Luke 23:32–56. The Crux of the Matter.

Key Notes: A criminal saved at the end of his life, at the verge of Paradise. Why a cross? The veil torn.

The description of the death of Christ in Luke is spare, dry and factual, strangely unemotional. Where is the sense of outrage? Luther observed that God's real work is hidden behind His strange work.

23:32–38 Two criminals were crucified with Him at the Place of the Skull (Golgotha).
Jesus prayed forgiveness doing the execution.
His clothes were gambled away.
The rulers said He had saved others, quite an admission. Let Him save Himself.
The soldiers offered Him vinegar, or cheap wine, and took up the chorus: If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.
An inscription over Him read "This is the King of the Jews."

23:39–43 Even one of the criminals took up the chorus: "If you are the Christ, save yourself and us." However, the second, recognizing his own guilt, chided him, and affirmed Jesus' innocence. Then He made an amazing request: "Lord, remember me when You come into your Kingdom." Jesus replied profoundly: "This day you will be with Me in Paradise."

23:44–49  The land was darkened for three hours.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Jesus commended His Spirit to the Father and died after three hours of agony.
The Centurion praised God and said Jesus was righteous.
The multitudes went home silently expressing their grief and anguish.
His followers watched from a distance.

23:50 Joseph of Arimathea, a good and righteous member of the Sanhedrin, may not have been at the trial since the council was apparently unanimous. (Lk.22:70, 23:1). He claimed the body from Pilate, wrapped it in linen, and buried it in a new tomb.
It was Thursday night, near the beginning of a Sabbath. The women from Galilee saw the burial site and went home to prepare other embalming materials. They rested on the Sabbath.

The facts convey a great deal by symbols of the crucifixion as contained in the Scriptures.
•Why a cross? Stoning would have been the Jewish method of execution. The Romans also had other means including forced suicide.
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life." (Jn.3:14)
"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." (Jn.12:32)
Jesus remains lifted up before the world as we can see today in “The Christ of the Andes”.

•Why a cross?
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, 'Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree.'" (Gal.3:13)
The cross is made of a tree.

•Why a cross?
Perhaps to illustrate the juncture, the cross-roads, when one must decide for Christ or against Him. He is the crux of the matter.

•Why the two thieves?
He must die with sinners, among criminals. (Isa.53:12)
But also, He did His final work of evangelism as He was dying! And we learn that people can repent at the end of life. We are reminded that only one repented, so that none can presume to be saved at the last minute, but one did repent, so that none should despair.

Why release Barabbas?
"...at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom.5:6) There was an obvious substitution--the innocent standing in the place of the guilty--which dramatizes the situation of all of us.

Why death?
"...when Christ came into the world, He said 'sacrifices and offerings Thou hast not desired, but a body hast Thou prepared for me.'" (Heb.10:5)
Jesus' physical death was His sacrifice for sin, replacing all the animal sacrifices previously made, in all the nations since time began.

Why darkness?
“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mk.15:54)
We understand the darkness to be symbolic of the Father's face hidden from His Son.

Why was he killed by the Romans? Weren't the Jews responsible?
“...you (Jews) crucified and killed by the hands of lawless (Roman) men.” (Acts2:23)
Peter said it was both the Jews as instigators and Romans as executioners that were to blame.

Why was the veil of the temple torn?
"...the new and living way which He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh...." Heb.10:20
The torn veil typifies His death opening the way for us into the Holy of Holies, into the presence of God.

Why was the crucifixion outside the city wall?
The sin offering was burned outside the camp of Israel in the wilderness. Ex.29:14
Part of the Day of Atonement sacrifice was burned outside the camp. Lev.16:27
"...for the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate to sanctify the people through his own blood." "Let us go forth to Him outside the camp and bear the abuse He endured." Heb.13:11, 13

Scripture uses four terms to illustrate what Christ accomplished.
•Atonement = reconciliation with God. An illustration from social relationships. Rom.5:11
•Redemption = buying back from slavery to sin. Ransom is similar, a special case of buying back from captivity, an illustration from the slave market. Gal.3:13; Mk.10:45
•Justification = reckoned as righteous; acquitted; no longer guilty. An illustration from the law court. Rom.4:22
*Propitiation = mercy seat; a gift to turn away God's wrath. An illustration from the Day of Atonement ritual in Israel. Rom.3:25

Praise the Lord Jesus for His monumental work on our behalf.