Summary: Trials & Crucifixion - Luke chapter 22 vs 63 – chapter 23 vs 43 - – sermon by Gordon Curley (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


(1). Jesus & his trials (a quick overview)

(2). Jesus & Joseph of Cyrene (Luke chapter 23 verses 26-32)

(3). Jesus & the Criminals (Luke chapter 23 verses 32-43)


• I remember a saying that I use to use as a teenager, it was.

• "Ask a stupid question and you'll get a stupid answer"

• The phrase is often used when the answer is obvious, but unhelpful,

• Or when the question is clearly impossible to answer.

• Here are some gems, true remarks spoken in a court of law.

• They were taken from the book, "Disorder in the Court."


• Q: What is your date of birth?

• A: July fifteenth.

• Q: What year?

• A: Every year


• Q: What gear were you in at moment of the impact?

• A: A Gucci sweater and Reebok trainers.


• Q: How old is your son, the one living with you?

• A: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which!

• Q: How long has he lived with you?

• A: Forty-five years.


• Q: All your responses must be oral, OK?

• A: OK.

• Q: What school did you go to?

• A: Oral.

(5). Or these one liners – stupid questions:

• Q: The youngest son, the 20-year old, how old is he?

• Q: Were you present when your picture was taken?

• TRANSITION: From the lawcourts of the UK, to the law courts of Jerusalem,

• From 2020 let’s go back to the year 0.

• From dumb questions and humorous answers,

• To wicked men, with hatred not laughter in their hearts.

• We are looking this morning at the trial & crucifixion of Jesus.

• We noted in our last study,

• That Jesus was arrested about midnight in the Garden of Gethsemane,

• In the next twelve hours he will be tried six times – you heard right – six times,

• Before being found guilty and crucified.


• This is a long passage that I have been given to speak on,

• There is so much content that I have struggled to know what to emphasise,

• And what to skip over.

• In the end I have decided to spit it into three sections.

• First: Jesus and his trials (a quick overview, no detail).

• Second: Jesus and Simon of Cyrene.

• Third: Jesus and the two criminals.

(1). Jesus and his trials (a quick overview).

• It’s worth noting that,

• None of the four gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John),

• Give to us all six trials of Jesus.

• You will need to do a bit of detective work to get this information.

Jesus would have six trials:

• Three religious (Jewish), and three civil (Roman).

• All these six trials were carried out on Good Friday,

• These would take place from 2AM to 10AM,

• Eight intense, tiring and emotionally draining hours.

(A). At the three Jewish religious trials – Jesus was condemned as a sinner:

• The question that they should have been asking at these three religious’ trials,

• Was, ‘Who is Jesus?’

• That question was and still is today so important,

• The answer will not only affect this life, but it will affect the whole of eternity!


• I came across this monologue, entitled, ‘Who is Jesus?’

• In chemistry, he turned water to wine.

• In biology, he was born without the normal conception.

• In physics, he disproved the law of gravity when he ascended into heaven.

• In economics, he disproved the law of diminishing return,

• by feeding 5000 men with two fish & five loaves of bread.

• In medicine, he cured the sick and blind without administering a single dose of drugs.

• In history, he is the Beginning and the End.

• In government, he said that he shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace.

• In religion, he said no one comes to the Father except through him.

• Jesus had no servants, yet they called him Master.

• Had no degree, yet they called him Teacher.

• Had no medicines, yet they called him Healer.

• He had no army, yet kings feared him.

• He won no military battles, yet he conquered the world.

• He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.

• As we will soon see in our studies,

• He was buried in a tomb, yet Christians believe he lives today!

• So, the question we all must ask is, ‘Who is Jesus?’

• These religious leaders were not interested in the truth,

• They had already decided Jesus was guilty because he did not play by their rules.

The three Jewish religious trials

• The First Religious Trial (Jewish): before Annas,

• Luke chapter 22 verse 54

• Tells us after his arrest this is where Jesus was taken too.

“Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest.”

• Annas ruled as the High Priest from AD6–AD15.

• Although Jewish Law [of Moses] said this position was for life.

• Annas was removed from his post,

• By the Roman procurator, Valerius Gratus (Josephus, Antiquities, 18.2.2).

• And his son in law Caiaphas replaced him.

• Many Jews still regarded Annas as the high priest,

• Even though officially it was Caiaphas.

• Jesus had yet to be charged with any crime.

• His appearance before Annas was not an official trial,

• The decision by Annas at this trail: no charges.

• Yet Jesus was still abused and mocked by his captures,

• And never given a moment of peace.

• The Second Religious Trial (Jewish): before Caiaphas,

• (Matthew chapter 26 verses 57-68).

• Ever since Jesus raised Lazarus back to life after he had died,

• Caiaphas became a vicious enemy of Jesus.

• It was Caiaphas who suggested that Jesus should be put to death.

• (John chapter 11 verses 49-53)

• It was Caiaphas who fiercely interrogated Christ,

• Charging the him with blasphemy.

• Decision: Guilty, charge of blasphemy.

• The Third Religious Trial (Jewish): Sanhedrin (Jewish Council),

• (Luke chapter 22 verses 63-71).

• This trial is recorded by all four Gospels.

• (Mark 14:53–65, Matthew 26:57–68, Luke 22:63–71 and John 18:12-24).

• Decision: Guilty and the outcome will be he must die!

• The gospel of John indicates that the Sanhedrin turned Jesus over to Pilate,

• Because it lacked the power to impose death.


• The trials before Jewish authorities, the religious trials,

• Showed the degree to which the Jewish leaders hated Jesus,

• Because they were prepared to ignore many of their own laws.

• e.g. No trial was to be held during feast time.

• e.g. Each member of the court was to vote individually to convict or acquit,

• But Jesus was convicted by acclamation.

• (That is a decision by consensus rather than by majority)

• e.g. If the death penalty was given, a night must pass before the sentence was carried out.

• However, only a few hours passed before Jesus was placed on the Cross.

• e.g. No trial was to be held at night, but this trial was held before dawn.

• e.g. The accused was to be given counsel or representation, but Jesus had none.

• e.g. The accused was not to be asked self-incriminating questions,

• But Jesus was asked if He was the Christ.

(B). Three Roman Civic trials where Jesus was declared innocent.

• The charges brought against Jesus at these trials,

• Were very different from the charges in his religious trials.

• He was charged with inciting people to riot,

• Forbidding the people to pay their taxes,

• And claiming to be King.


• The First Civil Trial (Roman): before the Governor of the province of Judaea, Pilate,

• (Luke chapter 23 verses 1—5 & John chapter 18 verses 28-38).

• Decision: (vs 4). Not guilty.

• Pilate realising Jesus was a northerner,

• Sent him to Herod who ruled the northern province.

• The Second Civil Trial (Roman): Herod,

• (Luke chapter 23 verses 6-12)

• Herod was in Jerusalem for the Passover.

• He had never met Jesus but often expressed a wish to do so.

• He especially wanted Jesus to perform a miracle presumably, to gratify his curiosity.

• So, when Pilate sent Jesus to his court because Jesus was from Nazareth in Galilee,

• “He was very glad”. (vs 8)

• But Jesus was not an entertainer,

• His miracles were done to help people or as signs to who he was.

• Herod questioned Jesus, “at considerable length”

• But Jesus didn’t answer him nor perform any miracles.

• Herod, with his soldiers, then treated Jesus “with contempt and mocked Him”.

• (vs 9&11).

• However, despite his questioning and insults, and the protestations of the Jews,

• Herod could find no fault with Jesus,

• Decision: Not guilty.

• But he still had Jesus sarcastically dressed “in elegant clothes,” perhaps like a king,

• And returned Him to Pilate. (vs 11):

• Third Civil Trial (Roman): Pilate again.

• Luke chapter 23 verses 13-25, John chapter 18 verses 39-19:6.

• Decision: Not guilty.

Pilates job was to solve problems and keep the peace:

• To try to do that he comes up with two ideas.

• In these verses we see Pilates plan of action.

FIRST: (vs 22) He tries to appease the religious leaders and the crowd.

• He offers to punish, to beat Jesus and release him.

• Pilate tried to appease the animosity of the Jews by having Jesus scourged.

• The Roman scourge was a terrible whipping,

• It was designed to remove the flesh from the back of the one being punished.

• But the religious leaders want more than a severe beating,

• They want this man’s death!

SECOND: (vs 23-25) he gives in to the shouts of the stirred-up crowd.

• In a final effort to have Jesus released,

• Pilate offered the prisoner Barabbas to be crucified and Jesus released,

• But the crowd are not interested in that!

• The crowds called for Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified.

• And Pilate granted their demand,

• And the man he declared to be innocent on three occasions,

• He gave the order for his execution!

The trials of Jesus represent the ultimate mockery of justice.

• Jesus, the most innocent man in the history of the world,

• Was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to death by crucifixion.

• Pilate bowed to the peer pressure of the crowd.

• Pilate was either a weak man, swayed by public opinion and going for the easy option.

• Or an uncaring man who sees all these events as an interruption to his busy day.


• When an old man reached his 100th birthday he was asked,

• "Sir, what is the greatest thing about being 100 years old?”

• With a smile and a gleam in his eye, Ed said “No peer pressure!”

• TRANSITION: Sadly, Pilate was a weak leader,

• He gave into peer pressure and let others make up his mind for him.


• Question: How do we handle peer pressure?

• It will affect each one of us at some time.

• Peer pressure can be the reason many a person does not follow Christ.

• To follow Christ means they will no longer fit in or be accepted,

• By certain friends or by their family.

• Peer pressure can be the reason many a Christian does not stand up for Christ.

• They are worried about what people will think of them.

• And so, they would rather compromise their beliefs,

• Or deny them for what they think will be an easier ride.


• Proverbs chapter 29 verse 25:

• “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”

• An animal with its foot snared is a sad and pathetic sight,

• Going around in circles trying to escape,

• Yet the more it tries to escape the more pain it causes for itself.

• TRANSITION: That is what peer pressure does,

• It traps us and it pains us.

• Pilate folded under the pressure of the crowd.

• And I bet Pilate forever regretted his decision.

• I bet he probably had trouble sleeping after that.

• And how do you think he felt when he died and had to face God and explain his actions?

• Can you imagine how ridiculous it must have sounded when he tried to explain,

• "Well, God, I was an accessory to murder because the crowd forced me into it."

• Proverbs chapter 29 verse 25:

• “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”

• But trust, faith in God sets us free, will in the long term always be the best response!

• He who fears the Lord need not fear people!

(2). Jesus & Joseph (Luke chapter 23 verses 26-32)


• It was Andy Warhol who is often quoted as saying,

• “Everyone should have fifteen minutes of fame”

• Although, what Warhol actually said was.

• "In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.".

• TRANSITION: Well in these verses we encounter Simon of Cyrene,

• This is his moment of fame.

• Except for one incident in his life he would never have been known,

• But because of this one experience,

• He is known all over the world wherever the Gospel of Jesus is known.

There is very little said about Simon of Cyrene in the Bible:

• In fact, just about everything we know about him is found in this one verse,

• Although Mark in his gospel adds one important extra detail.

• That he was, “the father of Alexander and Rufus.” (Chapter 15 verse 21),

• That reference means that he and his sons were known to the Church.

• They were believers or why would Mark know that fact and then record it!

• And maybe they are the ones mentioned in Romans chapter 16 verse 13.

• It is believed that Mark’s gospel was written with a Roman audience in mind!

Note: Three things about Simon.

FIRST: We know where he was from (vs 25).

• He was from Cyrene, one of the two largest towns of Libya in North Africa.

• It was a city in which a great many Jews lived,

• And many of them would travel all the way to Jerusalem for Passover and Pentecost.

• In the list of places in Acts chapter 2 of which the people were from,

• You will find Cyrene listed.

• So, Simon may well have been either a Jew or a proselyte,

• That is a pagan who was converted to Judaism,

• And he would have been a pious believer,

• For he was willing to travel over a thousand miles to Jerusalem to worship in the temple.

SECOND: We know he was compelled to bear the cross of Jesus (vs 25).

• After being up all night, and having been severely beaten,

• Jesus was understandably weak,

• As he and the other two prisoners were being led out of the city,

• Jesus was slowing the procedures down.

• He was physically exhausted and unable to keep up with the other two prisoners.

• The soldiers who were keen to get this crucifixion over with,

• So, they grabbed Simon was near the city gate and ordered him to carry a cross.

• Under Roman law, these soldiers had a right to compel a civilian to help them.

Simon was nearby and they compelled him to assist Jesus:

• Simon helped to bear the (patibulum (crossbeam in Latin) of the cross.

• Now, if Simon was a pilgrim to Jerusalem,

• Then that morning that cross kept Simon from going to the temple that morning,

• And instead it brough him to Christ.

• I like the symbolism there!

• What his religion was unable to do, connect him to God.

• The cross of Jesus did,

• It was at the cross(beam) that he encountered Christ!


“It has been said, Simon’s frustration led to faith.

His embarrassment led to enlistment.

His compassion led to commitment,

And his sympathy led to salvation.”

Note: Here is something to ponder, to think about!

• If Simon was a convert just before the cross,

• And the Roman Centurion was a convert just after the death of Christ on the cross,

• (i.e. "Surely this was a righteous man!" Luke chapter 23 verse 47).

• (i.e. "Truly this man was the Son of God!" Mark chapter 15 verse 39).

• Then together with the thief on the cross,

• We have three converts at the cross.


• Representing the descendants of each of the three sons of Noah, Sham, Ham, and Japeth.

• According to the Bible the sons of Noah were Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

• These three sons of Noah represented the three great races of mankind.

• Shem (Asia), Ham (Africa), Japheth (Europe)

• Genesis chapter 10 verse :32.

• This would be a great illustration showing the universality of the cross,

• And that Jesus did indeed die for all people!

• TRANSITION: Well if I am honest that is speculation.

• Although the final statement is a fact,

• The cross is universal in its merits.


• Just as the Corona virus (Covid-19) is no respecter of persons.

• It has swept around the world affecting people of all ages, races and religions.

• It is a physical disease that affects human bodies.

• The Bible teaches there is a spiritual far worse disease called sin.

• This two has swept through all humanity affecting everyone.

• e.g. The Bible teaches, “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory”

• (Romans chapter 3 verse 23).

• e.g. The Bible also teaches, “The wages of sin is death”

• Spiritual death, separation from God - (Romans chapter 6 verse 23).

• As yet, we have no cure for Corona virus (Covid-19).

• But the good news is we have a remedy for sin.

• It is the cross, the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ!

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in b Christ Jesus our Lord.”

At the cross the Bible teaches…

• The Bible teaches that at the cross a transaction took place:

• Jesus was rejected that we might be accepted.

• Jesus was condemned that we might be forgiven.

• Jesus was punished that we might be pardoned.

• Jesus was hated that we might be loved.

• Jesus was crucified that we might be justified.

• Jesus died that we might be live!

• TRANSITION: Christ died for all!

• Regardless of race, regardless of age, regardless of social standing!

• This gift of forgiveness and new life is for all who will,

• Repent and believe in Jesus Christ and take him as their Lord & Saviour.

Pause and get personal:

• Question: Have you ever responded to what Jesus Christ has done for you?

• Question: If not why?

• You might say, “Strange question, how can you respond to someone who is dead?”

• Well I don’t want to spoil next week’s sermon,

• But he didn’t stay dead!

• He conquered death just as he conquered sin!

• This morning, you have the opportunity to invite the living Christ into your life.

• It’s as easy as ABC.

• Admit – your need (“All have sinned”)

• Believe – in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

• Confess – Jesus Christ as Lord of your life (“Turn from your sins & follow him”)

(6). Jesus & the criminals (Luke chapter 23 verses 32-43)

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. 3

Crucifixion was so dreadful that the writer need not go into any details about it:

• His readers knew exactly horrendous and vulgar it was.

• We were reminded a few years ago in the film ‘The Passion,’

• Just how cruel and barbaric it was.

• The suffering and humiliation of a Roman crucifixion were unequalled.

• There are some forms of crucifixion that are designed to:

• Take a person’s life but still allow that person to retain some dignity,

• Crucifixion took away not only a person’s life,

• But robbed them of every vestige of dignity.

• It was deliberately designed to do that.


• The priests were mocking Jesus,

• The crowd opposed Jesus,

• One criminal taunted Jesus,

• Only one man, a criminal recognized the uniqueness of Jesus,

• He asked him for salvation!

Quote: John Calvin (French theologian, pastor and reformer)

“How clear was the vision of the eyes which could thus see;

in death life, in ruin majesty, in shame glory, in defeat victory, in slavery royalty.

I question if ever the world began there has been so bright an example of faith”.

This cry of faith – his conversion - from the criminal next to Jesus:

• Happened at a time when to the outward appearance Christ:

• Was at his weakest!

• When it would seem, he had absolutely no power at all.

• Remember this thief hours earlier,

• Had marched through the streets of Jerusalem with Jesus,

• He would have seen him unable to carry his cross, due to physical exhaustion,

• He probably only ever saw Jesus in a condition of weakness and disgrace,

• He saw a Jesus defeated by his enemies.

• Forsaken by his friends, mocked by the public crowd who had gathered.

• Slowly dying on a wooden cross.

If he had any knowledge of the coming Messiah:

• It would be of a conquering king, bringing liberation to his people.

• It certainly would not be the site that was right in front of him.

• It took incredible faith for this thief to trust a dying, weak, helpless human being,

• In fact, his faith is astounding!

• You can understand people believing when they see a miracle.

• But this man believed without one outward sign of proof.

This thief like the Roman Centurion later on in the passage:

• Had never encountered a crucifixion victim like Jesus,

• His conduct, his attitude, in fact everything about Jesus declared he was different.

• The thief did not hear the usual cursing of God and men,

• That so often a victim shouted out!

• Instead there was a calmness, a love, a forgiveness,

• He saw man praying for his enemies not cursing them!

Note: As we finish, we see clearly what salvation is all about!


• Notice that there was nothing in this man that he could bargain with,

• He was a condemned sinner, who deserved death and he knew it!!!


• He couldn’t like a man in prison, offer to change his ways, reform his behaviour.

• He couldn’t like a rich man, offer to use his wealth for the good of others.

• He would have no opportunity to do so, for he had just a few hours left to live.

• He was saved by grace alone:

• Or as the apostle Paul put it (Titus chapter 3 verse 5):

“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy”.

• He didn’t deserve forgiveness.

• He couldn’t earn salvation.

Quote: D.L. Moody:

“The thief had nails through both hands, so that he could not work; and a nail through each foot, so that he could not run errands for the Lord; he could not lift a hand or a foot toward his salvation, and yet Christ offered him the gift of God; and he took it. Christ threw him a passport and took him into Paradise. “


• Notice the words “You” twice used in verse 43.

• This promise was for him and not for both thieves.


“One thief was saved, in order that no one need despair,

one thief was lost in order that no-one dare presume”.

• God has no grandchildren, no-one ever inherited salvation.

• Salvation is a choice we must make for ourselves!


• The thief said “When you come into your kingdom”:

• In other words.

“I don’t know when your kingdom will come, but when it does come,

please, Lord, remember me”.

Verse 43:

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

• The man hoped for some kind of help in the future,

• But Jesus gave him forgiveness that very day,

• “Today” speaks of immediacy,

• “Today” is the emphatic word in the verse,

• The great thing about the gospel is:

• It doesn’t postpone our acceptance with God until we are fit to be accepted,

• We are not put on probation until we improve.

• When we receive Jesus, the gospel receives us.

• We are accepted unconditionally in Jesus Christ.


• The thief asked only to be remembered,

• But he got far more than what he asked,

• He got to be with the saviour in his kingdom.

• Note those words: “With me.” What company.

• Salvation is centered in Jesus Christ.


• Think of the moral gap between the thief and the saviour:

• One a violent, murder, a rebel and a thief.

• The other the spotless, pure Lamb of God.

• They were as far apart as any two people could be,

• Yet brought together because of the cross.


• The Lord promised “paradise”:

• You don’t get much better than that!

Quote: Bousset:

““Today” what speed! “With me” what company! “In paradise” what rest!”

get personal:

• Question: Have you ever responded to what Jesus Christ has done for you?

• Question: If not why?

• Why not follow the example of the criminal,

• Ask Jesus Christ to show mercy to you!

• Call upon his name now!

• It’s as easy as ABC.

• Admit – your need (“All have sinned”)

• Believe – in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

• Confess – Jesus Christ as Lord of your life (“Turn from your sins & follow him”)