Read Mark 15:1-47
Jesus Before Pilate
15 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”
5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.
9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.
12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.
13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.
14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.  29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
The Death of Jesus
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
The Burial of Jesus
42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
Mark 15 details the darkest moment in human history: the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In the hours leading up to his death, let’s look at what this passage tells us about the emotional, physical, and spiritual battles that Jesus faced in these last hours. The chief priests, scribes, and elders delivered Jesus to Pilate and verse 3 tells us that they “accused him of many things.” Jesus was unjustly tried and sentenced, yet when Pilate asked him if he had any defense, we are told in verse 4 that “Jesus still made no reply.”
The crowd became riotous as they shouted “Crucify him!” Consider that he could see and hear hundreds (if not thousands) of people chanting and yelling as they rejected him and demanded his death. Then, as he’s turned over and steps even closer to his death, we are given details of how he was mocked first by the soldiers (v. 20) and then by the priests and scribes (v. 31).
Can you imagine the emotional pain and turmoil that he felt as he was charged for crimes he did not commit and as he endured ridicule, insults, and cruelty from an unruly crowd full of people that he was dying to save? Yet through it all, he maintained silence and dignity. Even this was a fulfillment of prophecy as we are told in Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth…”
If the emotional pain wasn’t enough, Jesus endured extreme physical pain in these last hours. Before Jesus was sent to be crucified, we are told that he was “scourged”. This process is so grueling and involves so much loss of blood, that its intent is to leave the victim just short of collapse and death. We know that Jesus is so physically weak at this point that he was unable to carry his own cross (v. 21).
We are told in verse 23 that he was offered wine mixed with myrrh. This concoction served as a type of narcotic to decrease sensitivity to the excruciating pain, but Jesus refused. Mark gives us very few details of the actual crucifixion. This is probably because crucifixion was such a cruel and heinous punishment that no explanation was needed. What we need to know is that it was one of the most excruciating and agonizing ways to die meant for the most evil of criminals.
In his 33 years on earth, Jesus had experienced physical and emotional suffering, but he had never experienced the spiritual suffering associated with separation from God the Father. After hours of enduring the physical pain of hanging on the cross, and the emotional pain of the mocking and jeers of the crowd beneath him, darkness covers the land. These hours were most likely the most painful of all for Jesus. Pastor and commentator David Guzik says that it’s in these hours that “Jesus not only endured the withdrawal of the Father’s fellowship, but also the actual outpouring of the Father’s wrath upon Him as a substitute for sinful humanity.” Jesus literally endured the weight of the sin of the world during those hours.
Jesus chose to endure the emotional pains of being sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit. Jesus chose to endure the full physical impact of death on the cross. Jesus chose to feel the spiritual pain of being forsaken by the Father. And why? So that we wouldn’t ever have to feel that separation. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”
It’s true that this was the darkest day in human history. Spend some time thinking about how physically, emotionally and spiritually painful that day was for Jesus…and then spend some time thanking him for bearing those pains on your behalf because it is by his wounds you have been healed.
The words “crucify him” changed the course of history. What do you think motivated the crowd to demand Jesus’ death?
Jesus cried out in Mark 15:34 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus’ agony did not overcome his faith that God was still in control. How do you respond when you feel like God has forgotten you?
What do you think is the significance that the veil was torn from top to bottom in Mark 15:38?
Did You Know?
We are told in Mark 15:39 that “When the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in his way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” This centurion had had a front row seat to many people being crucified. So what was different about Jesus’ death? Verse 37 tells us that “Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.” This was unheard of for a victim of crucifixion. The fact that Jesus possessed enough strength to elicit a cry moments before his death was proof enough for this centurion to be convinced that Jesus was the son of God. God sovereignly used Jesus’ final breath to draw this guard into relationship with himself!