53 – The King On The Cross
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.
And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
- Battalion: A large group of soldiers ready for battle
- Purple: A colour which was associated with authority at the time of Jesus
- Reed: A tall slender plant which grows in marshy land
- Homage: Special honour shown publicly
- Myrrh: A substance from a certain gum tree
- Cast lots: A way of deciding something by chance (like rolling dice)
Why do you think that all the people were so cruel to Jesus?
What prevented the religious leaders from seeing who Jesus was?
In Mark 15:1-15 we saw Pilate using the title ‘King of the Jews’ three times. When they begin tormenting Jesus, the soldiers call him by this title as well. To make fun of him they put a robe on him in a royal colour and bow before him. By doing this they are acknowledging what we have seen time after time – Jesus is not a normal King. Kings usually wear a gold crown; the crown which is placed on Jesus’s head is made of thorns. Thorns were part of the punishment that God gave to man when he fell into sin for the first time in the Garden of Eden, and now Jesus shows that he, the King, is taking that punishment and is going to show his greatness and his glory through it.
As he is taken out, it is obvious that the long night and the painful experiences have had an effect on Jesus – the carpenter of Nazareth is having trouble carrying his wooden cross. With help they reach the correct place and he is crucified with two thieves. Although someone offers wine and myrrh to him to in order to ease the pain, Jesus refuses, knowing that he has to accept the punishment fully upon himself.
The title ‘King of the Jews’ is still given to him, this time written above his head. If we didn’t realise that Jesus knows what he is doing, and that the only way he can save his people is through receiving the punishment for their sins, then this sight would really break our hearts. Whilst Jesus is hanging on the cruel cross, everyone is making fun of him – the Romans, the Jews, even the men who were dying at the same time as him.
At the end of the passage the religious leaders call him the King of Israel. They want him to show that he is the Messiah by saving himself, like he saved others. They are so blind. This is what had to happen to the Messiah. Of course he was able to save himself – but in order to save others he chose not to.
What do you think helped Jesus as he faced all these things?
How do you feel as you hear about what Jesus suffered for you?
that God will help you to accept Jesus as he really is, not as you expect him to be.