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Mark 15:1 . Straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. Συνεδριν , the whole sanhedrim, consisting of seventy, but which must never be less than twenty three, and the highpriest, to form a bench. St. John has the same idea of twenty four elders, clothed in white raiment. Revelation 5:4; Revelation 5:10. To this assembly it would be recited, that as good and faithful magistrates, when the state is in danger, they had sat up during the night, and tried the deceiver; and that having confessed himself to be “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed,” they had condemned him to die. To this no doubt they would add, as in John 11:48, that the Romans, construing the multitudes that followed him into seditious banditti, would come and utterly destroy the nation. Therefore the danger of the country required this strong measure; but they were specially convened at that unusually early hour to consult on the best means of bringing the governor to ratify and execute the sentence. To this, all instantly consented, excepting three, Joseph, Simon, and Nicodemus, It was then agreed to go in a body to the palace, accompanied with all their rabble, indicative of tumult, and force Pilate to execute their sentence. Oh mystery, tragic mystery of crime, and crime without example!
Mark 15:2 . Pilate asked him, Art thou the king of the jews? The governor asked this derisively, the rulers having accused him of high treason. The order of the words in the greek, both here and in Matthew 27:11, is, “Thou art the king of the jews?” To which the answer, thou sayest, is a full assent, while at the same time it saves the speaker from all appearance of egotism. Thus the Redeemer witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate, and taught confessors to follow his example. These events are more largely related in Matthew 27:0.
Mark 15:10 . He knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy, the worst vice that can corrode the heart. Here Pilate ceased to be a prince, and became the slave of fear.
Mark 15:15 . Pilate delivered Jesus when he had scourged him, to be crucified. Scourging by the Roman lictors was often very severe, tearing away both the skin and the flesh. St. John adds, that Pilate brought the Saviour thus scourged, and crowned with thorns, and arrayed in the purple robe of derision, before the people, in hopes, it would seem, of mitigating their clamours for his blood; having said, “I will chastise him, and let him go.” But the rulers being now become reprobate, demons cannot be moved to pity.
Mark 15:21 . They compelled Simon the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. These were afterwards two very excellent men in the church of Rome. St. Paul salutes “Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine;” so he claims her, because she had nourished him in the work of the Lord. Romans 16:13. Acts 19:33. The conjecture is, that Simon, under the storms of persecution in Judea, had fled to Rome, where his sons, as was usual, had assumed Roman surnames.
Mark 15:25 . It was the third hour, when the whole sanhedrim appeared before Pilate. But three hours having been spent in accusations, and in sending the Saviour to Herod, it was the sixth hour when Pilate brought him forth to the people, wearing the crown of thorns, and when he delivered him to be crucified. John 19:12-13.
Mark 15:29 . They that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads. These were the rabble that had accompanied the priests and scribes, because they had heard misguided witnesses say, that he would destroy the temple and build another in three days. Where can we find a parallel, except in the outrages offered to the ancient prophets, and to the modern martyrs. Where can we go for comfort, but to the prophecies where all those cruelties are foretold and described. Psalms 22, 69. Isaiah 52:13, Isaiah 52:14, 53. Here is love, burning love, which all the waters of death could not quench.
Mark 15:31 . Likewise the chief priests mocking, said among themselves, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Here was malice, ingenious malice, most of all intolerable and insupportable.
Mark 15:33 . There was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. See on Matthew 27:45. Luke 23:44.
In the counsels of the jews, we see what priests and scribes will do when hardened by rejecting the light, and when irritated by the superior purity of their rivals. They hated the light, they took counsel against Jesus, they stooped to every meanness to effectuate his death; they sat up the whole night, and were never so intent on the consummation of any earthly wish, as on crucifying the Lord of glory. What then must the vengeance be, when the Lord retaliates on the impenitent? He is as much intent on bringing audacious men to punishment, as they are on afflicting his people. How awful the consideration, that those men should studiously reject the mission and mercy of Christ, because it did not please them. Their prejudice in favour of a reigning Messiah, occasioned their stumbling at the poverty of Christ. And how awful that God should blind and harden the men who had wilfully blinded themselves. Thus when he withdraws his grace from the wicked, and suffers them to take their own way, they become the instruments of fulfilling the scriptures, and the subjects of his instructive vengeance.
How deplorable also was the situation of Pilate, coming in contact with the council, and having a governor over him in Cæsarea. His conduct excites pity, but chiefly contempt. He was devoid of a Roman soul. Why had he not, like Gallio, driven away the jews from his bar, seeing they demanded the life of a subject without adducing a single crime? Justly did he merit the degradations which quickly overtook him.
On the other hand, what a melting scene of tears, what sighs and groans from men, echoed back by the holy women at a distance. What smiting of the breasts. Oh tremendous scene a bleeding Redeemer, a beclouded sky, a trembling earth! All portentous of greater woes. Where can we find relief but in the Saviour’s tears; where a retreat but in his tomb.
But wait awhile, ye weeping saints; rest on the Hope of Israel. Ask not, oh Zion, in haste and anguish for thunderbolts, nor for Elijah’s fire to consume the murderers. Allow the rebels time for recollection and repentance. Let them hear the trumpet’s joyful sound. Let a church be gathered in, and a remnant saved, whose sons shall be great in all the earth. Then the day of vengeance shall come on the finally impenitent. Then the scenes of mockery shall be reversed. Then the day shall come that shall burn as an oven, and the fathers and the sons, root and branch, shall be burned up. Be calm, oh Zion: in three days thy sun shall rise to set no more, and all thy sorrows shall be changed to joys.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Mark 15". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany