For the corresponding sermon to this scripture passage, listen here: http://crossview.info/sermons/2014_04_13.mp3
Today’s Scripture Focus: Luke 23:44-56
Luke 23 takes Jesus from trial to tomb. When we left off last week, phase 1 of Jesus’ trial was conducted at the home of Caiaphas the high priest. After being sufficiently mocked, the Temple authorities carry Jesus in a mob to the home of Pilate, the Roman governor in charge of Judea. They accused Jesus of speaking against the Roman government and attempting to stage a coup. Pilate quickly saw the charges were without merit, but his main job was to keep the peace. Deciding what to do with Jesus presented a real dilemma. What if he had Jesus killed, and it sparked a revolt? When Pilate says “I find no fault in this man”, he’s not nearly as concerned with justice as he is with staying in office.
Pilate seems to find a way out when he realizes that Jesus is a Galilean. This means that technically Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee and Pilate’s political rival, could rule in this matter. It just so happens that Herod is also in Jerusalem for the Passover festivities, so Pilate passes the buck and sends Jesus to him for phase 3 of the trial. Now, this is the same Herod who had Jesus’ cousin John beheaded just because he preached against his adulterous marriage to his brother’s wife; Herod could have easily had Jesus killed had he so chosen. But even Herod couldn’t find a reason to kill Jesus, so he mocked him and sent him back to Pilate.
As Jesus enters the final phase of his trial, the opinion of the crowd has turned. Jesus has refused to defend Himself throughout his ordeal. The crowd seems to sense this as weakness, realizes Jesus is not going to stage an insurrection, and, smelling blood, they quickly switch sides. Pilate tries to please everyone by “merely” having Jesus beaten, but the crowds beg for Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified. Barabbas was an insurrectionist whose name meant “son of the father”. In other words, he was actually guilty of the crime for which the true Son of the Father was convicted. Pilate concluded that Jesus must be killed to prevent a riot. He condemned Him to death.
Everyone that had a role in Jesus’ crucifixion admitted that Jesus was innocent – Pilate, Herod, the crowds who left his murder scene beating their breasts, and the Roman soldier who oversaw the crucifixion. Three witnesses testified to His innocence while He was dying – the thief who was dying next to Him, nature itself as the sky turned black for three hours, and Temple where Jesus has preached as the massive curtain protecting the Most Holy Place was supernaturally ripped apart. Joseph – a member of the very Sanhedrin that had tried Jesus – used his influence to get Jesus’ body and place it in his personal tomb. Jesus had been wrapped in cloth by a Joseph at His birth and now at His death.
Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in
Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their
Let anyone who would like share something they did differently
this week as a result of last week’s scripture focus.
Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they
1. Why do you think we seem to take the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and death for granted today? Is it because it
happened so long ago, or because we’ve heard it so many times? Can you think of some ways we can make the old,
old story real for us this week?
2. Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
3. What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?
Go over the sermon “Somethings”, committing together to complete them during the service this morning, and bring them to discuss next week.
Something new I learned today:
Something that challenged me today:
Something that blessed me today:
Something I will do differently this week: