MARK 15:16-32 (NIV – UK)
The soldiers mock Jesus
16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spat on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
The crucifixion of Jesus
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!’ 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Jesus is nailed to the Cross. Above him a notice reads ‘king of the jews’ (v. 26). As he hung there he endured terrible insults and mocking (v. 27-32). ‘Come down from the cross and save yourself’ they shouted (v. 30).
The chief priests and teachers of the law mocked ‘He saved others, but he can’t save himself!’ Here they are mistaken. Hanging on the Cross before them is the Eternal Son of God – full of divine majesty, power and glory – the one who brought creation into being at the very beginning and the one who sustains all life and holds everything together. If Jesus wanted to save himself, he would have. But, I suspect unknowingly, the chief priests and teachers of the law touch on what’s really going on here: ‘He saved others’. That is why Jesus is on the Cross – not because he was powerless against the forces of this world, but because he allowed it – in order that you and I might be saved through his sacrifice of love.
Although the insults, abuse and mocking seem extreme in this passage, it is perhaps not too far away from the reaction stirred in some today when they are confronted with Jesus on the Cross. But when we look at the Cross we should know this: Jesus chose to be there for you and for me – and for that we should be eternally grateful.
Question: How do you think Jesus felt when he was being mocked and insulted as he hung on the Cross? How does it make you feel to think that he chose to endure that for you?