At the cross (Part A)
16 Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. 17 And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, 18 and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. 20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. 22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.
We will meet three times ‘At the cross’ in considering Mark chapter 15. Christ’s cross and resurrection make biblical Christianity uniquely different from any religion. Religion teaches us to do something, join something, participate in some ceremony, or acquire some merit to lift ourselves to whoever or whatever God is considered to be. The message of Jesus’ cross and resurrection is wonderfully different, emphasising that ‘the way up is down.’ Jesus, God the Son, came ‘down to earth’ in His incarnation. As the only perfectly righteous Man, He bore our sins and punishment so anyone trusting Him goes ‘up to Heaven’ after death. As God shows me my sin and guilt, I humble myself. In shame I confess my sins and guilt to God and ask for His pardon, freely available because Christ’s blood was shed for me. As I go lower, Christ enters my life through His Holy Spirit and lifts me to a new level of living, even here on earth. I receive eternal life and become what Jesus called born again. Remember those two important principles: ‘the way up is down’, and only Jesus Christ can save me from my sins.
Now cowardly Roman soldiers cruelly abuse Jesus, whom Pilate called the King of the Jews and whom the Bible confirms is King of kings, and Lord of lords. They lead Him into the Praetorium hall, the governor’s official residence, and summon the garrison of about six hundred men. They dress Jesus like a king in purple. In a mock coronation, they crown His head with twisted thorns, taunting Him with empty insults, as king. Majorities and officialdom rarely honour Jesus, or those who follow Him! Today our King is still despised and rejected by men, a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Now they strike Jesus with a reed, spit on Him, and mockingly worship Him again, bowing their knees. (One day they will bow in terror at God’s inevitable judgement.) They humiliate Him, changing His clothes again. Jesus goes to be crucified. Our knees and heart should bow to Him in confession of sin and in willing surrender to Him as Lord of our lives.
A sleepless night of cruel opposition leaves Jesus exhausted and weak from losing blood. Many victims avoided crucifixion by dying under that vicious Roman scourging. The soldiers randomly compel a stranger, Simon of Cyrene, to carry Christ’s cross to Golgotha, a skull-
One son, Rufus, is mentioned in the book of Romans as a Christian. Perhaps the soldiers’ forcing Simon to carry Jesus’ cross triggers events which lead people like Rufus to come to Christ? However, as already seen in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says, Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. To take up your cross means crucifying self to follow Jesus. It is a personal cross—the ‘I’ crossed out. A real Christian takes up his or her cross daily to follow Jesus.
 . A principle of biblical truth is that true humility before God attracts His blessing and uplifting. See 1 Peter 5:6.
 . John 3:3-
 . Revelation 19:16.
 . Isaiah 53:3.
 . Hebrews 9:27, Romans 1:18.
 . Romans 16:13.
 . My emphasis.
 . Mark 8:34.
 . This was so personal to the apostle Paul that he said, I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20).
Questions on Chapter 48
22 At the cross (Part A).
A. Why does Jesus, the Son of Man, allow Himself to be bullied and beaten? Mark 15:16-
B. When Jesus is mocked how does He react? How should you react if people mock you for being a Christian? Mark 15:19-
C. Consider Mark 8:34, Luke 19:17 and Mark 15:21. What does it mean to take up the cross? What ordeal must Jesus face as He takes up His cross? What does Jesus do for you in dying on His cross? Mark 8:34 John 19:1 Luke 9:2 Luke 14:27 1 Corinthians 15:31 Galatians 2:20 1 Peter 2:24