Woven throughout Luke 23 are various themes that emphasize the evil of the day and the travesty of justice against Jesus, and in so doing, they highlight even more his sinlessness and sacrifice.
(All Scripture quotations are from the ESV.)
Theme 1: Accusations that eventually degenerate into shouting
2And 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 Christ, a king.”
5But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
10The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him.
18With one voice they cried out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!”
21But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
23But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.
Theme 2: Pilate declares Jesus innocent four times, yet caves to the desire of the crowd
4Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” (INNOCENT!)
14and 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. 15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. (INNOCENT!)
20Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. (INNOCENT!)
22For 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.” (INNOCENT!)
24So Pilate decided to grant their demand. (CAVES IN)
25He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. (UNJUST SENTENCE)
Theme 3: Other Declarations of Jesus’ innocence
(Pilate) 4Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” (also 14-15, 20, 22)
(Herod) 14 ... I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.
(Criminal) 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
(Centurion) 47The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”
Theme 4: Barabbas’ guilt detailed. Barabbas, known to be guilty, is released, while Jesus, declared to be innocent, is delivered up.
19(Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
25He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
Theme 5: Taunts to validate his claims by saving himself
(Rulers) 35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”
(Soldiers) 36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
(Criminal) 39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
Of course, he couldn't both save himself and us. If he had saved himself as the criminal suggested, he would not have saved us.
Considering the evil of the day, isn't it all the more remarkable that in the midst of it all, Jesus prays, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"?