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Mark 15:22-41 The Crucifixion of Jesus

by Dr. D ~ March 31st, 2007

Vs. 22-28 Details of the Crucifixion Setup

     Vs. 22 They took Jesus to Golgotha (place of the skull). It was probably so named because it was a rounded hill top that was devoid of vegetation. In Jerusalem today there is a hilltop thought to be the possible location with impressions beneath that remind one of eye sockets. The actual site of course is uncertain.

     Vs. 23 They offer Jesus wine mixed with Myrrh, but he doesn’t take it. Tradition is that pious women in Jerusalem provided the wine as an anesthetic to all condemned criminals as an offering of mercy. Jesus chooses to face death with a clear mind. Besides, he had told his disciples at the Last Supper that it was the last time he would eat or drink with them in this life.

     Vs. 24-25 “And they crucified him..” -Meaning that they nailed him to the cross and placed it upright in position. In the process, the soldiers stripped him of his clothes and gambled over his garments. A fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. “And it was the third hour..” -That would place the time at around 9:00 am in the morning.

     Vs. 26 The Roman charge against Jesus was treason- that Jesus was perceived to be a contender for the throne of Judea: “The King of the Jews”. In Roman executions it was traditional to have a sign made up with the charge, called the ‘titulus’ in Latin, which was carried with the prisoner to the execution site and then nailed above his head for all to see. The title: “King of the Jews” rankled the Jewish leaders as we can see in John’s account (John 19:19-22). Pilate was obviously pulling their chains. However, the title is accurate. Jesus was the heir of David and he is coming one day to literally reign in Jerusalem.

     Vs. 27-28 Jesus was placed between two ‘robbers’. The Greek word here for robber can also mean “insurrectionist”. Since mere robbery was not a capitol offense, some scholars believe that the second word is the preferred meaning. Many historians believe that the execution was previously arranged with Barabbas in mind (he was a ‘Zealot’ insurrectionist), Jesus was inserted into the plan as a substitute. The Romans many times would crucify criminals together that were guilty of similar crimes. Barabbas would have been at home with this group while Jesus stands out as unique. Which is fitting.

Verse 28 is missing in all of the earliest and most reliable Greek manuscripts. Most scholars believe that it was a notation made by a copyist that was inserted into the text in later copies. All of the modern editions of the Bible have either dropped the verse or footnoted it. Nevertheless, it does represent a truth, the placing of Jesus between the two robbers could be considered to be a fulfillment of Is. 53:12. Also, Luke 22:37 does record it.

Vs. 29-41 The Crucifixion Experience

     Vs 29-32 It is hard to imagine what Jesus was feeling while he was dying on the cross and all these people were standing around making fun of him. How barbaric! It is difficult for me to understand how people could be that way while a person is obviously suffering and dying. Some of the recent scenes of terror and videotaped beheading from the Middle East seem to be in the same category. How does one learn to hate in this way? I thank God for the Holy Spirit which leads all believers to love one another and even their enemies.

“Come down for the cross” -what a diabolical taunt. The fact is he did save others and it was in his own power to save himself. What a temptation! The chief priests and scribes are challenging him here to come down and demonstrate that he really is the Messiah. He could have done it and what a surprise that would have been. What would they have said then? Would they have finally believed? Probably not. Nevertheless, he followed the plan of his Father and died on the cross for everyone and for all time.

As a final insult, even those dying on the cross next to him were involved in the taunting. Luke tells us that later one of the criminals recanted and received a promise of life in Paradise from Jesus.

Vs. 33-41 The Death of Jesus

     Vs. 33 Darkness fell upon the whole land from noon to 3 PM as Jesus was dying on the cross.

     Vs. 34-36 At 3 PM Jesus cried out in Aramaic: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” -this is a direct quote of Psalm 22:1. Some of the bystanders misunderstood what Jesus said and thought that maybe he was calling for Elijah to come and save him.

Most Bible teachers believe that it was at that very moment that God the Father placed upon his Son Jesus, all the sins of the world of every generation from the beginning to the end. For the first time in his life, Jesus was feeling the agony of separation from his Father. The scriptural penalty of sin is eternal separation from God. At that moment, Jesus paid the penalty for us all.

Sour wine was part of the daily allotment of the Roman soldiers, so it would have been readily available. John 19:28 tells us that Jesus said: “I thirst” -so the wine was probably given in response.

Jesus cries out and then dies. John records the last cry as: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Mathew tells us that immediately there was an earthquake (Matt. 27:51).

     Vs. 38 At the death of Jesus, the great curtain that separated the holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn in two. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the holiest place once a year, the presence of God was said to be there. The rendering of the door that separated one from the presence of God symbolized the beginning of a new covenant. A covenant where regular people could have access to the Father through faith and commitment to the Son. A human intermediary or priest is no longer needed. Jesus himself being both our High Priest and the sacrificial lamb bringing atonement for our sins, for now and forever.

     Vs. 39 A Roman centurion testifies: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Whether the Roman meant it in the way that we Christians read it today is uncertain. Nevertheless, it was a prophetic statement of truth. One wonders how all the chief priests and scribes were responding to the darkened sky and to the earthquake that shook their precious temple and really changed the perception of their religion forever. After all, there is no longer any temple and the temple sacrifices have ceased long ago (since 69/70 AD).

     Vs. 40-41 It is interesting that a number of women are mention here that followed Jesus from Galilee and did not shrink from being present at his execution. There is no doubt that they may have been hoping for a different ending. Nevertheless, they were faithful to Jesus to the very end. Mary Magdalene we are familiar with, and Salome is the mother of the Apostles James and John. However, Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses, we know of only here at the crucifixion.

This does leave us with some questions. Where were all the Apostles? John was there supporting Mary the mother of Jesus. We also know that Peter was hanging on in the back some where. What about the rest? I wonder if Judas showed up? We can only speculate. 


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