MAY 22, 2016

MAIN TEXT: MARK 15: 1-20

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. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked.And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas.  And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 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.


In AD 140, the early Christian church leaders created the Apostles Creed to protect the faith and guard the church from error. It is a collection of scriptures that summarize the main points of Christian faith. It mentions all three persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It also mentions two other people. It is understandable that the Virgin Mary is mentioned since her birth speaks of Jesus’ supernatural conception and His humanity. The second person is more surprising. The creed says, “suffered under Pontius Pilate”. 

They could have mentioned that he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot or denied by Simon Peter or delivered by the High Priest Caiaphas. Why was a third-rate Roman politician enshrined in one of the most important creeds of the church? The reason is that Pilate was the presiding officer in Jesus’ final condemnation and His execution. Our text recounts Pilate not only acting as a Roman provincial governor but as a public person who issued a judgment that was historically far more significant than his own opinion. 

Jesus is not simply a martyr dying for what He believed in. He wasn’t a fool who thought He was the Son of God and died delusional. He wasn’t a false Messiah and blasphemer that threatened Israel. He wasn’t a political revolutionary that was extinguished by Rome to keep control. He didn’t simply suffer misfortune from irritated religious leaders who out of envy appealed to Pilate to get rid of Him. 

Jesus was the sinless Son of God (Mark 1:1; Mark 15:39), The God man, who suffered on our place. He took the beatings that we deserved and died the death we should have died. He is the Great King – the sacrifice for sinners. 

Our text picks up on Friday morning. Jesus has been betrayed, abandoned, interrogated, beaten, spit upon, and denied the rest through the night. He is about to face scourging (verse 15) and crucifixion. He will die around 3pm (verses 33-37).

  •  What sinful man did to the Son of God can only make us weep.
  • What the sinless Son of God did for man can only make us shout for joy!

Accusations and Amazement

The Jewish leaders needed to move quickly. They want Jesus executed before the Sabbath begins on Friday at sundown. History tells us that Pilate served Rome in Judea (a low political rung) from AD 26-37. Pilate was a cruel and harsh governor who despised the Jews and enjoyed antagonizing them. He would gladly compromise to keep peace and stay in good graces with Rome. 

Pilate asked, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (verse 2). Jesus answered, “You have said so”. John 18:36 records Jesus’ qualifying statement regarding His kingdom. The chief priests began to accuse Him of many things (verse 3) – Luke 23:2 provides the specifics. 

Jesus’ silence amazed Pilate. He is silent in the face of His accusers. Sinful men can only watch in amazement. No defense. Not a word. Jesus will see to it that He goes to the cross. 

Injustice and Substitution

Pilate had a tradition – during the Passover - that he would grant full amnesty to one prisoner whose release the Jews requested. Since he judged that Jesus was innocent and that the Jewish leaders were envious of Jesus’ popularity, he assumed that the crowds were on Jesus’ side and would want Jesus set free (verses 6-10). 

Pilate underestimated the Jewish leaders ability to manipulate the people (verse 11). They successfully motivated the crowd to reject Pilate’s offer of amnesty for Jesus and to demand the release of Barabbas instead. Barabbas was an insurrectionist who had taken up arms against Rome in an uprising. Pilate offered the people a man who wanted to give them political freedom or a man who could give them spiritual freedom. 

Pilate granted the crowd’s desire for Barabbas’ release and asked the crowd to pronounce judgment on Jesus (verses 12-15). “Wishing to satisfy the crowd”, Pilate pronounced the death sentence. He released Barabbas and had Jesus scourged and delivered Him to be crucified. 

The sovereign plan of God could not be more clearly on display. The true Son of the Father, sinless and innocent, will be beaten and crucified. The other, “son of the Father”, Barabbas, sinful and guilty, will be set free because Jesus became the substitute! Substitutionary (in our place) atonement was on full display (Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; Isaiah 53:5).  

Pain and Shame

The Bible emphasizes Christ’s suffering but focuses more on the spiritual agony that He endured. The mocking emphasizes the psychological agony. The physical suffering is less emphasized – “and having Jesus scourged…” (verse 15). We should not pass over to quickly the scourging and physical abuse He suffered. This scourging would often exposed bones and men frequently died from this kind of flogging. 

After this life-threatening beating, Jesus was mocked (verses 16-19). About 600 hardened Roman soldiers mocked him with a robe, crown of thorns, and sarcastic salutes. They hit Jesus with a mock scepter, spit on Him, and insulted him. They knelt down in mock worship. After this ridicule, “they led Him out to crucify Him” (verse 20). 

Jesus was alone, humiliated, naked, and beaten nearly to death. Our Savior endured ridicule, shame and pain at the hands of sinful men – at the hands of those he came to save. Heaven must have looked on in disbelief. We should look at this scene and never forget what the Lord has done for us!  Galatians 3:13

Jesus bore the guilt and curse that I should have borne. 



This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.


Read: Mark 15:1-20

What were Pilate’s concerns regarding Jesus’ trial?

What did the Sanhedrin hope to accomplish at Jesus’ trial?

Jesus was (1) psychologically ridiculed, (2) physically beaten, (3) spiritually abandoned by God, and (4) morally executed. How do these torments compare?

As a sinner for whom Christ suffered and died, what is your complicity in each of His torments?

What is the value in comtemplating the appalling enormity of Jesus’ suffering? Did the movie, The Passion of the Christ (2004) go too far in its depiction of His physical suffering? Explain.