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The Crucifixion of Jesus
Text: Mark 15:16-32
Dr Alex Tang
15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. 16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.
A Roman flogging was a brutal beating that always preceded the execution of a capital sentence on male offenders, though it could also be a separate punishment. The prisoner was stripped, often tied to a post, and beaten on the back by several guards using short leather whips studded with sharp pieces of bone or metal. No limit was set on the number of blows. Often this punishment was fatal.
Pilate had Jesus flogged in hope that the people would take pity and be satisfied. But this also failed; they still insisted He be crucified.
· YOU walked bleeding into the courtyard of the palace.
· YOUR body full of pain and agony after the flogging.
· YOUR blood dripping onto the floor.
· WE are those who chose to free Barrabas.
· WE are those who condemn You to this pain.
· WE cause You to bleed for us.
17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
The Roman soldiers’ mockery of Jesus (15:16-20; Matt. 27:27-31; John 19:2-12).
v.16. After the flogging of Jesus, presumably outside in the public square, the Roman soldiers took Him, battered and bleeding, into courtyard of the palace. The rendering “palace” is justified due to Mark’s explanatory comment, that is, the Praetorium, equating the two places. The Latin loanword, Praetorium, meant the governor’s official residence (cf. Matt. 27:27; John 18:28, 33; 19:9; Acts 23:35).
Once inside they summoned the whole company (speiran, Gr. for the Latin “cohort”) of soldiers. Ordinarily a cohort was 600 men, 1/10 of a 6,000-soldier legion. But in this case it may have been an auxiliary battalion of 200-300 soldiers that had accompanied Pilate to Jerusalem from Caesarea.
15:17-19. In ludicrous imitation of a vassal king’s regal robes and gilded head-wreath, the soldiers dressed Jesus in a purple robe, a faded military cloak, and pressed a crown of thorns, perhaps palm spines, on His head. With this “crown” the soldiers unwittingly pictured God’s curse on sinful humanity being thrust on Jesus (cf. Gen. 3:17-18). Matthew noted that they also placed a staff in His hand as a mock scepter (Matt. 27:29).
Then they ridiculed Him with contemptuous words and insulting actions in mock homage to a king. The derisive greeting Hail (Rejoice), King of the Jews, paralleled the formal Roman plaudit, “Ave, Caesar.” The soldiers kept striking Jesus with a staff, probably His mock scepter, on His thorn-crowned head. They kept spitting on Him (cf. Mark 14:65) and bending their knees in mock submission to royalty. In all this they acted out of contempt not so much for Jesus personally but for their subject nation which had long desired a king of its own.
The soldiers then removed the mock royal attire and dressed Him in His own clothes. Then they, a four-soldier execution squad under the command of a centurion, led Him outside the city to crucify Him.
Jesus’ suffering before the Roman authorities was exemplary for Mark’s readers who would be subjected to similar ridicule before pagan authorities.
THE HUMILIATION AND TORTURE
YOU wore the purple robe, wooden staff and false homage when the soldiers mockingly bowed to you as the King of the Jews.
YOU could have told them that YOU are indeed a king, the KING of Kings. That you can call forth 72,000 angels to demolish Rome.(12 legions)
YOU accept the crown of thorns being pushed onto your brow. The pain of the thorns tearing the tender skin of your scalp.
YOU accepted the humiliation of beating and being spit on by your own creation.
WE are those who do not recognize YOU for the King that you are.
WE make mockery of YOUR Kingdom and we still done.
WE push the thorns into YOUR flesh. The sins of humanity piercing your holy flesh.
WE humiliated you. We the unholy, the ungrateful, the evil doers humiliate you the pure one of God.
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).
Customarily a condemned man carried the patibulum of his own cross, that is, the crossbeam weighing about 100 pounds, through the city streets out to the place of crucifixion. Jesus started to carry His (cf. John 19:17) but was so weak from being flogged that His strength gave out near the city gate. The soldiers randomly seized a passerby named Simon and forced him to carry the beam the rest of the way.
Simon was a native of Cyrene, an important coastal city of North Africa that had a large Jewish colony (Acts 2:10). He was either an immigrant living near Jerusalem or more likely, a pilgrim who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover festival but had to stay in the country at night because there was no room in the city. Only Mark mentioned Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus, suggesting that they were disciples known to his readers in Rome (cf. Rom. 16:13).
The soldiers took Jesus to the place outside but near the city wall called Golgotha, a Greek transliteration of an Aramaic word meaning The Place of the Skull. The word “Calvary” comes from the Latin Vulgate rendering Calvaria, a variation of calva, “a skull.” Golgotha was a rounded, rocky knoll (not a hill or mountain) vaguely resembling the shape of a human skull. Its exact location is uncertain.
23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
According to Rabbinic tradition certain Jerusalem women provided sedative drinks for those about to be crucified, to decrease their pain. On arrival at Golgotha, they, presumably the Roman soldiers, offered (lit., “were attempting to give”) Jesus such a drink, wine mixed with myrrh, a plant’s sap having anesthetic properties.
But after He had tasted it (cf. Matt. 27:34) He refused it, choosing rather to face suffering and death in full control of all His faculties.
YOU would not take the drugged wine.
YOU will not find the easy way out.
YOU would bear the full pain of all the sufferings of creation.
WE offered YOU the easy way. WE still do not understand.
24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. 25 It was the third hour when they crucified him.
With restrained simplicity Mark wrote, ‘And they crucified Him’. His Roman readers needed no elaboration and he offered none. Normally a condemned man was stripped (except possibly for a loincloth), laid on the ground, and both outstretched forearms were nailed to the crossbeam. Then this beam was raised and fastened to an upright post already stuck in the ground and the victim’s feet were nailed to it. A wooden peg partway up the post on which the victim sat helped support his body.
Death from extreme exhaustion and thirst was painful and slow and usually came after two or three days. Sometimes death was hastened by breaking the victim’s legs (John 19:31-33).
A victim’s personal belongings became the property of the execution squad. In Jesus’ case the four-man squad (cf. John 19:23) cast lots, probably dice, for His clothes—an inner and outer garment, a belt, sandals, and perhaps a head covering—to see what each one would get.
Unwittingly they fulfilled Psalm 22:18, another aspect of Jesus’ humiliation.
YOU allow YOURSELF to be led like a sheep to the slaughter.
YOU lie on the cross and let them drive these cold hard nails through your Hands, tearing through nerves, tendons, muscles and bones.
These hands had held a mother’s hands
These hands that held a carpenter’s tool to build a chair.
These hands that comfort and heal the sick.
These hands that raise the dead.
YOU allow your belongings be taken by others.
WE are the reason YOU offered YOURSELF. It was for our sins that You lie on the cross.
WE are the reason you let body be tortured. YOU bear the pain so that on day WE no longer have to bear the pain.
WE are the reason you gave up everything, even your place with the Godhead to come down to live among us.
26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.
27 They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left.
Pilate had Jesus crucified between two robbers who, like Barabbas, were perhaps guilty of insurrection. They may have been convicted of treason at the same time as Jesus because they were familiar with His case.
Unwittingly Pilate’s action fulfilled Isaiah 53:12.
THE KING OF THE JEWS
YOU die with sinful men besides You.
WE are the ones who put you there.
29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!”
Again Jesus was subjected to verbal abuse. Passersby hurled insults at Him (lit., “kept slandering Him”).
Shaking their heads refers to a familiar gesture of derision. They taunted Him for His alleged claim regarding the temple. If He could rebuild the temple in three days (a great feat), then surely He could save Himself from death by coming down from the cross (a lesser feat).
YOU bore the insults of the passerby. Remember how you wept for them before YOU enter Jerusalem. (Luke 19:41,42)
WE are the ones who hurl insults at YOU, shaking our heads. We do not know who YOU are.
31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Similarly the Jewish religious leaders mocked Jesus indirectly in conversations among themselves. Their long-standing desire to kill Him was successful at last.
Their words He saved others refer to His healing miracles, which they could not deny. But they ridiculed Him because He seemed powerless to save Himself. Ironically their words expressed a profound spiritual truth. If Jesus was to save others, delivering them from the power of sin, then He could not save (rescue) Himself from the sufferings and death appointed to Him by God.
They also mocked Jesus’ messianic claims replacing Pilate’s words “King of the Jews” with King of Israel. They challenged Him to prove His messianic claim by a miraculous descent from the cross so they could see the compelling evidence and believe that He is God’s Messiah. The issue, however, was not lack of evidence but unbelief.
The two men crucified with Jesus also joined in reviling Him. But one of them soon stopped and asked Jesus to remember him in His kingdom (Luke 23:39-43).
THE LEADERS AND SCRIBES
YOU bore the insults of those who should have known better. The spiritual and political leaders of your people. They replaced the condemnation from “King of the Jews” to “King of Israel”.
WE are the people who should know better. Yet again and again we sent You to the cross.
THE VIEW FROM THE CROSS
YOU were dying and all YOU see are everything and the people you are dying for laughing, ridiculing YOU. YOU gave up all for them and they do not appreciate it.
WE ask for YOUR mercy O Lord.
Have mercy on us, O Lord
Soli Deo Gloria
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