Mark 15:1-32 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 15:1-32

  • Mark 15:1-5
  • As soon as it was morning, having held a meeting with the elders, scribes, and the whole Sanhedrin, the chief priests tied Jesus up, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2 So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 Pilate questioned him again, “Aren’t you going to answer? Look how many things they are accusing you of!” 5 But Jesus still did not answer, and so Pilate was amazed.
    • As soon as it was light, the Sanhedrin met to confirm the conclusions they had arrived at during their unlawful meeting in the night. They themselves had no power to carry out the death penalty. That had to be imposed by the Roman governor and carried out by the Roman authorities
    • It is from Luke that we learn how deep and determined the bitter malice of the Jews was. As we have seen, the charge at which they ad arrived was one of blasphemy. But that was not the charge on which they Brough Jesus before Pilate. They knew all that Pilate would have had nothing to do with what he would have considered a Jewish religious argument. When they Brough Jesus to him they charged him with perverting the people, forbidding them to give tribute to Caesar and calling Himself a king. They had to evolve a political charge or Pilate would not have listened. They knew the charge was a lie—and so did Pilate
    • Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
      • Jesus gave a strange answer. He said, “You say so.”
      • Jesus didn’t give a yes or no answer. What He basically said was, “I may have claimed to be the King of the Jews, but you know ver well that the interpretation that my accusers are putting on that claim in not my interpretation. I am no political revolutionary. My kingdom is a kingdom of love.”
      • Pilate went on to question Jesus more, and the Jewish authorities went on to multiply their charges—and Jesus remained silent
    • There is a time when silence is more eloquent than words, for silence can say things that words can never say
      • There is the silence of wondering admiration
        • It is a compliment for any performance or oration to be greeted with thunderous applause, but it is still a greater compliment for it to be greeted with a hushed silence which knows that applause would be out of place
        • The Passion of the Christ
      • There is the silence of contempt
        • It is possible to greet someone’s statements or arguments or excuses with a silence which shows they are not worth answering. 
      • There is the silence of fear
        • People may remain silent for no other reason than that they are afraid to speak
        • The cowardice of their souls may stope them from saying the things they know they ought to say
      • There is the silence of the heart that is hurt
        • When people have been really wounded they do not break into protests and recriminations and angry words. The deepest sorrow is a dumb sorrow, which is past anger and past rebuke and past anything that speech can say, and which can only silently look its grief
      • There is the silence of tragedy
        • That is silent because there is nothing to be said
        • Barclay claims this is why Jesus was silent. He knew there could be no bridge between Himself and the Jewish leaders. He knew that there was noting in Pilate to which He could ultimately appeal. It is a terrible thing when a person’s heart is such that even Jesus knows it is hopeless to speak
        • I would argue that Jesus was actually silent not because it was hopeless, but because He was on the correct path. He had to go to the cross, and to answer the charges against Him here would have been counterintuitive
  • Mark 15:6-15
  • 6 At the festival Pilate used to release for the people a prisoner whom they requested. 7 There was one named Barabbas, who was in prison with rebels who had committed murder during the rebellion. 8 The crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do for them as was his custom. 9 Pilate answered them, “Do you want me to release the king of the Jews for you?” 10 For he knew it was because of envy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd so that he would release Barabbas to them instead. 12 Pilate asked them again, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call the king of the Jews?” 13 Again they shouted, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate said to them, “Why? What has he done wrong?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them; and after having Jesus flogged, he handed him over to be crucified.
    • We don’t know anything about Barrabas outside of the gospel narratives. He was not a thief, he was murderer and a leader in the rebellions
    • Palestine was filled with insurrections. There was one group of Jews called the Sicarii, which means the dagger-bearers, who were violent, fanatical nationalists. They were pledged to murder and assassination. They carried their daggers beneath their cloaks and used them as they could. It is very likely that Barabbas was a man like that, and, thug though he was, he was a brave man, a patriot, and it is understandable that he was popular with the mob
    • People have always felt it a mystery that less than a week after the crowd was shouting a welcome when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, they were now shrieking for His crucifixion. There is no really mystery. The reason is quiet simply that this was a different crowd. Think of the arrest. It was deliberately secret. True, the disciples fled and must have spread the news, but they could not have known that the Sanhedrin was going to violate its own laws and carry out a trial by night. There can have been very few of Jesus’ supporters in that crowd. It was not necessarily that the crowd was fickly, but that it was a different crowd
    • Nonetheless they had a choice to make. Confronted with Jesus and Barabbas, they chose Barabbas
      • They chose lawlessness instead of law
        • They chose the law-breaker instead of Jesus
      • They chose war instead of peace
        • They chose the man of blood instead of the Prince of Peace
        • In almost 3,000 years of history there have been less than 130 years where there has not been a war raging somewhere
      • They chose hatred and violence instead of love
        • Barabbas and Jesus stood for two different ways
        • Barabbas stood for the heart of hate, the stab of the dagger, the violence of bitterness
        • Jesus stood for the way of love
        • As so often happens, hate reigned supreme in human hearts, and love was rejected. The people insisted on taking their own way to conquest, and refused to see that the only true conquest was the conquest of love
    • There can be hidden tragedy in a word
      • After having Jesus flogged is one word in the Greek. The Roman scourge is a terrible thing. The criminal was bent and bound in such a way that his back was exposed. The scourge was a long leather whip, studded here and there with sharpened pieces of lead and bits of bone. It literally tore a man’s back to shreds. Sometimes it tore a man’s eye out. Some men died under it. Some men emerged from the ordeal raving mad. Few retained consciousness through it. That is what they inflicted upon Jesus
  • Mark 15:16-20
  • 16 The soldiers led him away into the palace (that is, the governor’s residence) and called the whole company together. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, twisted together a crown of thorns, and put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 They were hitting him on the head with a stick and spitting on him. Getting down on their knees, they were paying him homage. 20 After they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple robe and put his clothes on him.
    • The Roman ritual of condemnation was fixed. The judged condemned the prisoner, turned him over to the soldiers while the cross was being prepared.
      • It was while the cross was being prepared that Jesus was in the hands of the soldiers
      • The Praetorium was the residence of the governor, his headquarters, and the solders involved would be the headquarter’s cohort of the guard. We would do well to remember that Jesus had already undergone the agony of the scourging before this mockery of the soldiers began
    • It may well be that of all that happened to Him this hurt Jesus least. The actions of the Jews had been venomous with hatred The consent of Pilate had been a cowardly evasion of responsibility. There was cruelty in the action of the soldiers, but no malice. To them Jesus was only another man for a cross, and they carried out their mockery not with any malice, but as a coarse jest
    • It was the beginning of much mockery to come. Always the christian was liable to be regarded as a jest. Scribbled on the walls of Pompeii, whose walls are still chalked with coarse jests today, there is a picture of a Christian kneeling before a donkey and below it scrawled the words, “Anaximenes worships is God.” If people ever make a jest of our Christianity, it will help to remember that they did it to Jesus in a way that is worse than anything likely to happen to us.
  • Mark 15:21-28
  • 21 They forced a man coming in from the country, who was passing by, to carry Jesus’s cross. He was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull.) 23 They tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.24 Then they crucified him and divided his clothes, casting lots for them to decide what each would get. 25 Now it was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The inscription of the charge written against him was: The King of the Jews. 27 They crucified two criminals with him, one on his right and one on his left.
    • The routine of crucifixion did not alter. When the cross was prepared the criminal had to carry it to the place of execution. He was placed in the middle of a hollow square of four soldiers. In front marched a soldier carrying a board stating the crime of which the prisoner was guilty. The board was afterwards affixed to the cross. They took the longest way to the place of execution so that as many as possible should see and take warning. When they reached the place of crucifixion, the cross was laid flat on the ground. The prisoner was stretched upon it and nailed to it. The nails were usually driven through the wrists. The fee were not tailed but only loosely bound. Between the prisoner’s legs  projected a ledge of wood called the saddle, to take his weight when the cross was raised upright—otherwise the nails would have tor through the wrists. The cross was then lifted upright and set in its socket—and the criminal was left to die.
    • Sometimes prisoners hung for as long as a week, slowly dying of hunger and of thirst, suffering sometimes to the point of actual madness
    • Simon of Cyrene was forced into service to carry the cross. We don’t know all the details, but it appears that Simon was highly effected by this
      • Father of Alexander and Rufus, meaning that Mark expected his audience to recognize Simon this way
      • Romans 16:13 “Greet Rufus chosen in the Lord; and greet his mother—a mother to me also”
      • Acts 13:1 there is a list of men of Antioch who sent Paul and Barnabas out on their first missionary journey.
        • Simeon who was called Niger; Simeon is another name for Simon, and Niger was the regular name for a man of dark skin who came from Africa, which is were Cyrene was located
    • Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh to numb the pain, but He refused, going to the cross with full mental ability
    • The soldiers gambled for His clothing, fulfilling prophecy
  • Mark 15:29-32
  • 29 Those who passed by were yelling insults at him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Ha! The one who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself by coming down from the cross!” 31 In the same way, the chief priests with the scribes were mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with him taunted him.
    • The Jewish leaders flung one more challenge at Him, basically saying, come off the cross and save yourself and we will believe
    • But to do so would have proved Jesus not to be the Messiah, because His death on the cross was necessary for salvation
    • Jesus went the whole way and died on the cross, and this means that there is literally no limit to God’s love, that there is nothing in all the universe which that love is not prepared to suffer for us, that there is nothing, not even death on a cross, with it will refuse to bear for us
    • When we look at the cross, Jesus is saying to us, “God loves you like that, with a love that is limitless, a love that will bear every suffering earth has to offer.”

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