Luke 23:47-56

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

April 5, 2000


Jesus has been crucified on a Roman cross. As He was nearing death, one of the thieves that was crucified with Him kept making fun of Jesus, but the other asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into His kingdom.

When Jesus died, the sins of the entire world were heaped upon Him. There was three hours of strange darkness. Jesus breathed His last breath, He asked God to forgive the people, and then declared (in John 19:30), “It is finished”, proclaiming that the sins of the world had been completely paid for once and for all. At that point, the veil in the temple that stood to keep priests out of the Holy of Holies was torn in two, from the top to the bottom, showing that the way into God’s presence had been opened up.

As we read last week:

(Heb 10:19-22 KJV) Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, {20} By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; {21} And having an high priest over the house of God; {22} Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we are now able to draw near to God. God wants us to know Him. God wants us to be close to Him.

:47-49 The Centurion and witnesses

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

centurionhekatontarches – an officer in the Roman army in charge of a hundred men.

The Roman centurions were special men. They are mentioned several times in the scriptures, and always in a favorable light. It seems that they were always outstanding men.

“Polybius (vi. 24), states that the centurions were chosen by merit, and so were men remarkable not so much for their daring courage as for their deliberation, constancy, and strength of mind.”[1]

These were “manly men”.

Jesus had an encounter with another noble centurion earlier in His ministry.

(Luke 7:1-10 KJV) Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. {2} And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. {3} And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. {4} And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: {5} For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
The Jewish elders in Capernaum loved this Gentile man because he had shown such kindness and compassion on the Jews.
 {6} Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: {7} Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. {8} For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. {9} When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. {10} And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
Jesus commended the centurion’s faith.

The first Gentile convert, Cornelius (Acts 10), was a centurion.

This one at the cross reminds us of John Wayne. J

he glorifieddoxazo – to think, suppose, be of opinion; to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate; to honour, do honour to, hold in honour; to make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendour

righteousdikaios – righteous, observing divine laws; in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God

Matthew and Mark record something a little more specific:

(Mat 27:54 KJV) Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

(Mark 15:39 KJV) And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.


God can use a few good men.

For some reason, some people get this goofy idea that Christianity is for wimpy, weak people.
And yet many of the people that Jesus drew to Himself were the manliest of men.

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

smotetupto – to strike, beat, smite; of mourners, to smite their breast

breastsstethos (“stethoscope”) – the breast

:49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

stoodhistemi – to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set; to stand; to stand by or near

acquaintancegnostos – known, notable

afar offmakrothen – from afar, afar

that followedsunakoloutheo – to follow together with others, to accompany

beholdinghorao – to see with the eyes

Jesus hadn’t come to Jerusalem by Himself. He had a group of people that had followed Him all the way from Galilee, including His disciples.

Earlier in the afternoon, there were some who stood close to Jesus.

(John 19:25-27 KJV) Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. {26} When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! {27} Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

But now as the afternoon has progressed, they’ve all stood back a distance.

Jesus had told them the night before:
(Mark 14:27 KJV) And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

When He died, He died alone.


Jesus understands loneliness

One of the most difficult things to do in life is to go through tough times by yourself.
I think that loneliness is worst at these times, when you are looking for comfort, and everyone has taken a step back from you.
Jesus understands.
And He won’t step back. Draw near to Him. He understands.

(Heb 4:15-16 KJV) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

David wrote,
(Psa 27:10 KJV) When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

:50-56 Joseph of Arimathaea

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

counsellorbouleutes – a councillor, senator; a member of the Sanhedrin

goodagathos – of good constitution or nature; useful, salutary; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honourable

justdikaios – righteous, observing divine laws; in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God

:51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

consentedsugkatatithemai – to deposit together with another; to deposit one’s vote in the urn with another; to consent to, vote for, agree with

counselboule – counsel, purpose

deedpraxis – a doing, a mode of acting, a deal, a transaction; in a bad sense, wicked deed, crime, wicked doings (our practices i.e. trickery)

ArimathaeaArimathaia – “heights”; the name of several cities in Palestine. The one mentioned in Mt 27:57; Mr 15:43; Lu 23:51; Joh 19:38 appears to have been the same as the birthplace of Samuel in Mount Ephraim.

(1 Sam 1:1 KJV) Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:

waited forprosdechomai – to receive to one’s self, to admit, to give access to one’s self; to expect: the fulfilment of promises

Robertson: “It is fairly certain that both Joseph and Nicodemus were suspected of sympathy with Jesus and so were not invited to the trial of Jesus.”

:52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.

went untoproserchomai – to come to, approach; draw near to; to assent to

beggedaiteo – to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require

The verb is in a “middle voice” (asked for himself), which carries the idea that Joseph was asking Pilate for the body as a personal favor.

John tells us:

(John 19:38 KJV) And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

There was a part of Joseph that was timid about telling others that he believed in Jesus.
I wonder if Joseph later wished he hadn’t been so timid about being a disciple of Jesus.

Mark adds a word here to give us a flavor of Joseph:

Mr 15:43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.

boldlytolmao – not to dread or shun through fear; to bear, endure; to bring one’s self to; to be bold; bear one’s self boldly, deal boldly
Even though Joseph was fearful of the Jews, he went boldly to Pilate.


Just do what’s right

We don’t always do what’s right the first time. Sometimes we have to think about what we need to do.
What really counts is that we learn to do what’s right, and then do it.
(Mat 21:28-31 KJV) But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. {29} He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. {30} And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. {31} Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

It’s better to have said “no”, and then turn around and do what’s right than to say you’ll do what’s right and never do it.

Too often we can be like Joseph and be too fearful in our witness about Jesus. God can give you boldness.

:53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.

took it downkathaireo – to take down; without the notion of violence: to detach from the cross, one crucified

wrapped itentulisso – to roll up, wrap together

linensindon – linen cloth, esp. that which was fine and costly, in which the bodies of the dead were wrapped; thing made of fine cloth

laid ittithemi – to set, put, place

a sepulchremnema – a monument or memorial to perpetuate the memory of any person or thing; a sepulchral monument; a sepulchre or tomb

hewn in stonelaxeutos – cut out of stone

was laidkeimai – to lie; of an infant; of one buried; of things that quietly cover some spot

This was a fulfillment of prophecy:

(Isa 53:9 KJV) And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.


Hamster and Frog

A mangy looking guy who goes into a restaurant and orders food. The waiter says, “No way. I don’t think you can pay for it.” The guy says, “You’re right. I don’t have any money, but if I show you something you haven’t seen before, will you give me the food?” “Deal!” replies the waiter. The guy reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a hamster. He puts the hamster on the counter and it runs to the end, across the room, up the piano, jumps on the keyboard, and starts playing Gershwin songs. And the hamster is really good. The waiter says, “You’re right. I’ve never seen anything like that before. That hamster is truly good on the piano.” The guy downs the hamburger he ordered and asks the waiter for another. “Money or another miracle,” says the waiter. The guy reaches into his coat again and pulls out a frog. He puts the frog on the counter, and the frog starts to sing. He has a marvelous voice and great pitch. A fine singer. A stranger from the other end of the counter runs over to the guy and offers him $300 for the frog. The guy says, “It’s a deal.” He takes the three hundred and gives the stranger the frog. The stranger runs out of the restaurant. The waiter says to the guy, “Are you crazy? You sold a singing frog for $300? It must have been worth millions.” “Not so,” says the guy, “the hamster is also a ventriloquist.”


It was not a trick

Some people have the silliest ideas about Jesus’ death and resurrection. People have cooked up all kinds of silly suggestions that the Bible clearly refutes.
Matthew also records:
(Mat 27:60 KJV) …and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

This was for safety sake, to keep wild animals from getting at the body. The gravesite was secure.

One of the suggestions that critics make is that the disciples must have taken the body.
Matthew goes on to record:
(Mat 27:62-66 KJV) Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, {63} Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. {64} Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. {65} Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. {66} So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Not only was the body safe from animals, but it was protected against the disciples stealing it as well. The disciples couldn’t have stolen the body.

Another of the suggestions that critics make was that perhaps Jesus didn’t really die. Perhaps he just “swooned”, or fainted, then was placed in a cool, dark tomb, where he revived.
(John 19:31-37 KJV) The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. {32} Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. {33} But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: {34} But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. {35} And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. {36} For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. {37} And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

The soldiers were trained executioners. It was their job to make sure that their victims actually died. The breaking of the legs was done to hasten death, so the man could no longer push himself up to breath. But these soldiers could tell that Jesus had already died, and that’s why they didn’t break His legs. In addition, the piercing of the side was done to confirm the death, and the blood and water coming out showed that death had already occurred.

Jesus was definitely dead.  Next week we’ll begin to look at the fact that Jesus definitely rose from the dead.

:54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

the preparationparaskeue – a making ready, preparation, equipping; that which is prepared, equipment; in the NT in a Jewish sense, the day of preparation; the day on which the Jews made necessary preparation to celebrate a sabbath or a feast

The word paraskeue is the word in Modern Greek for the day “Friday”.

the sabbathsabbaton – the seventh day of each week which was a sacred festival on which the Israelites were required to abstain from all work; the institution of the sabbath, the law for keeping holy every seventh day of the week; a single sabbath, sabbath day; seven days, a week

drew onepiphosko – to grow light, to dawn. This doesn’t mean that it’s literally “near dawn”, but that the Sabbath day was about to start. The Sabbath started at 6:00 p.m.

The Jews did not want to have dead men hanging on crosses all through their Sabbath, so they wanted things sped up so the bodies would be taken down before 6:00 p.m., when the Sabbath began.

:55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.

followed afterkatakoloutheo – to follow after

came withsunerchomai – to come together; to assemble; to go (depart) or come with one, to accompany one

beheldtheaomai – to behold, look upon, view attentively, contemplate (often used of public shows); of important persons that are looked on with admiration; to view, take a view of

the sepulchremnema – a monument or memorial to perpetuate the memory of any person or thing; a sepulchral monument; a sepulchre or tomb

was laidtithemi – to set, put, place; to place or lay; to put down, lay down

A question that critics make is, “What if the apostles went to the wrong tomb?”

Keep in mind, Joseph knows what tomb he placed the body.

Here we see that the women also knew what tomb Jesus was laid in.

And then there was the guard at the tomb. Did they guard the wrong tomb?

:56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

they returnedhupostrepho – to turn back; to turn about; to return

preparedhetoimazo – to make ready, prepare; to make the necessary preparations, get everything ready

spicesaroma – spice, perfume

ointmentsmuron (“myrrh”) – ointment

the sabbathsabbaton – the seventh day of each week which was a sacred festival on which the Israelites were required to abstain from all work; the institution of the sabbath, the law for keeping holy every seventh day of the week; a single sabbath, sabbath day; seven days, a week

restedhesuchazo – to keep quiet; to rest, cease from labour; to lead a quiet life, said of those who are not running hither and thither, but stay at home and mind their business; to be silent, i.e. to say nothing, hold one’s peace

the commandmententole – an order, command, charge, precept, injunction; that which is prescribed to one by reason of his office; a commandment; a prescribed rule in accordance with which a thing is done; a precept relating to lineage, of the Mosaic precept concerning the priesthood; ethically used of the commandments in the Mosaic law or Jewish tradition


God loves you

(1 John 3:16 KJV) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
Jesus willingly died on a cross, taking our own sins upon His body.
He did it because He loves us.
We should NEVER doubt His love for us.

[1]Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.