BIBLE: Mark Chapter 15 – Headline “Behind the Curtain”

Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.

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Mark 15

What should I learn from this chapter?

  • Like the movie “The Wizard of Oz” the Jewish leaders are the wizards who hide behind a curtain with political machinations, controlling the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. Then, when the curtain is pulled back to reveal who they are, the curtain (veil) is ripped from top to bottom.

Jesus Faces Pilate

Mark 15:1 Immediately, in the morning (immediately after the cock crowed), the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.
  • They’ve been plotting against Him at the inception of His ministry. This is how politics works. One person with a grudge speaks to another person. They share grievances and become buddies. A third, then a forth join them. If they are leaders, then those who are below them take their side in support. They look for someone who is close to their target who has a chip on their shoulder, then that person becomes the betrayer with the information it takes to destroy their target.
  • Whose side is God on? He’s not on my side and He’s not on your side. He’s on His own side. His side is the only side of justice and the only side that matters.
Mark 15:Then Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
He answered and said to him, “It is as you say.”
  • There is no Jewish word for “yes”, they simply answer “you say.”
Mark 15:And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing.
  • Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity A History of New Testament Times ~Paul Barnett
Mark 15:Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things (of which they accuse You) they testify against You!”
Mark 15:But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled.
  • The nature of man is to be defensive, especially when their lives are at stake.
  • But Jesus spoke nothing.

Taking the Place of Barabbas

Mark 15:Now at the (Passover) feast he (Pilate) was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested.
Mark 15:And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion.
Mark 15:Then the multitude, crying aloud (going up), began to ask him to do just as he (Pilate) had always done for them.
Mark 15:But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
  • Pilate was prodding the leaders by calling Jesus “king of the Jews”, validating Jesus’ title. If the leaders had been incensed when the people hailed Jesus ““Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!”, during His triumphal entry, imagine how they feel when Pilate is calling Him “King of the Jews”.
Mark 15:10 For he (Pilate) knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.
  • Pilate enjoyed prodding them, but it didn’t help Jesus.
  • The leaders were worried about losing their political positions, their power and their wealth. What would happen if this “man” actually became their king. They simply could not afford to allow Him to live.
  • Little did they know they were about to lose their souls.
Mark 15:11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them.
  • The chief priests were the instigators, specifically Ananias and Caiaphas. They had the most to lose.
  • Satan is the principality behind the scenes working through Ananias, Caiaphas, Judas, and those of the Sanhedrin.
    • Satan is like a monster in a sea of people, stirring the waters, causing the waters to boil.
Mark 15:12 Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”
  • (They never called Him “King of the Jews”. The people at His triumphal entry did.)
Mark 15:13 So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!”
  • They are in a furious panic, working the crowds into a frenzy. It’s called a “lynch mob”.
Mark 15:14 Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?”
  • The leaders were so desperate they were actually taking the side of Rome instead of their own people.
  • Remember the antagonism of the Jews against Rome.
  • Constant insurrections erupted between the Romans and the Jews.
  • The Jews had their own laws. They had a reputation for not being easily subjected.
But they (the leaders) cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!”

  • The Jewish leaders had one unexpected political play that would trump Pilate’s authority, one even Pilate did not see coming!
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” John 19:15
  • When the religious leaders said those words, they condemned Jesus to the cross…they also condemned themselves in the courts of heaven to hell.
  • Remember Jesus’ prophetic words:

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

Mark 15:15 So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.
  • Jesus is taken to the governor’s headquarters, the Praetorium, where the entire garrison gathered.
  • The Antonia Fortress overlooked Jerusalem and was garrisoned with 600 Roman soldiers, who watched over the Temple courts in order to preserve order.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

Mark 15:16 Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium (The governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole garrison (of 600 soldiers).
Mark 15:17 And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head,
  • Note: The shroud of Turrin, the burial cloth of Jesus, shows blood from the thorns around His head. His crown was a woven “cap” of thorns.
Mark 15:18 and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
  • Pilate prodded the leaders with the title.
  • The Roman soldiers mocked Him with it.
  • Believers kneel and honor Him.
Mark 15:19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him.
  • The Hebrew translation of “reed” is literally a “spear-man.” Reeds were made into spears.
Mark 15:20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.
  • They would have had to rip the robe off because the blood on His body would have clotted with the robe. They would have had to rip it off and reopen His wounds.

The King on a Cross

Mark 15:21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.
  • Remember these words of Jesus: Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Luke 9:23
  • Rufus (“Red”) was a first-century Christian with his brother Alexander, whose father “Simon a Cyrenian” was compelled to help carry the cross on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified.
    • According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary he was probably the same Rufus mentioned in Romans 16:13, whose mother, were among those to whom Paul sent greetings in his epistle to the Romans; this is speculated to be Rufus of Thebes.
  • A Greek city, Cyrene, was located in northern Africa in eastern Libya; a Jewish community of 100,000 Judean Jews. It became an early center of Christianity. The Cyrenian Jews had a synagogue in Jerusalem, where many went for annual feasts. In the case of carrying Jesus’ cross, Simon was probably there with his sons for the feast of Passover. Did he come to realize he was carrying the Lamb of God’s Passover’s cross?
Mark 15:22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.
Mark 15:23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.
Mark 15:24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.
Mark 15:25 Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.
Mark 15:26 And the inscription of His accusation (crime) was written above:
  • Pilate had no crime to post, therefore he posted “Truth”.
  • The Chief Priests refused to go into the Praetorian. They wanted to be clean for the Passover. Little did they know the Passover lamb was in the Praetorium. Jesus was “slaughtered” (crucified) the same day as Passover preparation.
    • Note: Passover is a Jewish holy sabbath day. It is called a “High” sabbath. It fell on a Wednesday.
    • First Fruits, when Jesus was resurrected, ALWAYS falls on the day after the Sabbath which is ALWAYS the first day of the week, Sunday. This culminates in Jesus being in the grave for three days and three nights.

Mark 15:27 With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left.
  • These two might be those who took part in Barabbas’ rebellion. Those Barabbas was chained to were called thieves and murderers. Mark 15:And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels;
Mark 15:28 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”
  • If Pilate hadn’t released Barabbas, there probably would have been four crosses.
Mark 15:29 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days,
  • Jesus was telling them that it would be his body, his own temple, that he would rise in three days. He would raise Himself from the dead along with the Father and the Spirit.
Mark 15:30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!”
Mark 15:31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.
  • Jesus did not come to “save” Himself, He was sinless. It was they He came to save.
Mark 15:32 Let the Christ (Messiah), the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe (believe Him).”
  • Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.
  • There were two criminals crucified with Jesus, one on his right and one on his left. Later, only one reviled Him but the other defended Him.
    Luke 23:41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

Jesus Dies on the Cross

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

NOTE: He was crucified the third hour. The sixth hour to the ninth hour is a total of three hours. There are three hours of darkness. He was crucified at 9am, at noon darkness covered the land until 3pm when He passed. It was considered “early evening”.

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Mark 15:35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!”
Mark 15:36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.”
Mark 15:37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.
Mark 15:38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
  • NOTE: During the questioning of Jesus at his trial, the high priest tore his clothes in response to Jesus’ response affirming He was the Son of God.
    • Mark 14:63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses?
  • Without realizing it, the high priest, Caiaphas, disqualified himself according to the law.
    • Leviticus 21:10 ‘He who is the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes;
  • There was no longer a need for a high priest to offer up sacrifices for the sins of the people and the nation. Jesus, as the sacrificial Lamb of God died once for all. Now, Jesus is our High Priest.
  • The veil of the temple separated the Holy of Holies, the place of God’s presence, from the rest of the temple. The purpose of the veil was to separate a sinless God from man’s sins. The word “Holy” means “separated”.
  • Only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year to offer a sacrifice in order to atone for the sins of Israel.
  • Jesus, acting as the high priest, sacrificed Himself and entered God’s presence as the atonement for man’s sins.
    • Hebrews 4:14 [Our Compassionate High Priest] Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
      • The heavens act as a veil between man and God.
    • Hebrews 7:27 Who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
    • The veil was sixty feet high and four inches thick. When it tore in two at the precise time as Jesus’ death, the event made a staggering, jaw dropping statement that the way into God’s presence was now available to all men through Jesus who is our High Priest for all time.
  • When Jesus returns to earth, the heavens (sky) will be split in two, no longer separating God from man.
Mark 15:39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”
Mark 15:40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome,
Mark 15:41 who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

Jesus Buried in Joseph’s Tomb

Mark 15:42 Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,
  • Preparation Day is when the Lamb is slaughtered. Jesus was crucified the same day being God’s Passover Lamb. The “Sabbath” is Passover Celebrated. Some Jewish Feasts are considered Sabbaths.
Mark 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
  • Decurion Joseph of Arimathea, metal merchant magnate. Controlled (tin) mines in Cornwell, England.
    • Who is William of Malmesbury:
      • William of Malmesbury mentions Joseph’s (of Arimathea) going to Britain in one passage of his Chronicle of the English Kings, written in the 1120s. He says Philip the Apostle sent twelve Christians to Britain, one of whom was his dearest friend, Joseph of Arimathea. William does not mention Joseph by name again, but he mentions the twelve evangelists generally. He claims that Glastonbury Abbey was founded by them; Glastonbury would be associated specifically with Joseph in later literature.
      • A specimen of common hawthorn found at Glastonbury, first mentioned in an early 16th-century anonymous metrical Lyfe of Joseph of Arimathea, was unusual in that it flowered twice in a year, once as normal on “old wood” in spring, and once on “new wood” (the current season’s matured new growth) in the winter. This tree has been widely propagated by grafting or cuttings, with the cultivar name ‘Biflora’ or ‘Praecox’.
Mark 15:44 Pilate marveled that He (Jesus) was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.
Mark 15:45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.
Mark 15:46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
  • Click here to See Topic: The Shroud of Turin. When pop up appears click on the link at the top to see the document. Newest evidence show writing on the Shroud was Jesus’ burial certificate.
Mark 15:47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.

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