the very heroes they have built up; we see this in our culture today.
c. And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will: So the crowd rejected Jesus and embraced Barabbas, whose name means "son of the father," and who was a terrorist and a murderer.
i. If anyone should be able to say, "Jesus died for me," it was Barabbas. He knew what it was to have Jesus die on his behalf, the innocent for the guilty.
d. He delivered Jesus to their will: Is accurate, and the truth - but only part of the truth. Jesus was also delivered to His Father's will, and the eternal purpose of God, predestined before the world was ever created, would certainly be accomplished.
B. Jesus dies and is buried.
1. (26) Simon carries Jesus' cross.
Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.
a. As they led Him away: Even before Jesus was to be scourged, His physical condition was weak. We can assume that Jesus was in good physical condition up until the night of His arrest; "The rigors of Jesus' ministry (that is, travelling by foot throughout Palestine) would have precluded any major physical illness or a weak general constitution." (Dr. William Edwards [with others] in JAMA, 3/21/86)
b. During the 12 hours between 9 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Friday, Jesus suffered many things, both physically and in the high-stress challenges that took a toll on Him physically.
i. Jesus suffered great emotional stress in the Garden of Gethsemane, as indicated when His sweat became like great drops of blood (Luke22:44). "Although this is a very rare phenomenon, bloody sweat (hematidrosis or hemohidrosis) may occur in highly emotional states or in persons with bleeding disorders. As a result of hemorrhage into the sweat glands, the skin becomes fragile and tender." (Edwards)
ii. Jesus suffered the emotional stress of abandonment by His disciples.
iii. Jesus suffered a severe physical beating at the home of the high priest.
iv. Jesus suffered a sleepless night.
v. Jesus suffered, being forced to walk more than two and a half miles.
vi. All of these factors made Jesus especially vulnerable to the effects of scourging.
c. Before Jesus took the cross, He was whipped - scourged - as Pilate had earlier promised (I will therefore chastise Him, Luke 23:16).
i. "Scourging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt." (Edwards)
ii. The goal of the scourging was to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse and death. "As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim's back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive the cross." (Edwards)
iii. "The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a pre-shock state. Moreover, hematidrosis had rendered his skin particularly tender. The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews and the Romans, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to his generally weakened state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus' physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical." (Edwards)
d. As they led Him away: Before Jesus was led away, His clothes were stripped off. "When the soldiers tore the robe from Jesus' back, the probably reopened the scourging wounds." (Edwards)
e. As they led Him away: As Jesus was led away to be crucified, He was - like all victims of crucifixion - forced to carry the wood He would hang upon.
i. The weight of the entire cross was typically 300 pounds. The victim only carried the crossbar, which weighed anywhere from 75 to 125 pounds. When the victim carried the crossbar, he was usually stripped naked, and his hands were often tied to the wood.
ii. The upright beams of a cross were usually permanently fixed in a visible place outside of the city walls, beside a major road. It is likely that on many occasions, Jesus passed by the very upright He would hang upon
f. Because Jesus was in such a weakened condition, they laid hold of a certain man to carry the cross for Him. The man's name was Simon, and he was from Cyrene in North Africa (modern day Libya).
i. No doubt, Simon was visiting Jerusalem as a Passover pilgrim from his native land (some 800 miles away). He knew little if anything about this Jesus, and had no desire to be associated with this Man who was condemned to die as a criminal.
ii. Yet, the Romans were the law, and Simon was not given a choice - they laid hold of him, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it. Perhaps he was chosen because his skin was black, and he was more conspicuous in the crowd.
iii. Wonderfully, we have reason to believe that Simon came to know what it really means to take up one's cross and follow Jesus. We know that his sons became leaders among the early Christians (Mark 15:21 and Romans 16:13).
2. (27-31) Jesus speaks to the Daughters of Jerusalem.
And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!' Then they will begin 'to say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"' For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?"
a. It was customary for a great multitude to follow a condemned criminal on his way to crucifixion.
i. As they made their way, a Roman guard led with a sign that carried the man's name and crime, and called out the name and the crime along the way to the place of crucifixion. They usually didn't take the shortest way to the place of crucifixion, so as many people as possible could see how the Roman Empire treated its enemies.
b. Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children: With good reason, certain women mourned and lamented when they saw Jesus being treated in this fashion. But Jesus essentially told them, "don't weep for Me, weep for those who reject Me."
c. For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry? The idea is "If this is the fate of the innocent (Jesus referring to Himself), what will happen to the guilty?"
3. (32-33) Jesus is crucified.
There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.
a. When they had come to the place called Calvary: There was a specific place outside the city walls of Jerusalem, yet still very close, where people were crucified. At this place called Calvary Jesus died for our sins, and our salvation was accomplished. Calvary means, "place of a skull," and it was the place where criminals were crucified.
b. Where they crucified Him: What was it like to be crucified? In days the New Testament was first written, the practice needed no explanation. But we would do well to appreciate just what happened when someone was crucified.
i. "Although the Romans did not invent crucifixion, they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment that was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering." (Edwards)
ii. The combination of scourging and crucifixion made death on the cross especially brutal. The victim's back was first torn open by the scourging, then the clotting blood was ripped open again when the clothes were torn off before crucifixion. The victim was thrown on the ground to fix his hands to the crossbeam, and the wounds on the back were again be torn open and contaminated with dirt. Then, as he hung on the cross, with each breath, the painful wounds on the back scraped against the rough wood of the upright beam and were further aggravated.
iii. When the nail was driven through the wrists, it severed the large median nerve. This stimulated nerve produced excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms, and often gave the victim a claw-like grip in the hands.
iv. Beyond the excruciating pain, the major effect of crucifixion was to inhibit normal breathing. The weight of the body, pulling down on the arms and shoulders, tended to fix the respiratory muscles in an inhalation state, and hindered exhalation. The lack of adequate respiration resulted in severe muscle cramps, which hindered breathing even further. To get a good breath, the victim had to push against the feet, and flex the elbows, pulling from the shoulders. Putting the weight of the body on the feet produced searing pain, and flexing of the elbows twisted the hands hanging on the nails. Lifting the body for a breath also painfully scraped the back against the rough wooden post. Each effort to get a proper breath was agonizing, exhausting, and led to a sooner death.
v. "Not uncommonly, insects would light upon or burrow into the open wounds or the eyes, ears, and nose of the dying and helpless victim, and birds of prey would tear at these sites. Moreover, it was customary to leave the corpse on the cross to be devoured by predatory animals." (Edwards)
vi. Death from crucifixion could come from many sources: acute shock from blood loss; being too exhausted to breathe any longer; dehydration; stress-induced heart attack, or congestive heart failure leading to a cardiac rupture. If the victim did not die quickly enough, the legs were broken, and the victim was soon unable to breathe.
vii. How bad was crucifixion? We get our English word excruciating from the Roman word "out of the cross." "Consider how heinous sin must be in the sight of God, when it requires such a sacrifice!" (Clarke)
c. The most significant thing about Jesus' suffering was that He was not, in any sense, the victim of circumstances. He was in control. Jesus said of His life in John 10:18, no one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. It is terrible to be forced to endure such torture, but to freely choose it out of love is remarkable.
d. The criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left: In His death, Jesus was identified with sinners - He was crucified between two criminals.
4. (34-38) Jesus on the cross.
Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots. And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God." The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself." And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: This is the King of the Jews.
a. Father, forgive them: The love of Jesus never fails. He even makes a promise of forgiveness to God for His executioners.
b. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do: Jesus did not grant forgiveness to those who crucified Him. He did not say, "I forgive you." Instead, He prayed to God the Father for their forgiveness.
i. Jesus probably prayed this way for His enemies all through His ministry, but now we hear it from His lips because He has no quiet place to pray.
ii. In this Jesus fulfilled His own command to love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good for those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
c. For they do not know what they do: In this, Jesus recognized the blindness of His enemies in His prayer. This does not excuse the guilt of those who put Jesus on the cross; but Jesus puts His enemies in the best possible light in His prayer to the Father. We need to show love by praying the same way.
d. When we pray like this for our enemies, we make the "promise of forgiveness" to God, not to the person who wronged us. We can't make the promise to them, because they will not repent. But by making the promise to God, we keep our hearts free from the cancer of resentment and keep ourselves ready to forgive.
e. And they divided His garments and cast lots: Jesus came all the way down the ladder to accomplish our salvation. He let go of absolutely everything - even His clothes - becoming completely poor for us, so we could become completely rich in Him.
f. In the midst of this awesome display of love, Jesus is not honored. Instead, He is mocked, and His enemies sneered, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God."
i. It is precisely because He did not save Himself that He can save others. Love kept Jesus on the cross, not nails!
5. (39-43) A criminal on a cross finds salvation.
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
a. One of the criminals joined in mocking Jesus. After all, if Jesus were the Messiah, He should save those who are being crucified with Him! But the other criminal saw things differently.
i. He respected God (Do you not even fear God).
ii. He knew his own sin (under the same condemnation . . . we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds).
iii. He knew Jesus (this Man has done nothing wrong).
iv. He called out to Jesus (he said to Jesus).
v. He called out to Jesus as Lord (he said to Jesus, "Lord . . .").
vi. He believed Jesus was who Jesus said He was (remember me when You come into Your kingdom).
vii. He believed the promise of everlasting life from Jesus.
b. Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise: With these words, Jesus wanted to give this man assurance. Where is Paradise? It is in heaven, and that man went to heaven to be with Jesus, but it is the presence of Jesus (with Me) that makes it Paradise.
i. Here is something truly remarkable: a deathbed conversion. This is the only one in the Bible! There is one deathbed conversion in the Bible, so that no one would despair; but only one, so that no one would presume.
ii. You might trust in Jesus just before you die; but that is like trusting that you will be close enough to a rock to save yourself as you approach the edge of Niagara Falls!
iii. Significantly, this thief who trusted in Jesus at the last moment goes to the same heaven anyone else does. Is this fair? In a sense, no; but it gives glory to the grace of God, not to human merit in salvation. In heaven, we will all be filled to the full with joy and reward; but the degree of our faithfulness now determines how big our container for joy and reward will be in heaven, though all will be filled to the fullest they can hold.
c. This assurance was so important to Jesus that it cost Him something; "Since speech occurs during exhalation, these short, terse utterances must have been particularly difficult and painful." (Edwards)
d. We see Jesus functioning as prophet, priest and king, even at His death.
i. He was a Prophet to the Daughters of Jerusalem.
ii. He was a Priest when He forgave those who nailed Him to the cross.
iii. He was a King when He authoritatively assured the penitent criminal salvation and entrance into the Kingdom.
6. (44-46) Jesus dies on the cross.
Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.' " Having said this, He breathed His last.
a. There was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour: The remarkable darkness all over the earth showed the agony of creation itself in the Creator's suffering. "Origen (Contra Celsus, ii,33) and Eusebius (Chron.) quote words from Phlegon (a Roman historian) in which he makes mention of an extraordinary solar eclipse as well as of an earthquake about the time of the crucifixion." (Geldenhuys)
i. Phlegon, Roman historian wrote this: "In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad, there was an extraordinary eclipse of the sun: at the sixth hour, the day turned into dark night, so that the stars in heaven were seen; and there was an earthquake." (Cited in Clarke)
ii. This is especially remarkable because during a full moon - which Passover was always held at - it was impossible that there be a natural eclipse of the sun.
b. The veil of the temple was torn in two: The tearing of the temple veil signified at least two things. First, now man has free access to the throne of grace by the cross. Second, no one should ever think again that God dwells in temples made with hands.
c. When Jesus cried out with a loud voice, John 19:30 tells us what He said: it is finished, which is one word in the Greek (tetelestai - "paid in full"). This is the cry of a winner, because Jesus had paid in full the debt of sin we owed, and had finished the eternal purpose of the cross.
i. At some point before He died, before the veil was torn in two, before He cried out it is finished, an awesome spiritual transaction took place. The Father set upon Jesus all the guilt and wrath our sin deserved, and He bore it in Himself perfectly, totally satisfying the wrath of God for us.
ii. As horrible as the physical suffering of Jesus was, this spiritual suffering - the act of being judged for sin in our place - was what Jesus really dreaded about the cross. This was the cup - the cup of God's righteous wrath - that He trembled at drinking (Luke 22:39-46, Psalm 75:8, Isaiah 51:17, Jeremiah 25:15). On the cross, Jesus became, as it were, an enemy of God who was judged and forced to drink the cup of the Father's fury. He did it so we would not have to drink that cup.
iii. Isaiah 53:3-5 puts it powerfully: He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
iv. "Reader! one drop of this cup would bear down thy soul to endless ruin; and these agonies would annihilated the universe. He suffered alone: for the people there was none with him; because his sufferings were to make an atonement for the sins of the world: and in the work of redemption he had no helper." (Clarke)
v. Having said this, He breathed His last: And when that was accomplished (who knows how long it could have lasted?), there was no reason for Jesus to "hang around" on the cross. His work was done and He could go on now.
d. Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit: This shows that Jesus gave up His life when He wanted to and how He wanted to. No one took His life from Him; He gave it up when His work was finished. Jesus is not a victim we should pity, but a conqueror we should admire.
i. Save your pity for those who reject the complete work of Jesus on the cross at Calvary; for those preachers who do not have the heart of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:23, when he proclaimed the center of the Christian message: we preach Christ crucified.
7. (47-49) The reaction of bystanders at Jesus' death.
So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!" And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned. But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
a. The centurion, who glorified God and saw Jesus for who He was (Certainly this was a righteous man) is a picture of all who come to Jesus through the cross, fulfilling Jesus' promise if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself (John 12:32).
i. Surely, this centurion had seen many people crucified before. Yet there was something so remarkable about Jesus that he said something about Him that he could say about no one else.
b. The whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned: Others went home sadly; they were too close to Jesus to see how remarkable His death was, and they had forgotten His promise to rise again. But their hearts were ready for the news of a risen Savior.
8. (50-56) Jesus is buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.
a. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus: Customarily, the bodies of crucified criminals were left on their crosses to rot or be eaten by wild animals. But the Jews wanted no such horror displayed during the Passover season, and Romans were known to grant the corpses to friends or relatives for proper burial.
b. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near: They were unable to properly prepare the body of Jesus for burial because of the coming Sabbath. So in hurried preparation, Jesus' body was placed in a borrowed tomb.
i. "In the hours of crisis it is often the Peters who have sworn loyalty to Jesus with big gestures and fullness of self-confidence, that disappoint, and it is the secret and quiet followers of the Master (like Joseph, Nicodemus and the women) that do not hesitate to serve Him in love - at whatever the cost." (Geldenhuys)
c. Laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before: Tombs like this were very expensive. It was quite a sacrifice for Joseph of Arimathea to give his up - but Jesus would only use it for a few days!