Mark 15-16 – Chapter Study


Jesus has been arrested & hauled off to the home of the Jewish high priest where only those members of the Sanhedrin hostile to Him have been quickly assembled to stage a sham trial against Him.

When the testimony of the witnesses trying to condemn Him couldn’t be validated because it was made up – the high priest put Jesus under a sacred obligation to answer whether or not He was the Messiah.

Though such compelled testimony was a breach of Jewish law – Jesus answered because He’d been placed under a sacred oath by the high priest.

The high priest then concluded that Jesus had spoken blasphemy by claiming to be the Messiah.

It was based on this testimony that the Sanhedrin condemned Jesus.

Now, this is interesting for this reason – if you talk to a religious Jew today, he/she will tell you they do NOT believe that when Messiah comes, He will be the Son of God or God the Son.

The modern view of the Messiah is that he is merely a good and godly man who will reform Israel and bring political deliverance.

They will say the Messiah is NOT divine and that the Jews have never believed he would be.

This is simply not true and is proven so by the trial of Jesus.

When Jesus admitted He was the Messiah – what did the high priest accuse Him guilty of?  Blasphemy!!!

They all understood that by calling Himself the Messiah, He was making the claim to deity – that He was God.

How did they know this? Because it’s what they believed!

The whole reason modern Judaism divorces the idea of deity from the Messiah is a reaction to the Christian claim that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God.

The book, Search for the Messiah lists many others quotes from ancient Judaism showing the Jews of Jesus’ time expected the Messiah to be the Son of God.

II. JESUS IN JUDEA        CHS. 10-16

G. The Last Week Chs. 11-16

5.  Thursday 15:1-47 

a.  the trial before Pilate 15:1-21

1Immediately, in the morning, 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.

The consultation they held was over how best to go about killing Jesus.

The problem was –Rome had taken the right of capital punishment away from the Jews in 7 AD.[1]

They would need to secure permission from the Roman governor to execute Jesus.

The Jews did at times execute their own criminals, as in the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7, but such executions were done covertly, with those that performed them disappearing before the Romans could arrive.

Why didn’t the Sanhedrin do that here with Jesus?

It was the Passover & the city was filled with people, many of them sympathetic to Jesus.

By making Jesus’ death official & having the Romans perform the execution, the priests could distance themselves from the act & avoid any backlash from Jesus’ supporters.

There’s an interesting historical insight here that sheds a note of veracity on Mark’s record.

The working day of a Roman official like Pilate began at the earliest hour of daylight.

Roman legal trials were customarily held shortly after sunrise.[2]

The Sanhedrin knew this & realized that they needed to move swiftly to have Jesus executed or word might get out to the wider field of Jesus’ supporters & public opinion would turn against them.

If they waited till later, it would be too late for Jesus to be tried that day & Pilate would make them wait a few days until after the Passover.

So they hurried Jesus through the streets from the high priest’s house to the Antonia fortress here Pilate was staying while visiting Jerusalem.

 2Then Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered and said to him, It is as you say.”

The priests had delivered Jesus to Pilate with the charge of blasphemy.

But this didn’t carry much weight with him because the Romans believed in many gods.

What did bother Rome was insurrectionists, & he knew that the Jewish Messiah was supposed to be the King of Israel, so that’s what he asked.

Jesus replied that He was indeed the King of the Jews.

But his quiet & humble demeanor, coupled with his now brutalized face by the mob at the high priest’s house, has combined to make Jesus look pitiable in Pilate’s eyes.

If this is the King of the Jews, He is of no threat to Rome!

The priests sense this swing in Pilate’s thinking & press him to execute Jesus.

 3And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing.

This was a trial, & to all the charges the priests leveled against Him, Jesus had not a single word in reply.  Pilate didn’t understand why He wouldn’t defend Himself, specially when the charges were so absurd.

4Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!” 5But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled.

Jesus was an enigma – one Pilate could not figure out, & this bothered the man who as a leader was supposed to have the mastery of every situation.

Luke tells us Pilate knew Jesus was an innocent man.  [23:14]

To the charges against Jesus he replied, “I have found no fault in Him.”

But Pilate had a potentially explosive situation on his hands.

It was for precisely this reason he’d come from his home in Caesarea to Jerusalem – to quell political uprising during Passover.

The challenge for Pilate was this –

1) To do what was right - free an innocent man.

-- or --

2) To do what was politically expedient – sacrifice an innocent man to appease those who could make life difficult for him.

6Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. 7And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion. 8Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. 9But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 10For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them.

The crowd in the courtyard would have been the Jews of Jerusalem, not the pilgrims from Galilee & other places.

This was still very early in the day & the pilgrims were still outside the City.

This crowd was far more sympathetic to the Sanhedrin & set in opposition to the Roman governor.

As soon as they discovered the Sanhedrin wanted Jesus executed and Pilate wanted to set him free, they would side with their own leaders.

They also knew the Romans would be loath to let a dangerous rebel like Barabbas loose, so of course it’s what they asked for.

This is another evidence of the priests’ duplicity – they asked for Barabbas instead of Jesus.

Yet they presented Jesus to Pilate as a dangerous man, One who would start a rebellion.

Barabbas had actually done that & was being held for murder committed in an act of insurrection against Rome.

Jesus had never advocated a political rebellion.

12Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!” 14Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!” 15So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd,

How many people, like Pilate, know what they ought to do about Jesus but for the sake of the crowd & their friends, reject Him?

15So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.

Said so simply – but so brutally horrifying.

The scourging scene in movie The Passion is not overdone one bit.

It is a brutally accurate depiction of a Roman scourging.

16Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. 17And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, 18and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. 20And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.

Which was harder to bear?  The scourging, or the mocking?

There’s a certain nobility in being physically tortured for righteousness sake.

But how very hard it is to endure mocking, specially when those who are doing the mocking are so utterly wrong!

Jesus endured it all in utter silence.

And He warned His followers they would face similar persecution & mockery as they identified with Him.

And so it has always been – even back to the earliest days of the Faith.

Graffiti was found on a wall in the ruins of Pompeii that showed a Christian kneeling before a cross on which was hung a donkey.

Beneath it was the caption, “Alexamenos worships his God.”

Be not dismayed when you face the ridicule of the lost.

Rather, count it a joy to be identified with the One the World did it’s best to silence and do away with – but Who Conquered death, overcame the World, and Whose voice cannot be stilled.

Scorn the world’s scorn – not by mocking or taunting, but by following Jesus’ example & remaining silent.

The world’s scorn aims at belittling & intimidating you, making you FEEL small & powerless.

The best response to scorn is the holy scorn of silence – of showing that the world’s opinion matters none at all because you live in the Light of God’s approval.

What do we care what the world thinks? We KNOW what He thinks!

And one day in the not too distant future, He will cover us with His glory and vindicate us before the eyes of the World.

21Then 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.

Alexander & Rufus were men known to the early church & why mentioned here.

Their father, Simon, was nabbed by the soldiers of the execution detail to carry Jesus’ cross because He could no longer carry it.

Roman soldiers possessed the legal right to do this – to requisition passers-by to carry things for them.

The upright post for the cross was already in place at the execution site,

What Jesus carried was the cross beam which would weigh anywhere from 75 to 125 lbs.

The trauma He’s been through already has sapped His strength to the point where he has none left to carry the cross.

So the Romans grabbed Simon out of those looking on.

b.  the crucifixion 15:22-41

22And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.

When we tour Jerusalem, we’ll visit a two places which claim to be the actual location of Golgotha, or Calvary.

One is in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the other is known as “Gordon’s Calvary.”

The traditional site, going all the way back to the 4th Century is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

But the location that “feels” more like the place of Golgotha & the tomb is Gordon’s Calvary. [Show original pic]

Myrrh was thought to have a mild anesthetic/dulling effect.

The wine spoken of here was not what we think of.

This was little more than lightly fermented vinegar.

It was the stuff the common Roman foot-soldier was given as a daily ration.

Jesus refused to take it.  He would not avoid one particle of the suffering so that all our sin would be paid for.

Also, at the Last Supper Jesus told the disciples He would not be drinking the fruit of the vine again until the toast that commences the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

At the end of His time on the cross, when He said, “I thirst” He did wet His mouth with the vinegar offered Him, but He did not drink it.

He only wet His mouth so He could be understood by those who stood by as He utter His final remarks.

24And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.

This was a literal & exact fulfillment of Psalm 22:18.

History tells us that part of the shame of the cross was for the condemned to be stripped naked.

As a concession to Jewish sensibilities about public nudity, the Romans usually allowed Jewish criminals to wear a loin cloth.

But there’s good reason to believe that since the Romans took added delight in mocking Jesus & tweaking Jewish sensibilities in this particular execution, Jesus may have been denied this act of kindness.

25Now it was the third hour, [9 a.m.] and they crucified Him.

Mark felt no need to describe what crucifixion was because those he wrote to knew all about it.

Separated now by nearly 2000 years, we don’t realize the excruciating pain Jesus endured as He hung upon the cross.

The Phoenicians invented crucifixion, as well as a host of other devious means of torture.

But what the Phoenicians invented the Romans perfected.

Crucifixion was a form of torture & execution designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering.[3]

It was so horrible we get the word excruciating from it.

The Roman statesman Cicero said: “It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is an act of wickedness; to execute him is almost murder: What shall I say of crucifying him? An act so abominable it is impossible to find any word adequately to express.”

 The historian Tacitus described crucifixion as “a torture fit only for slaves,” who weren’t really considered even as men but as property.

The victim’s back was first torn open by scourging, the wounds ripped open again when the clothes were torn off the victim at the place of execution.

As he hung on the cross each breath made the painful wounds on the back scrape against the rough wood of the upright beam. 

When the nail was driven through the wrists, it severed the large median nerve going to the hand.

This produced excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms, and could result in a claw-like grip in the victim’s hands. 

Beyond the excruciating pain, crucifixion made it painful to simply breathe.

The weight of the body pulling down on the arms and shoulders made it feel like you could breathe in but not out.

The lack of oxygen led to severe muscle cramps, which made it even harder to breathe.

To get a good breath, one had to push against the feet and flex the elbows, pulling from the shoulders.

Putting the weight of the body on the nail-pierced feet produced searing pain, and flexing the elbows twisted the hands hanging on the nails.

Lifting the body for a breath also scraped the open wounds on the back against the rough wooden post.

Each effort to get a proper breath was agonizing, exhausting, and led to a quicker death.

Insects, attracted by the scent of blood, would land on and burrow into the open wounds or the eyes, ears, and nose of the dying & helpless victim.

Death from crucifixion could come many different ways:

·        Acute shock from blood loss

·        Suffocation from being too exhausted to breathe

·        Dehydration

·        Heart attack, induced by stress

·        Heart rupture from congestive heart failure

If the victim did not die quickly enough, his legs were broken so he was unable to push himself up and take a breath.

All of this Jesus endured for you & I – so our sins could be atoned for, their guilt expunged through His offering which satisfies the justice of God.

As Adam Clarke says in his commentary, “Consider how heinous sin must be in the sight of God, when it requires such a sacrifice!”

26And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. 28So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, [in Isa 53:12]“And He was numbered with the transgressors.” 29And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. 32Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.

While both criminals began by mocking Jesus, as the hours passed, one came to his senses & realized Jesus did not deserve what was happening to Him.

With the little life left in him, he asked for forgiveness and came to faith.

He was the first one to receive the promise & offer of eternal life.

33Now when the sixth hour had come, [Noon] there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour [3 p.m.] Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 35Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” 36Then 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.” 37And Jesus cried out with a loud voice,

What did He say?  “It is finished!”

and breathed His last.

With His last breath He said, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.”

38Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39So 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!”

We covered these verses 3 Sundays ago on.

40There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, 41who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

c.  the burial 15:42-47

42Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member,

He was a member of the Sanhedrin – but he’d not sat in on Jesus’ trial.

The high priest had ensured that only those who wanted Jesus condemned had been invited to that late night session of the council.

43Joseph 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. 44Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.

The crucified typically lasted a whole day before dying.

Jesus went so quickly because the trauma of His several beatings & the intense agony of what He endured for sin led to a quick death.

Plus, once He’d fully atoned for our sin, He gave up His own life.

There was no reason to hang around once redemption had been secured.

45So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46Then 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. 47And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.

H. The Resurrection   Ch. 16

1Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” 8So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

We looked at these vs.2 Sundays ago.

9Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.

Mary ran back to tell Peter & John about the message of the angel.

Then all 3 had run back to the tomb.

Peter & John left having only seen the empty tomb.

Mary stayed, and it was then that Jesus appeared to her.

She thought it was the gardener until He called her name, then she recognized His voice.

10She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.

She went running to find the disciples once again - but this time with the report that she’d seen Jesus Himself.

11And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. 12After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.

These were the 2 who were making their way back to their homes in the village of Emmaus.

13And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. 14Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

What we find here, known as the Great Commission, is something we need to pay serious attention to.  This is the marching order for every Christian.

This isn’t just for missionaries – it’s for every believer.

Where ever you are IS your mission field for that moment.

And in that mission field, you & I have a solemn charge = To share the Good News of Jesus.

This doesn’t mean that we all have to dress up in suits & ties like professional evangelists, stomping back & forth, with a big black bible in one hand & a sweaty handkerchief in the other, shouting out clichéd religious slogans.

Your mission field is the people at your job, your school, where you shop, your neighbors.

And sharing the good news isn’t done just through preaching.

It’s done in building redemptive relationships with the lost – friendships that aim at winning them to Christ.

They need to see what a real Christian looks like.

Nothing preaches louder than a Spirit-filled man or woman who’s walking in love & obedience before God.

Now, I don’t want to take any emphasis off the understanding of vs. 15 that would see Jesus calling His people to strategize for world missions either.

We need to have a global perspective & remember that God so loved the WORLD He gave His Son, that WHOSOEVER will may be saved.

God has always raised up men & women & sent them across cultural borders to carry the Good News to other lands & people.

He does that still.  Is He calling you?

16He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Jesus makes it clear to the disciples that genuine faith in Him will result in a changed life – one that desires to be identified with Him - which is what baptism is all about.

But baptism doesn’t save – faith is the crucial issue.

What we need to note here is that the kind of faith that results in salvation is the kind that moves a person to specific acts of obedience to the Lord.  Baptism is one of those acts.

17And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

There are small groups of believers in various places who have a twisted interpretation on this passage.

Known as ‘snake-handlers,” they see picking up poisonous snakes as a sign that they’re saved!

So as a part of their church services and worship, they open a cage of rattlers & everyone grabs one.

This is not what Jesus meant.  What He said was that as we’re faithfully taking the gospel to the world, when we encounter these things, we have victory over them.

·        When confronted by those who are demon-possessed, we’ll cast them out.

·        But we don’t go out LOOKING for demons.

·        We are not to be demon-hunters.

·        We’ll be given new tongues to pray & worship God with so that we might be personally built up & made stronger for the task for evangelism.

·        If bit by a pit viper while busy with Kingdom business, we’ll not die.

·        If we ingest something dangerous while serving the King, no sweat.

·        When we’re confronted with the sick & needy, we’ll pray for them & they will be healed.

Now – notice what He said, these signs will follow us as we’re faithfully following Him & going to the world to share the gospel.

Sadly today we have a lot of people who instead of the signs following them as they go out, they are going out to follow signs!

19So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

You see, that’s how we ought to interpret vs. 17-18 – that the signs are meant to confirm the Word preached to the lost.

The first few years of my Christian life were spent in the Charismatic movement.

 I attended a Charismatic church where things like personal prophecy, words of knowledge, & people being “slain in the spirit” were daily fare.

I went to lots of special meetings where some fiery speaker would give a message laced with a few Bible verses, but about 20 minutes into it would stop & and give a word of knowledge about “Someone here tonight has a back problem – the Lord is healing you right now.  Where are you? Stand up and claim your healing. Hallelujah – Thank You Jesus - Praise the Lord!”

The times of worship were often chaotic, loud & filled with many ecstatic shouts.

One person would give a “message” in tongues while another would give the supposed interpretation – that couldn’t be correct because it was addressed by God to man, a complete denial of what Paul says in 1 Cor. 14 about tongues.

And at the same time there was all this evidence of spiritual gifts and manifestations, I saw a level of carnality and spiritual immaturity in the lives of the people it was appalling.

Now, please understand something – I am not slamming or denying the reality of the work of the HS or the presence of spiritual gifts in the Church today – not at all.

All the gifts & manifestations of the Spirit are at work in the Body of Christ today.

The problem is, the Charismatic movement & practice of the gifts has followed the error of the Church at Corinth – an error the Apostle  Paul wrote to correct.

The Charismatic movement has made the ministry and gifts of the Spirit something other than what the Spirit intends.

The gifts have become an end unto themselves – to excite carnal Christians who’s faith is weak & who need a regular blast of the supernatural to keep them going.

God intends the gifts of the Spirit to equip us & to bring us to maturity by using them to serve one another.

As we see the gifts in operation in Jesus & the Apostles, they were used in a natural way, and to confirm the word preached to the lost.

They weren’t used in special meetings of the saved.

Calvary Chapel gets criticized by both the Charismatics on one side & the anti-charismatics on the other.

The Charismatics are correct in their doctrine of the gifts of the Spirit but errant in their practice of them.

The anti-charismatics are errant in their doctrine while often being unknowingly correct in their use of the gifts.

So to be criticized by both camps is a good indication we’ve taken the right and balanced path.

I see the gifts in full operation in our fellowship.

I see the Word of Knowledge, Wisdom, Miracles, Healings, Faith, Discernment, Tongues, Prophecy.

But I also see the evidence of real spiritual growth & maturity in the fruit of love the gifts are meant to bring about.

Whatever gifts the Spirit has imparted you, use!

Be faithful in stepping out to exercise it – minister to one another.

Now, let me end with this – does your Bible say that vs. 9-20 are not in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts?

Here’s the note in my Bible [read it]

What’s going on here?  Should these verses be in our Bible or not?  Did Mark pens these verses?

The answer is yes – they belong. 

Why then do our Bibles contain this note & what’s it mean when it says that the oldest & most reliable texts do not have them?

Remember that for the first 1400 years of the Church, all copies of the Bible were copied by hand.

This meant that many errors crept into the text of scripture over time.

But there were so many manuscripts, divided into different regions, that it was easy for scholars to compare them all and determine the correct reading of the original text.

Less than 1% of the NT text is in any doubt about what the original author penned, and of that 1%, nothing touches on a key belief or doctrine of the faith.

Here’s the process . . .


[1] Guzik, David, On-Line Commentary on Mark 15

[2] ibid (quoting Lane), On-Line Commentary on Mark 15

[3] Ibid quoting Edwards