Luke 22:47-23:56: The Message of the Cross
The symbol of the cross is used in many ways—on and in Christian churches, by the Red Cross, on many European flags. It is used as jewelry even by non-Christians. But they would never think of wearing a burnished gold miniature of an electric chair around their necks. In the first century the wooden cross meant capital punishment for criminals. Jesus died as a criminal to be the substitute for us sinners. Some old hymns have well retained this essential truth of Jesus' cross. Not many contemporary songs about his death do that. Approach this study with prayer for a deeper understanding of the cross of Jesus.
Warming Up to God
What was your first understanding of the Christian cross?
Discovering the Word
- In a word or phrase, what describes the way Jesus relates to each individual or group during his arrest (22:47-62)?
- Only a few hours after Peter swore loyalty to Jesus, he makes an about-face (vv. 57-60). In what kind of situation are you tempted to avoid identification with Jesus and his cause?
- Three times Pilate says he finds no valid charge against Jesus, and seeks to release him (23:4, 13-16 and 22). Why then does he ultimately pronounce the death penalty on Jesus?
- Luke gives few details of Jesus' physical death. Instead he focuses on people's attitudes. What attitude to the man on the center cross does each group or individual reveal (23:32-49)?
- Throughout his six hours on the cross, Jesus is in touch with his Father. What do his brief words to the Father reflect about their relationship (23:34,46)?
Applying the Word
- What can you do to make the message of the cross relevant to your needy world?
- How can the cross become more relevant to you as an individual?
Responding in Prayer
Praise God for giving his Son over to this horrible death on the cross for your sake.