Criminals were normally executed outside of Jerusalem in a very
public place, usually where two highways might meet. Crucifixion of
criminals was a public matter, and Jesus was now in the process of being
executed as a criminal.
Luke tells us that a man named Simon of Cyrene "was
seized", meaning, "was forced" to carry Jesusí cross. It
appears that Jesus could no longer carry the cross due to its weight and
the abuse that He had taken. Mark mentions Simonís two sons which we
note in Paulís writing, or at least appears to note. It has been
suggested with good evidence that these two sons became Christians, thus
we conclude that Simon himself became a Christian after he carried Jesusí
cross. Thatís not surprising to me. This must have been some experience
In verse 27 Luke tells us that a large number of women were in the
crowd crying because of what was happening to Jesus. But Jesus responded
to their tears by saying, "daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for
me, weep for yourself and for your children. For the time will come when
you will say, "blessed are the barren womenÖ" I believe these
words are spoken concerning the destruction and judgement of Jerusalem.
You might remember Jesus saying earlier that He felt sorry for women with
children when the day came when Rome would totally destroy Jerusalem.
Even in His days of great sorrow Jesus was thinking of
others. He was thinking of the women who would be caught in the cross fire
between Jews and Romans a few decades later. This was typical Jesus. He
was a servant. He did not put Himself first. He constantly thought of
others, even at this critical point in His life.
Jesus quotes from Hosea 10:8 when the prophet says that people will
tell the mountains and hills to fall on them and cover them. This prophecy
was directed towards Samaria at the time, but Jesus uses it as if it was
directed towards the residents of Jerusalem. Both the Samaritan and those
in Jerusalem would rather have the mountains fall on them and bury them
than go through the disaster of their enemies attacking them.
The specific time that Jesus is speaking of here
is the fall of
in 70 A.D.. When Jesus said
that the women who had no children would be blessed in that day was
because Jews actually ate their own children.
Thins got that bad. Jesus
said these things while He was on the cross because what the Jews were
doing at that moment to Him would result in severe judgment in 70 AD.
The very generation that killed Jesus paid for it within forty
years. That's why Jesus
the night before He was killed.
In verse 31 Jesus said, "if men do these things when the tree
is green, what will happen when it is dry"? In my thinking the
"green tree" represents Jerusalem (and the Jews in general) at
the time when Jesus spoke these words. Yes, the Jews were not living as
they should when Jesus was on earth, but in thirty years things were even
worse. They became very dry. Judgement would surely come when Jerusalem
fell to great depth of sin.
Luke tells us that two criminals were also in the procession on
their way to death at the place called Golgotha. This was a hill in the
shape of a skull. "Golgothat" means, skull or cranium. Our
English word "Calvary" comes from the Latin word for
While on the cross Jesus prayed to His Father. He prayed,
"Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing".
First of all who is Jesus praying for? We can at least be assured that He
is praying for the Romans soldiers who actually hung Him on the cross. Is
He praying for men like Pilate, Herod, and even the Jewish leaders? That
might be debatable. If Jerusalem is judged a few decades later and its
leaders killed, then I donít see Jesus praying that God would forgive
the Jews for persuading Pilate to have Him put to death.
The word "forgive" means to "dismiss". Jesus is
asking God not to hold this particular sin against these Roman soldiers.
He is not asking God to dismiss any other sin that these men would have
committed Ė just this one.
The question is asked, "did God actually answer Jesusí prayer
and dismiss this sin without the soldiers repenting? If so, this would go
against the entire concept of forgiveness based on repentance that the New
We thus could conclude that God indeed did lay aside this particular
sin without repentance, or else He led these men into repentance at some
point during or after the crucifixion. I would suggest the second way of
Jesus had to ask God to forgive His killers, but He forgave the
criminal on the cross beside Him. Why did He have to ask God to forgive
the soldiers while He on His own could forgive the criminal It is clear
that the criminal repented, thatís why he was forgiven by Jesus. The
soldiers did not repent, and therefore needed intercession on the behalf
of Jesus. Jesus could not forgive them. He needed to pray to God to bring
So there is another aspect of forgiveness to learn here. When one
repents, we can forgive him on the behalf of God. If the sinner doesnít
repent, we cannot forgive him. We need to intercede on his behalf, praying
that God would show him his need to repent. One cannot be forgiven if he
Luke tells us that the soldiers divided Jesusí clothes by casting
lots. They most likely did the same for the two criminals with Jesus. This
was not an uncommon practice.
In verse 35 we see the crowd of Jews including the leaders
"sneering" at Jesus. They made fun of Him saying, "He saved
others but cannot save Himself". They did not understand that He did
not want to save Himself. That was not Godís plan. Jesusí life was one
of a servant. He humbled Himself greatly by becoming a human being. He
further humbled Himself by the way He lived, that is, serving others
instead of Himself. Paul, in Phil 2 says that He "humbled Himself unto
death, even the death on the cross". The humbling process of Jesus
began at birth and ended on the cross, being killed as a common criminal.
When speaking of the "crowd" that mocked Jesus at this
point, we need to understand that most of them were from the Sanhidren.
Possibly some of the larger crowd that was on Jesus side might have been
swayed over to the other side, but for the most part those mocking Him were Jewish leaders and their supporters.
The soldiers followed the behaviour of the Jewish leaders and they
joined in mocking Jesus. While on the cross, they offered Jesus some very
cheep wine. This wine, almost vinegar like, would have been the common
drink on the street, maybe even like our soft drinks. But Jesus was
hanging on the cross. How could He reach out and take this drink? This was
another jester of cruelty.
Like the Jewish leaders, the soldiers demand that if Jesus was
really the King of the Jews He should save Himself. But once again they
did not understand that Jesus could not save Himself because His death was
the means by which the soldiers, and the rest of mankind, would be saved.
Jesus would not be saved, but we would be saved.
In verse 38 Luke tells us that there was a sign posted on the cross
above Jesus. It read, "the king of the Jews". We know from John
that Pilate had this sign posted. Signs such as this were not uncommon.
Often a sign would be placed on the cross to tell the people the crime the
person had committed. The charge the Jews brought to Pilate was that Jesus
was the King of the Jews. Pilate did not believe this was a legitimate
offense. He wanted to set Jesus free. It appears that Pilate had this sign
posted because this was the charge laid against Jesus by the Jews, but in
fact wasnít really a real crime according to Roman Law. The sign was a
real irritant to the Jewish leaders. They did not like this sign, but Iím
sure that Pilate felt good irritating the Jews as he did. He knew what he
was doing by placing these words above Jesus.
It is very ironic. Jesus was charged by the Jews as being the King
of the Jews. The charge was written above His head. The Jews didnít
really believe He was the King of the Jews, but in fact He was. The sign
was absolutely correct and true.
In verse 39 we see one of the criminals on the cross mocking Jesus
as well, joining in with the Jews and the soldiers saying, "if you
are the King of the Jews, save yourselfí. The sign says that Jesus is
the King of the Jews. The Jewish leaders, the soldiers, and one criminal
mock Jesus as being a king who had no power. The truth is that Jesus was a
king and had great power, but reserved not to use His power.
In verse 40 we learn about the second criminal on the cross beside
Jesus. He was upset with the first criminal who mocked Jesus. The second
criminal said that they were being treated justly. They had committed
crimes worthy of death, but Jesus had done nothing worthy of such a
Then in verse 42 the second criminal said, "Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom". We donít see actual words stating
this man repented, but from what He does say, we can safely conclude that
he had a heart of repentance and believed Jesus to be who He really was.
This man repented and also put his trust in Jesus. This is certain or else
he would not of asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus entered His
kingdom. Youíd almost think that this criminal understood that the
Kingdom that Jesus was going to was not an earthly kingdom. I think He
Jesus answered by saying, "today you will be with me in
paradise". The two important words are "today" and
"paradise". I believe Paradise is Heaven, where God and the
angels are. I believe that "today" meant that very day in which
Jesus and the criminal died.
Verse 44 says that it was about the sixth hour, twelve noon our time
when darkness came over the whole earth. This darkness lasted until the
ninth hour, 3 PM our time. How this darkness came about can only be
guessed at . I believe it was a miraculous darkness, maybe having no
possible natural explanation. Remember, Jesus told the soldiers when they
arrested Him that this was the hour when darkness reigned. While Jesus was
on the cross was the darkest hour in both a spiritual and natural sense.
Then at some point the curtain in the Temple that separated the Most
Holy Place from the Holy Place was torn in half, from top to bottom as
Matthew tells us. It is easy to figure this one out. No longer was there a
special place where man could meat with God. No longer could only a priest
meet with God. The way to God was completely open to all men through
Jesus. In one sense of the word, Jesus Himself took the place of the
Luke records the last words of Jesus while hanging on the cross.
Jesus said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit". The
earthly body of Jesus died at this point and His spirit went to be with
the Father. This is the ultimate in making God Lord of oneís life. We
should be able to say at the end of our life, if we have the mental
capabilities to do so, "Jesus, into your hands I commit my
spirit". Or in other words, "Jesus I give you myself. Here I am.
I am completely yours, both in life and in death".
Those who stood close to the cross, mainly the soldiers, when seeing
all that happened, and hearing Jesusí last words "beat their
breasts". They knew that Jesus was a special man. He was not the
criminal as He was charged to be. Those who mocked Him were now terrified,
knowing that they had participated in a great injustice. It might be quite
possible that Jesusí prayer to His Father, "forgive them because
they donít know what they are doingí was beginning to be answered. The
beating of their breasts symbolizes the sorrow they had as they saw what
was happening. It is quite possible that these soldiers were In the
process of repenting, and if so, the Heavenly Father was also in the
process of forgiving them, answering Jesusí prayer.
Verse 49 tells us that "all who knew" Jesus, including the
women, stood from a distance and watched what was happening. Thereís
probably a legitimate reason why they stood at a distance. It is quite
possible that the soldiers would not let them get closer and that there
was a viewing area for the general public to watch such an execution These
followers of Jesus must have been deeply disturbed and full of sorrow and