Luke 23:24

It is true that Pilate's opinion concerning Jesus of Nazareth was very different indeed from that of his accusers; but he little imagined chat it would be to that poor suffering Prisoner that he would owe such immortality as he is to enjoy. Yet so it is; it is only because we are disciples of Jesus Christ that we care to ask who and what was Pilate. He is nothing but the gold upon the altar. In considering the elements of his character, we note -

I. THAT HE WAS POSSESSED OF ENERGY AND ENTERPRISE. He would hardly have reached the station he occupied, or held it as long as he did, if he had not had these two qualities in his character.

II. THAT HE WAS NOT DEVOID OF SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT. It is clear that he was much impressed by all that he saw of Jesus. The calmness, patience, and nobility of our Lord called forth from Pilate a sincere respect. There was genuine admiration in his heart as he led forth the Divine Sufferer and exclaimed, "Behold the Man!" He was affected, and even awed, by the moral greatness he was witnessing, he may also have been moved to pity.

III. THAT HIS WORLDLINESS HAD WORN OUT HIS FAITH. He had probably had his visions, in earlier days, of the sacredness and supremacy of truth; he had indulged his idea of what was morally good and sound, more to be desired than riches, more to be pursued than honor or authority. But a life of worldliness bad done for him what it will do for any of its votaries - it had eaten away his early faith; it had caused his fairest views and noblest purposes to melt and to disappear; it had left his spirit "naked to his enemies," without any assured belief in any one or in anything. "To bear witness to the truth." "What's truth?" asks the poor sceptic, whose soul was empty of all sustaining trust, of all ennobling hope.

IV. THAT HE HAD COME TO SUBORDINATE RIGHTEOUSNESS TO POLICY. That Prisoner on his hands was innocent: of that he was well assured. He would not condemn him to a cruel death unless he was obliged to do so. But he must not push his preference for righteousness too far. He must not seriously endanger his own position; he must not put a handle into the power of his enemies. No; rather than that, this pure and holy One must be scourged, must even die the death. As the trial proceeds, it appears that he is exciting a very strong hostility to himself. Let the poor Man go, then, to his doom; one more act of injustice, however regrettable in itself, will not make much difference. "And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required."


1. Outward circumstances prove very little. It is the judge whom we pity now; it is the bound and buffeted, the maltreated and maligned Prisoner whom we now honor and emulate.

2. Real strength is in righteousness and in love. Unrighteousness and selfishness, in the person of Pilate, resorted to shifts and expedients, and vacillated again and again between obligation and self-interest. Flawless integrity and abounding love for man, in the person of Jesus Christ, wavered not for an instant, but pursued its holy and gracious purpose through pain and shame. Policy prevails for a very little while; it goes back to its palace, but its end is exile and suicide. Poverty and love go through the deep darkness of earth to the unshadowed glory of the skies. - C.

Release unto us Barabbas.
? — We speak of the choice in the Lord's passion, which is —



1. It was six o'clock in the morning. Conscience-smitten, as never before, Pilate perceives the mob — the Lord in their midst, with a white garment, and the crown of thorns on His head — returning from Herod, and approaching his palace. "Suffered under Pontius Pilate" — thus it runs in our imperishable creed, surely not to erect a monument to a weak man, but to warn us every Sunday. Christ suffered under indecision and doubt, .under fear of man and flattery of man. We speak, however, of the peoples choice. It was the custom to release unto them a prisoner at the feast. Pilate tries to avail himself of that custom. They shall decide with perfect clearness and consciousness. The decision shall be made as easy as possible for them. They shall examine and compare. "Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?" — thus asks Pilate. We have to make the same decision. Here, Christ, with the word of truth and life, which answers the deepest cravings of our heart; a light in our path which has never deceived any one. There, the wisdom of the world, with its devious ways and vain speech; with its final bankruptcy of all knowledge, asking, What is truth? Here, a love that seeks our salvation, that remains always true, even when human love is wavering; a love that never suffers the redeemed to be torn from its hand. There, selfishness, falsehood, and cunning; and finally, the comfortless advice, See thou to that! Here, forgiveness and peace; there, in spite of outward prosperity and splendour, a sting in the conscience that cannot be removed. Here, even in times of tribulation, the conviction: "The Lord is with me; His rod and His staff, they comfort me." There, in times of want and distress, murmuring obstinacy and despair. Here, hope that lasts beyond death, and that anchors itself in the mercy and promises of God, therefore, even in dying, able to triumph: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" There, illusion upon illusion, for we never know what may happen, until death at last dispels every illusion I Who could still be doubtful about the choice? It is true many for a time allow others to decide for them. They move along as they are directed; they believe because others have told them so. Many avoid the decision even when commanded by the Word of God. But this is sure: There will come serious hours for each one, according to God's design and will, when he must decide of his own free will, when the refusal to decide will be practically a decision. There is only the question: Are we capable of choosing? Are we really free? Does the decision lie in our hand? Indeed, there arise unbidden so many voices in the heart against it; so many evil influences act upon us from childhood. The heart is by nature deceitful above all things — now most exultant, now afflicted unto death. Luther, as you know, wrote a little book on the bondage of the will, or "that free will is nothing." He compared it to a staff without life, a hard, cold stone. In this Luther is right, and is on the side of Paul, who says, "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" (Romans 9:16). It is true that deep in our hearts there is a tendency to resist the truth, a proneness to sin and sensuality, a spirit that says "No" to the word and will of God. But, on the other hand, God embraces us with His unseen arms, and in spirit speaks to us. Conscience can be silenced, but not killed; the hunger for the life and peace of God will be felt again and again. As the flower is attracted toward the sun, the bird of passage to the south, the iron to the magnet, so the human heart is drawn to God and His Word. Both are destined for each other. We can and ought to choose; that is our privilege and responsibility: our salvation is left in our own hands.

II. A SIGN OF THE PEOPLE'S DEEP SHAME AND GUILT. Israel also had a choice. But in choosing it incurred the deepest shame and guilt. "And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this Man, and release unto us Barabbas!" There is no wavering nor delay, no answer to the question, "What evil hath He done?" There is no inward struggle, and no examination, but the most frivolous levity, which is swift to condemn, even in the holiest and most important cause. Indeed, Pilate warns them several times, and God's voice warns them through him, to think and to deliberate once more. But their levity turns into stubbornness and hardening of the heart. How many still decide for unbelief without hesitation, without having carefully examined! They merely repeat what others maintain; they merely follow their own natural inclination. They are opponents of faith, not because they reflect too much, but because they reflect too little. It is a simple condition of equity that one should examine before rejecting, and that one should compare what Jesus gives with what the world offers. Levity, however, does not examine, it postpones. It finds pleasure in the moment, and avoids all that is disagreeable. When hours of distress and helplessness again come upon us, our only resources are falsehood and deceit — human help and human counsel, which soon shall be changed into shame. Alas! how many there are whose thoughtlessness turns into stubbornness, and from that into entire surrender to the power of darkness.

(W. Hahnelt.)

All time is one history of this one manifold choice. Every evil deed since Adam's fall has been belief in Satan and disbelief in God, a choice of Satan, his service, his wages, his kingdom, his sins, and his everlasting doom, instead of the glad obedience, the beauty of holiness, the sweet harmony, the everlasting glory of the ever-blessed God. Even heathens, from the relics of paradise, knew of this choice. They pictured to themselves man, at the outset of life, standing where two ways parted, pleasure alluring him to "a way full of all ease and sweetness"; virtue, with a holy majesty, calling him to present toil, and an inheritance with God. And they unknowing! They knew that they made an evil choice, they owned of themselves sorrowfully, "I know and approve what is best, I follow what is worst." "I knew what I ought to be; unhappily, I could not do it." They knew what they chose, but not whom they chose, or whom they denied. More fearful is the contest in Israel, because they knew more. "They chose," Scripture says, "new gods." "If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord," says Joshua, when his own warfare was accomplished, "choose you this day whom you will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." "How long halt ye between two opinions?" says Elijah; "if the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him." Darker still and more evil was the choice, when Holiness Itself, "God, was manifest in the flesh." "This is the condemnation, that light was come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." But His Godhead was still veiled in the flesh. His glory was not yet revealed, "the Spirit was not yet given." More deadly the choice became, when the weakness of His human nature was taken up in the glory of His Divine, and He was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Hence the evil of some subtle sin, which the soul perhaps knows not to be sin, only it knows that, were its parents by, it would not do it. It has made an evil choice; and that choice cleaves to it, perhaps, through years of helpless strife and misery. The first evil choice is the parent of all which follows. It has chosen Satan instead of God; and now, before it can again choose aright, it must undo that first choice, and will that all had been unchosen which it ever chose out ff God. But there is no safety against making the very worst choice, except in the fixed, conscious purpose in all things to make the best. The last acts are mostly not in a person's own power. They "who compass themselves about with sparks" cannot themselves quench the burning. They who make the first bad choice are often hurried on, whether they will or no. Each choice, so far, involves the whole character. The one choice is manifoldly repeated. The roads part asunder slightly; yet, unmarked, the distance between them is ever widening, until they end in heaven or in hell. Each act of choice is a step toward either. It is a bitter memory to think that we have so often chosen out of God. But we can never amend our choice, unless, in bitterness of soul, we own that it has been amiss. We can never come to true penitence unless we learn the intense evil of the manifold wrongness of our choice. Hard is it to own this, that all has to be undone and begun anew, that the whole choice is to be reformed; and therefore it is hard truly to turn to God and be saved.

(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)

Albert, Bishop of Mayence, had a physician attached to his person, who, being a Protestant, did not enjoy the prelate's favour. The man seeing this, and being an avaricious, ambitious world.seeker, denied his God, and turned back to Popery, saying to his associates, "I'll put Jesus Christ by for a while till I've made my fortune, and then bring Him out again." This horrible blasphemy met with its just reward; for next day the miserable hypocrite was found dead in his bed, his tongue hanging from his mouth, his face as black as a coal, and his neck twisted half round. I was myself an ocular witness of this merited chastisement of impiety.

(M. Luther.)

Barabbas, Herod, Jesus, Joseph, Pilate, Simon
Arimathea, Cyrene, Galilee, Golgotha, Jerusalem, Judea
Adjudged, Begged, Decided, Decision, Decreed, Demand, Desire, Effect, Grant, Granted, Judgement, Judgment, Pilate, Pronounced, Request, Required, Sentence, Yielding
1. Jesus is accused before Pilate, and sent to Herod.
8. Herod mocks him.
12. Herod and Pilate become friends.
13. Barabbas is desired of the people,
24. and is released by Pilate, and Jesus is given to be crucified.
26. He tells the women, that lament him, the destruction of Jerusalem;
34. prays for his enemies.
39. Two criminals are crucified with him.
46. His death.
50. His burial.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Luke 23:2-25

     5593   trial

Luke 23:4-25

     5349   injustice, examples

Luke 23:13-25

     5714   men

Luke 23:18-25

     5203   acquittal

Luke 23:20-24

     2369   Christ, responses to

Luke 23:20-25

     2585   Christ, trial

Luke 23:24-25

     2545   Christ, opposition to

Luke 23:24-37

     2525   Christ, cross of

A Soul's Tragedy
'Then Herod questioned with Him in many words; but He answered him nothing.'--LUKE xxiii. 9. Four Herods play their parts in the New Testament story. The first of them is the grim old tiger who slew the infants at Bethlehem, and soon after died. This Herod is the second--a cub of the litter, with his father's ferocity and lust, but without his force. The third is the Herod of the earlier part of the Acts of the Apostles, a grandson of the old man, who dipped his hands in the blood of one Apostle,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture

The Dying Thief
'And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.'--LUKE xxiii, 42. There is an old and true division of the work of Christ into three parts--prophet, priest, and king. Such a distinction manifestly exists, though it may be overestimated, or rather, the statement of it may be exaggerated, if it be supposed that separate acts of His discharge these separate functions, and that He ceases to be the one before He becomes the other. Rather it is true that all His work is prophetic,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture

'The Rulers Take Counsel Together'
'And the whole multitude of them arose, and led Him unto Pilate. 2. And they began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King. 3. And Pilate asked Him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And He answered him and said, Thou sayest it. 4. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. 5. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people teaching
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture

Jesus and Pilate
'And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14. Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I having examined Him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse Him: 15. No, nor yet Herod; for I sent you to him: and lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto Him. 16. I will therefore chastise Him, and release Him. 17. (For of necessity he must release one unto them
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture

Words from the Cross
'And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted His raiment, and cast lots. 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. 36. And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him and offering
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture

The First Word
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." ST. LUKE XXIII. 34. 1. Here we are watching the behaviour of the Son of God, the Ideal and Ground of Divine Sonship in humanity. Is this supreme example of forgiveness an example to us? Is it not something unnatural to humanity as we know it? We must recall, from a former address, the distinction which we then drew between the animal in us, with its self-assertive instincts, and the Divine in us, that which constitutes us not animal merely,
J. H. Beibitz—Gloria Crucis

The Second Word
"Verily I say unto thee, To-day thou shall be with Me in Paradise." ST. LUKE XXIII. 43. We judge of any power by the results which it effects. We gain some knowledge of the power of steam by its capacity to drive a huge mass of steel and wood weighing twenty thousand tons through the water at the rate of twenty knots an hour. There we have some standard by which we can gauge the force which sends our earth round the sun at twenty-five miles a second, or that which propels a whole solar system through
J. H. Beibitz—Gloria Crucis

The Seventh Word
"Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." ST. LUKE XXIII. 46. The consummation of sacrifice, the union of the human will with the Divine, leads to the perfect rest in God. 1. We have tried to deal with the Seven Words as constituting a revelation of the Divine Sonship of humanity. From this point of view it is significant that the first and the last begin, like the Lord's Prayer, with a direct address to the Father. The service of the Christian man is that of a son in his father's house, of
J. H. Beibitz—Gloria Crucis

March the Twenty-Seventh the Silence of Jesus
"He answered him nothing!" --LUKE xxiii. 1-12. And yet, "Ask, and it shall be given you!" Yes, but everything depends upon the asking. Even in the realm of music there is a rudeness of approach which leaves true music silent. Whether the genius of music is to answer us or not depends upon our "touch." Herod's "touch" was wrong, and there was no response. Herod was flippant, and the Eternal was dumb. And I, too, may question a silent Lord. In the spiritual realm an idle curiosity is never permitted
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

The Saviour's Last Hours.
(Preached on Good Friday.) "Praise and thanks be to Him who lifted up the Saviour on the cross as the bringer of salvation, that thereby He might glorify Him with heavenly glory! Praise and honour be to Him who by His obedience even unto death has become the Author of our faith, that so He may be able, as a faithful high-priest, to represent before God those whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren. Amen." TEXT: LUKE xxiii. 44-49. THE habit of expecting to find great events accompanied by strange
Friedrich Schleiermacher—Selected Sermons of Schleiermacher

The First Cry from the Cross
"Long as they live should Christians pray, For only while they pray they live." To cease from prayer is to renounce the consolations which our case requires. Under all distractions of spirit, and overwhelmings of heart, great God, help us still to pray, and never from the mercy-seat may our footsteps be driven by despair. Our blessed Redeemer persevered in prayer even when the cruel iron rent his tender nerves, and blow after blow of the hammer jarred his whole frame with anguish; and this perseverance
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 15: 1869

The Believing Thief
Remember, beloved friends, that our Lord Jesus, at the time he saved this malefactor, was at his lowest. His glory had been ebbing out in Gethsemane, and before Caiaphas, and Herod, and Pilate; but it had now reached the utmost low-water mark. Stripped of his garments, and nailed to the cross, our Lord was mocked by a ribald crowd, and was dying in agony: then was he "numbered with the transgressors," and made as the offscouring of all things. Yet, while in that condition, he achieved this marvellous
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 35: 1889

Christ's Plea for Ignorant Sinners
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."--Luke 23:34. WHAT tenderness we have here; what self-forgetfulness; what almighty love! Jesus did not say to those who crucified him, "Begone!" One such word, and they must have all fled. When they came to take him in the garden, they went backward, and fell to the ground, when he spoke but a short sentence; and now that he is on the cross, a single syllable would have made the whole company fall to the ground, or flee away
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 38: 1892

Exodus iii. 6
And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. LUKE xxiii. 30. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains. Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. These two passages occur, the one in the first lesson of this morning's service, the other in the second. One or other of them must have been, or must be, the case of you, of me, of every soul of man that lives or has lived since the world began. There must be a time in the existence of every human being when he will fear God. But
Thomas Arnold—The Christian Life

The Penitent Thief
LUKE xxiii. 42, 43. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise. The story of the penitent thief is a most beautiful and affecting one. Christians' hearts, in all times, have clung to it for comfort, not only for themselves, but for those whom they loved. Indeed, some people think that we are likely to be too fond of the story. They have been afraid lest people should build
Charles Kingsley—The Good News of God

Bourdaloue -- the Passion of Christ
Louis Bourdaloue was born at Bourges, in 1632. At the age of sixteen he entered the order of the Jesuits and was thoroughly educated in the scholarship, philosophy and theology of the day. He devoted himself entirely to the work of preaching, and was ten times called upon to address Louis XIV and his court from the pulpit as Bossuet's successor. This was an unprecedented record and yet Bourdaloue could adapt his style to any audience, and "mechanics left their shops, merchants their business, and
Various—The World's Great Sermons, Vol. 2

The Hands of the Father.
"Father, into thy hand I commend my spirit."--St Luke xxiii. 46. Neither St Matthew nor St Mark tells us of any words uttered by our Lord after the Eloi. They both, along with St Luke, tell us of a cry with a loud voice, and the giving up of the ghost; between which cry and the giving up, St Luke records the words, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." St Luke says nothing of the Eloi prayer of desolation. St John records neither the Eloi, nor the Father into thy hands, nor the loud
George MacDonald—Unspoken Sermons

The Last Season
which I shall mention, in which the heart must be kept with all diligence, is when we are warned by sickness that our dissolution is at hand. When the child of God draws nigh to eternity, the adversary makes his last effort; and as he cannot win the soul from God, as he cannot dissolve the bond which unites the soul to Christ, his great design is to awaken fears of death, to fill the mind with aversion and horror at the thoughts of dissolution from the body. Hence, what shrinking from a separation,
John Flavel—On Keeping the Heart

Second Stage of the Roman Trial. Jesus Before Herod Antipas.
(Jerusalem. Early Friday Morning.) ^C Luke XXIII. 6-12. ^c 6 But when Pilate heard it [when he heard that Jesus had begun his operations in Galilee], he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. 7 And when he knew that he was of Herod's jurisdiction [Herod was tetrarch of Galilee--Luke iii. 1], he sent him unto Herod, who himself also ["also" includes both Pilate and Herod, neither of whom lived at Jerusalem] was at Jerusalem in these days. ["These days" refers to the passover season. Pilate had come
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Dead with Christ.
Gal. 2:20.--I am crucified with Christ. The Revised Version properly has the above text "I have been crucified with Christ." In this connection, let us read the story of a man who was literally crucified with Christ. We may use all the narrative of Christ's work upon earth in the flesh as a type of His spiritual work. Let us take in this instance the story of the penitent thief, Luke 23:39-43, for I think we may learn from him how to live as men who are crucified with Christ. Paul says: "I have been
Andrew Murray—The Master's Indwelling

Some More Particular Directions for Maintaining Continual Communion with God, or Being in his Fear all the Day Long.
1. A letter to a pious friend on this subject introduced here.--2. General plan of directions.--3. For the beginning of the day.--4. Lifting up the heart to God at our first awakening.--5, 10. Setting ourselves to the secret devotions of the morning, with respect to which particular advice is given.--11. For the progress of the day.--12. Directions are given concerning seriousness in devotion.--13. Diligence in business.--14. Prudence in recreations.--15. Observations of Providence.--16. Watchfulness
Philip Doddridge—The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul

The First Word from the Cross
In the last chapter we saw the impressions made by the crucifixion on the different groups round the cross. On the soldiers, who did the deed, it made no impression at all; they were absolutely blind to the wonder and glory of the scene in which they were taking part. On the members of the Sanhedrim, and the others who thought with them, it had an extraordinary effect: the perfect revelation of goodness and spiritual beauty threw them into convulsions of angry opposition. Even the group of the
James Stalker—The Trial and Death of Jesus Christ

Things Omitted from Mark's Gospel.
1. Just as the skill of a master artist is discovered in the objects which he leaves out of his picture (the amateur crowding in everything on to the canvass for which he can find room), so the discerning eye at once detects the handiwork of the Holy Spirit in the various things which are included and omitted from different parts of the Word. Notably is this the case with Mark's Gospel. Here we find no Genealogy at the commencement, as in Matthew; the miraculous Conception is omitted, and there is
Arthur W. Pink—Why Four Gospels?

BY REV. J. G. GREENHOUGH, M.A. "And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas."--ST LUKE xxiii. 18. You have heard a crowd of people cry out all at once. It is always impressive, it is sometimes very terrible, occasionally it is sublime. It begins in a way that no one can explain. Somebody in the crowd utters a name, or ejaculates a brief sentence. What happens? Often nothing at all. Men are not in the mood for it; it drops unnoticed, or provokes
George Milligan—Men of the Bible; Some Lesser-Known

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