Study Notes

Luke 22:54-23:25

22:54-62 Peter's Denials

Last week we saw Peter boldly say,

Luke 22:33 "Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!"

But now we see a big failure of faith. Peter wasn't blowing smoke earlier - he sincerely felt that way at the time. I can think of so many times that I said, "Lord, I'm making a commitment to you that I'm never going to fall into this sin or that behavior or some attitude again." But then the test comes - when I have a choice to to right or wrong, and I pick wrong. I meant it when I said it, but now I'm having a failure of faith and not following through. Fortunately, we have a blessed promise, that:

2Tim. 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.

Now we see Jesus being led away, arrested, and Peter following at a distance. Ending up in the courtyard, Peter sat down to warm himself next to the fire. He was trying to blend in, to be inconspicuous. That should always be a warning signal to us - the fact is, we are not of this world. This world is not our home, we are aliens, strangers, sojourners, pilgrims - just passing through! And when we are trying to fit in, blend in, and be inconspicuous, looking just like everyone else, we're in a bad place. Remember the exhortation:

Eph. 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household

Now when Peter was recognized as a disciple, he denied that he'd ever known Jesus, then moved away from that crowd to the gateway. After being recognized again, he denied that he knew Jesus and went to still another place, but was given away by his Galilean accent.

Falling Into Temptation

Why did this happen? How did it get to this point, someone who was so close to Jesus for so long fall this far? Someone who had made such a bold statement that same night? Remember what we saw last week. Jesus had told him,

Luke 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail...

He had told Peter, "There's a big attack coming Peter, but I'm praying for you." And just a little later, he told him,

Luke 22:40 ..."Pray that you may not enter into temptation."

But Peter hadn't prayed - he was bummed, and he went to sleep. Why did he have such a defeat? Because even though the Lord had been praying and interceding for him, he was supposed to be praying too. But instead, he was sleeping. You know, the Lord never wastes His breath. And when the Lord cares enough to tell me something, it is always something that I need to hear and respond to. If I shrug it off, I'm setting myself up for a big defeat. Peter hadn't prayed to avoid temptation, and it came right up and bit him.

The Look

So after being recognized by his Galilean accent, Simon Peter denied the Lord Jesus Christ a third time. Just then, in the midst of being tortured, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. This word "looked" is "emblepo", which is not a casual glance or a quick scoping out. It is a close, penetrating look. Jesus was looking directly through Peter's eyes right into his heart. 1Samuel 16 says,

1Sam. 16:7 ...God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

When Peter saw Jesus look at him, he remembered that Jesus had told him just that evening, "You're going to deny Me." And he went out and wept bitterly. That is when the Lord affects me the most, when He shows me what's in my own heart. You know, the longer I live, the more wicked I see that my mind and my flesh are. It's not that I'm getting worse, I'm just getting more and more attuned to the way God looks at sin. And when I see such wickedness in my heart, I'm even more floored by the grace and goodness of God. As the book of Romans says,

Rom. 2:4 ...the kindness of God leads you to repentance

He knew I'd be this wicked, and He still saved me! What a good God He is! Yes, Peter has blown it big time, but these tears are tears of repentance, and Jesus is more than willing to forgive him.

22:63-65 The Abuse of Jesus

Matt. 26:67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him,

Mark 14:65 And some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, "Prophesy!" And the officers received Him with slaps {in the face.}

22:66-71 On Trial Before the Council

Now, if you're a student of the Jewish law, you'll see that every detail of Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin was illegal. The place (they had official courts in which to try men), the time of day (the first trial was at night - they tried to cover it up the next morning by having another one), the time of year (criminal trials couldn't be held during the Passover week), the false witnesses (even their false testimony was inconsistent), the fact that the only evidence was Jesus' own self-incrimination (they had laws against that back then too); the time between the trial and the verdict (there had to be at least one day between).

Notice too that they are charging Him with blasphemy, for making Himself equal with God. But read on...

23:1-7 On Trial Before Governor Pilate

Notice that they didn't charge Him with the same crime. Can you imagine Pilate's reaction as a Roman ruler when they said, "put this guy to death for blasphemy"? They had to falsely accuse Him. Remember that they had tried to catch Him earlier by sending the Pharisees disciples in to ask,

Matt. 22:17 -21 "Tell us therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, "Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax." And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."

So He had clearly told the people to pay their taxes, but is accused to telling people to rebel against the taxation.

Why did they take Him to Pilate at all? Because the Romans had taken away the right of the Jews to administer the death penalty. And they wanted Jesus dead.

Now they begin to paint the picture even darker, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee". You see, Galilee was where the majority of the uprisings against the Romans began. They were alluding to His guilt by association, being from Galilee.

Pilate, being the typical politician, sees his loophole. "Well, if He's a Galilean, then I'd better send Him to Herod, who has jurisdiction over Galilee."

23:8-11 On Trial Before Herod

This was Herod Anitpas, the guy who had ordered John the Baptist beheaded. Herod was hoping to see some of the miracles that he'd heard this guy Jesus did. But Jesus isn't a nightclub magician who does parlor tricks to prove His salvation message. So He wouldn't do anything. And when Herod questioned him at length, He refused to speak. "Hey, if He's not going to be my court jester, maybe I'll just have to dress Him up a bit, huh?" He's already been horribly beaten up, His face swollen and bloody, and now He's being dressed up and mocked. "This isn't fun anymore, send Him back to Pilate."

23:12-25 On Trial Before the People

Pilate comes to a strange conclusion now: "Look, He's not guilty of anything. I'll just have Him whipped, and then let him go." But they wanted Jesus dead.

Now, during the Passover week, nearly every Jewish man in the world was in Jerusalem. The possibility of an uprising against the Romans was at its peak. So they had begun this tradition of releasing one prisoner to the people during that week. This promoted feelings of good will between the Jews and their Roman conquerors.

And in custody at the time was a man called Barabbas. The Bible describes him as notorious, a murderer, insurrectionist, and robber.

So Pilate gets this great idea. "I'll offer to have either Barabbas or Jesus released! Barabbas is this horrible criminal - they'll be sure to want this strange religious guy on the streets rather than this murderer!" No dice - they were whipped into a frenzy - it was mob rule, and they were hungry for blood.

Pilate Gives In

John writes that the Jews yelled,

John 19:7-8 ..."He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God." When Pilate therefore heard this statement, he was the more afraid;

He heard that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. It was decision time. But the gospel of Matthew tells us that

Matt. 27:24 when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of this Man's blood..."

And Mark tells us that he finally gave in because he was wishing to satisfy the multitude.

This is the decision that Pilate makes - though he has no evidence to convict Jesus of any wrongdoing, he sends Him away to be crucified. Although he heard that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he decided to make no decision about Him. He washed his hands of the whole affair.

But no one can wash their hands of Jesus Christ. By deciding to make no decision, you are making a decision. Jesus said,

Matt. 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me..."

The simple fact is, if you haven't decided for Jesus Christ, then you've decided against Him. Pilate said, "This man is innocent - He hasn't done anything wrong!" Yet he still sends Him off to be crucified. And that's what men still do today. They say, "Oh yeah, Jesus was a good teacher, a moral instructor." But they refuse to make a stand saying, "I don't care what the multitudes say, or how loud the crowd around me is shouting, this Jesus is the Son of God, and I'm going to decide in His favor!"

What is your decision today about Jesus Christ? Have you seen His innocence and perfection? Then decide for Him - ask Him for the forgiveness and salvation that He's offering you. Don't put off the decision. By doing so, you're already deciding against Him.