Today: [Mark 15] Jesus Pays the Final Price for Our Sin Debt: Mark 15 we come to the holy ground whereupon our Savior renders up the final and full sacrifice of His life. We can but look one with awestruck silence considering the magnitude of what took place over the course of about 12 hours from Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. A brutal scene and an awful cost paid for your sin and mine as we read in this chapter of Mark.
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[Mar 15:1-23 KJV] 1 And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried [him] away, and delivered [him] to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest [it]. 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. 4 And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. 5 But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled. 6 Now at [that] feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. 7 And there was [one] named Barabbas, [which lay] bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire [him to do] as he had ever done unto them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. 11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. 12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do [unto him] whom ye call the King of the Jews? 13 And they cried out again, Crucify him. 14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. 15 And [so] Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged [him], to be crucified. 16 And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. 17 And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his [head], 18 And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! 19 And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing [their] knees worshipped him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. 21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. 22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. 23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received [it] not.
Jesus we learned in chapter 14 has been brutalized by the chief priests and their lackeys, who now send Him away to Pilate’s judgment hall. This no doubt was all according to their plan, because they intended that Jesus be put to death, and as a vassal state to the Roman Empire, the authorities in Jerusalem did not have power to impose capital punishment. Upon arrival at Pilate’s judgment hall the Roman procurator gets right down to business, asking Jesus if He is a king. This would have been the one question that this representative of Caesar would want to know because in the Roman world, only Caesar, seen as a living god could rightly be called king. In answer toward the question, Jesus only remarks “thou sayest it…” making in fact no defense at all but seemingly provoking Pilate to get on with the sham trial that is now underway.
The chief priests bring many false witnesses and accuse Jesus of everything they can think of. At this point all dignity is set aside. The chief priests perceive that Jesus is vulnerable and they will shame themselves by whatever means necessary to bring about Jesus’ death sentence. Pilate, no stranger to such proceedings burst out at Jesus, interrupting the steady stream of blasphemies from the mouths of Jesus accusers, demanding to know if Jesus recognizes the gravity of what is taking place. Jesus just looks at Pilate and answers nothing more.
Realizing that he is caught up in a political intrigue that will not end well, Pilate seeks to extract himself from the fray but manipulating the crowd into releasing Jesus. He brings out a notorious brigand that should have had no favor with the mob and asks the people to choose whom he should release – Jesus or Barabbas? We know that Pilate wasn’t very sincere in trying to help Jesus because he exclaims with mock surprise “shall I release to you the King of the Jews?” This would have infuriated the crowd and whipped them into a blood frenzy. What Pilate was actually doing was making sure that whatever happened next, it was seen as an insurrection of the crowd that he would then deal with and gain favor with Caesar in Rome for doing so.
Pilate’s ruse with Barrabas works as he hoped, and he releases Barrabas and turns Jesus over to further brutality at the hands of Pilates soldiers. The Romans cloth Jesus in royal purple to further mock him and taking a rod beat a crown of thorns upon His brow that one of the soldliers had apparently taken the time and great care to fashion for just this purpose. Can you imagine the cruelty and the barbarity with which they molested Jesus, spitting upon Him and bowing down in mockery, until finally exhausted and bored with their vicious game, lead Jesus away to be crucified.
As Jesus is being led away, the beating that was meted out we find left Him without strength to carry the timber for the cross whereupon He would be fastened. The Romans in charge drag a man named Simon from the crowd, the father of two boys (Alexander and Rufus) to carry the cross the rest of the way to the place of execution. The mention of Simon’s name and that of his sons is significant because they later became believers and figured prominently in the early church, according to church tradition.
The execution squad brings Jesus to the place of the skull and in feigned Roman clemency, give Jesus a mixture to dull His pain, which Jesus promptly refuses. They then crucified Him and sitting down under the grisly scene the Romans begin casting lots for Jesus’ garments that apparently were of some value to them. All of this happened about the third hour, or rather 9 a.m. in the morning. Pilate had ordered that a sign be placed over Jesus’ head “King of the Jews…” and on either side of Jesus he was joined in death along with two common thieves on the right hand and on the left.
[Mark 15: 24-47 KJV]
24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. 25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. 26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. 29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest [it] in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. 33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard [it], said, Behold, he calleth Elias. 36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put [it] on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. 37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. 40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; 41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem. 42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling [unto him] the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45 And when he knew [it] of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary [the mother] of Joses beheld where he was laid.
The presence of two thieves alongside Jesus in crucifixion was fulfilling of scripture that affirmed prophetically that in death the Messiah would be numbered with common transgressors. There were in fact many fulfillments of prophecy in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Even the crowd and the scribes and elders standing by could have made note of this, but instead danced with glee around the dying savior, sticking out their tongues at Him and challenging Him to come down and save Himself. They were quite motivated in their deceit and scorn for this carried on for three whole hours, until suddenly at the sixth hour, or noon a surreal and unexplained darkness fell on the scene.
Apparently the crowd was somewhat stifled and stilled by the unearthly darkness that fell, as nothing is said of their conduct from the sixth hour to the ninth at which time Jesus cries out “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” What agonies unseen must have gripped Jesus in that moment. This cry does not arise from the physical suffering Jesus has endured, for He took it all in silence from the first scourging until now, almost 9 hours altogether form the early morning time of His arrest. But something inward of terrifying dimensions has occurred. The Father who has always been one with Jesus, and always been present with Jesus has now turned His head as was necessary for Jesus to pay the full and dread price of your sin and mine.
The crowd is stirred at the muffled cry of Jesus and want to rouse Him with a sponge of vinegar to see if they can goad Him further. They still cling to their beliefs about reincarntation, thinking that Jesus is calling for Elijah to manifest and make Himself known, suggesting to us that though Jesus had sternly warned Peter, James and John not to divulge what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration, that they must have disobeyed, and the account spread even to the unbelievers gathered mocking around the dying Christ.
Jesus shows no sign of acknowledging the crowd, but instead in that awful final moment, cries out in agony and gives up the ghost. The Centurion in charge of the execution squad has supervised many, many executions and has never seen anything like this. He looks up through hardened eyes, suddenly softened by the sense that something cosmic has happened beyond his understanding, and simply mouths reverently “surely this man was the Son of God…”
Standing afar off Mary Magdalene, Mary Jesus’ mother and some other women witness the final moment and with help from a wealthy man named Joseph of Arimathaea go to Pilate and request that Jesus body be released to them. They take the body from the men who had so abused it, and cleanse it from the spittle, and filth that it was covered with, cleansing away the mire that covered His limbs and wrap it in a linen cloth to lay in the tomb. How can we but shudder at this moment? Heaven’s darling lies motionless in death. All of humanity and creation hang in the balance as Joseph gathers the two Marys up in his arms and turns them away from the tomb, now sealed with a stone.
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