Mark 15:16-22

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 25, 2005


Jesus had been arrested late Thursday night as He had been praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He was taken to the house of the high priest were the Sanhedrin put Him on trial.  When Jesus claimed to be the Christ, they responded by condemning Him to death for blasphemy.

(Mark 14:65 NKJV)  Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, "Prophesy!" And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.

Early on Friday morning, probably before sunrise, Jesus was bound and taken to stand trial before Pilate.  Pilate had difficulty seeing how Jesus was deserving of death.  Pilate tried several things to have Jesus released.  Pilate even gave the crowd what seemed to be an obvious choice of either releasing Jesus or the murderer Barabbas, but he eventually caved in to the pressure that the high priests were putting on him through the crowd.

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

Scourging was typically done with a “cat-o-nine-tails”, which consisted of leather straps with bits and pieces of wood, stone, or metal embedded into the straps. It was designed to inflict pain and tear off your skin.
Whereas the Jews had a practice of never whipping a prisoner with more than 39 lashes, the Romans had no such practice.  The Roman practice was to keep increasing the force of the whip until the prisoner confessed to his crimes.  Yet Jesus kept silent.  It was not uncommon for a prisoner to die of the scourging before he was sent to the cross.

:16-20 Soldiers mocking

:16  Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison.

Praetoriumpraitorion – a Latin word; “head-quarters” in a Roman camp; in Jerusalem, it was at Herod’s palace.

A whole band of Roman soldiers are called together to see to Jesus’ crucifixion.

:17 And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head,

purple – purple was a symbol of royalty, putting a purple robe on Jesus was a way of mocking Him.

thorns – Thorns in Israel are pretty long.  They are pretty sharp.

:18 and began to salute Him, "Hail, King of the Jews!"

:19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him;

This is now the third time Jesus is being beaten.

:19 and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him.

bowing the knee – literally, “placing the knee”, this is the usual way of stating this phrase

worshipedproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence.

:20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.

They took off the purple robe, but apparently left the crown of thorns in place.

mockedempaizo – to play with, trifle with; to mock; from paizo – to play like a child; to give way to hilarity, esp. by joking, singing, dancing


Worship or mockery?

We understand that the soldiers were mocking Jesus.
But you could make a point in saying that the soldiers had a sort of “worship service” going on.  They were doing some of the same things that real worshippers were doing, they bowed their knees, they “worshipped”.  But nobody would be fooled to think that real worship was going on.
In John 4, when Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman at the well, He explained to her what true worship was all about.  The Samaritans had a sort of twisted version of Judaism.  They had mixed a bunch of other junk into their worship of God, they had twisted the Scriptures, and as a result they were a little “off”.  Jesus said,
(John 4:20-24 NKJV)  "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." {21} Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.

The Samaritans felt that worship needed to be done in Samaria, on Mt. Gerizim.  The Jews held that worship needed to happen in Jerusalem.  We can get to thinking that we have to be in a certain building.  Jesus said the day would come when location wasn’t the issue.

{22} "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. {23} "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

God is looking for “true” worshippers.  The word “worship” is the same one that was used to describe what the soldiers did before Jesus.

{24} "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

God is Spirit, so one aspect of true worship involves your spirit. 

What do you mean when you say, “Worship was great today”?  Did you really just mean the musicians were great?

If worship isn’t taking place inside your heart, in your spirit, then it’s not true worship.

When we sing on Sunday morning, do you allow the songs to express what’s in your heart?  Do you love God?

The worship doesn’t take place because you are in a building we recognize as a church.

I think this is the mistake some people make when they get caught up in rituals.  They think that having incense burning, saying things in Latin, having people dressed in robes, that these are the things that God considers to be worship. 

Some people feel that they haven’t been to church unless an organ is playing and a choir is singing.

These things can be worship, but only if the worshipper has something right going on in their heart.

Worship takes place inside you, in your heart.

Worship must also be based in truth. 

The truth about God – understanding what the Scripture says about God.  The Samaritans had a religion with some twisted truths.  This is why we place great emphasis on learning God’s Word.

The truth about us – we are sinners in need of help.  Jesus died on the cross to take care of our sins.  We need Jesus.

:21-32  On the Cross

:21 Then 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.

compelledaggareuo – (it’s from the Persian word for “letter”) to employ a courier.  In Persia, mounted couriers were kept at regular intervals throughout Persia for carrying the royal dispatches, sort of like the “pony express” of the old west.  But if you happened to be walking by one of these pony express offices, and they needed a message to go out right away, and there weren’t any messengers around, they could force you to be a postal carrier and send you off with a message.

Under Roman law, any Roman soldier could require a citizen to carry his equipment, cloak, or other burdens for one mile.  He could make you do work for him for free.  All a Roman soldier had to do was to lay his spear or his sword on your shoulder and he could order you to help him.  The Jews weren’t too excited about these laws.

Jesus used this word in the Sermon on the Mount:

(Mat 5:41 NKJV)  "And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
We call this “going the extra mile”.

Cyrenian – an important coastal city of Northern Africa, with a large Jewish population.  It’s likely that Simon was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.  The city would be quite full of people, so many people stayed outside of the city at night.  Simon had been sleeping out in the fields that night and was making his way into Jerusalem early in the morning.

Alexander and Rufus – There is a believer named “Rufus” mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Romans (Rom. 16:13).  The general consensus is that Alexander and Rufus were believers known to the readers in Rome (remember that Mark is writing his gospel with Peter’s help, from the city of Rome).

Simon may not have been a follower of Jesus before this incident, but it looks like he may have become one after the event.

to bear his cross – those condemned to death by crucifixion were required to carry their cross to the place of execution.  We’re not sure as to whether it was the complete cross or just the top cross bar.  But the top crossbar alone could weight 100 pounds, so either way, it was a heavy load.  And after all the beatings and whippings Jesus has been through, He is not physically able to carry the cross by Himself.

If the condemned was to carry the cross, it’s interesting that Jesus didn’t carry His cross.  He was after all, innocent.

But Simon carried it.  Simon, like us, was the real one condemned to die.
We are the sinners worthy of death.  Yet Jesus was the one to die.  He died for us.

Play video clip from “The Passion of the Christ” (Simon carries the cross)


Taking up the cross

Jesus had said,
(Luke 9:23 KJV)  And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “This means to be identified with Him in surrender, suffering, and sacrifice.”

It’s ironic that this is what Simon is now being asked to do, except rather than taking up his own cross, he’s asked to take up the cross of Jesus.

The cross was what Jesus had to endure in His submission to the Father.  It involved shame and suffering.
There are going to be times when our walk with the Lord is going to take us into a place where life will no longer be comfortable.  This place may involve people ridiculing you, or giving you a hard time.
Recently a young pastor named Tim Dearborn had to share a cab with four other people in Bangkok, Thailand.  One of the passengers was a Marxist revolutionary on his way to India.
The Marxist quizzed Tim at length about his faith.  Finally, he said, “How can you be a Christian?  Don’t you realize there’s no way your cause can win?”
“What do you mean there’s no way my cause can win?”  Tim asked.
The Marxist explained:  “I am on my way to India to organize fishermen to overthrow their oppressors.  And I am quite willing to lay down my life for the revolution.  Your American Christianity is preoccupied with what your God can do for you.  And dying for self-interest is a contradiction in terms!”

-- World Vision, Oct/Nov 1989, p.23

Peter’s death
Church tradition tells us that Peter was executed in Rome.  From Foxe’s Book of Martyrs:

…Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to death; which, when the people perceived, they entreated Peter with much ado that he would fly the city. Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshipping, said, “Lord, whither dost Thou go?” To whom He answered and said, “I am come again to be crucified.” By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the city. Jerome saith that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.

If following the Lord meant suffering, Peter was willing to do it.

:22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.

Golgotha – an Aramaic word meaning “skull”.  It is thought that this place, outside of Jerusalem, had something about it that resembled a skull. In the Latin translation of the New Testament, this place was called “Calvaria” from the Latin word calva meaning “skull”.  So there you have it, now you know the secret of what the name “Calvary Chapel” really means.  It means “Skull Chapel”.  Sounds a little like a biker church or maybe a pirate church doesn’t it?  Do you think we should get leather jackets with a skull on the back?

There has been some disagreement to the exact location of this place.  There is a church built on top of one location that dates back to the fourth century, the “Church of the Holy Sepulchre”.  Others prefer a place known as “Gordon’s Calvary”, where a rock formation exists that looks like a skull.

We don’t know which location is the correct one, but one thing we do know, it was outside the city.

This was a fulfillment of a prophecy found in the sacrifices.
(Heb 13:11-13 KJV)  For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. {12} Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. {13} Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
The rule for a sin sacrifice was that if the sacrifice was being made for the whole nation, then the blood was taken into the Holy Place and then the body of the animal was then taken outside the camp, to the place of reproach, where the body was burned.  Jesus suffered outside the city.


Taking reproach

There may be times when you and I have to go “outside the camp”.  For the Jews reading the book of Hebrews, it might mean that they could be cut off from their family – the person may have to leave the “fellowship” of Jews.  For you and I it might mean that we may find ourselves among the “uncool” people of the world.  It’s not always a “cool” thing to be a Christian.
But Jesus was willing to pay for us.  He was willing to die among the “criminals”.  Is it too much for us to stand up as a Christian?