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Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Mark 15

 

 

Verses 1-41

Let us read again what we have often read before, that saddest of all stories which, nevertheless, is the fountain of the highest gladness,-the story of our Saviour’s death, as recorded by Mark.

Mark 15:1. 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.

“The whole council” could be there, so early in the morning, for such an evil purpose. Wicked men are very diligent in carrying out their sinful schemes; so, when Christ was to be murdered, his enemies were there, as Luke tells us, “as soon as it was day.” How much more diligent ought the followers of Christ to be to give him their devoted service! It is a good thing to begin the day with united prayer and holy converse with his people. Let these wicked men, who were so early in the morning seeking to secure the death of Christ, make us ashamed that we are not more diligent in his blessed service.

Mark 15:2-3. And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.

Silence was the best answer, the most eloquent reply, that he could give to each accusers; they deserved no other answer. Moreover, by his silence, he was fulfilling the prophecy, “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

Mark 15:4-5. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.

You will often find that your highest wisdom, when you are slandered, will lie in the imitation of your Lord and Master. Live a blameless life, and it shall be the best reply to the false charges of the wicked.

Mark 15:6-10. Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.

And he therefore hoped that the people, who were not moved by the same envy, would have chosen to have Jesus set at liberty.

Mark 15:11-13. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him.

This was the very best reply to the charge of high treason; for, if Jesus had really set himself up as a king in the place of Caesar, the people; when they were thus publicly appealed to, would not have cried out, “Crucify him.” If there had been and truth in the allegation that he was the ringleader of a sedition, the Jews would not have said again and again, “Crucify him.” Thus Christ gave Pilate a much more effectual answer than if he had himself spoken.

Mark 15:14-16. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium;-

The hall of the Praetorian guard; —

16; 17. And they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple,

The uniform of the Roman soldiers was purple, as if to indicate that they belonged to an imperial master; so, when these soldiers, in mockery put on our Lord the old cloak of one of their comrades, it sufficed to clothe him with the royal purple to which, as King, he was fully entitled.

Mark 15:17-19. And platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, and began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.

All this homage was paid to him in mockery yet what stern reality there was in that mockery! That band of soldiers really preached to Christ such homage as a whole world could give him.

Mark 15:20. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.

They “led him out to crucify him.” It seems as if Christ had to lean upon those who led him; the word almost signifies as much as that; at least, it might be the word employed concerning anyone leading a child or a sick man who needed support, for the Saviour’s weakness must have been very apparent by that time. After the agony and bloody sweat in Gethsemane, and the night and morning trials, and scourging, and mockery, and the awful strain upon his mind and heart in being made a sacrifice for sin, it was no wonder that he was weak. Besides, he was not like the rough, brutal criminals that are often condemned to die for their crimes; he was a man of gentle mould and more delicate sensibilities than they were, and he suffered much more than any ordinary man would have done in similar circumstances.

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

Christ would not bear it himself; the soldiers saw that he was faint and weary, so they laid the cross, or at least one end of it, on Simon’s shoulders.

Mark 15:22. And they bring him-

Here the word almost implies that they lifted him, and-carried him, for his faintness had increased. They “led him out to crucify him,” but now they bear him —

Mark 15:22. Unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.

We sometimes speak of it as mount Calvary, but it was not so; it was a little rising ground, the common place of execution, the Tyburn or Old Bailey of Jerusalem.

Mark 15:23. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.

He did not wish to have his sufferings abated, but to bear them to the bitter end. Christ forbids not that pain should be alleviated, in the case of others, wherever that is possible; but, in his own case, it was not fit that it should be so relieved, since he was to bear the full brunt of the storm of vengeance that was due on account of sin.

Mark 15:24. And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.

Christ’s garments must go to his executioners in order to carry out the full shame associated with his death as well as to fulfill the prophecy, “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”

Mark 15:25-27. And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.

As if, in carrying out that ordinary etiquette which gives the central place to the chief criminal, they gave to Christ the place of greatest contempt and scorn.

Mark 15:28. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

You could not count the “transgressors” on those crosses without counting him, there were three, and the One in the middle could not be passed by as you counted the others.

Mark 15:29-32. And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself, 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.

That is the world’s way: “that we may see and believe.” But Christ’s way is, “Believe, and thou shalt see.” Christ off the cross is admired by worldlings, but Christ on the cross is our hope and stay, especially as we know that this same Christ is now on the throne waiting for the time when he should return to claim his own, all who have trusted in the Crucified.

Mark 15:32. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

Out of their black hearts and mouths came words of obloquy and scorn even then.

Mark 15:33. And when the sixth hour was come,--

When the sun had reached the zenith, at high noon, —

Mark 15:33-41. There was darkness over the whole land until this ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And 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. 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.

We can read further about these gracious women if we turn to Luke 8.

This exposition consisted of readings from Mark 15:1-41, and Luke 8:1-3.


Verses 15-23

Mark 15:15-23. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. And they bring him unto the place called Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, the place of a skull. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.

I shall have to show you that this was given to him in mercy. The Romans always gave, before crucifixion, a cup of myrrhed wine, in order to lessen the sensibilities of the victim. In this case there was not only myrrh in the cup, but gall; a second cup of gall Christ did drink, but this cup, being intoxicating, he would not receive; when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. He needed the possession of all his faculties, and in their clearest state, in order to do combat with the dreadful powers of darkness.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 69:1-21. Mark 15:15-23. Luke 23:26-33.


Verses 15-39

We will read two short passages from the Gospels this evening. May the blessed Spirit, who taught the Evangelists to record the sad story of our Lord’s sufferings and death, give us fully to enter into the blessed meaning of it while we read it! First turn to Mark 15:15.

Mark 15:15-16. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium;

The guard-room of Herod’s palace, where the Praetorian guards were wont to gather.

Mark 15:16-20. And they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, and began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him,

To the utmost, and gone the full length of their cruel scorn,

Mark 15:20-23. They took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.

They did for him what they did for others who were crucified, they gave him myrrhed wine, as a stupefying draught; “but he received it not.” He came to suffer, and he would bear even to the end the full tale of his suffering.

Mark 15:24-27. And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.

They gave him the place of eminence, as if he were a greater offender than either of the two thieves.

Mark 15:28. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

Sinners to the right of him, sinners to the left of him, sinners all round him, compassed about with those who sinned in the very highest degree by putting him to death: “He was numbered with the transgressors.” Oh, that sweet word! It is the hope of transgressors now that he was counted with them, and for his sake all the benefactions of heaven now descend upon transgressors who accept him as their Substitute and Saviour.

Mark 15:29. And they that passed by railed on him,

Not only those who sat down to gloat their cruel eyes upon his miseries,

but even the passers-by, “They that passed by, railed on him,”-

Mark 15:29-30. Wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three day, Save thyself, and come down from the cross.

He never said he would destroy the literal temple. He did, however, say concerning the temple of his body, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” and he did raise it up in three days after they had destroyed it.

Mark 15:31. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.

What they said in bitter scorn was true; for mighty love had bound his hands for self-salvation. Infinite in love, found guilty of excess of love to men, “He saved others; himself he could not save.”

Mark 15:32-33. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

A supernatural darkness, which could not have occurred according to the laws of nature. It did, as it were, “set a tabernacle for the sun,”-the Sun of Righteousness was canopied a while in darkness, that no longer might those horrible eyes gaze upon his terrible anguish.

Mark 15:34. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

There was a denser darkness over his spirit than was over all the land, and out of that darkness came this cry of agony.

Mark 15:35. And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.

Ah, me! This was either a cruel jest upon our Saviour’s prayer, or an utter misapprehension of it.

Mark 15:36. And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.

Jesus did receive this vinegar, and so fulfilled Psalms 69:21 : “In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

Mark 15:37-38. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

Even as the flesh of Christ, which is the veil of the Incarnate God, was rent, so now was the veil of mystery taken away. The temple in her sorrow rent her veil. The old ceremonial law passed away with this token of grief by the rending of the veil. It was a strong, I might say, a massive veil; it could not have been rent by any ordinary means; but when the hand of God takes hold upon the veil of Jewish types, it readily rends, and into the innermost mystery of the holy of holies we may gaze, yea, and through it we may enter.

Mark 15:39. And 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.

Convinced by the cross. Oh, the triumphs of Christ! The last word he speaks won this testimony from the centurion in charge of the crucifixion. Now we will read part of Luke’s narrative.

This exposition consisted of readings from Mark 15:15-39; and Luke 23:27-49.


Verses 34-47

Concerning the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall read in three portions of the New Testament. First, in the Gospel according to Mark, the fifteenth chapter, beginning at the thirty-fourth verse.

Mark 15:34. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

It is, “My El, my strong God, my mighty One, why hast thou forsaken me?” — the bitterest words that were ever uttered by mortal lips, and expressing the quintessence of agony. Alas! that my Saviour should ever have had to say as much as this when he hung upon the cross, suffering and dying for me.

Mark 15:35. And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.

Did they misunderstand his bitter cry of woe? Could they mistake what he meant? Was it not, on the part of these people that stood by, a willful wicked witticism upon what our Lord Jesus had said? We fear that it was so.

Mark 15:36-37. And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.

His last words were, “It is finished.”

“It is finish’d!”

— Oh what pleasure Do these charming words afford!

Heavenly blessings without measure Flow to us from Christ the Lord:

“It is finish’d!”

Saints, the dying words record.”

Mark 15:38-39. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him,

The officer who had charge of the arrangements for the execution: “when the centurion, which stood over against him,” —

Mark 15:39. Saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

Probably saying a great deal more than he understood. There was something so extraordinary about this central Sufferer that the Centurion could not understand who he could be unless he was truly “the Son of God.”

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.

Where was Peter? We know that John was near the cross; but James and the rest of the apostles were apparently hiding away; yet the holy women were there.

Mark 15:42-43. And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.

I have no doubt that Pilate was very surprised that a member of the Sanhedrim should come and ask for the body of Jesus, when, a little while before, he had put him to death really by the mandate of that body of men.

Mark 15:44; Mark 15:46. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.

This very centurion, who had declared that Jesus was the Son of God now came forward to bear witness that he had seen him die; and then Pilate told Joseph that he might go and take the body.

Mark 15:46. And he bought fine linen,

This was probably the first time that fine linen had touched the flesh of the Son of man; he had been accustomed to much coarser stuff in his lifetime, but now Joseph “bought fine linen.”

Mark 15:46-47. And took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulcher. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.

That is Mark’s account of our Lord’s death and burial, very terse, and very suggestive. Let us now read John’s description of the sad scene.

This exposition consisted of readings from Mark 15:34-47; John 19:38-42; John , 1 CORINTHIAN 5:1-9.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Mark 15:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/mark-15.html. 2011.

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