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John Wesley's notes on the Gospel: Luke 23:1-49


Chapter XXIII 

1  Mt 27:1; Mr 15:1; John 18:28. 

4  Then said Pilate - After having heard his defence - I find no fault in this man - I do not find that he either asserts or attempts any thing seditious or injurious to Cesar. 

5  He stirreth up the people, beginning from Galilee - Probably they mentioned Galilee to alarm Pilate, because the Galileans were notorious for sedition and rebellion. 

7  He sent him to Herod - As his proper judge. 

8  He had been long desirous to see him - Out of mere curiosity. 

9  He questioned him - Probably concerning the miracles which were reported to have been wrought by him. 

11  Herod set him at nought - Probably judging him to be a fool, because he answered nothing. In a splendid robe - In royal apparel; intimating that he feared nothing from this king. 

15  He hath done nothing worthy of death - According to the judgment of Herod also. 

16  I will therefore chastise him - Here Pilate began to give ground, which only encouraged them to press on. Mt 27:15; Mr 15:6; Joh 18:39. 

22  He said to them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? - As Peter, a disciple of Christ, dishonoured him by denying him thrice, so Pilate, a heathen, honoured Christ, by thrice owning him to be innocent. 

26  Mt 27:31; Mr 15:21; Joh 19:16. 

30  Hos 10:8. 

31  If they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? - Our Lord makes use of a proverbial expression, frequent among the Jews, who compare a good man to a green tree, and a bad man to a dead one: as if he had said, If an innocent person suffer thus, what will become of the wicked? Of those who are as ready for destruction as dry wood for the fire? 

34  Then said Jesus - Our Lord passed most of the time on the cross in silence: yet seven sentences which he spoke thereon are recorded by the four evangelists, though no one evangelist has recorded them all. Hence it appears that the four Gospels are, as it were, four parts, which, joined together, make one symphony. Sometimes one of these only, sometimes two or three, sometimes all sound together. Father - So he speaks both in the beginning and at the end of his sufferings on the cross: Forgive them - How striking is this passage! While they are actually nailing him to the cross, he seems to feel the injury they did to their own souls more than the wounds they gave him; and as it were to forget his own anguish out of a concern for their own salvation. And how eminently was his prayer heard! It procured forgiveness for all that were penitent, and a suspension of vengeance even for the impenitent. 

35  If thou be the Christ; Lu 23:37. If thou be the king - The priests deride the name of Messiah: the soldiers the name of king. 

38  Mt 27:37; Mr 15:26; Joh 19:19. 

39  And one of the malefactors reviled him - St. Matthew says, the robbers: St. Mark, they that were crucified with him, reviled him. Either therefore St. Matthew and Mark put the plural for the singular (as the best authors sometimes do) or both reviled him at the first, till one of them felt "the overwhelming power of saving grace." 

40  The other rebuked him - What a surprising degree was here of repentance, faith, and other graces! And what abundance of good works, in his public confession of his sin, reproof of his fellow criminal, his honourable testimony to Christ, and profession of faith in him, while he was in so disgraceful circumstances as were stumbling even to his disciples! This shows the power of Divine grace. But it encourages none to put off their repentance to the last hour; since, as far as appears, this was the first time this criminal had an opportunity of knowing any thing of Christ, and his conversion was designed to put a peculiar glory on our Saviour in his lowest state, while his enemies derided him, and his own disciples either denied or forsook him. 

42  Remember me when thou comest - From heaven, in thy kingdom - He acknowledges him a king, and such a king, as after he is dead, can profit the dead. The apostles themselves had not then so clear conceptions of the kingdom of Christ. 

43  In paradise - The place where the souls of the righteous remain from death till the resurrection. As if he had said, I will not only remember thee then, but this very day. 

44  There was darkness over all the earth - The noon - tide darkness, covering the sun, obscured all the upper hemisphere. And the lower was equally darkened, the moon being in opposition to the sun, and so receiving no light from it. Mt 27:45. 
45  Mr 15:38.

46  Father, into thy hands - The Father receives the Spirit of Jesus: Jesus himself the spirits of the faithful. 

47  Certainly this was a righteous man - Which implies an approbation of all he had done and taught. 

48  All the people - Who had not been actors therein, returned smiting their breasts - In testimony of sorrow.