Jesus Handed Over to Pilate
1Before dawn that morning, the ruling priests, elders, religious scholars, and the entire Jewish council set in motion their plan against Jesus. They bound him in chains, took him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
2As Jesus stood in front of the Roman governor, # 15:2 The Aramaic identifies him as the Roman governor; the Greek is simply Pilate. Pilate asked him, “So, are you really the king of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “You have just spoken it.”
3Then the ruling priests, over and over, made bitter accusations against him, but he remained silent. # 15:3 See Isa. 53:7; 1 Peter 2:23.
4So Pilate questioned him again. “Have you nothing to say? Don’t you hear these many allegations they’re making against you?” 5But Jesus offered no defense to any of the charges, much to the astonishment of Pilate.
Jesus and Barabbas
6Every year at Passover, it was the custom of the governor to pardon a prisoner and release him to the people—anyone they wanted. 7Now, Pilate was holding in custody a notorious criminal named Barabbas, # 15:7 The name Bar-Abbas is Aramaic and means “son of a father” or “son who is like his father.” He becomes a picture of every son of Adam, our father. The true Son of the Father was crucified that day. One man wanted a political revolution, the other a revolution of love filling the hearts of all men. one of the assassins # 15:7 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “revolutionaries.” who had committed murder in an uprising. 8The crowds gathered in front of Pilate’s judgment bench and asked him to release a prisoner to them, as was his custom.
9So he asked them, “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” 10(Pilate was fully aware that the religious leaders had handed Jesus over to him because of spite and envy.)
11But the ruling priests stirred up the crowd to incite them to ask for Barabbas instead.
12So Pilate asked them, “What do you want me to do with this one you call the king of the Jews?”
13They all shouted back, “Crucify him!”
14“Why?” Pilate asked. “What evil thing has he done wrong to deserve that?” But they kept shouting out with a deafening roar, “Crucify him at once!”
15Because he wanted to please the people, Pilate released Barabbas to them. After he had Jesus severely beaten with a whip made of leather straps and embedded with metal, # 15:15 This was a tortuous beating with a leather whip that had sharp pieces of bone and metal at the end of its lashes, designed to inflict severe pain. he sentenced him to be crucified. # 15:15 The Jewish death penalty was by stoning. It was the Roman practice to crucify only the worst of criminals. To have Jesus crucified was not only the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (Gal. 3:13; Isa. 53:5–8) but also the fulfillment of Jesus’ own words concerning the mode of his death (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32), which would not have been fulfilled by stoning.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
16The soldiers took Jesus into the headquarters of the governor’s compound # 15:16 Or “praetorium.” and summoned a military unit of nearly six hundred men. # 15:16 That is, a Roman cohort (battalion), which was the tenth part of a Roman legion of about six thousand men. 17They placed a purple robe on him to make fun of him. Then they braided a victor’s crown, a wreath made of thorns, # 15:17 Thorns are an emblem of the curse of sin. Jesus took the curse for us. See Gen. 3:17–18; Gal. 3:13. and set it on his head. 18And with a mock salute they repeatedly cried out, “Hail, your majesty, king of the Jews!” 19They spit in his face and hit him repeatedly on his head with a reed staff, driving the crown of thorns deep into his brow. They knelt down before him in mockery, pretending to pay him homage. 20When they finished ridiculing him, they took off the purple robe, put his own clothes back on him, and led him away to be crucified.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
21As they came out of the city, they stopped an African man named Simon, a native of Libya. # 15:21 Or “from Cyrene,” which is present-day Tripoli, Libya. Cyrene was a Greek colony that had a great number of Jews who had been forced to live there during the reign of Ptolemy Soter (323–285 BC). Church tradition states that Simon’s two sons became powerful missionaries for Jesus Christ. Their mention here might indicate that they were notable among the early Christians. See Rom. 16:13. It is also possible that Simon himself could be linked to the “believers from Cyprus and Cyrene” who were evangelists to the Syrians, mentioned in Acts 11:20. He was passing by, just coming in from the countryside with his two sons, # 15:21 Or “the father of two sons,” who, by implication, were with him at that time. Church tradition states that their names were Rufus and Alexander who became missionaries preaching the message of Christ. See Rom. 16:13. Alexander and Rufus, and the soldiers forced him to carry the heavy crossbeam for Jesus. 22They brought Jesus to the execution site called Golgotha, which means “Skull Hill.” # 15:22 The Aramaic word is “Golgotha” (Mark uses a variant dialectic form, “Gajultha”). This is calvaria in Latin, or “Calvary.” David took Goliath’s head (Goliath and Golgotha are taken from the same root word) and buried it outside of Jerusalem (1 Sam. 17:54). Some believe this is where the hill got its name, Golgotha (the place of the skull). The cross has to pierce the place of the skull for our minds to submit to the revelation of the cross. 23There they offered him a mild painkiller, a drink of wine mixed with gall, # 15:23 See Ps. 69:21. but he refused to drink it.
24They nailed his hands and feet to the cross. The soldiers divided his clothing among themselves by rolling dice # 15:24 That is, they cast lots. See Ps. 22:18. to see who would win them. 25It was nine o’clock in the morning # 15:25 Or “the third hour” (of the day). when they finally crucified him. 26Above his head they placed a sign with the inscription of the charge against him, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”
27Two criminals were also crucified with Jesus, one on each side of him. 28This fulfilled the Scripture that says:
He was considered to be a criminal. # 15:28 See Isa. 53:12. Although this verse is not found in some of the early and reliable Greek manuscripts, the majority of manuscripts do include it, and it is also found in the Aramaic.
29Those who passed by shook their heads and spitefully ridiculed him, saying, “Aha! You boasted that you could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. # 15:29 Jesus never said that he would destroy the temple, but that it would be destroyed by others. 30Why don’t you save yourself now? Just come down from the cross!”
31Even the ruling priests and the religious scholars joined in the mockery # 15:31 See Pss. 22:17; 109:25; Lam. 2:15. and kept laughing among themselves, # 15:31 As translated from the Aramaic. saying, “He saved others, but he can’t even save himself! Israel’s king, is he? 32Let the ‘Messiah,’ the ‘king of Israel,’ pull out the nails and come down from the cross right now. We’ll believe it when we see it!” Even the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus began to taunt him, hurling insults on him.
The Death of Jesus
33For three hours, beginning at noon, darkness came over the earth. # 15:33 See Ex. 10:22; Joel 2:30–31; Amos 8:9–10; Acts 2:16–21. 34About three o’clock, Jesus shouted with a mighty voice in Aramaic, # 15:34 The last words of Jesus were spoken in Aramaic. Every Greek text gives a transliteration of the Aramaic words and then translates them back into Greek. “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”—that is, “My God, My God, why have you turned your back on me?” # 15:34 See Pss. 22:1; 42:9. The Aramaic can be translated “For this purpose you have spared me.”
35Some who were standing near the cross misunderstood and said, “Listen! He’s calling for Elijah.” # 15:35 Perhaps they misunderstood because the Aramaic word Eli sounds similar to the name Elijah. 36One bystander ran and got a sponge, soaked it with sour wine, then put it on a stick and held it up for Jesus to drink. # 15:36 See Ps. 69:21. But the rest said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah comes to rescue him.” 37Just then Jesus passionately cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last. # 15:37 See Luke 23:46 and John 19:30 to read the words he shouted out at death. 38At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom. # 15:38 The veil torn from the top to the bottom proves that it was God who did this, for the veil was very thick, heavy, and nearly sixty feet tall. See Heb. 10:19–22. With the tearing of the veil, the cross of Jesus became the true mercy seat.
39When the Roman military officer who was standing right in front of Jesus saw how he died, he said, “There is no doubt this man was the Son of God!”
40-41Watching from a distance, away from the crowds, were many of the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and had cared for him. # 15:40–41 Or “ministered to him.” This most likely included financial support. Among them were Mary Magdalene, # 15:40–41 Or “Miriam of [the village of] Magdala,” which was discovered beginning in 2009 on the southwestern shore of Lake Galilee. See also Luke 8:2. Mary the mother of Jacob the younger # 15:40–41 Or “James, the short one.” and Joseph, # 15:40–41 Or “Joses,” a nickname for Joseph that perhaps could best be translated “Joey.” and Salome. Many other women who had followed him to Jerusalem were there too. # 15:40–41 Apparently, all the men had fled from the scene except for the apostle John. See John 19:26.
42Evening was fast approaching, and it was a preparation day before a Sabbath. 43So a prominent Jewish leader named Joseph, from the village of Ramah, # 15:43 As translated from the Aramaic. Ramah (formerly Ramathaim Zophim) was the village of Samuel, situated on a hill overlooking Jerusalem. The Greek is “Joseph of Arimathea.” Luke tells us that he was a member of the Sanhedrin. See Luke 23:50–51. It is possible that Joseph may have lost a son the age of Jesus when Herod killed the infants. courageously went to see Pilate and begged to have custody of the body of Jesus. Joseph was a highly regarded member of the Jewish council and a follower of Jesus # 15:43 See Matt. 27:57. who was eagerly awaiting the kingdom of God. # 15:43 The Greek text could be translated “He was habitually focusing and progressively moving toward receiving [welcoming, anticipating] God’s kingdom reign.” 44Pilate was amazed to hear that Jesus was already dead, so he summoned the Roman officer, who confirmed it. # 15:44 Or “if he had died too soon.” 45After it was confirmed, Pilate consented to give the corpse to Joseph.
46Joseph purchased a shroud of fine linen and took the body down from the cross. Then he wrapped it in the linen shroud and placed it in a tomb quarried from out of the rock. # 15:46 This was a tomb that had been chiseled into a rock, forming a cave-like structure. Then they rolled a large stone over the entrance to seal the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph # 15:47 Or “Joses.” were there and saw exactly where they laid the body of Jesus.