James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.Mark 15:1-16:20
CRUCIFIED AND RISEN
The closing events in Mark’s Gospel: Jesus before Pilate (Mark 15:1-15); mocked by the soldiers (Mark 15:23); nailed to the cross (Mark 15:24-41); buried in the tomb (Mark 15:42-47); risen from the dead (Mark 16:1-18); ascended to heaven (Mark 16:19-20).
As in other instances, Mark’s account of the trial before Pilate is the briefest while that of Matthew is the longest in the Gospels. The former, however, especially emphasizes the religious hatred of the people. He also describes more particularly the charge laid against Barabbas (15:7) who was released, though guilty and condemned; and this because Jesus took his place. Christ was his substitute, and Barabbas when released might have looked up at Him on the Cross, and have said, “He died for me, he paid my penalty” a blessed illustration of the atonement.
Mark says “they clothed him with purple” (Mark 15:17), but Matthew describes it as a “scarlet robe” (Mark 15:27-28), the scarlet military robe was meant to represent the imperial robe, and hence called in the symbolic sense purple.
Note how Mark dwells on the personality of Simon the Cyrenian (Mark 15:21). The reason he was drafted to bear the Cross was that Jesus’ strength was exhausted and He could not himself bear it. This seems implied in the word “bring” (Mark 15:22). They had to bring, in the sense that they had to bear, or carry, Jesus to Golgotha, they had to hold Him up on the road. As one says, what an appearance He must have presented after all the scourging and other indignities He received! How His face must have been marred by the blows, and how His sacred head must have bled from the cruel crown of thorns! It is Mark only who mentions that the wine (or vinegar) they gave Him was “mingled with myrrh,” which was considered an anodyne to deaden pain. It was for this reason Jesus refused it. Mark says it was “the third hour” when they crucified Him, while John says the sixth (John 19:14); there is a difficulty here, but the latter alludes to the Roman method of computing time and the former the Hebrew.
Mark mentions the “boldness” of Joseph of Arimathea in begging the body from Pilate (Mark 15:43). “Boldness” in the face of the Sanhedrin to which he belonged, and at whose insistence it was that Jesus had been crucified.
One must be a converted Jew in these days and experience his persecution and torture at the hands of his own people, to understand something of what this may have meant to Joseph (compare Isaiah 53:9).
Coming to the resurrection chapter, we again observe the brevity of Mark compared with Matthew. For the order of events on the resurrection day compare the comments on Matthew 28. Mark especially mentions Peter (Mark 16:7), which is the more noticeable because he also describes Peter’s denial in the fullest way. The passage from Mark 16:9 to the end of this chapter is not in the two most ancient manuscripts, the Sinaitic and Vatican, and others have it with partial omissions and variations, but it is quoted by some of the fathers of the second and third centuries. The whole church, practically, has accepted it as genuine from that period.
The Great Commission in Mark (Mark 16:15) differs from Matthew. In the former the Kingdom is not in view, but the Servant having given His life as a ransom, the good news is to go forth. Signs were to follow them that believe. These signs did not follow all even in the apostles’ time, but they did follow some. And if they do not follow now, it is because there are other evidences more suitable for the later periods of Christianity. As a matter of fact, such signs do still follow the preaching of the gospel on foreign mission fields, and doubtless will be practically universal again as the end of the age draws near and the coming of the King.
Mark records the ascension as Matthew does not, and even penetrates the clouds and sees Christ in heaven at the right hand of God. But He sees Him working with His disciples even though He is in heaven (Mark 16:20), and refers to it in a word found nowhere else in the Gospels. How fitting thus the close of that Gospel intended for the active energetic Roman!
1. Name the closing events in this Gospel.
2. What illustration of the atonement is found here?
3. Why was Simon drafted to bear Christ’s Cross?
4. How do you harmonize the two accounts of the hour of the crucifixion?
5. Can you quote Isaiah 53:9?
6. What do you know about the closing verses of the Gospel?
7. What comment may be made on Mark 16:17-18?
8. What new thought about the life of our ascended Lord does Mark express?