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Christmas Reflections: Walk Through Luke - Chapter 23



The Gospel of Luke tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.


December 23

Day 23

Luke chapter 23

There are 24 chapters in this book

They bring us through the story of Jesus - the reason for this season.


I also include in the bottom or comments some “extras” like short videos and songs that you may have never heard (or artists you may not know) that resonate with me during this holiday time.


Each post will start with who is who so that you can get a solid understanding of what this chapter is about. I encourage you to read the chapter in your own Bible after you read this. If you don’t have a Bible there are lots of free apps. I use several versions in my studying to ensure I have a full understanding of what I’ve read.


Thank you to the many of you who have engaged in the discussion or who have read these words and wrestled with or embraced what they mean to you personally. These are just my interpretation of each chapter. The thoughts come from researching multiple versions of the Bible. I used The Bible app. It’s free!


Each post starts with outlining who is involved in that chapter, followed by details of what each chapter says - how Jesus engaged - interspersed with my own thoughts. I write these posts to go deeper myself and to keep in my conscious mind how much Jesus loves us. Now - O come let us adore Him back...


This is my commentary.


Who was Luke?

A physician, a researcher, a traveling friend of Paul (mentioned in Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24), perhaps someone researching facts to help the legal case for Paul while in prison in Rome, a non-Jew, the only Gentile author of a book in the New Testament. He penned not only Luke, but also Acts.


New characters continue to be introduced - new in this chapter:

* Pilate

* Herod

* angry crowds

* Simon, a man from Cyrene

* Unnamed women

* Soldiers

* Joseph - a member of the High Jewish council


TENSIONS INCREASE

Remember yesterday Jesus had spent all night being beaten and threatened. Now in this chapter - the Jewish leaders hastily took Jesus to the government leader, Pilate. They wanted to press charges and even lied telling Pilate that Jesus undermined the law and order, told people not to pay their taxes, and called himself the Messiah.


Jesus came to settle chaos, share the most important of God’s laws (love Him and one another) and to create order. He even directly (if you remember a few days ago he told the Jewish questioners that they were to pay Caesar what was his, and pay God what was His).


Have you ever worked with or been associated with people who twist your words for their own benefit? They most definitely took only bits and pieces of what really happened and then brought that to Pilate.

  • What was the good in hurting another?

  • What good is climbing a ladder by stepping on others?

  • What good came from these lies?


It had to happen this way. Sin was and is strong on this planet and there was separation from man and God. Jesus knew He was taking that entire burden with soon-to-be outstretched arms, pouring out blood and water, beaten and bruised - for you - for me - and for them.


Pilate asked Jesus if it was true what was said that He was the “king of the Jews” and Jesus answered by saying “those are your words not mine.”-

remember a few days ago Jesus asked his followers “who do you say I am?”

Who do we think God is?

Who do you think Jesus was?


If what He taught and said wasn’t true - then why is He the most controversial figure in history and with more books sold than anything ever to be on a best seller list.

People have put their lives at risk and even lost it for him. I believe Jesus was sent to Earth as God’s Son who was with Him from the beginning of time and will be until - forever. I also believe when I leave this earthly body I will be joined back with Him for eternity.


Not everyone believes this but perhaps during this month you have read or felt something nudging your heart. This isn't like believing in Santa (even though I still do). This is about your eternity. If you have had a change of heart - just quietly tell God. This is between you and Him. He wants to hear from you.


QUESTIONS

Pilate told the crowd gathered that it didn’t seem like Jesus had done anything wrong and that He was harmless. Even he could see this and yet still allowed the bad decision of men to prevail.


It’s easy to fight against God when sin is easier.

The enemy is strong on this planet and wants nothing more than war. He won’t and doesn’t win in the end.


CHANGE OF HEART - wrong direction

This particular day - the people were adamant. The people who had spent days listening to Him teach now said He was stirring up unrest with His teaching (which comes straight from the Old Testament). They said He was disturbing peace from Galilee to Judea.

They even called Him dangerous.

Jesus brings peace but if peace is thinking we can just live however we want - then maybe He did disturb the peace for some people.


The danger is in not doing your own due diligence to read deeper about what He said and what prophets said about Him.

He came for you - with a gift you can never earn or buy or even give back. You just have to take it.

Simple but not easy.


EASY TO MAKE A BAD DECISION

Pilate may have even known what many denied and he didn’t want to have the pressure of condemning the King of the universe. He clutched onto what the Jews said about Jesus being Galilean. That was Herod’s jurisdiction and he also happened to be in Jerusalem for a few days. So Pilate sent Jesus off. It became then easy for him (or so he thought) to wipe his hands of this issue and not have to be entangled in this mess that would afflict the nations for thousands of years to come.


Remember from a few chapters back - Herod wanted to see Jesus for a long time. There was 3 decades of history and mystery.


Herod asked Jesus many questions but Jesus remained silent. The accusers continued to add in their worthless 2 cents. They felt like they were finally being avenged but oh whoa unto them for their trespasses.


Herod was offended that Jesus would not show him respect with answers and so he turned his soldiers on him who dressed Jesus up in a robe, savagely beat him further and mocked Him more before sending Him back to Pilate.

Those two leaders had never been close and suddenly now they needed to come together.

Pilate told the leaders that both he and Herod found nothing wrong with Jesus or the claims of his accusers. He said He didn’t do anything wrong including deserving death and would give Him a warning and just let Him go.


JOY TO THE WORLD - THE LORD IS COME

Let Earth receive her King


Strangely the crowd went wild and shouted “kill Him and give us Barrabas”. He was a criminal known for causing riots and murder.


Pilate didn’t want to condemn Jesus - so said a second time He would be released but the crowd escalated their shouts yelling out for Pilate to crucify Jesus - one of the most horrific and brutal ways to die.


Pilate tried a 3rd time (3 is such an important number in the Bible). He told the crowd the man didn’t commit any crimes let alone ones that deserved crucifixion.


ANGELS NEVER STOP SINGING

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Worthy is the Lamb.


The Lamb was about to be slain - a sacrifice for even these people:

The crowds became a shouting mob and wouldn’t relent until Pilate gave in. At that point he must have decided it wasn’t worth the fight so he pardoned Barrabas and gave the people their criminal and said they could do what they wanted to Jesus.


AWAY IN A MANAGER

"The little Lord Jesus no crying He makes"


Jesus had already been severely beaten and was exhausted. As the soldiers prodded Jesus up to the hill called Skull Hill - they grabbed a man named Simon from the crowd to carry the cross behind Jesus.

He didn’t volunteer - he was chosen.

Imagine what the people may have thought if they saw Simon.

  • Was he guilty?

  • Why was he carrying a cross?

  • What was happening?

  • Were there people oblivious to what was going on outside the comforts of their own homes?


What about those who didn’t turn against Jesus.

Not everyone was against Jesus. Many women were weeping and wailing as the Savior stumbled along the journey. He was bleeding profusely and disfigured from the beatings. The man they believed to be God incarnate needed another man to bear the cross for him for just a short while. And yet he persisted and kept walking for US.


Jesus turned to them and said “daughters of Jerusalem don’t cry for me. Cry for yourselves and your children for a time is coming when people will say ‘lucky are women who never conceived’. People will start calling out to mountains saying ‘fall down on us’ and to hills saying ‘cover us up’. If people would do these things to a live green tree - imagine what they’d do to deadwood.”


THREE MEN - not all wise

2 other criminals were also taken along for the execution. 3 men hanging. One on each side of Jesus.

Jesus called out to God and said “Father - please forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing.” “Them” includes US. Jesus intervened and asked for forgiveness on our behalf.

Why is it that we know to not do things that go against Jesus and yet daily we do. I know I fail and stumble daily. I’m not proud of that - but somehow I am reminded that He keeps forgiving. He keeps seeking. He keeps intervening for me. And for you. Every day.


Not everyone asks for or wants this love.


"Star of wonder. Star of Light. Star of royal beauty bright. Westward leading, still proceeding. Guide us to thy Perfect Light."


Back to the chapter.

Meanwhile the soldiers were gambling by throwing dice to divide up his clothes. People stood there staring at Jesus and some continued to jeer at Him saying “He saved others now let’s see Him save Himself! The Messiah and chosen one? Yeah right.”


The soldiers thought this was funny and poked fun at Him telling Him to save Himself. Nobody could just let Him die quietly.

He endured significant torture before the hanging. He should have died even before he was brutally nailed to the tree.

Do you know people, bullies, who just won’t let something go? Why did the people have to taunt and jeer? Did it make them feel better about themselves?


Focus on yourself.

If we all focused on ourselves a lot of the strife in this world would diminish.


When you speak to people - what comes out of your heart mouth and mind? Is it from love? If not - what purpose does it have? Will it heal or hurt?


"ALL HAIL THE POW'R OF JESUS NAME

Let Angels prostrate fall

Bring forth the royal diadem

And crown Him Lord of All"


There was a sign hanging over Jesus saying “king of the Jews” and one of the criminals even in his own hanging also taunted Jesus telling Him to save Himself. The other criminal shouted out to the man saying “shut up! Do you have no fear of God?! You’re getting the same as Him. We deserve it but He doesn’t.” Then he turned to Christ and said “Jesus please remember me when You get to Heaven and enter your kingdom.”


"DON'T WORRY ABOUT A THING

'Cause every little thing gonna be alright"


Jesus looked at him and said “do not worry - today you’ll be with me in paradise.” Somehow that gave the man peace - because he believed. Here he was nailed and hanging next to the Lord and yet he believed by simply asking to be forgiven and remembered.


We all come into this world innocent and unblemished. What turns for us? When does darkness first enter our minds and hearts?

Darkness was about to cover the land where Jesus hung.

It was about noon and the sun disappeared. It was completely dark for about 3 hours. The temple curtain split right down the middle and Jesus shouted out “Father I commit myself to you and place my life in your hands”. It was at that moment He died.


When we commit our lives to His hands - that’s the moment we actually live. Quite a contrast.


The captain was there and said “this man was innocent and good.” Imagine the remorse of those who knew they were party to doing something they knew was wrong.

  • Did they do it to allegiance to their king?

  • To go along with the crowd?

  • Because they needed their paycheck?

  • For whatever reason they made a choice even if they knew it was wrong.

  • What choices are we making?


There were Jews and non-Jews who believed in and had faith in this man who was born in a stable, raised as a carpenter, and changed the world forevermore.


People were overcome with grief in these moments and most left the gruesome show for the day.

  • Did they feel like they were wrong about Jesus?

  • Or that evil was stronger on earth than good?

  • Did they start to question if Jesus was really God or not?


When things are going well it’s easy to believe. When things get tough our beliefs are challenged.

I pray Lord that when I’m most challenged that I remember you chose the cross, you chose me, you were here before life began, you rose, intervene for me daily, pursue me continually, and are coming back for me.

Do we stay next to Jesus when things are at our lowest?

Those women I mentioned from Galilee and others who were close to Jesus stayed - but at a distance to keep vigil. Jesus was bleeding from every orifice. The smell of death of 3 bodies was lingering. Maybe they had no energy left to move and leave. Staying wasn’t bringing Jesus back to life. Yet.


Joseph was a man of good heart and character and a man who disagreed with his peers (the other high Jewish leaders). He was from Arimathea and lived his life waiting for God to enter Earth.


He was a powerful person and went to Pilate asking for the body of Jesus. When the Body was lifted down off the cross - Joseph wrapped Him in a linen shroud and brought Him to a tomb he owned that was chiseled into a rock mountain that had never been used.


The sabbath was about to begin and the women who were closest to Jesus followed along to see where the body would be placed so they could prepare spices and perfumes. Then they rested the next day since it was a requirement of the Sabbath.


Today is the day before the last chapter in this book recorded by Luke.

Rest in these words. The story isn’t over yet. In fact it’s just beginning. The baby born in the manger grew up and indeed was brutally killed BUT was about to rise again.



—-


Tomorrow more to come with Ch 24 - last chapter of Luke and yet just the beginning for us all.


PRAYER

Lord, thank You for Your word. Lord - when I’m asked who you are let me not be afraid to say what I think and not question what you’ve said or where you’ve come from. Help me Lord to seek out the right crowd and continue to share who you really are and that you’re coming back for all of us. Thank you Lord for this chapter that highlights the importance women have in your story and how close they were to you. Thank you Lord for coming ever near me. Lord although you had to endure great suffering for me, I don’t deserve your love and grace but also know that you want me to have this gift. Please help others to become enlightened to this truth as well. Time is coming near. Lord have mercy on us all. Amen.


MUSIC - the universal language

The song that resonates with me today is Phil Wickham https://youtu.be/rwjFuJ2X_rc?si=AHD-DcH8qCeihBaD





EXTRAS:

This is a clip of the Pixar movie Coco. This song makes me think of this chapter today https://youtu.be/KP_XkN2v7OM?si=onlQ109bsIqqNctY



Beware. This isn’t a cuddly scene of a clean baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. This is about what happened 3 decades later and why His birth and what we celebrate this week is all about. https://youtu.be/CoUzOxxMMSA


Lastly - here is a trailer of The Chosen Christmas special. You can see the full length of this at the chosen.tv https://youtu.be/OzbnoMVQAzg?si=YytyJwzBrSz36Q2g


I encourage you to get the full clip on The Chosen app but if you're just not sure how to navigate there - here's the full film that was shown in theaters: https://thechosen.frontrow.cc/video/184683594479?language=en&position=0






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