The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 15D

Chapter 15:22-32

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  • Tonight, we arrive to the event of the crucifixion.

    • This event within the Passion chronology is one that is too often clouded with misinformation yet spoken about yearly by major media outlets.

      • The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is an event within history that has been well documented and provides multiple eyewitnesses.

      • However, the most significant purpose of the crucifixion is that our very salvation as believers hinges on this moment.

      • What Jesus accomplished through being nailed to the cross demonstrates how He became the substitute (the ransom) for the many.

    • As we approach Mark’s account of the crucifixion, we must approach the text with a few questions in mind:

      • 1. Last week we addressed one of the questions which was: Why did Jesus have to suffer the way that He did?

      • 2. What did Jesus have to endure on our behalf on the cross?

      • 3. What did Jesus accomplish on the cross?

    • We discovered that the methods and means by which Jesus suffered were in fact prophetically revealed to the Prophets centuries ago.

      • Meaning that the means of suffering was already predetermined by the Father for His Glory and ultimately for our good.

      • And that ultimate good is the salvation found in the work Christ accomplished on our behalf on the cross.

      • And with that, last week we discovered that Jesus provided us with a template or an example for believers in how to suffer well.

    • As I have mentioned before, the question that one must wrestle with throughout these events is: Who is Jesus?

      • Is He the One whom the Father has sent in order to become our substitute, therefore making us right with God?

      • Or is He simply a good rabbi, or teacher that has wisdom beyond His years and could do a few miracles?

    • It will be through Mark’s outworking of his account, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, that he will lead us to the verdict in which he began this book:

      • That this Jesus, the One who came to Suffer and die for us is The Christ, The Son of the Living God.

    • Tonight, we are going to see the following things:

      • 1. Setting (v.22)

      • 2. Scene(s) of Mockery (v.23,25-31)

      • 3. Suffering (v.24)

    • If I were to put a tag on tonight’s text, it would simply be: A Crucified Christ: The Suffering and Mocking Hours

      • With that being said, I invite you to meet me at Mark 15:22-32 for the reading of the word of the Lord.

Mark 15:22  Then they *brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 
Mark 15:23   And they tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it. 
Mark 15:24   And they *crucified Him, and *divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man would take. 
Mark 15:25   Now it was the third hour when they crucified Him. 
Mark 15:26   The inscription of the charge against Him read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Mark 15:27   And they *crucified two rebels with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 
Mark 15:28   [And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.”] 
Mark 15:29   Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 
Mark 15:30   save Yourself by coming down from the cross!” 
Mark 15:31   In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself! 
Mark 15:32  Let this Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
For the Bible tells me so
  • This Christian children’s hymn is one known by many who attended Sunday school services.

    • This song expressed the immense and abounding love of Jesus which has been made known throughout the bible.

      • Many skeptics of the scriptures, often wrestle with understanding a God of love found in the writings of the New Testament.

      • Yet when they make their way into the Old Testament, they seem to struggle to see that same loving God and instead more judgment.

    • As I have mentioned before, the New Testament interprets the Old Testament scriptures, which are now fully revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ.

      • Therefore, the God of the Bible is One God who must uphold both His Judgement and His Love at the same time.

    • It is here in Mark 15:22-41, that we can witness the immense love of Jesus.

      • This great and expansive love finds its fulfillment in the actions demonstrated by Jesus on this cross.

      • However, the selfless actions of Jesus had to be planned by someone in order to come to a culminating point at the cross.

    • For if God’s Judgment and love must both be upheld at the same time, then we know that His rightful judgment had to be demonstrated in an effort to show His love for humanity.

      • And as we have seen up to this point, it is God demonstrating the greatest service known to man in which He willingly lays down His Son as our propitiation (ransom). (Mark 10:45)

    • Mark is now preparing to move us from the setting where the guilty verdict was rendered to where the guilty will hang condemned.

      • This location is found outside the city gates in a place called Golgotha, which Mark properly translates as “Place of the Skull”.

    • However, if we were to look at a map of Jerusalem today, we might find ourselves a bit confused because over time, from Jesus’ day to today, there have been several wall projects and events that have commenced.

      • One of these events was the destruction of the walls by the Romans in AD 70.

      • The construction of this wall (Josephus’ third wall) began during the reign of King Agrippa I.

      • And as you can see within the graph, the phases of these buildings show what Josephus has recorded and what history has left for us to witness in Jerusalem today. (Dashed line)

    • The Praetorium, from which Jesus is being escorted, is known as the Antonian Fortress which was positioned near the Temple Mount inside the city walls.

      • The distance from the Fortress (Praetorium) to Golgotha was approximately 500 meters which is close to 1/3 of a mile apart.

    • So, as we discussed last week, although this would have been no more than a 15 min walk, Jesus being in the physical condition He was in would have been a difficult distance to walk.

      • On top of the distance needed to travel and the physical lacerations on Jesus’ body, based upon the rules of Roman crucifixion, the captive had to carry their own horizontal beams to the location.

      • At best, these wooden beams weighed close to 100 lbs.

    • Therefore, Jesus’ physical struggle prompted the Roman soldiers to have Simon of Cyrene help carry the beam to Golgotha.

      • Some may ask the question: “Why was it just the beam that was carried and not the whole cross?”

    • This question comes about because of the many movies regarding the portrayal of Jesus headed to the cross.

      • However, we will discover later tonight that most of these renditions fail to present literal historical realities according to the Gospel accounts.

    • It’s in verse 23 that Mark mentions, as Jesus is making His way to the cross, that as Simon of Cyrene is holding His beam and joining in this crucifixion moment, several scenes began to unfold.

      • Mark mentions that a group of individuals try to give Him wine mixed with myrrh.

    • However, with the offering of this drink came Jesus’ refusal to partake.

      • The immediate question becomes: “Why would Jesus refuse the aid?”

      • What about this drink would cause Jesus to refuse it altogether?

    • In one sense, His refusal to drink the wine could be in conjunction with what He had mentioned to the disciples in the upper room where He states: “He would not drink again until His reception in the Kingdom.” (Mark 14:25)

      • The other suggestion I will mention shortly.

    • Mark’s text states in verse 23 that “they” offered Jesus the wine mixed with myrrh. One thing we should seek to know is, Who is the “they”?

      • Well, if we go to Luke’s gospel (Luke 23:27), Luke records that a large crowd of people and women who were mourning and lamenting Jesus were following Him to the site for crucifixion.

      • It was common during that time to have professional mourners in the midst as a means of tradition according to Jewish culture.

    • Therefore the “they” in Mark’s gospel providing this wine and myrrh mix could have been a sympathetic crowd member or perhaps the wailing women.

      • And according to Scripture, it would affirm the fact that the giver of this wine and myrrh mix would typically be none other than the women in that day reflecting Proverbs 31:6.

Proverbs 31:6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.
  • This brings us to our next question: What was myrrh?

    • Myrrh was an ingredient from the sap of a plant used as an anaesthetic to ease the pain.

    • So with the addition of wine to this mixture, it would have a similar effect of dampening the pain and easing the mind.

    • However, Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 27:34) tells us after tasting it, He refused it.

    • The moment that we find ourselves in pain today, we have quick access to pain-relief medicine and the like so that we don’t have to endure the pain we are presently experiencing.

      • Yet here we find our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, refusing the aid of pain relief to fully face His death and suffering while remaining in full control of this situation.

      • Talk about full dependency upon the Father!

      • Jesus endured through it all with a single focus: Accomplish the Father’s will in a fully aware and controlled state.

      • Check out verses 24-25. Mark shifts us to the next scene.

Mark 15:24   And they *crucified Him, and *divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man would take. 
Mark 15:25   Now it was the third hour when they crucified Him.
  • Mark mentions that as Jesus is being crucified, His belongings were divided among the soldiers as they cast lots on who would take what.

    • Notice how Mark begins this moment – he states “..And they crucified Him”. Nothing more. Nothing less.

      • It’s important to note that the Gospels themselves do not go into the minutia of how Jesus was crucified and the methods by which the Roman soldiers would accomplish it.

      • And I find this reality to be very encouraging, because in one way, the gospel writers are not placing emphasis on the how of the crucifixion, but rather the what!

      • What did Jesus’ death by crucifixion accomplish for the many?! That becomes the focal point to the narrative of Mark’s Gospel.

    • In other words, though the experience of the cross was gruesome, and we will uncover a bit of that, the focus of Mark’s brevity of “the how” refocuses us all on what this gruesome and painful death accomplished.

      • Here it is, these soldiers, who at one point fell to the ground at the proclamation of Jesus being the “I AM”, are now gambling, to say the least, over who will own what articles of clothing.

      • And it seems as if, from Mark’s description of this moment, that He is pointing to the reality of the fulfillment of scripture regarding the disposing of Jesus’ clothes.

    • Mark traces this fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. Check out the text:

Psalm 22:18  They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.
  • Along with the casting of lots for Jesus’ clothing, we should briefly uncover the cruelty of this form of punishment considering these passion events.

    • For it will be the culmination of the cross in which Jesus has come to take away the sins of the world.

    • Crucifixion was deemed the harshest form of capital punishment in the ancient world.

      • This form of punishment would have been quite familiar to Mark’s audience because they would witness many non-Romans experiencing this cruel form of punishment.

      • Along with this cruel manner of death came the great humiliation that ensued because although many pictures of Jesus on the cross show Him in loincloth, the reality was Jesus was naked before all.

      • As one could imagine, not only is there great pain that Jesus had to endure but He was faced with great shame.

      • It would be that shame and pain that was rightfully our shame and pain in which He willfully and lovingly took on Himself for our sake.

    • I want to quickly provide some detailed graphics and explanations that were explained by several professionals in their field which was published in JAMA.

      • JAMA is the Journal of the American Medical Association which is a peer review medical journal.

      • This study of the Passion events was accomplished by a Medical Doctor, a Pastor, and a Medical Graphics artist.

      • And my purpose of showing these is to describe and show what the Roman crucifixion entailed and to see how precise God’s word is in that no bone was broken in Jesus’ body.

      • (Show graphics.)

    • And what makes this moment so powerful is that the time in which Jesus was hung on the cross was the exact time in which the National Passover Lamb was slaughtered on behalf of Israel. That time was 9AM. (See slide)

      • Mark indicates that it was the “third-hour” (Roman hour) in which Jesus was crucified and along with the painful shame that came with this method of death was continued mockery.

      • With this being the third hour, it meant that the first 3-hour interval in which Jesus is hanging and suffering is for the sins of humanity.

    • Notice, verse 26 mentions that an inscription was made on a placard that would hang on the cross to identify who He was.

      • With a harmonization of the gospel accounts, a type of cross potentially comes to mind being that the Romans had 4 crosses they used.

      • And based on these accounts, Jesus would have hung on a cross having the lowercase t-shape which could hold the inscription above His head.

    • And on the placard, the charge against Jesus read, “King of the Jews”.

      • What makes these events all the more saddening is this inscription, according to Roman custom, would be hung around the criminal’s neck on their way to the execution site.

      • So imagine, walking the path to the cross, now known as the Via Dolorosa, the people are observing and reading the sign around His neck.

      • It was a shameful walk to be made!

      • And the intent behind this inscription, as you can imagine, was to make a mockery of both Jesus and the Jewish leadership. (John 19:19-22)

    • Observe, once again, the reality of what Mark is describing.

      • He is not emphasizing the methods of the crucifixion but rather some significant events around it.

      • Check out verses 27 and 28.

Mark 15:27   And they *crucified two rebels with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 
Mark 15:28   [And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.”] 
  • Mark states that along with Jesus’ crucifixion came the company of two other men – “one to His left and one to His right.”

    • Mark uses the term “robbers” to describe who these men are.

      • The Greek word for “robber” here is lestes which can mean a bandit or thief.

      • However, robbery was not a crime that was punishable by death in Rome.

    • With that being said, the term Mark uses can be a bit confusing.

      • However, within BDAG which is Bauer’s Lexicon, it shows that this word also means a revolutionary or insurrectionist.

    • Therefore, the term robbers in this context more than likely speaks to these men as rebels.

      • And at best, these men were potentially grouped in Barabbas’ guerrilla wars against Rome.

    • Secondly, we see that Mark mentions a positioning phrase of the robbers, “one on His right and one on His left”

      • This phrase should sound a bit familiar because this was the request by which James and John sought to have next to Jesus, however in different circumstances.

      • Check out with me really quickly, Mark 10:37-38.

Mark 10:37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 
Mark 10:38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
  • This phrase is interesting yet ironic because where James and John wanted to sit in positions of Honor and Glory, this current position seems far from glorious.

    • Perhaps, this speaks even more to the reality that within our own humanity we seek the glory of the destination yet don’t desire the journey to get there.

    • Our only boast should be in the glorious, finished work of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross!

    • That through the gore and gruesomeness of the cross would come great Glory and Honor bestowed upon the Son of God.

    • This is why no man can share in His glory because no man could bear the weight of what He went through!

    • Here we find a moment of application and that is: In Christ alone do we boast, and not in ourselves, but unto Him and to His Glory, alone!

    • Here we find Jesus, the innocent one now numbered with the transgressors.

      • Now as we look at verse 28, you may notice in your bibles that it is either bracketed or not there.

      • This is because there are some that argue this verse was not included in the original manuscripts.

    • However, evidence shows within Eusebius’ canon listings that verse 28 harmonizes perfectly with Luke 22:37.

      • Therefore, it is safe to say that whether this was a scribal note or not, it is congruent with Markan language and fits the canon of scripture.

    • And as we find in verse 28, scripture was fulfilled by Christ yet again according to Isaiah 53:12.

Isaiah 53:12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
  • What we should be coming to see within Mark’s text is the reality of what Jesus is taking on Himself.

    • The Suffering Servant has taken upon Himself the mocking, the ridicule, the assault, the shame, the anger, the injustice, the bitterness.

    • We come to find why Jesus had mentioned to the disciples in Mark 10:45, that He has come not to be served, for that would come at a later time.

      • Rather, He has come to serve! Our glorious salvation could not have been accomplished without the crushing of Jesus on the cross.

      • So, as we move to the next scene of mocking, we will see that even amongst His own, Jesus will be shamed.

      • Even more so, we find that the men crucified with Him join in on the mockery. Check out verses 29-32.

Mark 15:29   Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 
Mark 15:30   save Yourself by coming down from the cross!” 
Mark 15:31   In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself! 
Mark 15:32  Let this Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.
  • As we read these sobering passages, one cannot help but think that the One who has come to save endured the worst for all.

    • At this point, that mix of wine and myrrh would have most definitely been useful given what He not only endured physically but also mentally.

      • Within our own human rationalization, what Jesus allowed Himself to endure could not have been accomplished by men.

      • It could only take One, who is full of grace and truth, that could endure what He did.

      • Our natural proclivity within our fallen nature is to isolate and protect ourselves, not meet the needs of others.

    • So here it is that as Jesus is hanging from the cross that those who were passing by were “hurling abuse” at Him.

      • The phrase “hurling abuse” is not to be confused with obscenities or profane language.

      • The Greek word for “hurling” is blasphemeo which is blasphemy in English.

      • That generation had indeed blasphemed the Son of God.

    • Furthermore, individuals were wagging their heads and saying “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross.”

      • In one instance, you must ask yourself: “What would cause individuals to be so cruel?”

    • Based on the location of the crucifixion, it would be located on a hill outside of the gate which could be viewed by onlookers coming into the city or individuals leaving the city.

      • And as they would pass by, they could see the inscription above Jesus’ head declaring, not His accused crime, but His acclaimed Title.

      • On top of that, the distance from the site to the Temple Mount was not far so for many this would have been deemed a blasphemous accusation.

      • Needless to say, as they hurled insults upon the Lord Jesus, the reality was they were heaping judgment upon themselves.

    • In all reality, if Jesus wanted to get down, He most certainly could have, yet the opportunity of salvation could not be accomplished.

      • His purpose was not to rescue Himself, but rather to rescue humanity!

      • The enemy would have preferred Jesus to abdicate His responsibility from the cross, yet Jesus’ purpose was before Him and that was to be our substitute.

    • Notice, the next group of individuals who provide mocking gestures – none other than the religious leaders.

      • Mark mentions that along with the chief priest were the scribes who were mocking Him.

      • Their comment of mocking was: “He saved others; He cannot save Himself?”

    • Instead of these insults being hurled at Jesus, Mark mentions that the religious leaders’ conversations transpired among themselves.

      • What I find most intriguing is that within their own privacy, they know the miraculous works He accomplished in His ministry were real – they couldn’t deny it.

      • Yet they still managed to suppress the truth to be right in their own eyes.

    • The religious leaders were taunting Jesus to come down as a means to prove who He was.

      • Instead, Jesus remains where He was because taking on the wrath of God and dying for the many was the only way in which men and women could be saved.

      • Mark’s readers should recall the very words of Jesus not too long ago in Mark 8:35. Check out the text:

Mark 8:35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
  • Did you notice the change in the distinction of title which the religious leaders prescribed to Jesus in verse 32?

    • Where the inscription read, “The King of the Jews” the religious leaders altered the title to “The King of Israel.”

    • The reason for this change comes from the religious leaders’ means of mockery and here’s why:

    • The reality was that Romans would typically use the word “Jew” for the inhabitants of Israel, themselves.

      • However, for a Jew, a more accurate use of words would be King of Israel not King of the Jews. (Zephaniah 3:15)

      • Therefore, their use of this title change becomes significant because they are, in a sense, placing a bet.

      • That if Jesus comes down from the cross, then they will believe He is the Messiah.

      • In other words, they need to see in order to believe.

    • However, the way in which one comes into saving faith is based first upon belief in what God has said and in our belief, He demonstrates all the more of who He is.

      • And isn’t this indicative of our Christian faith that belief precedes sight!

    • When we consider what salvation looked like for the Hebrew people coming out of Egypt, it began with Moses providing a word from the Lord.

      • That word was to do according to what was said which consisted of killing an innocent lamb and spreading the blood over the door post.

      • In so believing what was said by Moses, the people responded to that word.

      • And in return, the Lord delivered them out of captivity and into His care.

    • The reality is that the means of salvation has not changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament!

      • The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever more.

      • In other words, when you believe in the provision of Salvation which God has made available through Jesus Christ, you will be saved!

      • There is no other way around it. God’s means of Salvation is based upon His provision, not yours!

    • So, we find the religious leaders trying to alter the rules to their own benefit. However, the issue is not a lack of seeing what Jesus could do.

      • The issue was unbelief!

    • Lastly, in verse 32b, we see that the two criminals who are nailed beside Him on the cross have joined in on the mockery of Christ.

      • What I love about the harmonization of the Gospels is to see how it all comes together in such a beautiful tapestry.

      • We see in Mark’s gospel that three groups of people have joined together, unbeknownst to each other, in ridiculing and mocking the Lord Jesus.

        • The Crowd

        • The Religious Leaders

        • And the Insurrectionist

    • However, when we come across Luke’s account, (Luke 23:39-43), we find that one of the prisoners, hanging on the cross next to Christ, has had a change of heart.

      • Somewhere between his ridicule and mocking, he has observed and seen Jesus unmoved by the insults while demonstrating great love and forgiveness towards all.

      • Somewhere between this criminal's unbelief and spiritual incapacity emerged spiritual awareness and illumination as to who Jesus was.

    • Because according to Luke 23:40-41 the one criminal looks to the other criminal, who is rebuking Jesus, and says, “Do you not fear God?”

      • “We are under the same sentence of condemnation. You and I are suffering justly because what we did was wrong, but Jesus is innocent!”

      • The criminal recognized that there was a problem and came to see that Jesus was indeed the solution.

      • Because right after this realization, the criminal says, Jesus, remember me in Your Kingdom”(Acceptance of who Jesus is)

      • To which Jesus responds, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

    • In the first few hours of Jesus being crucified He took on the mocking and ridicule in which we all rightfully deserve.

      • Next week, we will see that in the remaining hours on the cross, Jesus would now bear upon Himself the very wrath of God.

      • That the full measure of judgement and wrath would be unleashed upon Him for the sake of all who will believe.

      • I pray that you join us next week for Part 2.

      • Let’s Pray.