And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead.45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider
1. Study verses 1-5. Who was Pilate, and what was his position? What crime had the Sanhedrin decided Jesus was guilty of in Mark 14:64, and what sentence was to be carried out as His punishment? What did Levitical law say about this crime, its sentence, and how that sentence was to be carried out? Did the Sanhedrin follow this law? If the Sanhedrin was so concerned about Jesus breaking God’s law, why did they break God’s law by failing to carry out the death sentence according to the law? Why did they take Jesus to Pilate to enforce the death penalty instead?
2. Describe the scene in verses 6-15 in your own words. What motivated Pilate, the chief priests, and the crowd to do and say the things they did and said? What can you surmise about the personal character of Pilate, the chief priests, and the crowd? What part did power and position play in this part of the story? What part did both Jews and Gentiles play in this part of the story? What was Pilate’s perception of Jesus in verses 1-15? Where were the disciples during all of this?
3. Examine verses 16-20. Take a look at the footnote on verse 16. How many soldiers gathered around Jesus? Why were they mocking Him, and what did the mocking center around? Who created the thorn bush (17), the reed (18), the spit (18), and the soldiers themselves? When was the last time you used something for sinful purposes that God created for good?
4. In Gethsemane, Jesus rebuked Peter for fighting back against the arrest mob, saying, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” At any step along the way – in Gethsemane, in His mock trial before the Sanhedrin, when judged by Pilate, when abused by the soldiers – Jesus had the power, and plenty of justification – as Creator of the universe and of the people mistreating Him – to turn Jerusalem into a crater. Why didn’t Jesus fight back or defend Himself? What does this teach us as Christians about laying aside our own rights, when necessary, for the sake of the gospel?
5. What impact did Christ’s crucifixion have on Rufus, and later, his mother (21)? The centurion? (39) Did everyone who witnessed the crucifixion become a Christian? Why or why not? Would the chief priests have believed Jesus was the Messiah and become His followers if he had come down off the cross? (31-32) Compare Rufus’ and the centurion’s belief in Christ with the mockers’ and chief priests’ disbelief. (21, 39, 29-32)
6. The mixture of wine and myrrh (23) was meant to be an anesthesia. What are some of the side effects of anesthesia? Why did Jesus refuse it?
8. What were the mockers referring to in verse 29? What was the irony of their statement? (29-30)
10. Compare the scattering of the disciples with the gathering of the women (40-41) at the cross. How might their staying with Jesus through the crucifixion have been a comfort and encouragement to Him? How might witnessing the crucifixion have been a blessing to the women and emboldened their witness for Christ in the coming years? How can these women’s faithfulness to Christ serve as an example to us as Christian women today?
11. What position did Joseph of Arimathea hold? (43) Why would Joseph have needed to “take courage” with regard to approaching Pilate? (43) With regard to his place and reputation in the Sanhedrin? Why would it have been dangerous or detrimental to be seen as an associate or ally of Jesus?
12. Among those who deny that Christ’s resurrection actually happened are people who argue that on Easter morning, the women who found Jesus’ tomb empty had actually gone to the wrong tomb. How does verse 47 refute this theory?
Explain the events of Mark 15 in your own words as you would explain them to someone who has never heard the story of Christ’s crucifixion. Ask a lost friend or loved one to let you “practice” on her, if possible. As we saw in question 5, among those who were eyewitnesses to the crucifixion, some believed in Christ, and some did not. It is the same when we share the gospel today. Why do some believe the gospel and some don’t? List three ways grasping this truth can help as you share the gospel.
Suggested Memory Verse
And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Mark 15:2