Mark 15#Mr 15:1| CXXVIII. THIRD STAGE OF JEWISH TRIAL. JESUS FORMALLY CONDEMNED BY THE SANHEDRIN AND LED TO PILATE. (Jerusalem. Friday after dawn.) #Mt 27:1,2 Mr 15:1 Lu 22:66-23:1 Joh 18:28| The chief priests with the elders and scribes, and the whole council, held a consultation. Since blasphemy was by no means a criminal offense among the Romans, the Sanhedrin consulted together and sought for some charge of which the Romans would take notice. As we follow their course it will become evident to us that they found no new ground of accusation against Jesus, and, failing to do so, they decided to make use of our Lord's claim to be the Christ by so perverting it as to make him seem to assert an intention to rebel against the authority of Rome. And bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him up to Pilate. The Sanhedrin could try and could condemn, but could not put to death without the concurring sentence of the Roman governor. To obtain this sentence, they now lead Jesus before Pilate in the early dawn, having made good use of their time. (TFG 703) #Mr 15:2| CXXIX. FIRST STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. JESUS BEFORE PILATE FOR THE FIRST TIME. (Jerusalem. Early Friday morning.) #Mt 27:11-14 Mr 15:2-5 Lu 23:2-5 Joh 18:28-38| Art thou the King of the Jews? The Gospels are unanimous in giving this question as the first words addressed by Pilate to Jesus. The question expresses surprise. There was nothing in the manner or attire of Jesus to suggest a royal claimant. The question was designed to draw Jesus out should he chance to be a fanatical or an unbalanced enthusiast. Thou sayest. See TFG "#Joh 18:34|". (TFG 706) #Mr 15:3| The chief priests accused him of many things. See TFG "#Lu 23:2|". (TFG 708) #Mr 15:4| Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they accuse thee of. Pilate was irritated that Jesus did not speak in his own defense. He had already seen enough of our Lord's wisdom to assure him that it would be an easy matter for him to expose the malicious emptiness of these charges--charges which Pilate himself knew to be false, but about which he had to keep silent, for, being judge, he could not become our Lord's advocate. (TFG 708) #Mr 15:5| But Jesus no more answered anything. Our Lord's silence was a matter of prophecy (#Isa 53:7|). Jesus kept still because to have successfully defended himself would have been to frustrate the purpose for which he came into the world (#Joh 12:23-28|). (TFG 708) #Mr 15:6| CXXXI. THIRD STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. PILATE RELUCTANTLY SENTENCES HIM TO CRUCIFIXION. (Friday. Toward sunrise.) #Mt 27:15-30 Mr 15:6-19 Lu 23:13-25 Joh 18:39-19:16| Now at the feast. The passover and unleavened bread. He used to release unto them one prisoner, whom they asked of him. No one knows when or by whom this custom was introduced, but similar customs were not unknown elsewhere, both the Greeks and Romans being wont to bestow special honor upon certain occasions by releasing prisoners. (TFG 710) #Mr 15:7| Who in the insurrection had committed murder. Josephus tells us that there had been an insurrection against Pilate's government about that time caused by his taking money from the temple treasury for the construction of an aqueduct (The Antiquities of the Jews, 18.3.2). This may have been the affair here referred to, for in it many lost their lives. (TFG 711) #Mr 15:8| And the multitude went up and began to ask him to do as he was wont to do unto them. It was still early in the morning, and the vast majority of the city of Jerusalem did not know what was transpiring at Pilate's palace. But they came thither in throngs, demanding their annual gift of a prisoner. Pilate welcomed the demand as a possible escape from his difficulties. (TFG 711) #Mr 15:9| Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? We see from Matthew's account that though the people had a right to name their prisoner (#Mt 27:15|), Pilate took upon himself the liberty of choosing which one of two it should be. By doing so he complicated matters for the Jewish rulers, asking them to choose between Jesus, who was held on an unfounded charge of insurrection, and Barabbas, who was notoriously an insurrectionist and a murderer and a robber as well. But the rulers were not to be caught in so flimsy a net. (TFG 711-712) #Mr 15:11| But the chief priests stirred up the multitude, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. Without regard to consistency, they raised their voice in full chorus for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus. (TFG 712) #Mr 15:14| Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out exceedingly, Crucify him. Finding the mob cruelly persistent, Pilate boldly declines to do its will and turns back into the Praetorium declaring his intention to release Jesus. But he retires with the demands of the multitude ringing in his ears. (TFG 713) #Mr 15:15| When he had scourged him. Carrying out the program which he proposed, Pilate had Jesus removed from the Praetorium to the place of scourging, and inflicted that punishment upon him. We learn from Josephus and others that the law required that those about to be crucified should first be scourged. But Pilate hoped that scourging would suffice. He believed that the more moderate would take pity upon Jesus when they viewed his scourged body, for scourging was so cruel a punishment that the condemned person often died under its infliction. The scourge was made of thongs loaded at the extremity with pieces of bone or metal. The condemned person was stripped and fastened to a low post, this bending the back so as to stretch the skin. Blood spurted at the first blow. See TFG "#Joh 19:16|". (TFG 713) #Mr 15:16| And the soldiers led him away within the court, which is the Praetorium. After the sentence of death the soldiers take Jesus back into the Praetorium, and renew the mockeries and indignities which had been interrupted that Pilate might exhibit Jesus to the people, as John shows us (#Joh 19:4-8|). It is likely that the mock robe and crown were removed when Jesus was brought before Pilate to be sentenced, for it is highly improbable that a Roman judge would pronounce the death sentence while the prisoner was clothed in such a manner. And they call together the whole band. Moreover, the whole band, or cohort, are now gathered, where at first but a few took part. (TFG 719) #Mr 15:17| And they clothe him with purple. The robe was designed to give Jesus a mock appearance of royalty, and it was likely some cast-off military coat or state garment of Pilate's. Pilate winked at the conduct of his soldiers since it favored his plan. If Jesus could be made sufficiently pitiable and contemptible, his enemies might relent. But Pilate little understood the venom of those enemies: they mocked and taunted Jesus upon the cross. (TFG 714) And platting a crown of thorns, they put it on him. It is not known which one of the many thorny plants of Palestine was used to form the Lord's crown. See TFG "#Mr 4:7|". (TFG 713-714) #Mr 15:18| And they began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! The soldiers had no special malice against Jesus, but the Roman military system made men hard of heart. The occasion gave to these foreign legionaries a much-enjoyed opportunity to show their contempt for the Jews by mocking Jesus as their King. (TFG 713) #Mr 15:19| And spat upon him. See TFG "#Mr 14:65|". #Mr 15:20| CXXXIII. THE CRUCIFIXION. A. ON THE WAY TO THE CROSS. (Within and without Jerusalem. Friday morning.) #Mt 27:31-34 Mr 15:20-23 Lu 23:26-33 Joh 19:17| And when they had mocked him. This ended the mockery, which seems to have been begun in a state of levity, but which ended in gross indecency and violence. When we think of him who endured it all, we can not contemplate the scene without a shudder. Who can measure the grace of God or the depravity of man? (TFG 722) #Mr 15:21| And they compel one passing by, Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to go with them, that he might bear his cross. Cyrene was a flourishing city in the north of Africa, having in it a large Jewish population, and Simon shows by his name that he was a Jew. The Cyreneans had one or more synagogues in Jerusalem (#Ac 2:10 6:9 11:20|). There were many Cyreneans afterwards engaged in spreading the gospel (#Ac 13:1|), and since the sons of this man are spoken of as well known to Mark's readers it is altogether likely that Simon was one of them. This Rufus may be the one mentioned by Paul (#Ro 16:13|). The Roman soldiers found Simon entering the city, and because he was a stranger and they needed a man just then, they impressed him; see TFG "Mt 5:41" on the manner. (TFG 723) #Mr 15:22| And they bring him unto the place Golgotha. Where this place was, or why it was so called, are matters of conjecture. All that we know certainly is that it was outside of, yet near, the city (#Heb 13:12| #Joh 19:20|). (TFG 724) #Mr 15:23| They offered him wine mingled with myrrh; but he received it not. This mixture of sour wine mingled with gall and myrrh was intended to dull the sense of pain of those being crucified or otherwise severely punished. The custom is said to have originated with the Jews and not with the Romans. Jesus declined it because it was the Father's will that he should suffer. He would not go upon the cross in a drugged, semi-conscious condition. (TFG 724) #Mr 15:24| CXXXIII. THE CRUCIFIXION. B. JESUS CRUCIFIED AND REVILED. HIS THREE SAYINGS DURING FIRST THREE HOURS. (Friday morning from nine o'clock till noon.) #Mt 27:35-44 Mr 15:24-32 Lu 23:33-43 Joh 19:18-27| And they crucify him, and part his garments among them. A quaternion or band of four soldiers did the work of the actual crucifixion (#Joh 19:23|). The Roman law awarded them the garments of the condemned as their perquisites. Casting lots upon them, what each should take. The sandals, girdle, outer robe, head-dress, etc., of Jesus were divided into four parts and lots were cast of the parts. See #Ps 22:18| and #Joh 19:24|. (TFG 725) #Mr 15:25| It was the third hour. About nine o'clock. See TFG "#Mt 20:3|". #Mr 15:26| And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. It was a well-established Roman custom to thus place a writing above the heads of the crucified to indicate the cause for which they died. Pilate writes the accusation so as to clear his own skirts before Caesar and so as to show his contempt for the Jewish people. They had forced him to crucify an innocent man, and he retaliates by giving to that man the title which his enemies accused him of professing. Also see TFG "Joh 19:20". (TFG 726) #Mr 15:27| And with him they crucify two robbers: one on his right hand, and one on his left. These were doubtless robbers of the class of Barabbas. See #Mr 15:7|. They were those who, led on by fanatical patriotism, had become insurrectionists and then outlaws. Large numbers of them were crucified during the Jewish wars (Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 13.2.3). These two may have been crucified at this time for convenience' sake, but the fact that Jesus was placed between them suggests that they were crucified with him to heighten his shame and indignity. For, though Pilate had no personal ill will toward Jesus, he wished to show contempt for Judah's King. (TFG 725) #Mr 15:28| And he was reckoned with the transgressors. See #Isa 53:12|. #Mr 15:29-32| And they that passed by. Jesus was evidently crucified near the highway. Railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ha! Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days. Thus one and all unite in mocking Jesus, using both word and gesture. They bring forth echoes from the trial of Jesus and take other incidents from his life, little dreaming the deep significance of what they utter. They reminded Jesus of his words about destroying the temple (#Joh 2:19-22 Mr 14:58|), when they were committing that very act. They speak of his building it again when Jesus was about to die that he might rise. (TFG 727) #Mr 15:31| He saved others; himself he cannot save. They taunt him with saving others, yet being unable to save himself, which is the great truth of the atonement which the Lord was then making. (TFG 727-728) #Mr 15:32| Let the Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, that we may see and believe. They promised to believe if he will come down from the cross, yet his being lifted upon the cross was the very act which would convince them (#Joh 8:28|). And they that were crucified with him reproached him. It seems that at first both robbers reviled Christ, but one repenting spoke in his favor and prayed to him. See TFG "#Lu 23:42|". (TFG 728) #Mr 15:33| CXXXIII. THE CRUCIFIXION. C. DARKNESS THREE HOURS. AFTER FOUR MORE SAYINGS, JESUS EXPIRES. STRANGE EVENTS ATTENDING HIS DEATH. #Mt 27:45-56 Mr 15:33-41 Lu 23:44-49 Joh 19:28-30| And when the sixth hour was come. Noon. See TFG "#Mt 20:3|". There was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. The darkness lasted from noon until three o'clock. It could not have been an eclipse, for the moon was always full on the first day of the passover. Whether the darkness was over the whole world, or simply all of Palestine, is uncertain, as, according to the usage of Bible language, the words would be the same. (TFG 729) #Mr 15:34| And at the ninth hour. At three o'clock P.M. See TFG "#Mt 20:3|". Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? We can imagine what it would mean to a righteous man to feel that he was forsaken of God. But the more we feel and enjoy the love of another, the greater our sense of loss at being deprived of it. Considering, therefore, the near and dear relationship between the Son and Father, it is evident that we can never know or fathom the depth of anguish which this cry expressed. Suffice it to say, that this was without doubt the most excruciating of all Christ's sufferings, and it, too, was a suffering in our stead. The words of the cry are found at #Ps 22:1|. "Eli" is Hebrew, "Eloi" Aramaic or Syro-Chaldaic for "My God." The former would be used by Jesus if he quoted the Scripture, the latter if he spoke the language of the people. (TFG 730) #Mr 15:35| Behold, he calleth Elijah. Jesus had now been upon the cross for six hours, and fever and loss of blood and the strain upon the muscles of his chest had rendered his articulation difficult and indistinct. For this reason some of those who stood by, though perfectly familiar with the language, misunderstood him and thought that he called upon Elijah. (TFG 730) #Mr 15:36| And one ran, and filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let be. Immediately afterwards Jesus speaks of his thirst (#Joh 19:28|), and vinegar is given to him to remove the dryness from his throat. Those who give the vinegar and those who stand by (#Mt 27:49|), unite in saying "Let be." This phrase has no reference to the vinegar; it is a general expression, meaning, "Let us do nothing to prevent him from calling upon Elijah, or to prevent Elijah from coming." (TFG 730) #Mr 15:37| And Jesus uttered a loud voice. See #Lu 23:46|. And gave up the ghost. None of the Evangelists speaks of Jesus as dying; for he yielded up his spirit voluntarily (#Joh 10:18|). (TFG 731) #Mr 15:38| And the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom. The veil was the heavy curtain which hung between the holy and the most holy places in the sanctuary. By shutting out from the most holy place all persons except the high priest, who alone was permitted to pass through it, and this only once in the year, it signified that the way into the holiest--that is, into heaven--was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was standing (#Heb 9:7,8|). But the moment that Jesus died, thus making the way manifest, the veil was appropriately rent in twain from top to bottom, disclosing the most holy place to the priests who were at that time offering the evening incense in the holy place. (TFG 731) #Mr 15:39| The centurion . . . said, Truly this man was the Son of God. The conduct of Jesus upon the cross and the disturbances of nature which accompanied his death (#Mt 27:51,52|), convinced the centurion that Jesus was a righteous man. But knowing that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and this claim was the real cause for which the Jews were crucifying him, he concludes, since he concedes that Jesus is righteous, that he is also all that he professed to be--the Son of God. There is no just reason for minimizing his confession, as though he had said, "A son of the gods"; for he said nothing of that kind, and those err as to the use of Scriptural language who think so. Like the centurions of Capernaum (#Mt 8:10|) and Caesarea (#Ac 10:1,2|), this Roman surpassed in faith those who had better opportunities. But in this faith he was not alone. (TFG 732) #Mr 15:40| And there were also women beholding from afar off, etc. John has already mentioned this group of women (#Joh 19:25|), and has shown that he stood with them. The women, being unable to bear arms in an insurrection, had little to fear. They were not likely to be complicated in the charges against Jesus. But the men were conspicuously absent. They appear to have stood quite close to the cross at one time just before the darkness. Probably they feared violence in the darkness, and so withdrew and viewed from afar off the scene as lighted by the torches which the Roman soldiers would be obliged to procure in order to effectually guard their prisoner (#Ac 16:29|). The Synoptists, who make mention of the women toward the close of the crucifixion, do not mention the mother of Jesus as any longer among them. It is likely that she had withdrawn with John, being unable longer to endure the sight. (TFG 733) NOTE.--To aid the reader, we submit the following table of the women who watched the crucifixion of Jesus, for it is from their names and descriptions that we get our Scriptural light by which we distinguish the kindred of our Lord. -------------+--------------+-------------+---------------+------------ | | Mary | and Mary the | and mother Mt 27:56 | | Magdalene | mother of | of sons of | | | James & John | Zebedee -------------+--------------+-------------+---------------+------------ | | Mary | and Mary the | and Salome Mr 15:40 | | Magdalene | mother of | | | | James the Less| | | | and of Joses | -------------+--------------+-------------+---------------+------------ | his mother | and Mary | Mary, the wife| the sister Joh 19:23 | his mother | Magdalene | of Clopas | of Jesus' | | | | mother -------------+--------------+-------------+---------------+------------ Matthew and Mark each name three women, whence it is thought that Salome was the name of the mother of James and John. But the solution of the problem depends on our rendering of #Joh 19:25|, which is translated thus: "But there were standing by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." Now, was Mary, the wife of Clopas, named and also additionally described as sister to our Lord's mother, or was it the unnamed Salome who was her sister? Does John mention three or four women? The best modern scholarship says that there were four women, and that therefore James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were cousins of our Lord. In support of this it is argued: 1. That it is unlikely that two sisters would bear the same name, a fact which, as Meyer says, is "established by no instance." 2. John gives two pairs of women, each pair coupled by an "and." The first pair is kindred to Jesus, and is unnamed and is paralleled by the other pair, which is not kindred and of which the names are given. Hebrew writers often used such parallelism. 3. It accords with John's custom to withhold the names of himself and all kindred, so that in his Gospel he nowhere gives his own, his mother's, or his brother's name, nor does he even give the name of our Lord's mother, who was his aunt. 4. The relationship explains in part why Jesus, when dying, left the care of his mother to John. It was not an unnatural thing to impose such a burden upon a kinsman. (TFG 225) #Mr 15:41| Who . . . followed him, and ministered unto him. As to the ministering of these women, see TFG "Lu 8:3". (TFG 733) #Mr 15:42| CXXXIII. THE CRUCIFIXION. D. JESUS FOUND TO BE DEAD. HIS BODY BURIED AND GUARDED IN THE TOMB. #Mt 27:57-66 Mr 15:42-47 Lu 23:50-56 Joh 19:31-42| It was the Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath. According to rabbinical writing a few hours before the Sabbath were called the Preparation; but afterwards the term was applied to the entire day preceding the Sabbath. (TFG 733) #Mr 15:43| There came Joseph of Arimathaea, a councillor of honorable estate, who also himself was looking for the kingdom of God, and he boldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. Joseph's town has been variously identified with Ramleh in Dan, Ramathaim in Ephraim (#1Sa 1:1|), and Ramah in Benjamin (#Mt 2:18|). It was a fulfillment of prophecy that the one who buried Jesus should be rich (#Isa 53:9 Mt 27:57|). It is strange that those who were not afraid to be disciples were afraid to ask for our Lord's body, yet he who was afraid to be a disciple feared not to do this thing (#Joh 19:38|). (TFG 735) #Mr 15:44| And Pilate marvelled if he was already dead. Instances are cited where men lived one whole week upon the cross, and men rarely died the first day. (TFG 735) #Mr 15:46| And he bought a linen cloth. A sindon. See TFG "#Mr 14:51|". Wound him in the linen cloth. As to the swathing of dead bodies, see TFG "Joh 11:44", also #Ac 5:6|. (TFG 736) #Mr 15:47| And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid. See TFG "#Lu 23:55|" and see TFG "Lu 23:56".
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