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They kill Jesus on a *cross 15:16-41

Death on a *cross was only for slaves, or for people who were not *Roman citizens. Jesus would have seen young men die on *crosses near Nazareth when he was a boy.

The soldiers make fun of Jesus 15:16-20
v16 The soldiers took Jesus away into the ruler’s palace. They called together the whole band of soldiers. v17 Then they put a purple coat on him. They made a crown of *thorns to put on his head. v18 They began to greet him, ‘Welcome, king of the *Jews.’ v19 They were striking him on the head with a stick. They were *spitting on him. They went on their knees as if they were showing him honour. v20 When they had finished making fun of him, they took off the purple coat. They put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him out in order to kill him on a *cross. Verse 16 Pilate’s soldiers lived in the ruler’s palace with him. Verse 17 The *Jews had accused Jesus of saying that he was a king. The soldiers knew that. So, they had their fun. They pretended to give him honour as a king. A soldier’s old red coat would look like the purple coat that the great ruler in Rome wore. They had made the crown out of small very sharp branches from a tree and it would hurt his head. However, it is possible that they put the crown on his head with the points away from his head. Then they were imitating the crown with beams of light like the sun. The rulers in Jesus’ time had their pictures with crowns like that on coins. Verse 18 The words, ‘Welcome, king of the *Jews’, were like the greeting that people gave to the great ruler in Rome, ‘Welcome, Caesar’. The soldiers knew that the *Jews did not have a king. So they were insulting both Jesus and the *Jews. Verse 19 Matthew tells us that they put a stick in Jesus’ hand. It looked like the special stick that showed a king’s authority. The king would carry it in ceremonies (Matthew 27:29). Then they hit him with it and they *spat at him. They pretended to give him honour. They went down onto their knees, as men did in front of important people. Verse 20 The soldiers had made fun of Jesus as a joke. They did not know that they were telling the truth. Jesus was a king. He is still a king.

The soldiers fix Jesus to his *cross

15:21-28

v21 Simon from Cyrene was passing by. He was the father of Alexander and Rufus. He was coming in from the country. The soldiers forced him to carry the *cross. v22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha. The word ‘Golgotha’ means ‘The place of the *Skull’. v23 They offered Jesus wine that they had mixed with *myrrh. But he did not take it. v24 They fixed Jesus to the *cross. Then they shared out his clothes. They played a game of chance. In that way they decided what each soldier should get. v25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they fixed him to his *cross. v26 They fixed a notice above him. It showed the crime of which the rulers accused him. The notice said, ‘King of the *Jews’. v27 They killed two thieves on *crosses at the same time as Jesus. One thief was on a *cross at his right side. And the other one was on a *cross at his left side. [v28 The *scripture came true that said, ‘They counted him among *sinners.’]

Verse 21 Jesus was on his way to die on a *cross. So he should have carried the short beam part of the cross himself. The soldiers may have thought that Jesus could not walk with it. Jesus may have been weak because they had whipped him. Simon was from Cyrene in North Africa. He may have been a worker out in the country. His sons Alexander and Rufus may have been well-known Christians in Rome. Paul mentions a Rufus in Romans 16:13. Simon’s experience when he carried the *cross may have caused him to become a *disciple. It is even possible that he is the same person as ‘Black Simon’. ‘Black Simon’ was a leader in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1). Verse 22 ‘Golgotha’ was called ‘the *Skull’, perhaps because they killed people on *crosses there. It may have been a hill with the shape of a *skull. Verse 23 Jesus was going to die on a *cross. A mixture of wine and *myrrh was a drug that some women from Jerusalem offered to such a person. It would help to make the pain a little less terrible. Jesus refused it. He wanted to be aware of what was happening. Verse 24 The soldiers had to stay there because friends might have tried to rescue the men on *crosses. The *Romans allowed their soldiers to keep a prisoner’s clothing. Each soldier had one piece of Jesus’ clothing. They had to choose who would have the outer coat. They played a game of chance in order to do that (John 19:23-24). Mark’s readers would remember the words in Psalm 22:18. ‘They divided my clothes among them. They played a game for my clothing.’ Verse 26 The notice ‘the King of the *Jews’ was there to show a ‘crime’. But it was showing the truth about Jesus. The priests complained to Pilate, but he refused to change it (John 19:21-22). Verse 27 All his life, Jesus had been the friend of *sinners. On the *cross, he was still with *sinners. The thieves were in the places that James and John had asked for (10:37). [Verse 28] is in some copies of Mark’s book. The words are from Isaiah 53:12.