Category Archives: Cross of Christ

2 Samuel 6

The Rejoicing King

Discussion Question

Make a list as a group of things in your life that you tend to take for granted.

Background (Context)

We’ve come to enjoy watching David now as we, the reader, witness this man of God, whom God has elected to be king over Israel and to shepherd them in peace, illuminate us with regard to the Kingdom of God. He has demonstrated patience and trust in the LORD to deliver him in all situations. He inquires of the LORD no matter how confident he may feel about the outcome. He wrote the laments that the people ought to cry when their king is dead or a faithful man falls at the hand of the wicked. He shows us a kingdom that is gentle, merciful as well as just and able to bring down the enemy and the wicked. This is the kingdom of God under the reign of king David. Will he show us anything new? How else does he illustrate the Kingdom of God under the LORD Jesus Christ?

Michal was David’s wife and daughter of Saul. She was taken from him by Saul and was given to another man. Before David was enthroned, he made sure that Michal was returned to his kingdom. She was torn away from her second husband also.

All Israel have come to their senses and established David as their head. He has driven out the pestering Philistines who dogged Saul all of his reign. He has captured Jerusalem and claimed it as his own. One major event needs repairing. The Philistines had carried away the Ark of God back in 1 Samuel 4. It was passed around like a hot potato until it came to rest in Kiriath Jearim, a town of Israel but not the city of the king (1 Samuel 7:1-2). The Ark of the covenant should be in the Tabernacle. God’s promises to Abraham consisted of his descendants being a great nation named the people of God, residing in the Promised Land with God’s rule and blessing. The great nation now has the land free of enemies and sitting under the rule of a great king. We need to have the Ark returned.

Read 2 Samuel X

David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to Baalah z in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, b the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

8 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah. m

9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.

12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.

17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

21 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

What did you see? (Observation)


  • All the King’s horses and men went to get the ark (1-5)
  • David’s mission fails (6-11)
  • David humbles himself before the LORD (12-15)
  • The daughter of Saul does not approve (16)
  • The people are blessed through David (17-19)
  • David explains why the daughter of Saul is wrong (20-23)

All the King’s horses and men went to get the ark (1-5)

“David again brought together all the able young men of Israel – thirty thousand…to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God…” This story begins with the strength of David and his men. It does not take 30,000 young men to carry a box! David is the leader of a great army. His mission: to bring back the ark of God.

“…the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark.” The story does not want us to underestimate the importance of this box. David is tasked to pick up the very worship piece that communicates that the God of all armies is in their midst and for Israel. It is an item of contract between God and Israel. It is not where God literally sits but it may as well be! And what does David equip himself with to pick up such an item? His army? This is not good. He wants to come to God with his own strength. We have come to know David and one who inquires of the LORD before going to battle but here there is no clue that David has inquired of the LORD about the ark mission. It’s as if he is treating the LORD Almighty as an equal.

“They set the ark of God on a new cart….Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab…guiding the new cart…Ahio was walking in front…David and all Israel were celebrating…” What a show. They made a new cart which is highlighted twice for us to stand out. Abinadab had been taking care of the ark. “Sons of” is not usually a title that creates confidence. The sons of Samuel were wicked. The sons of Eli were the same. These two examples come from the beginning of the 1-2 Samuel saga. We don’t expect good things when we here of “sons of”. And David is celebrating with all of Israel. This seems like a good thing but we’ll see that the attitude toward God is flippant. Over familiar.

David’s mission fails (6-11)

“…Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled.” Here is the problem of the story. Is this the right action? Will Uzzah be blessed or cursed because he reached out to aid the ark when it was in distress? Although we have empathy for Uzzah who may just have done by instinct what seemed right, he illustrates for us in this story that the LORD Almighty does not need a lift. The army of David had come to collect their God. They were carting him around like any other idol of the other nations. They did not inquire of the LORD and they are showing off their own strength.

“…God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.” The narrator does not tell us plainly what the error of Uzzah was. We must, firstly, respond in awe at the mystery of God who does not need to explain himself to anybody. But, secondly, we can follow the clues from the narrative that David and his people had approached God with force and might and self-sufficiency and presumption rather than with humility. A seemingly small incident of a bump in the road brought forth the anger of God for how his people were approaching Him. Again, He is not like some dumb idol, but is the living God Almighty.

“Then David was angry…” The response from David may be righteous or selfish. It is hard to pin down. Was he angry at God, at Uzzah or at himself? He was certainly frustrated with something. He renames the location where God’s wrath ‘broke out’ against Uzzah. Remember Baal Perez? Yahweh had broken out against the Philistines but now he has broken out against a priest of the ark. God is not someone whom you can tame.

“David was afraid…” David becomes sober-minded and realises that even he is not worthy to receive the ark. He feared the LORD. This turning point in the story shows us David realising that he had approached the LORD with strength when he should have approached with weakness and humility. But he aborts his plans to take the ark back to Jerusalem, the City of David.

“…he took [the ark] to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite…and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.” The form of the blessings was perhaps prosperity which coincides with many children (1 Chronicles 26:4-5). This Gittite was not an Israelite. The ark was residing with a foreigner and yet he is blessed. This gives David food for thought.

David humbles himself before the LORD (12-15)

“So David went to bring up the ark of God…with rejoicing…he sacrificed…” Verse 12-13 describe David’s mission to collect the ark taken back up again with rejoicing and a large dose of humility. The first being the act of sacrifice after only six steps from its resting place.

“Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might…” In contrast to the military David we saw in Verse 1, we now see a stripped down (literally) version of David. It is clear later that David is making no attempt to look awesome and important because it is the ark of God that he now wants to celebrate and praise with thanksgiving. He leads the humiliating praise and Israel joins with him. The ark is coming to Jerusalem and the people celebrate with shouts and the sound of trumpets. And so God’s people should when they know that the blessing of the LORD is with them. What is self-preservation and pride when God looks for a humble heart? I recall the response of the people of Jerusalem when Jesus came to them lowly and riding on a donkey. They went nuts for him!

The daughter of Saul does not approve (16)

“…Michal daughter of Saul watched…and…she despised [King David] in her heart.” When the ark of the LORD is brought to the City of David, Michal has her eyes and disdain on her husband. What is key here is that Michal is of the house of Saul (by name and by nature in this instance). No king of Israel ought to be parading around like this in her opinion. Leaping and dancing! How degrading for a king. She does more than disapprove of this decision – she despises him.

The people are blessed through David (17-19)

“…inside the tent that David had pitched for it…” This sounds quite shabby but he has placed a home for the ark in a tent as described in the books of Moses. 1 Chronicles 15:1 informs us of this preparation. He had made sure that in his City was the place where God would dwell with His people.

“…and David sacrificed…” David continues in worship before the LORD. Burnt offerings and fellowship offerings are not all for the forgiveness of sins. They are ways of worship and thanksgiving to Yahweh. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

“…he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. Then he gave a loaf of bread…to each person in the whole crowd…And all the people went to their homes.” This time, the LORD did not smite anyone but came to rest, and the King blessed the people and distributed food offerings to all the people. Perhaps this is a little symbol of how the LORD would be a blessing to the people through David. He blessed ALL the people and the blessing was in the name of the LORD Almighty. It is not David and his army that is shown as great at this stage of the story but the name of the LORD that has come into the City of David. There is joy in David’s humility.

David explains why the daughter of Saul is wrong (20-23).

“When David returned home…” The blessing on all the people who were free to return to their homes (V19) is followed by what David was met with when he returned to his own home. He comes to bless but he receives contempt.

“…Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him…” She is not described as the husband of David but as the daughter of Saul. Perhaps a clue from the narrator that she is speaking from the philosophy of the old camp. What we hear from her mouth is the language of pride.

“…going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls…as any vulgar fellow would!” Michal’s resentment of David may be many layers deep. But what’s on the surface here is her disapproval of the way David has presented himself before the servants of the land. To the lowly slave girls, David has paraded around in a vulgar manner – according to Michal. He has not distinguished himself from them. To her, David should have displayed an air of importance. But this is the very thing that David started out to do and he was taught, by the wrath of God, to be humble.

“It was before the LORD…I will celebrate before the LORD.” David is not the important part of this kingdom. God is. He chooses who will be king. And they are not first and foremost David’s people but God’s people. As such, David is first and foremost a member of God’s kingdom. If humility before the LORD is required, then let all the house of David show humility.

“…who chose me rather than you father…” It feels a little childish of David to bring Michal’s father into this discussion but, given the way this story ends in Verse 23, it is Michal who needs to be rebuked and David is simply stating the facts. Again, the emphasis is not on how great David is but on how God does the choosing. As for David, he will celebrate before the LORD. He cannot say, like Joshua (Josh 24:15) “as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” But he can say, I will serve the LORD.

“I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! David promises to remain humble before the LORD and not rise above where he has gone today. No matter how large his army (6:1), David will trust in the LORD and forever give praise to Him.

“But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honour.” The proud people will envy the rich and powerful but the lowly in heart and wealth will love the humble and lowly. Jesus said, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven and the meek will inherit the earth! Michal did not understand this honour. While David experienced the joy of humility, Michal suffered the misery of pride (to paraphrase John Woodhouse, Preaching the Word: 2 Samuel).

“And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” This is a familiar reference to misery in the Old Testament narratives. Obed-Edom was blessed with many children but Michal was not. Saul’s house is included in this reference to misery. It was the pride of Saul, his disobedience and inability to truly repent that saw his downfall. We must not conclude that anyone without children is cursed by God. That is taking a generalised symbol of the Old Testament too far.

What did we learn? (Meaning)

Our God is not a dumb and passive idol but the living God who blesses those who come to him in humility and in truth. He does not look for strength but a thankful heart that rejoices in His strength. It is not we who carry Him but He who dwells with us. Humility is a virtue that turns our hearts to the true God in rejoicing. Pride is an evil which blinds us to the graciousness of God.

Now what? (Application)

Topic A: We must never carry a flippant attitude toward God. This definitely includes a flippant or casual attitude toward the LORD Jesus Christ. David’s power and strength were only the result of waiting on the LORD Almighty for deliverance. Yahweh owes David nothing. We are not equals with Jesus but indebted to him (with a debt that we cannot pay and he does not demand). The church that we build, the reputation that we carry are no comparison to the work that God has done for us at the cross. He is our righteousness. He delivered and called the church into being. He made us a people who were not a people. In our attitude toward God, in church and everywhere else, let us recognise that He is the LORD Almighty who choses to dwell with us out of His great mercy toward us. We only love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Topic B: Sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. If you could inherit the greatest kingdom the world has ever known and all you had to do was give praise and thanks for that – would you do it? As your mother always said (I’m guessing), “Thank you’s don’t cost you anything!” David offered free-will sacrifices to God. They were costly. God has given us an inheritance that will never spoil, perish or fade. He has done this through the sacrifice of His Son who now lives and dwells in our hearts through the Holy Spirit! I often wonder why it is so hard to celebrate the gift of forgiveness and having peace with God. David almost showed the people what it looks like to celebrate and sacrifice with praise. We sing at church because that is what Christians do and have done throughout the centuries. The people of God sang Psalms. The disciples sang with Jesus  (Matthew 26:30). The church in the New Testament sang (Acts 16:25; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). Even as ‘Anglicans’ we could learn to praise genuinely. “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16

Topic C: Pride and humility. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”. Proverbs 11:2. Of course, we can take pride in something as a job well done. But that is not on display here. Michal wanted David to be distinguished and untouchable. She was bitter toward him because of it. David saw humility as a lesson learned and one that he will learn again. His joy was in praising where the praise was due. Sure, he was the king of Israel and he did have a large army. But heaven forbid that he should rob the LORD Almighty. If David was to show pride it would be in the LORD’s work and not his own. “For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16.

Luke 23:26-43

The King’s future

Discussion Question

Have you ever observed an injustice and not done anything about it?


Jesus has been betrayed, arrested, mocked and sentenced to death unjustly. The teachers of the law and leaders of Israel hated Jesus for preaching the kingdom of God in a way that did not paint them in a wonderful light. While they continued to accuse him with lies they persuaded the Roman government to execute Jesus on the basis of their hatred. They would rather a known murderer go free than to let this man continue to teach the people things that they did not agree with.

Read Luke 23:26-43

26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then

“ ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”

and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”t And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

What did you see?


  • Carrying the cross (26-31)
    • Simon of Cyrene (26)
    • Daughters of Jerusalem (27-31)
  • At the cross (32-43)
    • Two criminals with Jesus (32-33)
    • They don’t know what they are doing (34-38
    • One criminal with Jesus (39-43)

Carrying the cross (26-31)

Simon of Cyrene (26)

“…[the soldiers] seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country…” Mark 15:21 tells us also that Simon is known as the father of Alexander and Rufus – the same Rufus, perhaps, whom Paul knew and regarded his family so highly (Romans 16:13). Cyrene is a port city in North Africa. The city encouraged Jews to settle there. A synagogue in Jerusalem, called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, was used by people of Cyrene and Alexandria (Acts 6:9). It is likely that Simon was a practicing Jew who had come from Cyrene for the Passover festival.

“…and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.” The synoptic gospels (Matt-Mark-Luke) all mention this fact of Simon being part of the suffering of Jesus. John does not include this detail in his story. It is easy to stretch the purpose of Simon’s story too far but I feel comfortable noting the involvement, in God’s sovereignty, of a man beyond the boundaries of Jerusalem and Judah taking part in the suffering of Christ. I will not make too much of this but to say that the kingdom of God is and always has been for the whole world to take part in. Perhaps the gospel writers, apart from stating what actually happened, like to include this piece of information because they know that the kingdom of God is about to go global. Luke includes, in the next section, a reminder that Jerusalem is not going to stand for much longer – it’s time will end but the gospel is bigger than Jerusalem.

Daughters of Jerusalem (27-31)

“A large number of people followed him…” This ‘him’ would refer to Jesus as the rest of the sentence makes clear. The order of procession is Jesus, followed by Simon of Cyrene, followed by the crowd, but it is Jesus as the one they are all following.

“…including women who mourned and wailed for him.” Luke 8:52 describes a similar tradition of wailers and mourners over the death of someone. Jesus is a dead man walking. But Jesus will turn the mirror back onto them.

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children…” These women of the city where Jesus is being condemned were weeping over the unfortunate death of Jesus. They may be sincere followers, or simply women who know that this is a sad end to a good man. Not everyone in that day hated Jesus. This passage reveals the women here who mourn and later a criminal who concludes that Jesus is the King. But the representative leaders of Jerusalem hated him. Jesus tenderly warns them that it is themselves and their children that they ought to mourn for. Jesus is going to the cross as is predestined. And the city of Jerusalem will be judged for killing him. Jesus has spoken about this on a number of occasions in this gospel (Luke 11:49-50; 131:34-35; 19:41-44; 21:20-24). Jesus himself had wept for Jerusalem (19:41). The historic events of the siege on Jerusalem in 70 AD were gruesome on the people in the city. Zechariah 12:10-14 may be alluded to.

“For the time will come when you will say, “Blessed are the childless women…” Jerusalem will receive judgement from God for all of the prophets who have been killed in the past and for the killing of the Son of God. Luke 20:9-18. The Romans lay siege to the city in April 70 AD and starved the Jews. By August, the Romans took the city, destroying the Temple. It is these few months of siege leading to the destruction that Jesus directs these women to mourn. His death in imminent, but theirs is also.

“They will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”” Again, a time is coming when death will seem better than life. This is a specific event fulfilled in 70 AD and yet is a forerunner to judgement day for all humanity. See Hosea 10:8 and Rev 6:16. At this point we’ll just remember that Jesus was the Great Prophet and continues to prophecy even as he goes to the cross.

“For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” This is a lesser to greater kind of argument: if this happens when the tree is alive, what will happen when it is dead? The Son of God is physically present with the people of God in the city of God and they choose to put Him to death. Imagine what evils people will do when God is not so present and merciful. In the instance of the siege on Jerusalem, the people were driven to madness with famine. When the Romans eventually took the city, they barely needed to execute anyone because the city had been starved to death. For anyone interested, here are the records of Josephus on the seige (sections 10, 12 and 13 focus on the difficulties in the city)… .

At the cross (32-43)

Two criminals with Jesus (32-33)

“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.” The scene changes with new characters introduced but they remain unnamed. They represent two types of people who will interact with Jesus and stand for two ways to live. Neither will represent godly living since they are about to die as criminals.

“…the Skull…” The location was well known in the day of Luke’s writing. With the passing of time and thousands of years of wars and construction, this landmark is up for debate. When Luke wrote the gospel, as with Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22 and John 19:17, this was a knowable landmark. The point is that the location of Jesus’ death was known. Nobody mistook what took place that day, where or when. Neither did they mistakenly crucify Judas and everyone think that was Jesus or whatever crazy conspiracy can be imagined and believed. Perhaps the place looked like a skull or perhaps, with the crucifixions occurring there, it had the name of the Skull (Golgotha in Aramaic).

“…one on his right and one on his left.” Jesus is slain as a lawbreaker, with criminals at his side. See Isaiah 53:12 and Luke 22:37.

They don’t know what they are doing (34-38

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”” I love the words of JC Ryle, “as soon as the blood of the Great Sacrifice began to flow the Great High Priest began to intercede.” Who is he praying for exactly? It would be wise to keep the forgiveness here to the extent that these people are still able to repent and receive forgiveness – as about 3000 do on the day of Pentecost! They do know what they are doing, in that they are nailing a man to a cross, but they do not understand fully that they are nailing the true Messiah to the cross! See Acts 3:17 and 1 Cor 2:8.

“And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him.” A direct fulfillment of Psalm 22:7,18. The people are so ignorant of the events and yet they are all events predicted in the scriptures. The mocking of this man paints the picture of how low our sin takes us. At the lowest point in human history, we stood before the Son of God, we bowed down low and gambled for his clothing in mockery. We would rather worship material things that the One who created us. Psalm 22:8 is mimicked as they call on him to save himself.

“…God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” A tautology? The Messiah is the Chosen One. Isaiah 42:1.

“The soldiers…offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king…” The wine was cheap wine used by the poor. The soldiers were getting in on the mocking too – showing that Jew and Gentile were all against the Son of God. Their action paired with their words seem that they are bringing him wine as a servant would bring it to a king – but they mock.

“…a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” His death and his birth are both marked with mockery of this fact (Matthew 2:2). Mark 15:26 describes the sign as the written notice of the charge against him. John 19:19 informs us that Pilate had the notice placed there and John’s gospel expands on the objection that the Jews had to this sign (John 19:19-22). Jesus is being put to death for this claim. Pilate is making the Jews aware that this is the treason that he is condemned for. The Jews do not like this sign because they reject everything about it. As a reader of this event, we see the man on the cross clearly labelled and bleeding out for his people. The king of the Jews is the suffering servant. Mark 10:45.

One criminal with Jesus (39-43)

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him…” We are back to the criminals and even ‘they’ get in on the mocking. It is the same cry: save yourself! But the reason he hangs on the cross is not because he can’t save himself but because WE can’t save ourselves! He hangs there in order to save us – criminals of God’s kingdom.

“But the other criminal rebuked him…then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Let’s reflect. Simon of Cyrene carried the cross for Jesus but he was ordered to do that and he said nothing to allow us to know where he was at (but we think kindly of him). The women mourn for Jesus and yet we aren’t sure completely of why they mourn. Do they love Jesus or are they merely weeping over the occasion? We empathise with them too but we don’t know for sure where their hearts are at. Everybody else in the story have clearly mocked Jesus and so we know where they are at. And now we come to the second criminal. He is guilty and deserves death. He confesses this clearly to his fellow criminals. But looking at Jesus he remarks that Jesus has a kingdom that he owns and that it is up to Jesus whether this man is able to enter it or not. But he asks Jesus directly for entrance. Totally underserved. Totally unworthy. But he asks. And Jesus says…

“…today you will be with me in paradise.” This means one thing for sure and opens up further questions. The thing we know is that Jesus confesses to being able to give access to his kingdom. Either he went to his death truly believing nonsense in which case Jesus is a lunatic. Or He really is the King of the Kingdom and can grant access to whoever he pleases. And now that the sacrifice has begun, access is granted. It is granted on the basis of two things. The confession of sin or the admission of guilt and the confession of Jesus as LORD. The latter is the most clear in this case. The man does not say, ‘Jesus please forgive me for my sins.’ But, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ In other words, ‘Jesus, you are the king, will you know me in your kingdom?’

The question that it opens up is that of when. When will the man be in paradise? The straight forward answer is today, but what about the concept of the dead sleeping and that they will be raised on the last day? The questions of what happens after death fall into the category of wait and see. Just as the Old Testament promised the coming king but how he comes and what he does wait and see. And those putting Jesus to the cross did not know what they were doing. When we enter the kingdom ourselves, all will be clear. It may well be that we die and enter the timeless future of eternity when the second coming has already occurred. That is one theory. See Revelation 2:7.

What did we learn?

In the midst of prophecy concerning the judgment of God coming on Israel, the people proceed to put the beloved Son of God to death. His execution was humiliating and full of mockery and yet irony also. He was dying in order to save those who would mock him. His sacrifice opens up the way for forgiveness. It will not be the self-righteous who are saved but sinners who come to the King to call Him their Lord.

Now what?

Topic A: Prophet, Priest and King. The Old Testament described and prescribed three distinct offices of prophet (one who received the word of God and spoke it in the people’s hearing for a purpose), priest (the mediator role of Aaron and the Levites to offer sacrifices to God for the people) and King (obviously the ruler of Israel). These three offices come together in Christ and we have observed them all in this very passage. His prophecy of dark times ahead for the daughters of Jerusalem, his offering to forgive through the sacrifice he gives of himself and his Kingship in granting the criminal access to Paradise at his welcome. Now, there are other facets to Jesus than this (such as wise-man) and we don’t need to force Jesus into a tick box of theology but the book of Hebrews takes this approach to highlight how amazing our Saviour is. He is better than Moses, better than the Levitical priests and he is the very Word of God who has made atonement for sins and sat down on the throne in heaven.

Topic B: What it takes to be saved. It took the compassion, patience, humility, mercy, kindness, graciousness and love of God to send his willing Son to the cross. If there were another way, the Father would have granted it by Jesus’ prayer in Luke 22:42. For us, it takes ownership of our transgressions and the confession of Jesus as LORD – as our LORD. This is Romans 5:8 and 10:9 combined.

Topic C: God is not all about love and forgiveness. While the cross of Christ shows us the love and mercy of God on us sinners, there stands the need to be forgiven lest the wrath and judgement of God fall on us. Jesus’ warning to the daughters of Israel was about the historic fall of Jerusalem, by the arm of the Romans but as the consequence of repeated rejection of God. He will not forgive everybody just because. Merciful and loving as he is, the death of Christ shows us that there is wrath to be avoided. If we do not reconcile with the Son then we have no other mediator to stand between us and God’s righteous anger. John 3:36.

Luke 22:66-23:25

The cry of the ignorant

Discussion Question

Reflect on how the world treats Jesus today. What have you noticed about his popularity, his following, his reputation?


After Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples and declared that one of the Twelve will betray him and one of the Twelve will deny him three times, Jesus lead his disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray that they be delivered from temptation. It was that same night that a crowd came with clubs and swords, lead by Judas, one of the Twelve, to betray Jesus with a kiss. It was that same night that Simon denied knowing Jesus three times. It was that same night that Jesus began to be beaten and mocked just as he said that he would (Luke 18:32). All the while, Jesus says very little but to disperse any ideas that he is leading a rebellion. It was a very eventful night, but now that the rooster has crowed, the nightmare for Jesus is just beginning. The plans of the teachers of the law to kill Jesus will go ahead, despite the innocence of Jesus.

Read Luke 22:66-23:25

66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You say that I am.”

71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

23 Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”

3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” [17]

18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)

20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”

23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

What did you see?


  • The ‘kangaroo court’ of the Jewish council (22:66-71)
  • Pilate sees no need to worry about Jesus (23:1-7)
  • Herod doesn’t see what all the fuss is about (8-12)
  • Pilate and Jesus and the crowd (13-55)
    • Pilate’s first decision – Crowd cried “Barabbas!”(13-19)
    • Pilate’s second appeal – Crowd cried “Crucify!”(20-21)
    • Pilate’s final attempt to release Jesus – the cries prevail (22-25)

The ‘kangaroo court’ of the Jewish council (22:66-71)

“At daybreak the council…met together…” Luke did not inform us of the discussions of the night at the High Priest’s house. Mark 14 and Matthew 26 provide a conversations similar to the conversation that follows in Luke’s gospel. It appears that much was discussed during the night and in the day, they met again and bound Jesus to take him to Pilate. The council consisted of the chief priests and the teachers of the law. It was probably the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:1a; Matthew 27:1). These are the very breed of people who had grown in their hatred toward Jesus. They wanted to kill Jesus but were afraid of the people (Luke 20:19 and 22:2). Both Josephus and Mishnah (historians) place such meetings outside the temple or in the outer court.

“If you are the Messiah…tell us.” Their question is weird. Is this the evidence of a crime or are they simply wanting Jesus to stop speaking in parables and tell them clearly. What if he said plainly, YES! Would they then examine the evidence that Jesus has already brought to support his claim: healing sick and demon possessed, raising Lazarus from the dead, teaching wisely and truthfully from the scriptures? Well, it seems that if Jesus has been vague about his identity as the Messiah, it was clearly at the heart of their questioning. That is, people were talking about him like he is the Messiah.

The title ‘Messiah’ is Hebrew for Christ. The NIV has chosen to use the word Messiah so that the reader can enjoy the synergy between the Old and New Testaments. The word describes God’s chosen king, that is, an undisputed ruler because it is God who appoints him. It is a regal title and to call Jesus the Christ is to confess his rule. The question of who the Messiah is has been spread across Luke’s gospel (see 2:11, 26; 3:15; 4:41; 9:20; 20:41).

“Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer.” This reminds me of Jesus’ previous conversation with the teachers of the law in 20:1-8. The question was asked, quite likely, by many of the same people on the Sanhedrin. Jesus refused to answer their question then because they were not prepared to answer truthfully and fairly. Their question was vagur then: who gives you this authority? They now get straight to the point: are you the Messiah? But they are still not prepared to listen and judge based on the truth. Are they willing to say and conclude for themselves that he is NOT the Messiah? As we read through the courtroom conversations with Jesus we grow increasingly aware of how these leaders hate Jesus – Messiah or not.

“But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” This is the information Jesus chooses to reveal to them. Speaking in riddles. It declares that a time has come right now for something significant and eternal. From now on! The Son of Man refers to a righteous man who speaks God’s words in truth. That is, it is a rightful title of someone who has filled the purpose of mankind perfectly. This definition comes from the way it is used in the book of Ezekiel who is called son of man and directed to speak God’s words with complete obedience. It also comes from the brief but vivid description in Daniel 7 of one like the son of man who ascends and sits at the right hand of God. Jesus uses this title rather than Son of God as he seeks to be the perfect man and only one worthy to sit at the right hand of God. Jesus, therefore, in this only statement before the Sanhedrin, declares that the Old Testament promises of God are now ready to be fulfilled. While he does not answer ‘yes’ to the question of being the Messiah, his riddle certainly paints that picture. You just need to know your Old Testament to hear it. 2 Samuel 7:12-16 and Daniel 7:13-14 provide key background verses to Jesus’ statement.

“Are you then the Son of God?” They appear to have understood something significant from Jesus. Is what you are saying, to be understood by us, that you are the Son of God? Perhaps the question springs from their theology of the Messiah. Perhaps 2 Samuel 7 gives them the formula that the Messiah will be the Son of God. Perhaps even Jesus gave them information to flesh out their theology back in 20:41-44? He stretches their ideas of the Messiah from being merely a son of David to being someone who even David worshipped.

“He replied, “You say that I am.” This is cryptic too. In our understanding it can seem like neither a denial nor a confirmation. He is certainly not meaning: Yes, I am! Nor is he meaning: If you say so. He could be saying, “That’s exactly what you are going to judge me on.” As in, that is the conclusion to make, but it’s for you to make it and then decide what to do with me. His lack of denial is enough for the court to convict him of blasphemy. Jesus doesn’t need to trip up in order to go to the cross. He knows where this will end. It is interesting that his answer includes the words “I AM” in it but I’m not sure if we can do too much with it. Perhaps Jesus is quietly mocking them.

“Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.” They are very quick to convict. Their evidence is so flimsy and even if Jesus was clearly stating that he is the eternal Son of God (which is certainly implied), why is it a full gone conclusion that this is evil? It is only worth convicting if it were untrue. Our world has heard the testimony from Jesus and his disciples for thousands of years and continues to discredit him without a fair trial.

Pilate sees no need to worry about Jesus (23:1-7)

“…the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate.” This was their aim from the beginning of the trial. What they need, though, is not a conviction of blasphemy but a conviction of uprising against Caesar. They need the Romans to see why he needs to die. Pilate was the governor in Jerusalem at that time.

“We have found this man subverting our nation.” Their claim to care about the nation under Roman rule is just buttering up to Pilate. They appear to be on the same side as Pilate.

“He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar…” That’s wrong. See Luke 20:22-26.

“…and he claims to be Messiah, a king.” What is really on trial here is the Jewish teachers who are rejecting Jesus as their king. Jesus has shown all the right reasons for concluding that he is the Messiah without having to travel around with a banner declaring him as Messiah. The evidence is there but Jesus’ ministry has not been defined by his declaration of himself to be Messiah. The closest he came, perhaps, is when he did not deny being the Messiah only three verses earlier. It’s not his Messiahship on trial here but the rejection of the people of the Messiah that will characterise his execution. But the Jews put before Pilate the two things that he can be tried for in the Roman court: opposing taxes to Caesar and challenging the kingship of Caesar.

“So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” This is the claim that interested Pilate the most. Not so much the money question.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” The accusation is not sticking nor making an impact on Pilate. The best shot of the chief priests was to show Jesus as a subversion to the Romans but Pilate can’t see it. Pilate is not feeling threatened. The reply from Jesus resembles his response back in Verse 70. Jesus is simply affirming what people are saying around him.

“But they insisted…’He stirs up the people…He started in Galilee…” The accusers are desperate for Pilate to see the danger that Jesus represents. Can’t he see how dangerous Jesus is? This man who was taken by night in a quiet place while praying? He healed the cut ear of the temple guard and taught to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. What a dangerous rebel he was! Why can’t Pilate see this! It is because the threat that Jesus holds is not to governments but to the hearts of people. These leaders did not want to concede that Jesus was sent from God. The news that he was a Galilean gives Pilate a way to be done with Jesus without releasing him. Verses 6 and 7 provide that detail with no need to expand on it.

Herod doesn’t see what all the fuss is about (8-12)

“…Herod…was greatly pleased, because…he had been wanting to see him…he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort.” Reports of the comotion Jesus had been making in his ministry had reached the ear of Herod. Luke 9:9. To some, Jesus will remain an amusement and someone to sit in judgement over – is he entertaining?

“But Jesus gave him no answer.” Jesus is not a show pony. It is we who respond to his invitation to come and find mercy. It is not his duty to do what we ask of him. This is one of the key failures of the human race. God has created, sustained, shown his character and invited us to relate with him like a Father, he has sent the Son to save. All this, God has done! Yet mankind will continue to ask God to show us more and then we’ll believe.

“The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him.” Jesus did not perform for Herod. He did not even entertain by responding to his accusers and so Herod joined in on the mocking. Herod’s long awaited encounter with Jesus did not satisfy him. Note that the chief priests and teachers of the law were sticking with this vendetor to make sure the death penalty would be applied and stick.

“…they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends – before this they had been enemies.” Going with the biblical principle that nothing is put in the bible for trivial purposes, why does Luke include this little detail? Perhaps it works as a fulfillment to Psalm 2:1-2 as Acts 4:24-28 describes it. Since Luke wrote both Luke and Acts, it is possible. The depiction of how that fulfillment takes place is not as great nations furiously rising up against the Almighty but as two officials taking very little notice of Jesus but using this event to build bridges. Luke conveys a moment where the salvation story intertwines with political history. The rejection of the Messiah was at the centre of repairing differences between Pilate and Herod. This trial took place on the pages of history. This is why we include Pilate in our creed – the cross took place in real time and space.

Pilate and Jesus and the crowd (13-55)

This section now involves Jesus before Pilate but it is no longer an interaction between them but between Pilate and the people. The crowd includes no less than the chief priests and teachers of the law, but may include all those who came behind Judas the previous night and because the day is getting on and the story of how Jesus has been arrested must have travelled around the city, who knows how big the crowd is now. But the voices of those who love Jesus will be silent before the many who want to see him gone.

Pilate’s first decision – Crowd cried “Barabbas!”(13-19)

“You brought me this man…I have examined him…and found no basis for your charges…neither has Herod…Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” The decision to punish Jesus before releasing him was surely an attempt by Pilate to appease the crowd. If he is innocent, then a lashing will help the crowd see that a warning has been sent to Jesus. This ought to be enough discipline dealt out. But Pilate clearly sees no weight to the accusations of Jesus. Both Pilate and Herod are not threatened by Jesus. In John 18:36, Jesus declares that his kingdom is not of this world. He is not interested in Rome or Jerusalem. He has come to lay down his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

“But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” Luke does not explain why Barabbas is suddenly asked for but did you notice that Verse 17 is missing? Some manuscripts include a sentence similar to Matthew 27:15 or Mark 15:6 which described the custom of releasing a prisoner as requested by the crowd – a kind of good-will gesture. Perhaps a minor offender could be pardoned. But the crowd here ask for a known rebel and murderer to be released. If Pilate is not a stupid man, do you think he’d notice the hypocrisy of the people asking for an innocent man to be sentenced for causing an uprising and for the release of a guilty man who had murdered and caused an uprising? About Verse 17, some copiers may have felt the need to explain the crowd’s request and so included that info from the other gospels. So the placeholder for Verse 17 is kept but the more trustworthy manuscripts do not include this info.

Pilate’s second appeal – Crowd cried “Crucify!”(20-21)

“Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.” Each of the gospels portray Pilate in this light. The emphasis is not on Pilate’s decision but on the outright, unjust betrayal of the Messiah from the leaders of Jerusalem. The parable of Luke 20:9-15 is being played out.

“But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Crucifixion was the execution style of the day. It was not pleasant. It was in plain sight of the people. And it was kept for the shameful criminals. The crowd are requesting more than death, they want Jesus humiliated. What has become the standard logo for Christianity was a cry of hatred toward our Saviour.

Pilate’s final attempt to release Jesus – the cries prevail (22-25)

“For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed?…” Pilate cannot justify their request. The people had brought Jesus to Pilate with some shallow accusations and demanded that Pilate do the ‘right thing’ by them. Now it is Pilate’s turn to ask the crowd: what do you have against this guy?! And Jesus remains on trial like that to this day. What has he spoken against our world that we would not stop and pay attention to him? Have you noticed how easy it is to quote Buddha or Confucius or Ghandi or Mark Twain without getting any flack. But quote Jesus and the reaction from people is not as neutral. Jesus marks the great divide between humanity and God. He did not simply stand for truth and love. He stood for the kingdom of God. That, according to Jesus, is the most precious thing in the world. It is not inner peace. It is not live and let live. It is not simply love thy neighbour. It is: seek first the kingdom of God. If you don’t like that priority in life then Jesus is a great stumbling block. Other gurus seek mutual peace. Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword. And the weapon swung by the disciples of Jesus is not made of steal but of words.

“But…their shouts prevailed.” The crowd knew what they wanted even before they entered the Mount of Olives to seize Jesus. Innocent or not, justified or not, they wanted Jesus killed by crucifixion. Though Pilate had the power to release him (after all, he was not guilty of anything), the shouts and obsession of the crowd won the day. Here is evidence that democracy is not perfect. The masses can outcry those who know better. And those who know better may need to live with the consequences of the foolish masses.

“So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.” Jesus will go to the cross with no complicated drawn out trial. It will be plain old sin that sends him there. No mercy. No room for appeal. And no real basis for his death. Pilate’s decision is no different to a man being pushed into a corner and giving into temptation. Which is the easiest thing to do: release Jesus or let the crowd have their way? It is far easier to sin than to act righteously. That is why we needed the cross to be occupied by the Innocent One. The innocent goes to death and the murderer is set free. Nathan Tasker wrote a wonderful reflective song on this very exchange and imagines himself as Barabbas. The guilty is set free in exchange for the innocent.

What did we learn?

The chief priests, teachers of the law and the crowd gave it to Jesus like the world always has and continues to this day. Who cares about the truth and justice, just crucify Jesus and let the guilty go free. Our world treats God the same way. It’s a kangaroo court that presumes Him to be in the wrong and we deserve freedom. While God sent the Son of Man into the world to set it free. The world treated him as a nuisance to get rid of. But this trivial event that barely caught the eye of Pilate and Herod marked the beginning of the Messiah’s eternal reign by the Father’s side. The question is, do we stand by Jesus or Barabbas?

Now what?

Topic A: Learning to learn by listening. The Son of God was standing before the leaders of Israel, before Pilate and before Herod. None of them, even Pilate, had the time to learn from Jesus. Each were more concerned with their own futures than with the truth of the eternal future. Jesus is the King. Learning to stop and listen to his words, his message, will give us reward for this life and the next.

Topic B: Seeing God’s great work hidden in almost nothing. It took less than a day and a couple of conversations to decide that Jesus was to be crucified. For Herod and Pilate, this event did not register too highly. Pilate just wanted to get past it without a riot. The riot was averted and Pilate moves onto the next thing. God went to the cross for the church that day. God has not stopped working to draw in his church and grow. The true church is not magnificent or wealthy or attractive to this world. But it exists, it thrives, it grows and spreads. What we do each week in Growth Groups is small and often underwhelming but it is the work of the Spirit transforming us through his word. God is doing great work in this day. People just won’t notice.

Topic C: The great exchange. An innocent man went to the cross while a murder went free. The murderer was able to go free because an innocent man went to the cross. It isn’t fair or logical. But it is grace. Perhaps listen to the Nathan Tasker song and reflect how Barabbas is a metaphor for sinners being freed because of Jesus’ injustice.