Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Luke
Book: Luke
Chapter: 23

Christ before Pilate. (1-5) Christ before Herod. (6-12)
Barabbas preferred to Christ. (13-25) Christ speaks of the
Destruction of Jerusalem. (26-31) The Crucifixion, The repentant
malefactor. (32-43) The Death of Christ. (44-49) The Burial of
Christ. (50-56)

1-5 Pilate Well understood the difference between armed Forces
and our Lord's followers. But instead of being softened By
Pilate's declaration of his innocence, and considering whether
they were not bringing the guilt of innocent Blood upon
themselves, the Jews were the more angry. The Lord brings his
designs to a glorious End, even By means of those who follow the
devices of their own hearts. Thus all parties joined, So as to
prove the innocence of Jesus, who was the atoning Sacrifice for
our sins.

6-12 Herod had heard many things of Jesus in Galilee, and out
of curiosity longed to see him. The poorest beggar that asked a
Miracle for the relief of his necessity, was never denied; but
this proud Prince, who asked for a Miracle only to gratify his
curiosity, is refused. He might have seen Christ and his
wondrous Works in Galilee, and would not, therefore it is justly
said, Now he would see them, and shall not. Herod sent Christ
again to Pilate: the friendships of wicked men are often formed
By union in wickedness. They agree in little, except in Enmity
to God, and contempt of Christ.

13-25 The fear of Man brings many into this Snare, that they
will do an unjust thing, against their consciences, rather than
get into trouble. Pilate declares Jesus innocent, and has a mind
to release him; yet, to please the people, he would punish him
as an evil-doer. If No fault be found in him, why chastise him?
Pilate yielded at length; he had not courage to go against So
strong a stream. He delivered Jesus to their will, to be

26-31 We have here the blessed Jesus, the Lamb of God, led as a
Lamb to the slaughter, to the Sacrifice. Though many reproached
and reviled him, yet some pitied him. But the Death of Christ
was his victory and triumph over his enemies: it was our
deliverance, the purchase of eternal Life for us. Therefore weep
not for him, but let us weep for our own sins, and the sins of
our children, which caused his Death; and weep for fear of the
miseries we shall bring upon ourselves, if we slight his Love,
and reject his Grace. If God delivered him up to such sufferings
as these, because he was made a Sacrifice for Sin, what will he
do with sinners themselves, who make themselves a dry tree, a
corrupt and wicked Generation, and good for nothing! The Bitter
sufferings of our Lord Jesus should make us stand in awe of the
Justice of God. The best saints, compared with Christ, are dry
trees; if he suffer, why may not they expect to suffer? And what
then shall the Damnation of sinners be! Even the sufferings of
Christ preach terror to obstinate transgressors.

32-43 As soon as Christ was fastened to the Cross, he prayed
for those who crucified him. The great thing he died to purchase
and procure for us, is the forgiveness of Sin. This he prays
for. Jesus was crucified between two Thieves; in them were shown
the different effects the Cross of Christ would have upon the
children of men in the preaching the Gospel. One malefactor was
hardened to the last. No troubles of themselves will change a
wicked Heart. The other was softened at the last: he was
snatched as a brand out of the burning, and made a monument of
Divine Mercy. This gives No encouragement to any to Put off
Repentance to their Death-beds, or to Hope that they shall then
find Mercy. It is certain that true Repentance is never too
late; but it is as certain that late Repentance is seldom true.
None can be sure they shall have time to repent at Death, but
every Man may be sure he cannot have the advantages this
penitent thief had. We shall see the case to be singular, if we
observe the uncommon effects of God's Grace upon this Man. He
reproved the other for railing On Christ. He owned that he
deserved what was done to him. He believed Jesus to have
suffered wrongfully. Observe his Faith in this Prayer. Christ
was in the depth of disgrace, suffering as a deceiver, and not
delivered By his Father. He made this profession before the
wonders were displayed which Put honour On Christ's sufferings,
and startled the Centurion. He believed in a Life to come, and
desired to be happy in that Life; not like the other thief, to
be only saved from the Cross. Observe his Humility in this
Prayer. All his request is, Lord, remember me; quite referring
it to Jesus in what way to remember him. Thus he was humbled in
true Repentance, and he brought forth all the fruits for
Repentance his circumstances would admit. Christ upon the Cross,
is gracious like Christ upon the Throne. Though he was in the
greatest struggle and Agony, yet he had pity for a Poor
penitent. By this act of Grace we are to understand that Jesus
Christ died to open the kingdom of Heaven to all penitent,
obedient believers. It is a single instance in Scripture; it
should teach us to despair of none, and that none should despair
of themselves; but lest it should be abused, it is contrasted
with the awful state of the other thief, who died hardened in
unbelief, though a crucified Saviour was So near him. Be sure
that in general men die as they live.

44-49 We have here the Death of Christ magnified By the wonders
that attended it, and his Death explained By the words with
which he breathed out his soul. He was willing to offer himself.
Let us seek to Glorify God By true Repentance and Conversion; By
protesting against those who crucify the Saviour; By a sober,
righteous, and godly Life; and By employing our talents in the
service of Him who died for us and Rose again.

50-56 Many, though they do not make any show in outward
profession, yet, like Joseph of Arimathea, will be far more
ready to do real service, when there is occasion, than others
who make a greater noise. Christ was buried in haste, because
the Sabbath drew On. Weeping must not hinder sowing. Though they
were in tears for the Death of their Lord, yet they must prepare
to keep holy the Sabbath. When the Sabbath draws On, there must
be preparation. Our worldly affairs must be So ordered, that
they may not hinder us from our Sabbath work; and our holy
affections So stirred up, that they may carry us On in it. In
whatever business we engage, or however our hearts may be
affected, let us never fail to get ready for, and to keep holy,
the Day of sacred Rest, which is the Lord's Day.