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Luke 23:38-46

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 18, 2017


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words  Video=75wpm

Video:  Skit Guys – Man of God

We’ve arrived at the pinnacle of Jesus’ ministry.

Luke told us what Jesus’ main purpose was in life:

(Luke 19:10 NKJV) for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
He would do this by dying for our sins.
Jesus is now on the cross between two thieves.

We saw Jesus arrive in Jerusalem on the previous Sunday, Palm Sunday, to the shouts of an adoring crowd, crying “Hosanna”.

On the following Thursday night, Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples before taking them back to spend the night at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Judas showed up with a group of Jewish leaders and soldiers.

They took Jesus to the high priest’s house, and then early on Friday morning Jesus was condemned before the Sanhedrin.

Then Jesus was taken to Pilate because they needed his condemnation of Jesus in order for Jesus to be put to death.

When Pilate couldn’t find anything wrong with Jesus, he sent Him to Herod, and when Herod couldn’t find anything wrong, Jesus was sent back to Pilate.

Pilate has tried to get out of sentencing Jesus to death, but eventually gave in to the pressure of the crowd and the Jewish leaders.

Jesus was scourged, and then sent to be crucified.

23:38-46 On the Cross

:38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS

LatinRhomaikos – Latin  = “of Rome’s strength”; the language spoken by the Romans

inscriptionepigraphe – an inscription, title; in the NT of an inscription in black letters upon a whitened tablet; of the inscription on a coin

:38 Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew

These were the three main languages that of that area. 

Greek was the common language spoken throughout the world.  Latin was the language of the Romans.  Hebrew (or, Aramaic) was the common language that the Jews spoke on a day-to-day basis.

The point of using these three languages was so that most of the people passing by the crucifixion would be able to see what these criminals did to deserve this kind of death.

:38 an inscription also was written over Him

It was Pilate who decided what should be written.  John recorded a little more detail:

(John 19:19–22 NKJV) —19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS 20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. 21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.” ’ ” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
titletitlos – an inscription, giving the accusation or crime for which a criminal suffered.

It was customary to have the charge of the condemned man hanging near the criminal listing his name, his place of residence, and the charge against him.

The Romans called this plaque the titulus, or, the “title”.
This “title” was often carried on a pole with the condemned criminal as they made their way through the streets on the way to be crucified.
For Jesus’ crucifixion:
Name: Jesus
Residence: Nazareth
Criminal charge: King of the Jews
In some artwork and crucifixes, you will see the initials INRI on the “title” above Jesus’ head.
It is the abbreviation of the Latin,

Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews)

Even though the chief priests disagreed with the title, I’d say that Pilate got it right.

:39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”

were hangedkremannumi – to hang up, suspend; used of one hanging on a cross

criminalskakourgos – a malefactor

blasphemedblasphemeo – to speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, calumniate, blaspheme; to be evil spoken of, reviled, railed at

savesozo – to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction

:39 save Yourself and us


Not a failure

To this first thief on the cross next to Jesus, Jesus was a huge failure.
The people had cried out to Jesus as He rode the donkey into town the previous Sunday, “Hosanna”, or, “save now”.
As Jesus was crucified, the Jewish rulers and Roman soldiers have already mocked Him, challenging Jesus to save Himself.
And He’s still on the cross, about to die.
What this thief doesn’t realize is that Jesus death WAS the victory it was intended to be.
(Colossians 2:13–15 NLT) —13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

It was at the cross that Jesus saved us.  He paid the final price to remove our sins by dying in our place.

:40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?

rebukedepitimao – to tax with fault, rate, chide, rebuke, reprove, censure severely

fearphobeo – to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); to fear, be afraid; to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm; to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience

condemnationkrima – a decree, judgments; judgment; in a forensic sense; the punishment with which one is sentenced

:40 the other, answering, rebuked him

Matthew records that initially, both thieves were making fun of Jesus just like the Jewish leaders were:

(Matthew 27:43–44 NKJV) —43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
But something happened as the afternoon wore on. 
As this second thief watched the manner in which Jesus suffered, he was changed.

:41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

justlydikaios – just, agreeably to right; properly, as is right

due rewardaxios – weighing, having weight, having the weight of another thing of like value, worth as much; befitting, congruous, corresponding to a thing

we receiveapolambano – to receive; of what is due or promised; to take again or back, to recover; to receive by way of retribution

deedsprasso – to exercise, practise, to be busy with, carry on; to undertake, to do

wrongatopos – out of place, not befitting, unbecoming

has doneprasso – to exercise, practise, to be busy with, carry on; to undertake, to do

:41 the due reward of our deeds

This second thief recognizes that they are getting what they deserve, but Jesus had done nothing wrong.

It’s the same with us.

The Bible says that we have all sinned.
(Romans 3:23 NKJV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
The Bible also tells us what the penalty for sin is.
(Romans 6:23 NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We deserve death, but Jesus died in our place.

:42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

remembermimnesko – to remind; to be recalled or to return to one’s mind, to remind one’s self of, to remember

Lordkurios – he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord

:42 when You come into Your kingdom

This thief was beginning to grasp the truth about Jesus.

Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world.


Which Thief?

It seems that these two thieves are an illustration of the world around us.
We are all condemned to death because of our sins.  We are all on the cross because we belong there.

Some will mock.

Others will choose to believe.

:43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Assuredlyamen – firm; verily, amen; at the beginning of a discourse-surely, truly, of a truth

todaysemeron – this (very) day); what has happened today

:43 with Me in Paradise


– among the Persians a grand enclosure or preserve, hunting ground, park, shady and well watered, in which wild animals, were kept for the hunt; it was enclosed by walls and furnished with towers for the hunters; a garden, pleasure ground; the part of Hades which was thought by the later Jews to be the abode of the souls of pious until the resurrection: but some understand this to be a heavenly paradise; the upper regions of the heavens. According to the early church Fathers, the paradise in which our first parents dwelt before the fall still exists, neither on the earth or in the heavens, but above and beyond the world; heaven



The origin of the word goes back to the ancient Persians, where it was used to describe a great garden enclosed by a wall.
Here’s a garden in the Netherlands.
Video: Amazing Drone Video shows Dutch tulips blooming
The Jews picked up the term and used it to describe the Garden of Eden.
It then came to be used to describe the place of the righteous after death.
Prior to Jesus rising from the dead, the soul of every single person who died went to a place in the center of the earth known as Sheol.
Sheol had two compartments, one for the righteous, and the other for the unrighteous.  Jesus described it in His story about a poor man named Lazarus:

(Luke 16:19–26 NKJV) —19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

The place of torment is also called hell. 

The place of comfort was known as Abraham’s bosom, or, paradise.

When Jesus died on the cross, He descended into Sheol, to paradise.
(1 Peter 3:18–19 NKJV) —18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,

What did He preach?  Probably something like, “I have paid for you, let’s go!”

Jesus then took those in paradise and took them with Him to heaven, before God’s throne.
Paul wrote that Jesus “led captivity captive” (Eph. 4:8)
(Ephesians 4:8–9 NKJV) —8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?
Now, when a believer dies, they go immediately to heaven to be in God’s presence, while an unbeliever still goes to hell.
In talking about the possibility of his own death versus living a longer life, Paul wrote,

(Philippians 1:23 NKJV) For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

He also wrote,

(2 Corinthians 5:8 NKJV) We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

When a believer dies, they are “absent from their body”, and are immediately in heaven.

It’s after the resurrection of Jesus that the term “Paradise” now refers to heaven itself, because that’s where Paradise has been relocated to.
Paul wrote about his own experience of catching a glimpse of heaven when he wrote about being

(2 Corinthians 12:4 NKJV) …caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words…

Jesus tells the church in Ephesus:

(Revelation 2:7 NKJV) …To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’

:44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

darknessskotos – darkness

:44 sixth hour … darkness … ninth hour

The hours started at daybreak, or 6:00am.

The sixth hour is noon on our clocks.
The ninth hour is 3:00pm.

This is not a solar eclipse.

The Passover takes place during the full moon, and a solar eclipse is not possible during a full moon.
A solar eclipse doesn’t last three hours.
This is something supernatural.

Perhaps it’s during this darkness that the Father is heaping on Jesus the sins of the world.

(Isaiah 53:6 NKJV) All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

:45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

darkenedskotizo – to cover with darkness, to darken

was tornschizo – to cleave, cleave asunder, rend; to divide by rending

the veilkatapetasma – a veil spread out, a curtain

the templenaos – used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies (in classical Greek it is used of the sanctuary or cell of the temple, where the image of gold was placed which is distinguished from the whole enclosure)

in twomesos – middle; the midst

:45 the veil of the temple was torn in two

The main part of the Temple in Jerusalem contained two rooms. 

The outer room was called the Holy Place, and the inner room was called the Holy of Holies.
The Holy of Holies was meant to be a picture of God’s very throne room.
The priests went into the Holy Place every day to perform their priestly duties, but even they were not allowed into the Holy of Holies just any old time.
Only the High Priest was allowed into the Holy of Holies, only once a year, and only after the proper sacrifices to pay for his own sins.
There was a “veil” or curtain as a barrier between the two rooms.
It was this curtain, this veil that was torn. 

The Bible says that it’s our sins that keep us from God.

(Isaiah 59:2 NKJV) But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
When Jesus died on the cross, He paid for all of our sins, once and for all, and removed the very barrier that was keeping us from God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Matthew records:

(Matthew 27:51 NKJV) Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,
It was torn from the top to the bottom because God was the one who tore it.
God showed the world that the way into His presence was opened.

The writer to the Hebrews puts it all together:

(Hebrews 10:14–22 NLT) —14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. 15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, 16 “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” 18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. 19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.
The author is going beyond the earthly Temple and is speaking of the veil torn in heaven.
For us, the way into God’s presence is open because of what Jesus did on the cross.
21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.


Intimacy with God

We call God our “Father”.  He’s a good, good Father.
A Daddy’s greatest joy is to be close to His children.
Video:  A Very Special Daddy
God wants us to know Him and to be near Him.
Ultimately, He wants you to be with Him in paradise.

He has made it possible for the very thing that separates us from Him to be taken out of the way.

He has paid for our sin.

He also wants you to be close to Him now, not just when you die.

(Romans 8:15 NLT) So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

In English we don’t say “Abba”, we say “Daddy”.

Video: Dove – Calls for Dad

Because God has done His part in being close to us through the sacrifice of Jesus, there’s only one thing left to do.

(James 4:8a NKJV) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

:46 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.

cried outphoneo – to sound, emit a sound, to speak; of men: to cry, cry out, cry aloud, speak with a loud voice

voicephone – a sound, a tone; a voice

loudmegas – great

I commitparatithemi – to place beside or near or set before; to place down (from one’s self or for one’s self) with any one; to deposit; to intrust, commit to one’s charge

spiritpneuma – spirit

He breathed His lastekpneo (“out” + “spirit”) – to breathe out, breathe out one’s life, breathe one’s last, expire

:46 Father, into Your hands…

Matthew records those last moments this way:

(Matthew 27:46 NKJV) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Two things were happening when Jesus was saying this.

1. Jesus was indeed experiencing a separation from the Father for the very first time.

The Father and Son had always had close intimate fellowship since eternity past.

Yet with Jesus taking on the sins of the world, for the moment the Father turns His face away.

2.  Jesus is playing the role of the synagogue worship leader by telling the people before Him to look up Psalm 22.

Though some of the people thought He was calling for Elijah, He was quoting the first line of Psalm 22, written 1,000 before Jesus, a prophecy all about the crucifixion.

Yet here in Luke, after being cut off from the Father, Jesus now puts His life into the Father’s hands.

:46 He breathed His last

John records Jesus saying a few more words before actually dying:

(John 19:30 NKJV) So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
finishedteleo – to bring to a close, to finish.

It’s a word used to describe the payment of a tax bill.

The word is in the “perfect” tense (tetelestai), meaning that the bill has been paid in the past, and continues to be paid through the present.

It was at this moment that your sin and my sin were paid in full.
That’s why the veil was torn in two.
Some preachers make it sound that after dying Jesus had to fight a great battle against Satan for your soul.  Not so.  At this point, the debt has been paid.  Your sins were paid for.

:42 Lord, remember me


Simple salvation

Jesus promises heaven to this guy, and all he said was “Lord remember me”.
I think sometimes in the interest of doctrinal purity, we make salvation a little too complicated.
I’ve had people rebuke me because I didn’t mention the importance of repentance at one service.
Yet there’s no mention of it here either.
Some churches teach you must be baptized to be saved.
The thief was never baptized.
Some churches teach you must eat of the communion elements, the “Eucharist” in order to be saved.  And of course it must be from their church.
The thief never does this.
This thief simply makes a request of Jesus because he believes Jesus is the Savior.
Paul wrote,
(Ephesians 2:8–9 NKJV) —8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

The concept of “grace” is about getting something that you don’t deserve.  It’s a gift given to someone who isn’t worthy of it.


A man dies. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter says, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.” “Okay,” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.” “That’s wonderful,” says St. Peter, “that’s worth three points!” “Three points?” he says. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service.” “Terrific!” says St. Peter. “That’s certainly worth a point.” “One point!?!! I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.” “Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” he says. “Two points!?!!” Exasperated, the man cries, “At this rate it’ll just be by the grace of God that I ever get into heaven.” “Bingo, 100 points! Come on in!”

Paul says that our salvation is only by God’s grace, because of what God has done for us, despite what we’ve done to deserve it.

Salvation isn’t earned by doing a certain amount of good works.

Salvation was made possible by what Jesus has done for us.

He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

The only thing we do to receive this gift of grace is to believe.