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Mark Chapter 15:1-47 

Memory verses for this week:  Mat 18:4  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

Introduction: We continue with our study of Mark as we cover Chapter 15.   Last week we saw the great agony Jesus went through as he prayed there in the garden of Gethsemane.  Judas Iscariot comes and betrays Christ to the soldiers.   All of the disciples flee as Jesus is taken to the home of the high priest.  We closed the chapter with Peter doing exactly what he had said he would never do, denying Jesus Christ.


I.                The Trial Before Pilate

Mark 15:1  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.

Mark 15:2  And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.

Mark 15:3  And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.

Mark 15:4  And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.

Mark 15:5  But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.

The chief priest, elder, and scribes brought Jesus bound to Pilate.   Pilate questions the Lord and asks if he is the King of the Jews.   Jesus says “Thou sayest it.”  As the many accusations fly at Christ, he dose not answer a word.   Pilate is extremely concerned, and it says he marvelled.   When we are accused, we normally speak out loudly when we are innocent.  Jesus had never sinned, yet he did not respond to these false accusations.

Matthew Henry said this about Christ being bound.

They bound him. He was to be the great sacrifice, and sacrifices must be bound with cords, Ps. 118:27. Christ was bound, to make bonds easy to us, and enable us, as Paul and Silas, to sing in bonds. It is good for us often to remember the bonds of the Lord Jesus, as bound with him who was bound for us. They led him through the streets of Jerusalem, to expose him to contempt, who, while he taught in the temple, but a day or two before, was had in veneration; and we may well imagine how miserably he looked after such a night’s usage as he had had; so buffeted, spit upon, and abused. Their delivering him to the Roman power was a type of ruin of their church, which hereby they merited, and brought upon themselves; it signified that the promise, the covenant, and the oracles, of God, and the visible state church, which were the glory of Israel, and had been so long in their possession, should now be delivered up to the Gentiles. By delivering up the king they do, in effect, deliver up the kingdom of God, which is therefore, as it were, by their own consent, taken from them, and given to another nation. If they had delivered up Christ, to gratify the desires of the Romans, or to satisfy and jealousies of theirs concerning him, it had been another matter; but they voluntarily betrayed him that was Israel’s crown, to them that were Israel’s yoke. [i]

II.  The Choice of Barnabas

Mark 15:6  Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.

Mark 15:7  And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.

Mark 15:8  And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.

Mark 15:9  But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

At the passover feast, it had become a custom that Pilate would release to the Jews one prisoner.  Barabbas was a notorious prisoner who had organized resistance to the established government of Rome (insurrection).  He also was accused of murder while in the revolt.  In Pilate’s eyes, this man would be considered a dangerous political prisoner.  Because of this, Pilate thought this would be an easy way to be rid of Jesus without having to decide the case.   Logically, the people would not want to free a murderer.  Pilate asks if they wish for him to release the “King of the Jews.”

Mark 15:10  For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.

Mark 15:11  But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.

Mark 15:12  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?

Mark 15:13  And they cried out again, Crucify him.

Mark 15:14  Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.

Mark 15:15  And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

Pilate was confident that it was envy that had caused them to deliver Jesus into his hands.  The chief priests moved among the people and told them to ask for the release of Barabbas.   Again in verse 12, Pilate asks if they want him to free Christ.  They cry out and say to crucify Jesus.   Pilate is alarmed at this and asks “What evil hath he done?”  The more he asked, the louder they cried out to crucify him.   So to make them happy, he releases Barabbas and has him scourged.


III.  Jesus Crowned with Thorns

Mark 15:16  And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band.

Mark 15:17  And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,

Mark 15:18  And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!

Mark 15:19  And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.

Mark 15:20  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.

Mark 15:21  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.

Mark 15:22  And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.

Mark 15:23  And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.

The soldiers mock Jesus.  They clothed him in a purple (a sign of royalty) robe which was the attire of a king.  They make a crown of thorns and placed it upon His head.   After mocking him, they take off the robe and put his own clothes back on him.  Christ is beaten so badly and in such bad shape that he cannot carry his cross to Calvary.  They have Simon, a Cyrenian, bear the cross for him.  They brought him to the place of a skull called Golgotha.   In the side of the mountain, you could see the resemblance of a man’s skull.  The soldiers off him wine mingled with myrrh, but he would not accept it.  This most likely was a drug to deaden pain, but Jesus would not take it.

IV.  Jesus Crucified

Mark 15:24  And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.

Mark 15:25  And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.

Verse 24 is a direct fulfillment of Psalms 22:18.

Psa 22:18  They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

At 9 am, they crucified Christ.   Remember that the Jewish day began at 6pm, so their new day began at 6am.

Mark 15:26  And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Mark 15:27  And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.

Mark 15:28  And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

Two thieves were crucified with Him and this was another fulfillment of the scripture.

Isa 53:12  Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Mark 15:29  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,

Mark 15:30  Save thyself, and come down from the cross.

Mark 15:31  Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.

Mark 15:32  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.

The people mocked him as he hung on the cross.  Even the thieves mock him, but one comes to his senses later and asks Christ to remember him when he come in his kingdom.   That man was saved that day, showing how easy it is to be saved if we mean business with God and repent of our sins. 

Mark 15:33  And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

Mark 15:34  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?

Mark 15:35  And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.

When the sixth hour come (12 noon), there was darkness over all the earth.  This darkness lasted until 3pm, another 3 hours.  Finally at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”   At this moment, when the sin of the world was placed on Jesus, God turned his back on His only begotten Son.   God can not look upon sin, and Jesus bore the sin alone.  How much He loved us.   Christ cries out and gives up the ghost.

Mark 15:36  And one ran and filled a sponge 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.

Mark 15:37  And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.

J. Vernon McGee said this about Christ’s death:

notice here that Mark gives us the Crucifixion by the clock. On the third hour He was put on the Cross, and at the sixth hour (which would be twelve noon) darkness came down. The high noon sun was covered, and darkness came down over the Cross. From the sixth hour to the ninth hour, that would be until three o’clock in the afternoon, there was darkness.

Now will you notice this: the first three hours were from 9:00 a.m. until 12 noon; the second three hours were from 12 noon to 3:00 p.m. Jesus hung on the Cross for six hours. In the first three hours there was physical light; in the second three hours there was physical darkness. But in the first three hours there was spiritual darkness; in the second three hours there was spiritual light. Why? Because in those first three hours man did his worst. They crucified Him and they reviled Him. Even those who were hanging with Him on the Cross reviled Him. At least at the first, both thieves did. At that time His enemies, marching around down beneath the Cross, were wagging their heads and ridiculing Him. In the first three hours man was working, doing his very worst; in the second three hours God was working. He was suffering at the hands of man in the first three hours; He was suffering for man in the last three hours. In the first three hours He was dying because of sin, in the second three hours He was dying for the sin of the world. So during the time of the physical darkness, there was actually spiritual light and God was working. In those first three hours sin was doing all it could to destroy Him; in the second three hours He is making His soul an offering for sin. In those last three hours He is paying for the sins of the world. It was during this period that He was made sin for us; He became sin for us. He was forsaken of God and yet, even at that time, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (see 2 Cor. 5:19). What a paradox we find here.  [ii]

Mark 15:38  And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

Mark 15:39  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.

Mark 15:40  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;

Mark 15:41  (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.

The veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom.   This veil separated the inner chamber from the room called the holiest of holies.  It could only be entered once per year by the high priest where he brought an offering for his own sins and one for the people.  This tearing apart of the veil was God showing that the way into the presence of God was opened to every man.   No priest or mediator is needed for us to come to God.  Jesus Christ is our way, our only way, to God.   The centurion said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”  Others looked on while Jesus was crucified.


V.  The Burial of Jesus

Mark 15:42  And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,

Mark 15:43  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.

Joseph of Arimathaea comes to Pilate and asks that he might have the body of Jesus to bury in his tomb.  Pilate marvels that he is dead so quickly.  Many times it took up to six days for a man to die on the cross.  Crucifixion was the most horrible death a person can suffer.

Mark 15:44  And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.

Mark 15:45  And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.

Mark 15:46  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.

Mark 15:47  And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.

Joseph is given the body of Jesus and places him in a tomb hewn out of a rock.   Mary Magdalene and the other Mary beheld where the body was laid.



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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[i]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[ii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.