Mark 15


Jesus endured the injustice of the Jewish leaders who produce false witnesses who cannot agree on the facts, try to intimidate the accused, and bend the truth in order to convict Jesus of a crime punishable by death. The bloodthirsty Sanhedrin would not be satisfied with anything less than the execution of Jesus so they persisted until they could procure the judgment they wanted. The Jews enjoyed limited autonomy, but they could not carry out capital punishment so as soon morning broke, the council conferred, and they bound Jesus and delivered him to Pilate. The Apostles' Creed only mentions two people by name other than Jesus, Mary, and Pilate. Pilate is the Roman Governor of Judea, and the Jewish authorities came to him in order to convince him that Jesus should be crucified. It would take more than some religious violations to convince Pilate to execute Jesus. The Jewish leaders present Jesus as a revolutionary and a threat to Rome, so Pilate asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews. Jesus declares himself to be a king and the chief priests pile on many other accusations. Pilate is stunned by Jesus silence and wants to know why he offered no defense. Pilate had an unusual tradition during Passover when he would give amnesty to one prisoner at the people's request. Pilate believed that Jesus was innocent and he assumed that the crowd would free Jesus if given the opportunity, so Pilate brought out a prisoner named Barabbas who had committed murder in an insurrection. Pilate could see that envy was the reason Jesus stood before him on trial. The crowd asked Pilate to continue his tradition, and he offers the crowd a choice between Jesus and Barabbas. Pilate is shocked as he witnesses the crowd ask for Barabbas instead of Jesus and realizes that he has underestimated the influence of the chief priests. Pilate then abdicates his authority by submitting to the wishes of the crowd who demands the crucifixion of Jesus. Pilate tries to reason with the crowd to no avail. He has lost control of a situation that is becoming more volatile by the second. Pilate releases Barabbas and scourges Jesus before handing him over to be crucified. Jesus is mocked and suffers at the hands of the Roman soldiers as a large crowd of them gathers around to abuse him mercilessly. The soldiers clothe Jesus in purple and make a crown of thorns which they pressed against his skull. They salute Jesus as the King of the Jews, strike him repeatedly with a reed, spit on him, and then feign worship by kneeling before him. After a while, they became bored with mocking Jesus, and they led him out to crucify him.

Crucifixion And Death

Mark mentions a man named Simon of Cyrene who is drafted by the Roman soldiers to carry the cross for Jesus who was too weak from the suffering he had already endured. Simon is forced to participate in the violent drama. Jesus is taken outside Jerusalem to the Place of a Skull. Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh which is a narcotic and maybe the only humane thing provided. Jesus refused to take it and instead chose to endure the full measure of torment. Mark does not go into all the gory details of what occurred during crucifixion; he only tells the reader that Jesus was crucified at the third hour. The soldiers cast lots for his garments fulfilling the prophecy found in Psalm 22:18 and they placed a sign above his head which read The King of the Jews. Jesus is crucified between two thieves fulfilling Isaiah 53:12 which describes the suffering servant as numbered with the transgressors. Jesus endures more mocking and taunting from the crowd that gathers around the grotesque scene. They revile him over his statement about the temple, and they mock his inability to save himself. The deride Jesus and dismiss his claims to be the Christ as the thieves join the hateful throng. At midday, when the sun should be at its brightest, a thick darkness envelops the land until the ninth hour when Jesus cries out in agony, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" The Son is forsaken. Some thought Jesus was calling Elijah, so they got him something to drink and waited, but Elijah was not coming. Jesus utters one last cry, and then he breathed his last. The veil in the temple was torn in two because Jesus entered the most holy place by means of his blood, securing eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12). A Roman Centurion, a man acquainted with suffering and death, stood facing Jesus declares him to be the Son of God. A group of women who ministered to Jesus and followed him faithfully stood in horror as they watched Jesus die. 


The Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday, and it was already late in the afternoon when Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate asking for the body of Jesus. Joseph was a respected member of the council, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. He shows incredible courage as he asks Pilate for the body and shows no concern over what the rest of the council might think of his actions. Pilate is surprised to learn that Jesus was already dead, so he summoned the centurion to confirm the report. Typically, the body would not be given to families or given burials. Instead, they would be thrown into Gehenna, a garbage dump outside Jerusalem. Joseph finds favor with Pilate who consents to give him the body of Jesus. Joseph goes to great lengths in order to give Jesus a proper burial. He wrapped the body in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb hewn out of rock. He rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb, but he was not able to anoint the body with spices, so the women who looked on took note of the tomb's location and made plans to return after the Sabbath.

Things To Consider:

  • Why is the title King of the Jews significant for Pilate, the chief priests, and Jesus?
  • How could God's people behave this way?
  • Why is trying to please the crowd so dangerous?
  • Why is seeking the approval of others so dangerous?
  • Why does Jesus endure such suffering?
  • How is his grace and love on display?
  • Why is this God's plan?
  • How does Jesus conquer through the darkness?
  • Why do some believe Jesus is calling for Elijah?
  • What was the temple altered?
  • How is Jesus the place where man and God meet?
  • What does the centurion's reaction reveal?
  • How do you think Joseph felt when he buried Jesus?
  • Why does Jesus suffer and die?