Tuesday Morning Bible Study

April 11. 2023, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom

Last week, our study of Mark took us to the Garden of Gethsemane. Then on Resurrection Sunday, we celebrated, “Jesus is Alive.” But to be true to our study of the Gospel of Mark today, we continue in Chapter 15, the story of the Crucifixion on the Friday before Christ’s resurrection on Sunday.

The Gospel of Mark as dictated by Peter leaves out the story of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin and his trial before Herod. The story in Mark of the crucifixion begins with the trial before Pilate.

Pontius Pilate was the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judea, serving under Emperor Tiberius. The Roman governor sent Jesus to Herod, who returned him to Pilate. He knew nothing about the Jewish religion. Pilate, though a coward, would have been glad to dismiss so puzzling a case, which demanded the death of an innocent individual.

Mark 15: 1-5: Immediately, 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. Then Pilate asked Him, “are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered and said to him, “it is as you say.” The chief priests accused Him of many things; but He answered nothing. Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against you!” Jesus still answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled.

After evaluating the charges, Pilate could find no fault or crime in Him. Pilate is wishful to release Jesus.

Mark 15: 6-11: At the feast, Pilate was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. There was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion. Then the multitude crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. Pilate answered them, saying, “do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them.

Barabbas sits guilty in a jail cell in Jerusalem staring at the four walls and Golgotha hill. He knows he will be crucified by noon, dead by sundown. Because of his crimes, it will be death nailed to a cross.

Outside his cell in the Antonia fortress, is a small gathering of men, Pilate, Jesus, and the Jewish religious leaders. He is just about to witness an amazing turn of fate.

Mark 15:12-15: 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 cried out again, “Crucify Him!’ then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” but they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!” So, Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.

The Grace of the Cross just released Barabbas. He is unworthy, defiant, violent, a thief, and murderer. Pilate didn’t have the desire to show this grace to Barabbas. This grace came to this undeserving sinner unwittingly as His Savior took his place.

We as Christians are not very sympathetic toward Barabbas. After all, Jesus was innocent and knew no sin. Barabbas was guilty. Pilate confirms it.

However, we have no more righteousness in our defense than Barabbas. We are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1`). We are “lost” (Luke 19:10), doomed to “perish” (John 3:16), under “the wrath of God” (John 3:36), “blinded” (2 Cor. 4: 3-40 and “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Just call us Barabbas.

“You’re free to go. They took Jesus instead of you.”

The guard opens the door, and we see the light of the morning sun, our chains are gone. We have been set free, sins forgiven, crimes pardoned…. Christ took away my sins and remembers them no more. God declares me not guilty.

We are not told what Barabbas did when he learned an innocent man died in his place. I want to believe he stood at the foot of the Cross humbled, thankful, and weeping that unmerited Grace set him free. I want to believe he became a follower of Jesus Christ. I hope when I get to Heaven, that I find Barabbas there.

Mark 15: 16-20: Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorian, and they called together the whole garrison. They clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head; and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. When they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.

Pilate with purpose delivered Jesus for sport to the band of soldiers in the barrack-room. The shame and suffering of the Cross begin. They mocked him and put on his head a crown of thorns. The reed in His hand is mockery of a scepter, then in derision, they bow their knees and call Him king.

Isa. 50:5b-6: I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard. I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

Matthew tells us that even Pilate’s cruel heart was touched. He had received a message from his wife, Claudia, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

Pilate brings out to the people the pale, bruised, insulted Savior, wearing His robe and crown of thorns. He is in hopes, even yet, that spectacle of woe will make them relent. So, conducting Him once more to the steps in sight of the crows, he said, “Behold the Man!” (Jn. 19:5).

Pilate quotes Zechariah: Zech 6:12: Speak unto him, saying, Thus, speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, “Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. Pilate is in hopes, even yet, that spectacle of woe will make them change their minds. But the cry goes up louder than even, “Crucify Him, crucify Him. “Now the heavy doom is spoken. Pilate’s feeble pleading ceased.”

Mark 15:21: They compel one Simon, a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

A sable-colored man from Africa, a native of Cyrene, attending the Passover, happens to be coming in from the country, just as the procession has made its way outside the city gate. The soldiers seize hold of him and compel him to bear the cross of Jesus. This Cyrenian was honored in being made to share the shame of Jesus. Tradition has it that from that day and hour, he joined himself to the sinless Lamb of God, by whose side he walked, and that his two sons became members of the early Christian Church. The walk on the route to the cross is known today as the Via Dolorousa (about 2000 feet).

Mark 15: 22-28: They bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, “the place of a skull.” They gave him wine to drink mingled with myrrh, but he received it not. When they had crucified him, they parted his garments casting lots upon them, what every mad should take. It was the third hour, and they crucified him. The superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Wine mixed with myrrh was often given to the suffering to ease their pain in death.

Psalm 22:16-21: For the dogs have compassed me. The assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; They pierced my hands and my feet…they part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my venture…deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog…save me from the lion’s mouth

Yes, wherever His eyes turn, he can see nothing but these “roaring lions.” On either side of Him is a dying, blaspheming felon. Beneath Him, the mocking crowd, and worst of all, unseen by mortal eye, is the “roaring lion” Satan himself---assailing the meek, sinless Savior. Yet all the time, not a word of anger or complaint escapes His lips!

Isa. 53:7: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.

Mark 15: 29-32: They that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ah, you that will destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself and come down from the Cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the Cross, that we may see and believe. They that were crucified with him reviled him.

Mark only tells us that they that were crucified with him reviled him; but there is more to the story thanks be to the gospel of Luke 23: 39-43. One of the thieves rebukes his wicked comrade. “We receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong. Then he said to Jesus, “Lord,” remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” Jesus said to him, ‘assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.

Mark 15:33-36: Now, when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 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? “Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” 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.”

John 19:28: After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst."

King James reads “a sponge full of vinegar.”

Psalm 69:21b: In my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.

At the end of these three hours, there is a loud wail heard rising from the central cross. It is Jesus uttering the bitterest cry that ever arose from earth to heaven---“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” The awful soul-sorrow of Gethsemane has come back to Him. We never can know all the mental anguish of those three hours of darkness which ended in that wail of woe! The assaults of Satan were terrible, but most terrible of all was the hiding of the Father’s countenance. The cruel tortures of man were bad. These He could bear. These He had borne without a word of complaint. But when the presence of the Father is separated from Him, He cries out in anguish.

Psalm 88:6-7: You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the depths. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and You have afflicted Me with all Your waves. Selah.

We can never explain or fathom the full meaning of that desertion because He gave us life through His death on the Cross.

1 Peter 2:24: 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 is now drawing towards afternoon. The crosses have been erected nearly six hours.

Mark 15:37-39: Jesus cried with a loud voice and gave up the ghost. The veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. When the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.

John 19:30: When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, it is finished, and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

In the Old Testament, only the High Priest could pass through the Veil of the Temple into the Holy of Holies.

Hebrews 10:19-21: Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter the holiest by the Blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the veil that is to say his flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God.

While the heavens are still darkened, the whole of the city of Jerusalem is shaken with an earthquake; the solid rocks are split in two and the graves are opened.

The High Priest must have been startled in the midst of his devotions in the Temple. The rocky hill of Moriah on which the temple was built, quivered under it. Just at the time of the evening sacrifice, when the smoke was going up from the altar of incense, the curtain which hung down in front of the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom. It was the sign and signal that the earthly priesthood was at an end. That “the way was now open into the Holiest of all by the Blood of Jesus.”

The veil led into the Holy of Holies and the fullness of God’s Presence. Christ gave us access. Fullness of the spirit, fullness of inheritance--- Jesus Christ, our High Priest. “by which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”(Heb. 10:10).

Mark 15:40-41: There were also women looking on afar off; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.

John tells us the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus being at the cross and the Lord requesting John to take care of her as His own mother. “Woman, behold your son! Son, behold Your mother!”

John 19:25: There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. Matthew identifies Joses as Jesus’ brother.

Mt. 13:55: Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And his brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas.

The history of Mary Magdalene has been woven throughout our study of Mark. We meet her here again at the foot of the cross. She, her sister-heroines, and the Beloved Disciple, are willing to brave every indignity and danger---yes, death itself-rather than desert their gracious Lord. Doubtless, the eye which from the cross recognized His own mother and named her, would not fail to note, the devotion of those who were by her side. Jesus would have been cheered and sustained by this loving sympathy, in that hour of all others when He most needed it.

Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate ministries Church, 10115 West Hidden Lakes Lane, Richmond, TX.

Scripture from K.J.V. and N.K.J.V. I entered the labors of John Ross MacDuff, Brighter Than the Sun; comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.

Connect with us