Key Verse | Luke 23:1-4

Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king." And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, "I find no guilt in this man."

Scripture | Luke 23

Jesus Before Pilate

Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

Jesus Before Herod

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.” 1 23:16 Here, or after verse 19, some manuscripts add verse 17: Now he was obliged to release one man to them at the festival

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

The Crucifixion

26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 2 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus what they do And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, 3 23:38 Some manuscripts add in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, 4 23:39 Or blasphemed him saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

44 It was now about the sixth hour, 5 23:44 That is, noon and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 6 23:44 That is, 3 p.m. 45 while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Jesus Is Buried

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. 7 23:54 Greek was dawning 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.


[1] 23:16 Here, or after verse 19, some manuscripts add verse 17: Now he was obliged to release one man to them at the festival
[2] 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus . . . what they do
[3] 23:38 Some manuscripts add in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew
[4] 23:39 Or blasphemed him
[5] 23:44 That is, noon
[6] 23:44 That is, 3 p.m.
[7] 23:54 Greek was dawning

The Greatest Exchange: God's Sovereign Plan to Save Sinners

Devo | Luke 23

The Greatest Exchange—God's sovereign plan to save sinners.

Our sin had forever broken our relationship with God. But God sent his Son to save us. Still, many rejected Him, and others put Him on...

The Greatest Exchange—God's sovereign plan to save sinners.

Our sin had forever broken our relationship with God. But God sent his Son to save us. Still, many rejected Him, and others put Him on trial. On the cross, the greatest exchange took place between God and sinners. Like Barabbas, we deserved death, judgment, and hell. But Christ suffered in our stead so we, the guilty, might go free. Christ's death is payment for our sins that lifts burdens and gives eternal life and joy when we trust in Him.

1. Christ took our criticism.

Christ, who lived a pure, perfect, and holy life, was criticized or falsely accused (Luke 23:2).  We shouldn't be surprised when people criticize, oppose, marginalize, or persecute us as followers of Christ. It hurts. I know from my own experience under persecution in Romania. But we can't even imagine the infinite hurt that Jesus Christ suffered at the cross. So, when criticized, falsely accused, or condemned, trust Christ to defend you.

2. Christ took our charges.

The Jews accused Christ before Pilate and Herod with utterly untrue charges of subverting the nation, forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and stirring up the people (Luke 23:2). The devil used lies and slander against Christ. He will do the same against us to impugn our character or to destroy our testimony. Nevertheless, we shall bear the trial patiently and as a part of the cross of Christ. Standing firm on God's promises helps us see that the truth always prevails and that suffering for Christ is an honor and a privilege.

3. Christ took our condemnation.

The Jewish religious leaders hated Christ. They wanted Pilate and Herod to condemn Him.  Nevertheless, Christ willingly took our condemnation on Himself to honor God's plan to save us.

Christ took our criticism. We deserved the criticism.               

Christ took our charges. We deserved the death penalty. 

Christ took our condemnation. Christ willingly accepted the guilty verdict in our place.                                                                    

Christ died to open the kingdom of heaven to all who believe in Him.

Our challenge is to completely surrender our lives to Christ.

Discussion Questions

1.  Christ faced the pressures of life, opposition, false accusations, and even death on the cross by yielding to God's perfect will. As you go through the pressures of life, opposition, or false accusations, ask yourself: Are you going through them like Pilate who avoided making a decision to protect his status? In what ways do you avoid making decisions? Or are you going through the pressures of life, opposition, false accusations like Judas who pretended to care for Jesus, but in fact only cared about himself? Or like Peter who jumped to kill the opposition or the enemy?  Or like Christ who submitted to God's purpose?                                           

2. Christ encourages us as we face our days of opposition to turn them over to God. And when we do, that's when greatness truly begins. What do you learn from being submissive to God?

3. Christ showed us that the best six ways to respond to false accusations or oppositions are: Asking questions; sharing stories; giving strong words of condemnation or affirmation; using the Scriptures;  withdrawing from the accusers; and keeping silent. In what way do you use any of those responses? Are you still trying to justify yourself, argue, or fight with your opposition? Are you speaking to win an argument or to win a soul?  Or acting like Christ? When was the last time you used any of those six ways Christ taught us?

Christ exemplifies for us how best to live when we are going through the pressures of life, opposition, or false accusations— have confidence in God to provide the words and wisdom to respond to them.                                            

Christ instituted for us the heavenly servant type of leadership that uses the Word of God in love as the weapon against the opposition to win them for God.

Meet Virginia Prodan

As a member of Watermark, I am happy to be a part of Join The Journey this year!

My name is Virginia Prodan.  I am an international human rights attorney, a speaker, and an author. I am originally from Romania where I defended Christians under persecution.  After years of being persecuted for that, I was exiled on November 14, 1988, as a political refugee to America—in Dallas, Texas. I have three adult kids and 12 grandchildren. I am passionate about Christ, and He has guided me in mentoring people to: trust Him even under persecution; to follow Him and experience a courageous, purpose-filled, abundant life; and to leave a legacy of faith. 

10 Comments available

Hugh Stephenson 2 months ago

GM Virginia!! What an awesome pleasure it is to see you on the Journey today. What great teaching you have given us. Your questions are a great on-ramp for us to dive into this passage.

Love your story sister. One of the more amazing I have heard. THANK you for your faithfulness and your witness.

I hardly know where to start. Borrowing heavily from the notes…

What I repeatedly see is contrasts, starting with verse 1-

Jesus being judged by Pilate & Herod vs Him judging them at their death.

The Jewish leaders who obeyed Pilate’s civil authority but defied Jesus’s divine authority.

Pilate not adhering to Roman law, the Jews not adhering to Jewish law vs Jesus obeying the Law and the Prophets.

Jesus being innocent according to Jewish Law, (Deuteronomy 19:15) vs the Jews violating this same law in declaring Him guilty.

Hugh Stephenson 2 months ago

Barabbas is guilty of insurrection and murder vs Jesus is innocent of insurrection and is murdered

Pilate’s call to be just & right vs his choice to have peace & be popular.

The people choosing judgement vs blessing.

Jews want religion but not God.

Simon of Cyrene literally follows Luke 9:23 vs Simon Peter who flees.

“Jesus had taught His disciples to forsake all, take up their cross, and follow Him (9:23; 14:27). That is precisely what Simon did. It involved laying aside his personal plans, becoming associated with Jesus publicly in His humiliation, and following in His steps as His servant.”

Hugh Stephenson 2 months ago

Two criminals vs one innocent man

Two criminals; one joins the crowd and mocks Jesus vs the other who confesses and pleads for salvation.

Women and Centurions who were two groups that were never hostile to Jesus in NT vs Scribe and Pharisees who were always hostile.

And, Jesus in control to the end…

The final climax - As the wounded victor promised in Genesis 3:15, Jesus prays a final prayer of trust reciting Psalm 31:5.

Jermaine Harrison 2 months ago

Thanks for sharing Virginia! Each time I read the trial of Christ, it gets clearer and clearer how much of a sham trial this was. Full of lies and fueled by jealousy and selfishness. I’m grateful for Jesus’ endurance and commitment to His mission in the midst of false accusations. I’m grateful for the examples of faithfulness (the thief on the cross, Joseph and the women) that stand out when the majority rejected Christ.

Sue Bohlin 2 months ago

Thanks so much for your deeply thoughtful devo, Virginia!

Luke records Jesus crying out with a loud voice just before He dies, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” But we also know from other gospels that earlier, He started the song of Psalm 22 with the words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” Luke tells us there was a mysterious darkness because the sun’s light failed. It couldn’t have been an eclipse during a full moon. The physical darkness was probably symbolic of the spiritual darkness Jesus descended into when He became our sin and could no longer connect to His Father. So calling out to His Father meant His darkness was over and He was heading home. It must have been an unimaginable relief to be able to reach out to His Father again.

I really cannot imagine. Thank You, Lord Jesus.

Patricia Simmons 2 months ago

Good morning Virginia! What a beautiful testimony you have and live out daily. I am struck by question #1. When faced with trials do I act like Pilate and avoid making a decision, or pretend I’m seeking God but really am self-seeking like Judas, respond in anger that I have this trial like Peter or submit to God and His will for me like Jesus? This is such a deep and thought provoking devotional on the trial and crucifixion of my Savior…Thank you!

Michael Scaman 2 months ago

Jesus didn’t let the trial (whether before Pilate or Herod or High priest) focus on lesser things and be sidetracked, only asnwering the quiestions abouut his identify.

Jesus was king, son of God, Son of man, Messiah, and Jesus was coming again

At His arrest, an angel army could have rescued him but effectively had a stand down order.

Michael Scaman 2 months ago

Jesus rode a donkey no one rode before. Jesus used a tomb no one used before.

Being counted with criminals yet with a rich man in his death is an indirect reference to Isaiah 53 which says that.

We see an indirect claim of both being divine and human in Isaiah 52-52. The Lord bares his holy arm in the sight of the nations … but who has the arm of the Lord been revealed. An act of God in plain sight but hidden. A sprinkling of nations and a sufering servant speaks of a human servant.

Shawn Foster 2 months ago

Thank you so much Virginia! You are an incredible Ambassador for Christ. These are wonderful truths and points to ponder. I encourage you to Keep doing what you are doing and be blessed. Much appreciated!

Linda Green 2 months ago

What a life story you have, Virginia! Am reading Tortured for Christ, written by Richard Wurmbrand, about his 14 years in prison for Christ in Romania. Am struck by his story and others that willingly and even joyfully suffered for bearing the name of Jesus.

Paul says “… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” Can I truly pray that prayer? Am praying to be found faithful, no matter what. Only with the help of the Spirit of God-

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