Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
“We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,” 1 Cor. 1:23
On January 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo, a US Navy intelligence ship was hijacked by North Korean patrol boats in international waters off the coast of North Korea. The incident provoked a tense diplomatic and military standoff for eleven months. The eighty-two surviving crew members were taken into captivity. In one particular instance, thirteen of the men were required to sit in a rigid manner around a table for hours. After several hours, the door was flung open, and a North Korean guard brutally beat the man in the first chair with the butt of his rifle. The next day, as each man sat in his assigned place, again the door was thrown open, and the man in the first chair was brutally beaten. On the third day, it happened again to the same man.
Knowing the man could not survive, the next day, another young sailor took his place. When the door flung open, the guard automatically beat the new victim senseless. For weeks, a new man stepped forward each day to sit in that horrible chair, knowing full well what would happen. The guards eventually gave up in exasperation. They were unable to overcome that kind of sacrificial love.
Jesus knows what is coming, but does it anyway – out of love for His creation. Though sinless, he took our place before the judgment of God against our sin.
Jesus is Falsely Accused (vv. 1-5)
And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
(v. 1) “the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council.” – consultation; “to prepare a concerted plan of action (Gould).” The plan they came up with was to arrest him early in the morning, when no one else was around, then present him to the Roman authorities with charges that he was claiming to be a king, and threatening to tear down the temple in three days.
First off, their proceedings were not legal, and they are choosing to follow some of the law, while ignoring other parts – which is typical who want to justify their own sin. But Duet. 17:6 says, “On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.”
So, the religious council tries to round up witnesses in the middle of the night. In their haste to gather a crowd, they don’t have time to coordinate the testimonies so there were contradictions, and obvious false statements. The stories don’t match up, they are obviously coursed and false. But eventually, they have their little trial, and they consult together to have Jesus killed.
But with all the hatred toward Jesus, these various groups “did not have the power to execute a capital sentence.” The Romans did not allow those they subjugated to execute because it kept those who collaborated with the Romans from being killed (like the disciple Matthew). So, they have to take Jesus to Pilate. Pilate listens to the religious leaders accusing him of many things, that seem to pass him by. The religious leaders know that a Roman prefect would not care about their claims of his ‘blasphemy’ so their accusations have to be more political.
So, Pilate is eventually hooked when he focuses on their accusation that Jesus is claiming to be a king, and he asks him (v. 2) “Are you the King of the Jews?” This is the only question that Jesus responds to, “And he answered him, “You have said so.” These would be Jesus’ last recorded words before the cross. “Jesus has said all there is to say, and now lets events take their predictable course.”
There were several attempted riots, and attacks against the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, so the Sanhedrin are trying to lump Jesus in with these Zealots and nationalist leaders (going back to their question about paying taxes to Caesar in Mark 12:13ff.)
Jesus is Falsely Condemned (vv. 6-15)
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
As Jesus and the disciples were finishing up the feeding of the five thousand, there was a zealot political group, that after they saw Jesus perform this miracle, they wanted Jesus to lead a revolution, John 6:15 “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” Jesus was relentless about controlling the narrative and the direction that He was going as the Messiah – he was not going to be forced to be a political revolutionary. But now, he is standing next to Barabbas, a murderous insurrectionist, as though they are the same.
(v. 10) “For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.” – he was perceiving, it was gradually occurring to Pilate, what was really going on here. Through all the lies, the false accusations, and even the twisted accounts – Pilate sees this gathering for what it was.
The “the chief priests, elders and scribes and the whole council” were envious of Jesus and his popularity among the people, his influence, his ability to teach the Word of God, His ability to get out of their little traps, everything about Jesus pointed to their darkened and evil hearts. Pilate saw all this for what it really was – envy. Pilate sees Jesus as a harmless religious fanatic not deserving of death by crucifixion. He even declares Jesus to be innocent on three separate occasions.
(v. 10) “But the chief priests stirred up the crowd,” – “That was the plan of Judas to get the thing over before those Galilean sympathizers waked up.” Go to the Garden of Gethsemane early in the morning, present him to the Roman officials early in the day. This crowd, was not the same crowd that waved the palm branches, laid down, their coats in the street, and yelled out Hosanna! This crowd has been gathered by the religious leaders, and they have “stirred them up.” (seismos), shook up like an earthquake.
Pilate was normally a resident in Caesarea, but at Passover time, when Jerusalem was crowded with pilgrims, he took up residence in his ‘praetorium’ (official residence) in Jerusalem. Pilate is there to keep things calm, to calm down the stirred up crowds, to maintain the peace. Also, the man who helped Pilate get this appointment had been executed for treason against Caesar – so he was under additional pressure to appear loyal to Caesar which the leaders used against him.
(v. 15) “So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” – The crowd was growing more and more unruly, Pilate was charged by Caesar to keep the peace, so out of fear of the crowd, fear of being reported to Caesar, he delivered Jesus over to be crucified.
“The final stage of Jesus’ Roman trial concludes with a scourging. Roman scourging was so brutal and violent that prisoners would occasionally die before crucifixion. Even though Jesus survives this form of torture, the beating ensures he will die before sundown. During the scourging, he is tied to a post and beaten with a whip interwoven with bone and metal until his skin and tissue are shredded . . .
The irony in each Gospel account is palpable: Jesus, a man declared not guilty by the Roman governor, is nonetheless given over for execution – an outrageous and transparent miscarriage of justice.” Barabbas, a murderer and insurrectionist, goes free. Crucifixion was designed for people like Barabbas, as a warning – “murderers and insurrectionists will die a horrible excruciating death, so don’t do that.”
We are already beginning to get a picture of substitutionary atonement or penal substitution. John 3:35-36 says “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Why did God the Father send Jesus to the cross? Justice demands that His wrath against sin had to go somewhere – either on us, or a substitute provided by God for us.
Isaiah 53:5-6 “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Jesus is Falsely Honored (vv. 16-20)
16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 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.
The Praetorium was the governor’s headquarters, and was where the 600 soldiers of the battalion were housed. Roman soldiers were known to play cruel games with condemned prisoners, so what they do to Jesus is not out of character for them. At this point he would have been covered in blood, his back flesh cut open, and would have struggled to stand.
They strip him of his clothes, and place a purple cloak around him (the color of royalty), make him a crown, but of thorns and push it down on his head, and mock him, and “salute him, yelling out “Hail, King of the Jews!” They then strike his head with a stick, further driving the crown of thorns into his scalp and they spit on him.
Once the men grew tired of mocking, beating, and playing their game, they put his clothes back on him, and lead Jesus away to be crucified.
Jesus is Fiercely Crucified (vv. 21-32)
21 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. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 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, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 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.
After being scrouged, and beaten by the soldiers, Jesus carries the 30-40 pound cross beam of the cross (patibulum) until he can’t carry it any further, so “they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross” More than likely this was a pilgrim who had come into Jerusalem for the Passover celebrations and later became a Christian, and was known by Mark.
(v. 24) “And they crucified him,” – None of the Gospel writers provide any details concerning the actual crucifixion. If you were reading the Gospels in the first century you more than likely had some idea of what was involved in the process. “Victims either died from physical trauma, loss of blood, or shock, or succumbed to suffocation when they no longer had the strength to lift themselves up to breathe. There were numerous crucifixion techniques, but the use of nails and a crossbar was common.”
(v. 25) “And it was the third hour when they crucified him,” – 9 am.
Scourging was not enough for the religious leaders, they follow Jesus all the way to the cross. The crowds mock Jesus, the religious leaders stand around in their in their victory – they are finally done with Jesus, their plan had worked, and the fact that God had not stepped in to stop them only reinforces their idea that they are righteous in their actions against Jesus.
If this truly was the Son of God, then the Father would not allow this to happen to His Son, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” They ask for one more miracle. Why would God allow His Son to be tortured and mocked this way; why does God the Father not step in and end this? Even those crucified with Jesus mock him.
The chief priests and the scribes say, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross” What they don’t understand is that yes Jesus could come down from the cross, but He chose to stay on the cross, so that others may be saved.
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” In order for Jesus to complete his mission of being sent into the world by the Father, He has to stay on the cross.
(v. 26) “And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” – This was supposed to be a deterrent to anyone who saw it; that is what happens to people who oppose Caesar as king. This man claimed to be king (of the Jews) and so he was executed for it. The other gospels tell us that it was written in Aramaic (the common language in Palestine), Latin (the official Roman language), and Greek (the international language of the empire) in order to ensure the widest readership among the thousands of people traveling to Jerusalem.
Everyone who saw the sign was told Jesus said he was the King of the Jews. As we stand at the foot of the cross and look at Jesus, we are faced with the same question, “Was Jesus’ claim to be the Savior of the world true? Was he the true king?
Jesus never married, or had any children. He never owned a home, property, and when find Jesus at the cross, his only earthly possessions are what he wore to his own crucifixion. (v. 24) tells us that the soldiers, “divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take(fulfilling yet another prophecy)” One of the benefits of being on crucifixion duty, as a soldier, was that you get to keep the person’s possessions. He literally leaves this world with nothing to His name, except His mission.
Was Jesus successful?
The way we look at history and the course of this world is based on Jesus – there was a time before Jesus (BC) and the time after Jesus (AD) Anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord.” It’s 2023, Two thousand and twenty-three years since Jesus came to the earth. Jesus changed everything – He alone provided the way for mankind to be saved from their sins, and have a relationship with God.
 Rodney L. Cooper, Holman New Testament Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman and Holman, 2000) 253.
 Isa. 53:7
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1932) 391.
 Andreas J. Köstenberger, The Final Days of Jesus (Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway, 2014) 109.
 R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark, A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002) 624.
 William F. Cook, Jesus’ Final Week, From Triumphal Entry to Empty Tomb (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman & Holman Publishing, 2022) 111.
 France, 625.
 Cook, 111.
 Robertson, 393.
 “The Latin Vulgate translates “skull” as calvarie, from which we get the word Calvary” (Cook, 122).
 Psalm 22:18 “they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
 Cook, 124.