What Christ did for each of us changes everything. 

In today’s passage I see three people who I am because of Jesus Christ. I am going to testify to this scripture, I hope you can and will too!

I Am Barabbas, I Am Simon, & I Am The Second Criminal!

In Luke’s Gospel we see God’s sovereign plan to bring full and permanent redemption to the human race. In the midst of Christ laying down His life He interacts with three men. All of these men are examples of how we are to be with Christ.

Last Week:

23:11&12: Then Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus. Finally, they put a royal robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. (Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day.)

Luke 23:13-43

13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 

  • It can be assumed that when they brought Jesus back he and Pilate talked
  • When Pilate was done talking to Jesus he told the Chief Priests

16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” 17 Every year at the Passover Feast, Pilate had to release one prisoner to the people. 18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) 

  • Pilate says: I will do my passover ceremony release thing and call it a day
  • The crowd, led by the Sanhedrin will not take NO for an answer
  • The ‘whole crowd’ was willing to put a killer back on the street, why?
  • The work of sin, in the chief priests and the sinful crowd (any crowd)
  • Sin in the leaders and the crowd condemn The Christ to die (God’s Plan)

20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 

  • It has kind of blown up on Pilate, he had no idea this was going to cause unrest
  • The city was packed to the gills full of Israelites who came for Passover
  • Pilate’s #1 job as a Roman Governor: KEEP THE PEACE!
  • Three times pilate has tried to release Jesus

23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. 

  • Pilate’s 3rd & final attempt to release Jesus is met with: ”Crucify Him’!
  • The crowd had been won over by the Jewish religious leaders
  • The threat of a riot was real so Pilate pronounced judgement
  • Barabbas was to be put to death for Rebellion.
  • Jesus was put to death in place of Barabbas, though totally innocent
  • Barabbas was set free even though he was clearly guilty
  • I AM BARABBAS! If Jesus Christ died in your place then so are you!
  • God laid out a perfect illustration of what salvation would look like
  • He would die in the place of those who were guilty of sin and deserved it.
  • Barabbas was the 1st of many Jesus The Christ would die in place of.
  • Christ doesn’t’ die to save You from earthy death… 
  • Christ dies to save you from eternal death!
  • I wonder what became of Barabbas…

26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 

  • There is this guy, on his way in from the country… minding his own business…
  • Jesus must have been unable to carry it, the soldiers need to get to the ‘Skull’
  • Very harsh & super random being called to serve like this (life changing)
  • He is mentioned by name most likely because the readers of this know of him
  • His son’s are mentioned in Mark’s Gospel (Mark usually has less detail)
  • God uses Simeon to paint the picture of discipleship as Jesus had described it
  • Luke 9:23, where Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”

John Piper says: “Carrying the cross behind Jesus is a beautiful and painful picture of our calling as disciples… The call to suffer for Jesus is often sudden and costly and seemingly random.”

27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’

  • The walk is an event, and it was recorded, it was know, it is historical fact! 
  • Via Dolorosa: The Way of the Cross
  • Jesus addresses the crowd of Jews as ‘Daughters of Jerusalem’
  • It will be so bad for Israel that people will be better if they didn’t have kids
  • Children were such a blessing; it had to be brutal conditions to not want them

30 Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ (Hosea 10:8b) 31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

  • Asking the mountains & hills to cover you means, what is coming is worse than being buried by an avalanche! Doom is coming! The Wrath of God!
  • The nation of Israel has lived in God’s favor & under His Judgement: 2nd Exile
  • Another translation renders this: If these things are done to me, the living tree, what will happen to you, the dry tree?
  • Without belief in the Messiah the nation of Israel becomes a dry tree

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. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 

  • These guys were slated to die today with Barabbas…
  • The skull was just outside the ‘Old City’, I stayed close to it (Damascus Gate)
  • Jesus was the focal point, and when all three were up there The Christ Says:
  • The roman soldiers who were doing the deed had no idea

And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. 

  • Very unusual for someone to get to Crucification with anything of worth on them
  • The soldiers commit this thievery because the crowd was so against Jesus
  • The chief priests took the chance of becoming ‘ceremonially unclean’ to mock!
  • The religious leaders mock Jesus just like occupying soldiers do!
  • The sign really disproves those who say Jesus never declared Himself God
  • God put that sign there. He is my king…I am a Jew (Spiritual Israel)

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

  • This guy who is dying on a cross gets in on the mockery!! (Sin loves company)
  • The other criminal is like: ‘Really?” While you are dying you are gonna mock?
  • He reminds his partner in crime that they got caught ‘red handed’ 
  • He gets revelation of who Jesus actually is! The Christ.
  • He speaks God’s words (scripture) “This One is blameless”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

  • Remember my knowing you as God…remember me knowing you are King!
  • Jesus Christ gives the promise to all who make Him Lord: Eternal Life!


The Sanhedrin getting the crowd to insist on having Jesus killed was no accident, it was God allowed, it was God’s will and it was God’s justice.

God orchestrated Pilate releasing Barnabas to demonstrate how One who was truly blameless took the place of another who deserved to die. I am Barabbas!

Awhile following Jesus Christ, you may have your life unexpectedly invaded as God sees fit. If you surrender to it, your obedience will change your lifestyle. I am Simon!

The fate of the nation of Israel is proclaimed by Christ and it has truly come to pass.

Religious rulers, soldiers and even a criminal mocked Jesus. If you don’t mock Christ, yet never convert like the 2ndcriminal, you still have the same eternity as the mockers. I am the 2nd criminal!

As Christ followers we are directed by scripture to live out the identity of Barabbas, Simon and the 2nd Criminal. That is the identity of a Disciple of Jesus The Christ!


Do you believe in a fully sovereign or partially sovereign God? What is He not fully in charge of?

If you were facing death and someone else took your place how would you react?

How have you carried Christ’s Cross and how has it transformed you?

Have you fully believed on Christ’s divinity, sovereignty and ability to grant eternal life like the 2nd criminal did?

Friday AM: Denied, Mocked & Interrogated

Three Days that changed EVERYTHING: history, politics, culture & cultures, social constructs, community relations and world wide values…everything! What happened two thousand twenty odd years ago on a Friday, Saturday & Sunday in Jerusalem changed our the story of humanity like nothing before or since. Do we properly understand exactly what transpired? Do we grasp the significance and spiritual impact of what occurred? Do we live based on the reality of what God did that Friday, Saturday and Sunday? Putting all the pieces together can enable us to fully celebrate Easter this year. And it can also enable us to walk in faith with God at a deeper level having a greater appreciation for what Christ did!

Doctor Luke is going to be our guide through these three days… we have other information but we will focus primarily on what Luke depicts and nail that information down.

Thursday is the beginning of Passover, the upper room was prepared, Christ celebrates the ‘Last Supper’. Jesus washes the disciples feet, Judas moves to betray Jesus, Peter says: “no matter what, I won’t deny you Jesus!” Jesus say, ‘Not once but three times!” Jesus and The Eleven leave the upper room, go to the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays, the disciples can’t stay awake… 

As we join the story it is the middle of the night, the wee hours of Friday, what will forever be known as ‘Good Friday’. But it seems anything but good: Judas has led a group of temple guards to where Jesus and the disciples have been praying in Garden of Gethsemane. Judas identifies Jesus and then Peter thinking he needs to defend Christ, cuts off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. Jesus heals the man’s ear and gives himself up.

The last thing Jesus says before they take him away: 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”

Gospel of Luke 22:54-71 & 23:1-12

54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.

  • All of this is going on under the cover of night…
  • Evil works in secrecy; when you have something to hide, you hide it
  • The temple guards took Jesus to the house of their boss for safekeeping
  • Peter tries to be part of the crowd

56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” 57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. 58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

  • Upon close examination, Peter is called out twice as having been with Jesus
  • Second time he is emphatic in his denial of being a follower of Jesus

59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” 60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

  • He is accused a third time of being with Jesus, he is marked as ‘Galilean’
  • As Peter is talking, the rooster crows, meaning the sun is about to come up
  • Jesus had been in the courtyard the entire time, He heard all 3 denials
  • Peter recalled the exchange from the previous evening (12 hours ago)
  • Why did Peter do it? He had not yet been indwelt with The Holy Spirit

63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him. 66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them.

  • They were at the home of the High Priest’s for 4 or 5 hours by this time
  • They taunted Him because He they didn’t believe He was God
  • Then about 6am the ‘Sanhedrin’ is ready to meet

67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

  • As a criminal they question Him
  • Their goal was to get Him to declare Himself The Messiah 
  • If He declares Himself Messiah then they can put him to death

70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.”71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard I t from his own lips.”

  • They try to get Him to say it another way
  • He uses the phrase ‘I am’ (He has done this before)
  • They take that as an admission of guilt

1 Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.” 3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied.

  • They took Him to the Governor; only he could put someone to death
  • They then characterize the charges as being a direct affront to Roman rule
  • Pilate’s question is a form of mockery 
  • Jesus being ‘King of the Jews’ would still make Him have to answer to Pilate

4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” 5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

  • He proclaims to everyone (there is a crowd gathered) no reason to charge Him
  • The Sanhedrin will not take no for an answer
  • They need to get rid of Jesus because He threatens their power
  • They claim He is creating unrest (Roman rule was all about order)
  • They identify Jesus as being from Galilee…

6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

  • Pilate figures out how to pass the buck, He is not inclined to Judge Jesus
  • By sending Him to Herod Pilate avoids the Sanhedrin’s pressure to kill Jesus

8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.

  • Herod Antipas was a figurehead, a puppet of Rome
  • He was curious about Jesus, viewed Him as a ‘spectacle’ or ‘performer’
  • Jesus does not dignify him with any response because he was a fraud

10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

  • The agenda of ‘The Chief Priests’ is driving Herod to act
  • Because of Jesus’s silence & Sanhedrin insistence; Herod gets on board
  • If Herod backs the Sanhedrin, then Pilate will order Jesus’ death
  • All the Jewish authorities bless this execution but Pilate is the one in charge
  • They were enemies, but in Jesus’ death they will collaborate (by the will of God)
  • This series of events is happening based on God’s sovereign control


The events that lead up to and include Jesus Christ’s death reveal God’s humility, justice and sovereignty. They also reveal the sin that each member of the human race must deal with.

The Religious Leaders have to capture Jesus at night because they know they are wrong in doing it. Corruption and the work of satan takes place behind closed doors in secrecy.

The denial of Christ by His right hand man was part of the humiliation He suffered. Peter’s denial sets the stage for his transformation once God’s Spirit indwells him.

The Jewish religious establishment was corrupt and responded to Jesus’ threat to their power with the exercise of their power. Part of that was public mockery, a true display of humans capacity for evil / sin.

The way Christ is interrogated is meant to help us see how we insincerely interrogate God. We are unable to fully understand God’s sovereign justice and think we can question why God has done something.


What is the difference between privacy and secrecy in your life?

How have you been transformed by your conversion to following Christ and the indwelling of God’s Spirit?

Have you seen God mocked in our world today and how have you responded to it?

Would you consider the enacting of God’s will to be perfectly just? If not, why?

In the final chapter of Song of Songs the Bride recalls the importance of family and exclusiveness. The Bride expresses her dependance on her darling, and declares their emotional and physical oneness. She and the community affirm the value of her physical purity and in perfect unity the Bride & Groom go to a life of sweetness together!

Song of Songs 8

(Bride) 1 I wish you were my brother, who nursed at my mother’s breast; then, if I met you outdoors, I could kiss you, and no one would look down on me.

  • This is like calling him ‘Brother Groom’, like he called her ‘Sister Bride’
  • It speaks of a love that is as strong as a sibling’s loyalty
  • She longs to express her love fully in public. 
  • She cares about the community and wants to be in unity with it

(Bride) 2 I would lead you and bring you to my mother’s house, and she would instruct me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, fresh juice from my pomegranates. 3 His left arm would be under my head and his right arm around me. 4 I warn you, daughters of Jerusalem, not to awaken or stir up love until it wants to arise!

  • This is the ideal of marriage God’s way: it is a family affair
  • She is going to seek the wisdom of one who has been where she is going
  • This wisdom will be like wonderful refreshment for her Groom
  • They would be in the perfect position to awaken the fullness of love

(Guests) 5 Who is this, coming up from the desert, leaning on her darling?

  • The ‘Who is this’ speaks that transformation has occurred in the Bride 
  • The community is recognizing the Bride has been in the ‘desert’
  • She comes up out of the desert only with the help of her darling
  • She has learned to fully lean on Him

(Groom) I awakened you under the apple tree. It was there that your mother conceived you; there she who bore you conceived you.

  • The apple tree is a symbol of ongoing goodness, consistent and abundant
  • The awakening of the Bride’s love was in the community of her family
  • Your Mother conceived and bore you in the community of her family
  • This is God’s plan for marriage, that it is blessed by the family (sin ruins ideal)
  • Twice in the final chapter is the tie in of family to this marriage being ideal stated

Everything is ready now for the union to be consummated. The lessons have been learned, the fruits have been kept, the obstacles overcome, the community and family are on board.

(Bride) 6 Set me like a seal on your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, passion as cruel as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, a flame of Yahweh. 7 No amount of water can quench love, torrents cannot drown it. If someone gave all the wealth in his house for love, he would gain only utter contempt.

  • A seal such as a bracelet on the arm meant you belonged to someone
  • This is the uniting, the consummation
  • The Bride says: I want join with my beloved emotionally and physically
  • She is now ready…She know what love is (She has learned & lived God’s ideal)
  • Strong as death! Death ends each & every life on this earth… Not eternal life
  • The cruelty of Sheol is that it is final, every time, for every one
  • The flame of love is God’s flame. If you misuse what is His, you get burned
  • The passions of love can engulf you… consume you
  • Love is unquenchable, it is beyond your control (just like everything else)
  • Strong as death…only thing stronger than death is God / Christ / Holy Spirit
  • If you think love’s power is for sale, you’re a fool, you shouldn’t take seriously!

This next exchange is an expression of how the community plays a role in marriage. Now that this ideal marriage is happening they are giving some of the back story on how it happened. 

(Guests) 8 We have a little sister; her breasts are still unformed. What are we to do with our sister when she is asked for in marriage? 9 If she is a wall, we will build on her a palace of silver; and if she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar.

  • While the girl is yet a woman the community will keep her from marriage
  • When the time is right the community will affirm the ideal bride as pure
  • The ‘palace of silver’ gives honor to her, for being a wall, allowing none to pass
  • If she has been accessible, she is cared for and enclosed by the community
  • She is just not put out there as en example. GRACE!

(Bride) 10 I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers; so in his view I am like one who brings peace. 

  • Here the Ideal Bride declares that she his barred all access
  • Her intimate parts are out of reach, untouchable, inaccessible
  • Because of this, her beloved sees her as THE source of peace (Shalom)
  • This is God’s ideal for marriage: The exclusiveness is how it was meant to be!

(Bride) 11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-Hamon, and he gave the vineyard to caretakers; each of them would pay for its fruit a thousand pieces of silver. 12 My vineyard is mine; I tend it, myself. You can have the thousand, Solomon, and the fruit-caretakers, two hundred!

  • Baal Hamon means: Overlord of Abundance
  • Land owner would use share-croppers to tend their lands (common property)
  • She is expressing how her abundance is not ‘farmed out’, she keeps it close
  • The world (Solomon) can have everything else, she saves herself for the groom
  • This is the final declaration of the Bride that she is the groom’s and his alone

(Groom) 13 You who live in the garden, friends are listening for your voice. Let me hear it! 

  • Now that they are one flesh they literally ‘live in the garden’
  • The community wants to affirm their union, the Groom calls His bride to confess

(Bride) 14 Flee, my darling! Be like a gazelle or young stag on the mountains of spices!

  • Now the union is complete 
  • Bride saying: ‘together we go, to live out the ideal


In a biblical marriage or relationship with Christ, we can have a ‘Familial’, sibling type bond, that transcends attraction.

In following Christ & doing marriage God’s way, we are to lean on our spouse and/or our Savior to get through life’s deserts.

God’s way of marriage & relationship with Him is meant to be experienced within the blessing of family.

God’s ideal is that our attachment to our spouses or God is meant to be all-encompassing.

Love is a passion rooted in the very existence of God and meant for His purposes, otherwise it can be deadly.

The community of God’s people has a role to play in setting standards and helping to protect the purity of young people.

We should value ourselves in a way that we save our intimacy for our God given spouse as we are to keep ourselves for God alone.

When united with our spouse or God, His way, we go to a place of sweetness unique to this life.


How might you relate to Jesus more as a ‘perfect’ brother or sister?

How well do you lean on your spouse? How well do you lean on Your Lord & Savior?

How can you treat your marriage or your walk with Christ with more awe and respect?

How can you participate in forming and affirming cultures of biblical marriage and Christ following here at midtown?