Last week we discovered how Jesus took our isolation, so we never have to be separated from Him ever again. Hopefully this last week you experienced the truth of that in your life to a greater degree than you have in the past. As we enter into Mark 15 we will be finishing up the last chapter we will be looking at in book of Mark. Remember at Easter we covered the Resurrection of Jesus so we will complete our series next week with the Crucifixion of Jesus.
I have truly enjoyed this study of the book of Mark. It has opened my eyes to many things I had never seen before. I hope it has done the same for you and that it has helped you to become more of a disciple of Christ.
Today we will be looking at the trial of Jesus and we will discover like we did last week that Jesus takes something on our behalf so we don’t have to. This week we will discover “He took our punishment so that we might experience His peace”.
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
Remember we left off last time with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. The place of crushing. Where He has gone through such extreme anguish that he sweets drop of blood, He is then captured, and the Sanhedrin have been questioning Jesus all night. In the midst of this they have blindfolded Him and repeatedly punched Him and spit on Him. They have pronounced Him guilty of blasphemy and have told Him they are going to kill Him.
Here we see it was very early so that Pilate would have time to do the trial and they could complete this all before the passover. It would have been probably 6-6:30am. They had it timed out. There was no room for innocence. Jesus was guilty! All this trial was in the minds of the Sanhedrin was a formality. They had no need to determine guilt or innocence, He had already admitted that He was God in flesh. They needed no other evidence, now was the time for punishment. Jesus had been declared guilty in three trials overnight.
Think about that for a second. Jesus is God in flesh, He has come and fulfilled every prophecy relating to his birth, He has lived a spotless life before God. He has performed miracles no other person in history could. He taught the people in a way that astounded them. What else was needed for them to recognize Him. But they were so blind to the truth that all they sought was punishment.
2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied.
As Mark approaches the conversations that Pilate and Jesus have, it is once again very abbreviated, to make sure we don’t miss the point. Pilate is not concerned about anything but establishing if Jesus is breaking Roman law. Jesus does not confirm or deny the claim. Instead He just lets the words sink in to Pilate’s heart. in another gospel He was tells Pilate, I am “The King” but not like you think. “My kingdom is not of this world”.
Here is a truth that can help us today. If we are part of God’s kingdom we do not live in this world. This world and all that is in it is just a shadow and remnant of of the true world we live in. Hebrews 12:2 says it was because of the Joy that was before Him that Jesus endured the suffering of this time. There is nothing we go through in our lives that could compare to what Jesus went through for us. As we fix our eyes on Him we can have peace in every circumstance knowing that this world is not our home. Amen?
3 The chief priests accused Him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”
Luke 23:2 tells us what those accusations were. “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”
5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
Pilate is confused and amazed by Jesus. He doesn’t know what to do with a man who won’t fight back, who won’t defend himself. So he declares Jesus innocent. But because he finds out that Jesus is from Galilee he sends Jesus to Herod for a judgment since Herod was the ruler of the people of Galilee.
Note:*Herod “just so happened” to be in Jerusalem that day. Do you see the orchestration of God’s hand in all of this? God’s desire was for this to all take place so that the scriptures would be fulfilled.
Truth: God will see to it that His word is fulfilled. If we trust Him, all the promises of peace He gives to us in His word, He will see to it that it is completed.
6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested.
This would have been one of the highlights of the festival. It would have pointed back to the time of the Exodus where God said to Pharaoh, let my people go. That is truly what Christ had come to do. To set all of the world free from the bondage they were in. But a cost must be paid for that to happen. Someone must be punished.
7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.
9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.
This to me is one of the most fascinating parts of the whole story. We know that Jesus was very popular in the early part of His ministry. So when we see “the crowd” turn against Jesus we think how could this possibly be? But the truth of the situation is Jesus’ popularity was not that big by this time. Remember after Jesus started talking about death and sacrifice, After he told the people you must eat my flesh and drink my blood, and he stopped feeding the crowds people began to leave. Jesus at this time might have had 20-30 people who would have considered themselves disciples. This would have included the 12 (minus Judas) and several women, possibly Joseph of Arimathia, Zacheeus and Nicodemus. Then when His arrest happened they all scattered and ran.
Jesus always had an uneasy tension with the crowds. Jesus never desired to create a large following He desired to create disciples that would transform the world. So when we see the crowd turn on Jesus it should not surprise us. The truth is Bar-Abbas was probably closer to what the Jews thought the Messiah would look like. He was an insurrectionist. He was a terrorist to the Roman Government. He want to overthrow Rome. Jesus was more concerned with taking our punishment than He was with punishing Rome. So the with the coaxing of the Sanhedrin, And the mob mentality the huge crowds all celebrating God overthrowing the wicked enslavement of His people to Pharaoh, it would have been natural to side with someone who wanted to overthrow Rome.
One thing I never noticed was what Bar-Abbas’ name meant. Bar= Son of Abba=Daddy. The people cried to release the son of the daddy, and cried crucify the Son of God our heavenly Father. What does this mean for us? Often we reject Jesus because we are looking for Him to overthrow our issues or problems, not realizing that Jesus not as concerned about our temporal issues as He is with dealing with our root issues. The sin in our lives that separates us from the Father.
12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.
13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.
14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Here we see the true nature of Pilate. He didn’t want to have a riot, or cause problems but instead just bowed to the will of the crowd. He thought Jesus was innocent, and he knew that the Sanhedrin had brought Jesus to Him in order to have Him killed. They had their own agenda. But in spite of all this He still ordered the execution of Jesus. He was a people pleaser.
This is a danger for each and every one of us. I can personally say this is a danger often for me. I desire to be liked and appreciated, but there is a fine line in that process. We must never be afraid to stand for what is right just because others (even the majority) might dislike the truth. This is what has been happening in our society for the last 50 years. We have given ground to the enemy in name of political correctness and the church has largely lost it’s ability to be salt and light because we are more concerned with pleasing man than we are God.
Here we begin to see the horrible punishment He took on our behalf. Mark does not go into much detail. He simply says Pilate had Jesus flogged. To us that doesn’t sound like much but Jesus day that would mean a lot.
Jesus endured a torture that was excruciating before He ever got to the cross. This was the pain he suffered when he was scourged. Scourging, called verberatio by the Romans, was possibly the worst kind of flogging administered by ancient courts. While the Jews administered whippings in the synagogues for certain offenses, these were mild in comparison to scourging.
Purpose of Scourging
Scourging was not normally a form of execution, but it certainly was brutal enough to be fatal in many cases. Its purpose was not only to cause great pain, but to humiliate as well. To scourge a man was to beat him worse than one would beat a stupid animal. It was belittling, debasing, and demeaning. It was considered such a degrading form of punishment that Roman citizens were exempt from it. It was, therefore, the punishment appropriate only for slaves and non-Romans, those who were viewed as the lesser elements in Roman society. To make it as humiliating as possible, scourging was carried out in public.
As with all things, the Romans refined and elevated the “art” of scourging as a form of punishment. One of the things the Romans did was attach pieces of metal, bone, wire or hardened clay to the strands of the whip so that it would rip open the skin. In Latin, the root words for “scourge” mean to “flay the flesh.” Under Roman Law there was no limit to the number of lashes that could be administered. Those sentenced to crucifixion were often scoured to maximize the pain inflicted and to hasten death. It was not unusual for prisoners to die under the lash or from blood loss rather than the process of crucifixion.
The Roman garrison in Jerusalem was composed of the Roman 10th Legion. These soldiers were not generally Roman citizens, but mercenaries. They were known as the most brutal of all the Roman Legions. Specialists in the Legion were assigned to carry out punishments and executions for the Roman governor, and they excelled at their jobs.
• It could have 6, 9, or 12 leather tails attached to the handle.
• Pieces of broken glass, twisted metal, or broken bone were often fastened to the end of each strip of leather that was attached to the handle.
• Jesus was on His knees, His hands were tied to a post in front of Him.
• The Scourge was laid across His back and then pulled away suddenly, and violently.
• This action caused the flesh to be ripped and torn into ribbons.
The instrument used to deliver this form of punishment was called in Latin a flagrum. This was much different from the bull whip that is more common in our culture. It was instead more like the old British cat o’ nine tails, except that the flagellum was not designed merely to bruise or leave welts on the victim.
The flagellum was a whip with several (at least three) thongs or strands, each perhaps as much as three feet long, and the strands were weighted with lead balls or pieces of bone. This instrument was designed to lacerate. The weighed thongs struck the skin so violently that it broke open. The church historian Eusebius of Caesarea recounts with vivid, horrible detail a scene of scourging. He says, “For they say that the bystanders were struck with amazement when they saw them lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view” (Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, chap. 15).
The “art” of scourging
The victim of a scourging was bound to a post or frame, stripped of his clothing, and beaten with the flagellum from the shoulders to the legs. The beating left the victim bloody and weak, in unimaginable pain, and near the point of death. It is no doubt that weakness from his scourging was largely the reason Jesus was unable to carry his cross all the way to Golgotha (Matt. 27:32 and parallels).
Archaeological evidence tells us that they would have bowls of salt nearby so that they could throw salt on the wounds to intensify the pain and anguish the person would experience.
Why did Pilate have Jesus scourged?
While Roman law required capital sentences to be accompanied by scourging, the decision to scourge Jesus was made before it was determined that he would be crucified. After Jesus was scourged, Pilate attempted to release him (John 19:1ff). Only when the crowd threatened riot at this suggestion did Pilate allow Jesus to be crucified, and then still reluctantly.
Pilate hoped that if he humiliated Jesus enough the mob would be satisfied and he would not have to execute a man he believed to be innocent (cf. Luke 23:16). He placed the scourged Jesus before them wearing a crown of thorns and a mock robe. Pilate told them, “Behold, the man!” (John 19:5). By this he meant, “Look at him now. He will not go around calling himself a king any more, and he will not cause you any more trouble.” However, the mob was not satisfied with only a humiliated Jesus. They demanded his death.
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 spit 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.
Like everything else about his death, Jesus knew that he would be scourged. He mentioned it when He predicted his sufferings for the third time (Matt. 20:19 and parallels). He knew that before he died of the torture of the cross He would have to endure a savage, brutal beating at the hands of the Romans who were more than ready to vent their hatred against Jews. He accepted those blows, and His body was ripped open at the post, for us. He was taking the punishment of the sins of the world so that we might not have to suffer the consequences of our transgressions.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Jesus went through all of this both willingly and with full knowledge of how He would suffer. He did so at the will of The Father as blood sacrifice for us, for our sins. Praise Jesus for what He took on our behalf that we might find peace with God.
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