Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.Chapter 15
1. Before Pilate. (Mark 15:1-5. Matthew 27:1-14; Luke 23:1-4; John 18:28-38.)
1. Before Pilate. Mark 15:1-5
The council had condemned Him to death and now the whole council delivered Him into the hands of the Gentiles. First the religious power had condemned the blessed Servant and the civil Power had to do the same. It will be seen that Mark’s account of our Lord’s trial before Pilate is the briefest, while Matthew’s is the longest. Again the Servant witnesses a good confession. But when accused by the chief priests His blessed lips were sealed. He stood there to witness and not to defend Himself. What a gracious example He gives to all His servants. The hatred of the religious leaders of the people is especially emphasized by Mark. For the complete exposition of this trial before Pilate see “Exposition of Matthew.”
2. Barabbas released; the Servant condemned to be crucified. Mark 15:6-15
The Story of Barabbas and his release is full of helpful instruction. “So true it was that, even in this last scene, Jesus delivers others at His own cost and in every sense. He had just before delivered the disciples from being taken; He is now the means of delivering Barabbas, wicked as he was. He never saved Himself. It was the very perfection of the moral Glory of Christ to deliver, bless, save, and in all at the expense of Himself.” (“Gospel of Mark,” W. Kelly) Barabbas was released, though guilty and condemned, because the Lord Jesus took his Place. Christ was his substitute. Barabbas released might have gone out and looked up to Him, who hung on the cross and said, “He died for me; he paid my penalty.” It is a blessed illustration of the atonement. They ask for the murderer Barabbas and demand the horrible death by crucifixion for God’s perfect Servant and their King. The chief priests had moved the people to make this fatal choice. See the interesting additions in Matthew’s Gospel on account of its Jewish-dispensational character.
3. Crowned with thorns and mocked. Mark 15:16-21
Oh! the heart piercing scenes of this section of our Gospel! They led Him away to heap the greatest indignities upon the Holy One. That is man’s answer to that service of love and power He so unceasingly had rendered. After the cruel scourging they clothed Him with a purple robe in mockery. Matthew reports a scarlet cloak. This is not a discrepancy. “A scarlet military robe was made to represent the imperial purple, hence the designation, a purple robe. And because this is the symbolic import of the robe, there is no discrepancy” (Lange). The scarlet cloak was used to represent in mockery the imperial purple robe. The crown of thorns was made to inflict cruel pain upon His brow. Thorns came on account of man’s sin; they are the signs of the curse. He took the curse upon His own head. Mark tells us most definitely who Simon the Cyrenian was, who was compelled to bear His cross, the father of Alexander and Rufus (see Romans 16:13). God did not forget this service; Simon’s sons became believers.
4. Crucified. Mark 15:22-32
It is interesting to note here that Mark speaks of bringing Him to Golgotha. The word translated “bring” really means “bear” (translated thus in Mark 2:3 and Luke 23:26). “And they bear Him unto the place Golgotha.” They had to hold Him up. The blessed Servant had spent His strength. What appearance He must have presented after all the scourging and cruel indignities! His face from the awful blows was marred. No wonder that His real human body was weak. But could He succumb? Never. No one could take His life. It could not be touched by man or Satan; death (the result of sin) had no claim on Him. He gave His life for a ransom. Mark also reports exclusively that the wine they offered Him was mingled with myrrh. This was considered an anodyne, to relieve and deaden the pain. The Servant who had come to spend all He had and to give Himself did not need it, but refused the concoction. Mark gives the hour of crucifixion as “the third hour.” In John’s Gospel (19:14) the sixth hour is mentioned when Pilate said, “Behold your King.” The critics triumphantly point to this as a discrepancy. But John gives the Roman way of reckoning the civil day and Mark adheres to the Jewish timekeeping.
The superscription on the cross is the briefest in Mark. He gives the substance of the accusation and not the full wording of it. The perfect Servant who had so fully glorified God and given Himself in all His service, hangs between the two thieves, who had robbed God and man. How true it was (though they knew it not), “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” He did not save Himself for He came to die. He was obedient unto death.
5. Obedient unto death, the death of the Cross. Mark 15:33-41
What hours those were! What heart can penetrate its deep mysteries or fathom the depths of the sufferings of the Lamb of God, when He was obedient unto death, the death of the Cross! Nature bears witness to it by the supernatural darkness, for the One who created all things suffers for the creature’s sin. And what a scene in Heaven, when God’s own hand rested upon that One! Worship, praise and adoration is here more in order than an attempt of explanation. He was forsaken of God; and then He paid our penalty and stood in our stead in the presence of a holy God. Never say He was forsaken by His Father. Read John 16:32. The Servant’s cry with a loud voice shows that no one took His life, but that He gave “Himself.” And there was the rent veil from top to bottom (rent by God’s own hand). Then came the utterance of the Centurion: a Gentile confessing Him as Son of God. And the women are mentioned, who had ministered unto Him. The men had fled, the feeble women were there. All service now after the great victory He won, must be in weakness, depending on Him alone.
6. The Burial.
6. The Burial.Mark 15:42-47
Joseph of Arimathea, like Nicodemus, identified himself with Him, who had died on a cross and confessed Him boldly by this action. In Pilate’s astonishment that He had died so soon we have additional evidence that the Servant “gave His life.” Death by crucifixion, perhaps so often witnessed by the centurion, is a lingering death. They would have given Him the grave of the wicked, but God had predicted it otherwise (Isaiah 53:9 read, “they appointed His grave with the wicked, but with the rich He was when He had died”). The tomb was one in which no other dead had ever been. “The one born of a Virgin-womb could only be fittingly honored in a virgin tomb. He who could not see corruption, could not lie in a tomb which corruption had defiled.”