The Marred, Mocked, and Crucified King (Mark 15:16-32)

The Marred, Mocked, and Crucified King (Mark 15:16-32) – YouTube

  • Esteemed Stricken and Smitten of God

We ended last week with the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate, seeking to save his political career by satisfying the demands of a frenzied crowd worked up by seditious Israel’s leaders, and releasing Barabbas to them instead of Jesus. The guilty was freed, and the innocent Son of God was kept to suffer his penalty. He was without fault, yet scourged; innocent, yet crucified.

It is just as He said of Himself to His disciples in Mark 10:33-34:

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

Two days before the Passover, Jesus said to the disciples:

“The Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”[1]

As the Passover lamb was being sacrificed commemorating the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt and the sparing of the firstborn from death by the blood of a lamb, Jesus Christ became our Passover Lamb.[2] He put away our sin once and for all by the sacrifice of Himself.[3] At the appointed time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.[4] Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us as He hung upon the cross.[5] God the Son, said to God the Father:

“Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, But a body You have prepared for Me;In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me) To do Your will, O God.’”[6]

Jesus Christ said of Himself through the prophet Isaiah:

5The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient nor did I turn back.I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.”[7]

In Isaiah 52:14, it is said of Him that:

“His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men.”

He says of Himself in Psalm 22:6-8, that He is mocked and viewed as a dreg of society:

“But I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people.All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, “Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”

He goes on to describe His circumstances saying:

“Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.13 They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion.14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death.16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me;18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.”[8]

From Israel’s perspective:

“He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”[9]

They viewed Him as one deserving to be upon that cross, but they did not consider that the only reason He was upon it was to be cut off from the land of the living for the sin of those to whom the stroke was due.[10] He rendered Himself as a guilt offering.[11] He bore the iniquity of His people.[12] He poured out Himself to death, bearing the sin of many, and mediating for them before God.[13]

It is interesting that the Old Testament gives more details on the crucifixion then the gospel accounts do. The gospel writers do not take the time to describe to us the heinous nature of Roman torture and execution. They merely state it without any details. Mark 15:15, “After having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified.” Mark 15:24, “And they crucified Him.”

Christ was not the first crucified Jew. Historians estimate that by the time Jesus went to the cross, roughly 30,000 Israelites had been executed by such means. 30,000 of God’s people had been stripped of their clothing, secured to a crossbeam with outstretched arms and nails driven through their wrists, and their feet fastened to the upright shaft with a nail, and hoisted 9-12 feet off the ground to suffer a slow, painful, and agonizing death. It is said that:

“Death ultimately occurred through a combination of constrained blood circulation, organ failure, and asphyxiation as the body strained under its own weight.”[14]

The gospel writers were well aware of the agony of the cross, but they focus on detailing a different matter. They take the time to draw our attention to the fact that the One who is worthy of all honor, glory, and praise was mercilessly mocked after being marred beyond appearance and hung upon a tree to die.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.[15] It mocked Him, and beat Him, and spit upon Him, and scourged Him, and crucified Him after He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.[16]

  • The Marred, Mocked, and Crucified King

After Pilate satisfied the crowd, and delivered Jesus to the will of His enemies, Mark 15:16 records that:

16 The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort.”

Jesus has already suffered greatly, and these men are about to turn it into a parody. A cohort was about 600 men. In their own sadistic way, the whole Romans cohort gathered to prove that the King of the Jews truly was no threat to Caesar. They stripped Him of His clothes,[17] and “they dressed Him up in purple” to give Him the appearance of royalty. To give Him that kingly form they twisted together a crown of thorns and thrust it upon His head, mimicking the laurel wreath that Caesar wore. Matthew tells us that they put “a reed in His right hand,”[18] which would have been a mock scepter of a king. Mark 15:18-19 records:

18 and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him.”

They did not know what they were doing. They mocked and abused the humbled King of kings, and Lord of lords. They treated Him as if He were the scum of the earth. To them, as John MacArthur says, “Jesus is a joke and calvary is a comedy played out.”[19]

            Mark 15:20 says:

“20 After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.”

John tells us that Jesus “went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.”[20] We can see in our text that He will not bear it alone. As they were coming out of city, they found a man of Cyrene and seized him.[21] As Mark says:

21 They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.”

            Jesus would have been unbelievably fatigued from staying up all night on trial, and He would have been incredibly damaged from the physical abuse and scourging He suffered at the hands of the Romans. Normally one condemned to be crucified would need to carry their own cross, but Jesus was so weakened that the soldiers expedited the process by forcing this Jewish pilgrim, who came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, to bear Christ’s cross.

            We should understand that the Soldiers arbitrarily picked Simon to do this, but God sovereignly worked here to bring this man to salvation in Christ. After Mark names Simon of Cyrene, he points out that he is the father of Alexander and Rufus. We should recall that Mark’s gospel was written to a Roman audience. When one reads Paul’s letter to the Roman’s, they will discover in chapter 16 verse 13 that he makes mention of a man of the church in Rome whose name is Rufus.[22] We should understand this Rufus to be the son of Simon the Cyrene. Mark’s readers were familiar with the sons and wife of Simon. Mark draws their attention to the day that their father came face to face with their Lord and Savior; and carried the cross for Him as He willingly went to Calvary’s Hill as their Passover Lamb to put away their sin once and for all by the sacrifice of Himself.

            As Mark goes on to say:

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

They crucified Him there.[23] Golgotha was a hill outside the city walls along a highway and was most likely an area where people were regularly crucified so that they would be visible to those passing by. God placarded His Son for all to see, and to understand that He is righteous, and He does not allow sin to go unpunished;[24] and God publicly displayed His Son so that all who believe would see and understand the great love with which He has loved them; in that while they are yet sinners deserving of death, Christ died for them.[25] The Holy, for the unholy. The Perfect, for the imperfect, The Righteous, for the unrighteous. The just, for the unjust. The Innocent, for the guilty. He did this on a hill essentially linked with death.

            As Mark says:

23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it.”

This was used to deaden the pain, but “after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.”[26] He sought to continue and complete His atoning work with full consciousness of what He was enduring. He was entirely cognizant of His suffering, which is exactly what the Psalmist describes in Psalm 22:14-15:

14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death.”

This is a person totally aware of what is happening to them. They are aware that the fluids of their body are drying up and wasting away. They are experiencing an unreal dislocation of the joints of their body as they are suspended by nails piercing their hands and feet, which is what the Psalmist says in verse 16. This is a person undergoing extreme dehydration, and they liken themselves to a dried up broken piece of pottery discarded by the potter. They are completely conscious of all that is happening to them.

            After refusing to take the wine mixed with myrrh, Mark says:

“24 They crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take.”

John 19:23-25 gives further detail saying:

“23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; this was to fulfill the Scripture: “They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” 25 Therefore the soldiers did these things.”

Mark points out in verse 25 that “It was the third hour when they crucified Him.” This means that it was 9:00AM in the morning when Christ was lifted up for all to see.

It was common practice to fix a wooden sign above the cross that stated the charges of the condemned, so that everyone passing by would know why the person was being crucified. Mark says:

“26 The inscription of the charge against Him read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Pilate wrote this inscription to the chagrin of the Jews. It was not that he believed it to be true, but because he knew that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus out of envy. John 19:19-22 says:

“19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 20 Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When one considers all the gospel accounts, the full inscription would have read, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”[27]

            Mark 15:27 says:

27 They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left.”

If we consider that the cross Christ bore was intended for Barabbas, we should understand that these men were most likely accomplices in the insurrection led by him. As Mark points out, Jesus’ being crucified with others was in fulfillment of the Word of God:

28 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.”

This is referring to Isaiah 53 where it says this of the Messiah who would suffer, “His grave was assigned with wicked men…And (He) was numbered with the transgressors.”[28]

            As we read the next portion of Mark, we will certainly see a further fulfillment of Psalm 22 as people sneer at Jesus and mock Him, but we will also see a fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10, when God says:

“They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son…”

Mark 15:29-32 says:

29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.”

Matthew 27:43 records Israel’s leaders also saying:

“43 He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 

Luke 23:35-37 says:

35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” 

Christ is relentlessly mocked by those passing by, by the Chief Priests and the scribes, by the soldiers, and by those crucified alongside Him. The Jewish leaders said that they would believe Jesus to be the Son of God if Jesus saved Himself from the cross. No, they would not have! Christ did something even greater then saving Himself from the cross, He arose from the grave three days later. The ultimate vindication of Himself! What did they do when they learned the truth of His resurrection? The paid those guarding the tombs to lie about it, saying the disciples stole His body.[29]

It is just as Jesus said when talking about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. The rich man suffering in hell wanted Lazarus to go back and warn his family, but Abraham said to him:

“29 ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”[30]

Their mocking the marred and crucified King just demonstrated how much they hated God, and how little they understood of Him. The Messiah came to seek and to save the lost, and He is able to save them because He chose not to save Himself.

Again, They viewed Him as one deserving to be upon that cross, but they did not consider that the only reason He was upon it was to be cut off from the land of the living for the sin of those to whom the stroke was due.[31] He rendered Himself as a guilt offering.[32] He bore the iniquity of His people.[33] He poured out Himself to death, bearing the sin of many, and mediating for them before God.[34]

Luke’s gospel records the beautiful truth when one of the thieves on the cross recognizes this. One of the men Christ was numbered among to fulfill the Scripture. The account Luke provides is a clear demonstration that one is not made right before God because of their person or works, but by turning from sin and believing in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. It is a testament to the truth that salvation is by His grace, through our faith in His Son alone. Luke 23:39-43 says:

“39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

  • How then Shall We Live?

J.C. Ryle says:

“The Passage we have now read is one of those which show us the infinite love of Christ towards sinners. The sufferings described in it would fill our minds with mingled horror and compassion, if they had bene inflicted on one who was only a man like ourselves. But when we reflect that the sufferer was the eternal Son of God, we are lost in wonder and amazement. And when we reflect further that these sufferings were voluntarily endured to deliver sinful men and women like ourselves from hell, we may see something of St Paul’s meaning when he says, ‘The love of Christ passeth knowledge.’ ‘God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’”[35]

Galatians 1:4 declares that Jesus Christ “gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Ephesians 5:2 affirms that Christ loves us and “gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:25 asserts that Jesus loves His bride the church “and gave Himself up for her.” Philippians 2:6-7 proclaims that though Jesus Christ has always existed as God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be held onto, but humbled Himself by becoming a Man. He made Himself of no reputation. He laid aside His divine privileges and subjected Himself to the limitations of His creation. He partook of flesh and blood to render Himself as the propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.[36] As Paul says, “He was made in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.”[37]

He is the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Him.[38] He is the only mediator between God and Man, for in order for someone to mediate between two entities they need to be able to represent both parties. Only Christ can do this. He is truly God, and He is truly Man. 1 Timothy 2:6 pronounces that as the God-man, Christ “gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” He did not come to be served, but to serve by giving His life as a payment for many.[39] We were purchased by God with the precious blood of His Son, who knew no sin but became it so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.[40] Titus 2:14 says that Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

As Paul says, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”[41] Peter says in his first epistle, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” Colossians 2:13-14 says:

“He made us alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

For the joy set before Him He endured such hostility from wicked men and suffered the cross to put away our sin by the sacrifice of Himself.[42]

You who are not in Christ, do not ignore so great a salvation. It has been said before, and it will be said again, if God spared not His own Son to save His people, He will not spare those who reject His Son and leave Him to open shame on the cross. Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Him. Repent and believe the gospel, the message of life, and be saved.

You who are in Christ, do not dare live for yourself. You have been bought with a price, and your life is not your own. It is hidden with Christ in God.[43] Do not seek the things of this earth, but that which is above where Christ is.[44] Render yourselves as living sacrifice for His glory.[45] Conclude as Paul concluded in Galatians 2:20 says:

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

[1] Matthew 26:1-2

[2] 1 Corinthians 5:7

[3] Hebrews 9:26

[4] Galatians 4:4-5

[5] Galatians 3:13

[6] Psalm 40:6-7; Hebrews 10:5-7

[7] Isaiah 50:5-6

[8] Psalm 22:12-18

[9] Isaiah 53:3-4

[10] Isaiah 53:8

[11] Isaiah 53:10

[12] Isaiah 53:11

[13] Isaiah 53:12

[14] crucifixion | Description, History, Punishment, & Jesus | Britannica

[15] John 1:10

[16] John 1:11

[17] Matthew 27:28

[18] Matthew 27:29

[19] Sermon entitled The Shameful Scorn of Jesus Christ, John MacArthur

[20] John 19:17

[21] Matthew 27:32; Luke 23:32

[22] Romans 16:13

[23] Luke 23:33

[24] Romans 3:25

[25] Romans 5:8

[26] Matthew 27:34

[27] Matthew 27:37; Luke 23:38; John 19:19

[28] Isaiah 53:8,11

[29] Matthew 28:11-15

[30] Luke 16:29-31

[31] Isaiah 53:8

[32] Isaiah 53:10

[33] Isaiah 53:11

[34] Isaiah 53:12

[35] Expository Thoughts on Mark, J.C. Ryle; Page 269

[36] Hebrews 2:14-17

[37] Philippians 2:8

[38] John 14:6

[39] Mark 10:45

[40] 1 Peter

[41] 1 Timothy 1:15

[42] Hebrews 7:27; 9:14

[43] Colossians 1:3

[44] Colossians 1:1-2

[45] Romans 12:1-2

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