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Mocking of Christ

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Mocking of Christ

For other uses, see Mark XV (disambiguation).

Gospel of Mark

Mark 15 is the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It continues Jesus' Passion with his trial before Pontius Pilate and then his crucifixion and death and entombment.

Trial before Pilate

Main article: Pilate's court

It is early in the morning. The 20.9.1. "Pilate asked him, 'Are you the King of the Jews?' He answered him, 'You say so.'" (temple incident was the cause of the crucifixion.

The chief priests accuse him of several unnamed things but Jesus gives no reply, and Pilate asks him for one but he still remains silent, which amazes Pilate. According to Luke Pilate at this point sent Jesus to Herod Antipas because Jesus, as a Galilean, was under Herod's jurisdiction. Herod was excited to see Jesus at first but ended up mocking him and sending him back to Pilate.

According to Mark it was a custom to release a prisoner at

According to Matthew, Pilate received a message from his wife that she believed Jesus was innocent because of a disturbing dream she had just had. He asks the crowd if they want the King of the Jews released to them, because according to Mark Pilate knew the priests were envious of Jesus and so presumably wanted to free him without a fight with them.

The priests however convince the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas, a prisoner. Mark says he was in prison "with" insurrectionists, which could mean he was one. Both Luke and John say he was a revolutionary. Jesus seems to have already been declared guilty as this seems a choice between releasing two prisoners.[1]

Pilate then asks what should be done with Jesus. They say he should be crucified, but Pilate asks what he is guilty of. They still demand he be crucified so Pilate turns Barabbas over to the crowd and has Jesus flogged and then sent out to be crucified. Matthew has Pilate washing his hands and declaring the crowd responsible, which the crowd accepts.

For his flogging Jesus would have been tied to a pillar, and hit with bone or metal studded whips.[5] Crucifixion was a particularly shameful form of death, with a stigma put onto even the condemned's family.[6]

Roman magistrates has wide discretion in executing their tasks, and some question whether Pilate would have been so captive to the demands of the crowd. Summarily executing someone to calm the situation however would have been a tool a Roman governor would have used.[7]

The soldiers mock Jesus

"Mocking of Christ" redirects here.

Mark says the soldiers took Jesus to the Praetorium, either Herod's palace or the Fortress Antonia.[5] They gather together all the other soldiers. These were probably mostly recruits from the area of Palestine or Syria.[5]

The soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus and put a crown of thorns on his head and mockingly hail him as the King of the Jews. They hit him in the head with a staff and pay fake homage to him. According to Matthew they put the staff in his hand first before beating him with it. They dress him in his own clothes and take him out to be crucified. According to John they left his purple robe and crown on.

Jesus is given the trappings of a King. Purple is a royal color. He wears a crown and is hit with a staff, also a royal symbol. This whole scene is colored with divine irony, as everything the soldiers do to mock Jesus' claim of being a King is used by Mark to show this, at the height of the Passion, as Jesus' crowning as messiah according to God's plan.[8]

According to John after the flogging Pilate brought Jesus back a second time and tried to convince the crowd that he was innocent but the crowd still demanded Jesus' death and so then Pilate had him crucified. Luke has no account of the soldiers beating Jesus.

Jesus' crucifixion

Main article: Crucifixion of Jesus

On the way to their final destination the soldiers force a man passing by, 16:13. Luke has Jesus talking to some of his women followers along the way.

They arrive at Golgotha, which Mark says means the place of the skull. This was probably an exhausted rock quarry whose remaining rock had been damaged in an earthquake.[9]

They offer Jesus prophecy.

According to Mark, it was the "third hour" when Jesus was crucified. This would be the third hour of daylight, or about 9:00 AM. John however says Jesus was condemned to death around the sixth hour, or noon. The charge listed on Jesus' cross is "THE KING OF THE JEWS" (INRI) According to John, the chief priests complained to Pilate about this but he refused to change the charge.

Two miracles earlier in Mark.

Mark relates these two mockings to perhaps highlight the question of why, if Jesus is indeed the messiah, can he not save himself from being put to death. Mark refutes these two charges later when Jesus rebuilds the Temple of his body and not only overcomes the cross but death itself in Mark Mark might be stressing that if one follows Jesus, who Mark believes is the messiah, then one can expect help from God, such as Jesus' miracles, but one will not be saved from the pains of this world, and indeed in some way they are necessary to achieve a greater goal as Jesus' death is necessary for his role as the messiah.

The death of Jesus

According to Mark:

And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

The soldier might be recognizing something that no one else could and thus vindicating Jesus,Matthew 27:53–54).

Jesus' cry to God is the prayer of Psalm 22 about abandonment but eventual salvation. According to Luke he also/or said "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." John has the statement "It is finished." They mistake Eloi for Elijah and put the vinegar up to him to wake him up. People have seen a link between the vinegar and Psalm 9.

Some have interpreted the "darkness" as an eclipse, see also Crucifixion eclipse, but a solar eclipse is impossible during the full moon such as at Passover. It could simply mean an overcast day, although Mark certainly uses it for dramatic effect here. Each stated time, three, six, and nine, grown increasingly worse, as Jesus is first mocked, then the darkness, then his death.

The veil of the Temple was the barrier between the inner Temple, thought to be God's place on Earth, and the rest. Its destruction is a vindication of Jesus. This might be a metaphor for God now no longer being separated but free for all the world.[13] Given the imagery of the temple veil (there were cherubim woven into it, like the cherub set as guard over the entrance to Eden after Adam and Eve were cast out) as a symbol of the barrier between the Holy God and sinful men, the rending of the veil indicates a propitiation of God's wrath.

According to John, Jesus' mother Mary and her sister Mary were there with the Disciple whom Jesus loved and Jesus told the disciple to take Mary into his home.

Jesus' entombment

For the subject in art, see Entombment of Christ

It is notable that, according to Mark, it is only Jesus' women followers who are now still with him:

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were 40–41)

Mary Magdalene has not been mentioned so far in Mark, and the other Mary is perhaps Jesus' mother Mary as she is also mentioned as James' mother in Mark

John says the soldiers were told to take down the bodies for the Sabbath and broke the other two men's legs but stabbed Jesus with a spear to make sure he was dead. John claims this is eye witness testimony.

Evening is approaching and Deuteronomy 21:22–23) Pilate is surprised Jesus had died so soon and asks for confirmation and then gives Jesus' body to Joseph.

Joseph wraps it in linen and puts it in a sepulchre, rolls a stone over the entrance, and leaves. According to John he was assisted by the Pharisee Nicodemus. The Marys see this and serve as Mark's witnesses to the events of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Bodies were normally anointed, but there seems to be no time here. John however says Nicodemus wrapped up Jesus' body with spices, which seems to be anointing. The tomb, one of many around Jerusalem, was a limestone cave and Jesus' body would have been laid on a pre-cut shelf, and then most bodies would have been left for a year.[5]

Jesus largely passively underwent all this, only speaking twice. Many have seen this as fulfillment of the 53:7

Jesus' trial before Pilate and his crucifixion, death, and burial are also found in 18:28–19:42.



  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament Doubleday 1997 ISBN 0-385-24767-2
  • Brown, Raymond E. et al. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary Prentice Hall 1990 ISBN 0-13-614934-0
  • Kilgallen, John J. A Brief Commentary on the Gospel of Mark Paulist Press 1989 ISBN 0-8091-3059-9
  • Mark 15 NIV Accessed 13 April 2006
  • Miller, Robert J. Editor The Complete Gospels Polebridge Press 1994 ISBN 0-06-065587-9

Chapters of the Bible
Preceded by:
Mark 14
Gospel of Mark
Followed by:
Mark 16
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