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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Mark 15

Verses 1-15

Mark 15:1-15 . Jesus before Pilate.— A second meeting of the Sanhedrin held in the daylight regularizes the condemnation arrived at overnight. They now take Jesus to Pilate (governor of Judæ a, A.D. 26– 36, see p. 653) who was in Jerusalem during the Passover. The narrative is clearly incomplete. No formal accusation by the Sanhedrin is recorded. Pilate’ s conduct throughout is not characteristic of the man of ruthless cruelty, revealed in Philo, and in Luke 13:1. The description of his part is, therefore, doubted by some, who say it is determined by Mk.’ s desire to make the Jews entirely responsible. The crowd calls out “ Crucify” ; Pilate hardly pronounces the sentence. Indeed Pilate recognised the innocence of Jesus and the harmlessness of His followers. But Pilate may have been impressed by Jesus, and his conduct might be determined by a wish to play with the Jewish rulers. This would be quite in keeping with what we know of him.

Mark 15:6 . The custom of releasing a prisoner is not otherwise attested ( John 18:39 *). It may have been a practice adopted by Pilate.

Mark 15:7. Barabbas (= “ son of the teacher,” probably) was a fairly common name ( Matthew 27:16 f.*).

Mark 15:10. Pilate rightly perceived that the priests were mainly responsible.

Mark 15:16. Scourging usually preceded crucifixion ( cf. Josephus, Wars, II, xiv. 9).

Verses 16-20

Mark 15:16-20 . The Soldiers Mock Jesus.—“ This narrative in its brief intensity is very poignant.” Some scholars suggest that Jesus is treated like the central figure in a scene from a mime (was there a popular play, The King with the Crown of Thorn?). Others detect a resemblance to the mocking of the human sacrificial victim in the Persian Sacæ a or other Oriental festival. But the accusation against Jesus would prompt the mockery. He has claimed to be king. He shall wear a triumphal crown like Cæ sar’ s. It shall be made of thorns.

Mark 15:16. The præ torium seems to be the residence of the governor and his bodyguard. It was probably the fortress Antonia on the north-west of the Temple precinct (see Swete).

Verses 21-32

Mark 15:21-32 * The Crucifixion.— Usually the criminal himself carried his cross ( i.e. the cross-bar, probably not the upright). Jesus seems to have been exhausted by the scourging and by His own sorrow. Simon of Cyrene was forced into His service. The reference to Simon’ s children is pointless unless they were known to Mk.’ s readers (HNT). Rufus is mentioned in Romans 16:13 and Alexander in Acts 19:33, 1 Timothy 1:20 (but they are not necessarily the same men as those to whom Mk. refers). The drugged wine used to be offered by Jewish ladies. They mixed frankincense ( Jeremiah 6:20 *) with the wine, not myrrh, which was not soporific. Jesus meets death with senses undulled. The clothing of the crucified one was the perquisite of the soldiers. The casting of lots recalls Psalms 22:18. The affixing of a tablet to publish the ground of punishment was not unusual. The railings of the spectators reproduce the charges against Him, especially Mark 15:29; Mark 15:32. Unconsciously, they disclose His glory. “ He saved others.” General Booth is reported to have said, “ They would have believed in Him, had He come down; we believe in Him because He stayed up.’

Mark 15:25 . the third hour: i.e. 9 A.M. John 19:14 * cannot easily be harmonised with this note of time. The reticence of this verse and indeed of the whole story is remarkable.

Mark 15:33-41 . The Death of Jesus.— At the sixth hour (12 noon) there was a preternatural gloom over Judæ a (reject RVm “ earth” ). This was not an eclipse, which could not occur at full moon. Either the sun was actually clouded at the time, or the incident is suggested by such a passage as Amos 8:9 or by the belief that nature mourns heroes (see Plutarch, Pelop. 295 a). When the darkness had lasted for three hours, Jesus uttered the one word from the Cross recorded in Mk. and Mt. If spoken in Aramaic “ Eloi, Eloi,” the misunderstanding that follows is strange. The Heb. È li, Eli might be so misunderstood. We do not know the exact significance of this strange and seemingly desolate cry. The words come from Psalms 22:1. “ Strange to think that is the cry of the feeling of Jesus. One is almost tempted to say that there, as in a supreme instance, is measured the distance between feeling and fact. So He felt; and yet mankind has been of another mind, that there, more than in all else that He was or did, there was God” (Glover). The offer of vinegar ( cf. Ruth 2:14) may be an act of kindness. The waiting for Elijah is mockery, or curiosity. After six hours’ torture Jesus died, with one more inarticulate cry. The rent veil of the Temple symbolises the effect of His death ( cf. Hebrews 10:19 f.) . The manner of His death— the strength of His cries and the suddenness of the end— convinced the centurion that He was more than man. “ The captain stands at the end of the gospel as the type and forerunner of the countless bands of heathen who have been won over to the message of the crucified One” (J. Weiss). The evangelist then mentions some of the women who watched afar off and to whom he may have owed some of his information. The loyalty of the women surpassed that of the disciples. Mary of Magdala (p. 29) must not be identified with the woman that was a sinner mentioned in Luke 7:37. Salome is described in Matthew 27:56 as mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Verses 42-47

Mark 15:42-47 . The Burial of Jesus.Deuteronomy 21:23 enjoined the burial of dead criminals before nightfall ( cf. Josephus, Wars, IV, v.2). The day of the Crucifixion being the preparation for the Sabbath, i.e. Friday, the carrying out of the law was doubly desirable. It required courage to approach Pilate, but Joseph of Arimathæ a enjoyed sufficient distinction to venture. Pilate granted him the corpse (the brutal technical word is used). Joseph hastily placed the body in a rock-tomb, the characteristic mode of burial at that time and place. The stone which covered the entrance to the tomb was a protection against wild beasts and thieves (Menzies). The women marked the spot and prepared to render the last offices of love.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Mark 15". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.