Walking with Christ to the Cross, Week 6
The season of Lent invites us to return to God with our whole heart. It’s a theme that runs throughout Scripture and God’s relationship with his people. Throughout this Bible study, which you can read on your own or in a group setting, you’ll find links to Bible Gateway with notes that open automatically on your screen to the right of the Bible text in the Study sidebar.
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In this sixth week of Lent, we walk with Christ as he reaches his destination, the cross. Our study focuses on his crucifixion, death, and burial as recorded in Luke 23. If you’d like to read through all the events leading up to the crucifixion—from the Last Supper to Jesus’ trial before Pilate—begin with the list of passages and resources included at the end of this study. Reading one to two passages a day between now and Easter will allow you to experience all of the events of Holy Week.
As you read the three passages below, we invite you to do so slowly and prayerfully. Imagine yourself physically present as each event unfolds, and use your senses to take in all the details the passages relate. What do you see, hear, smell, touch, or taste as the soldiers mock, the women weep, the skies grow dark, Jesus’ body is taken down, and the women prepare spices for the tomb? Allow these sensory details to draw you more fully into Christ’s Passion, and to help you reflect on what his suffering and death might mean for you now.
1. The Crucifixion (Luke 23:26–43)
For insights into this passage, read the corresponding note “I. The Crucifixion (23:26–56)” in the Asbury Bible Commentary.
- How does Luke demonstrate Jesus’ innocence and righteousness?
- In what ways is Jesus’ compassion and love evident even as he is being put to death?
- Luke spares his readers details of the act of crucifixion, writing only, “they nailed him to a cross” (v. 33). To learn more about the Roman practice of execution, see the corresponding note “Crucifixion” in Easton’s Bible Dictionary. Jesus, the sinless son of God, experienced the most shameful and excruciating form of death. In addition to prolonged physical torture and violence, he was mocked, cursed, and profoundly shamed. What does the brutality of Jesus’ suffering and death reveal about his humility and obedience (Philippians 2:8)? About the depths of his trust in God?
- Luke records a remarkable conversation among Jesus and the criminals who were crucified with him. For additional insights, read the corresponding note “Luke 23:32–43. The Penitent Criminal” in Halley’s Bible Handbook Notes. The two criminals had committed the same crimes and received the same death sentence, but had radically different responses to Jesus. What do their words suggest about what was different between them? How would you describe the fundamental condition of each man’s heart?
- In an effort to prepare his disciples for his impending death, Jesus had previously said, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again” (John 10:18 NLT). Jesus makes it clear that he is not a victim. Instead, his death is a sacrifice, an empowered choice made from a position of authority. Why is it so important that the disciples understand this distinction? What insights does it provide about how Jesus responds to the people and events in this passage?
2. The Death of Jesus (Luke 23:44–49)
For insights into this passage, read the corresponding verse-by-verse notes in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the New Testament.
- This passage includes important symbolism. The supernatural noontime darkness conveys judgment. The sudden tearing of the temple curtain conveys new and direct access to God. Why might it be important to Luke to note these two details together (vv. 44–45)?
- “Jesus dies uttering words from a Psalm of confidence, Psalm 31:5,” notes the author of The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. “The righteous sufferer has suffered and won by trusting God every step of the way” (“The Crucifixion (23:26–49” in The IVP New Testament Commentary Series). What significance might there be in the fact that Jesus utters these last words not as a feeble whisper, but as a shout (v. 46)?
- Luke notes three responses among those who witnessed Jesus’ death: the centurion worships God (v. 47), the crowds go home in deep sorrow (v. 48), and Jesus’ friends stand at a distance watching (v. 49). Imagine witnessing Jesus’ death from all three perspectives. What do you see that leads you to worship? To experience deep sorrow? To stand at a distance and watch?
3. The Burial of Jesus (Luke 23:50–56)
For insights into this passage, read the corresponding note “The Burial of Jesus (23:50–56)” in The IVP New Testament Commentary Series.
- Jesus has died a shameful death at the hands of enemies, but is buried with honor by devout and faithful friends. How do the details of his burial begin to point to what his death has accomplished?
- Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy and devout religious leader, had already purchased a tomb for his own burial. How would you describe the significance of the fact that he gives his grave to Christ?
Questions for Reflection
- How does understanding more about the brutality of Jesus’ suffering and death impact you and your relationship with Christ?
- How does the way Jesus’ suffered and died demonstrate what it means to live “cruciform,” to allow our lives to be shaped by a cross of sacrificial love? In what circumstances or relationships do you sense God may be inviting you to live cruciform—to make an empowered choice to love sacrificially?
A Prayer for the Week Ahead
For Additional Study
- For a day-by-day chart of events in Jesus’ final week as recorded in the four Gospels, go to Luke 22 and see the corresponding note “The Last Week” in the NIV Quest Study Bible Notes. For a narrative summary and illustrations of Jerusalem, go to Luke 23:44–49 and see the corresponding note for “Passion Week Bethany, the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem” in the NIV Study Bible Notes.
Events Leading to the Crucifixion
Use the following list of passages and resources to walk with Christ through all the events leading up to the crucifixion, as told in Luke 22 and 23.
- The Last Supper (Luke 22:14–28 • See the Asbury Bible Commentary, “D. The Last Supper (22:1–38)”
- Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial (Luke 22:31–38) • See the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the New Testament, “Satan as asked to sift you as wheat (22:31)”
- Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39–46) • See The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, “Preparation Through Prayer (22:39–46)”
- Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested (Luke 22:47–53) • See the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, corresponding verse-by-verse notes
- Peter Denies Jesus (Luke 22:54–63) • See the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, corresponding verse-by-verse notes
- Jesus before the Council (Luke 22:66–71) • See the Zondervan Bible Commentary, “The Trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin (22:66–71)”
- Jesus’ Trial before Pilate (Luke 23:1–25) • See the Zondervan Bible Commentary, “The First Trial before Pilate (23:1–7),” “The Trial before Herod (23:8–12),” and “The Second Trial before Pilate (23:13–25)”
Check in next week for Week 7 of Walking with Christ to the Cross: Waiting and Persevering for God’s Promise.
If you missed previous weeks, they can be found on our Walking with Christ to the Cross page here.
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