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Mark 15

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

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Verse 1


The LORD JESUS is here led away to Pilate. He is Condemned, and delivered to be Crucified. His Death and Burial.

AND straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.

I detain the Reader in the very opening of this chapter, to remark with what hot lust those enemies of CHRIST hastened to suck his blood. It must have been little short of midnight before their assembly broke up; if not, (as confess I am inclined to think,) they sat up all night until the morning; for Matthew in his relation of their proceedings saith, that when the morning was come, they led him away to Pilate. Matthew 27:1-2 .

The most profitable view of these solemn transactions will be, I apprehend, to contemplate the sufferings of CHRIST, with an eye to our personal interest in them, and, as I verily, believe, there is hardly a single circumstance, but what hath a mystical meaning, I pray GOD the HOLY GHOST, in his glorifying the LORD JESUS, that he will be graciously pleased to unfold them to our hearts.

And here, in the first instance, as recorded in this chapter, we are told that they bound CHRIST and led him away to Pilate. The binding CHRIST, had certainly a very striking allusion to his Church, for whom CHRIST was bound and crucified. By sin we are all bound over to the just judgment of Almighty GOD. In the captivity of Satan we are also bound, until CHRIST makes us free; and without his deliverance, in becoming sin, and a curse for us, every son and daughter of Adam is like the unprofitable servant spoken of in the parable, concerning whom the LORD saith, take him and bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 22:13 .

Now then, if the LORD JESUS will deliver his people out of captivity, he shall in all points personate those whom he delivers. He shall ex claim as in their person, innumerable evils have compassed me about; mine iniquities have taken hold of me. Psalms 40:12 . He shall be bound as a malefactor; yea, crucified between two thieves, as if the greatest of the three, standing as the sinner's surety: and thus he shall be bound, and led as a sacrifice, as Isaac was bound, and laid upon the altar. Genesis 22:9 , and as the sacrifices are supposed to have been bound under the law, so here in this point, as in every other, fulfilling all righteousness. See Leviticus 4:7 ; Psalms 118:27 ; Isaiah 49:24-25 ; Hosea 13:14 .

Verses 2-5

(2) And Pilate asked him, Art thou the king of the Jews? and he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. (3) And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.' (4) And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold, how many things they witness against thee. (5) But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.

We have here the LORD of life and glory arraigned at Pilate's bar, and witnessing, as the HOLY GHOST testifieth, a good confession. 1 Timothy 6:13 . And in this instance, as in the former, we behold strong mystical representations, in what JESUS suffered, to the circumstances of his people. The silence of CHRIST, to the many accusations of the Chief Priests, is strikingly descriptive of the sinner's state of guilt, whom JESUS then represented as their surety. It was said of Him, ages before his incarnation, that he should be led as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7 . In this, CHRIST represented the sinner; silent and abashed, under the sense of sin. For though in himself he knew no sin, yet was he made sin for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 .

Pause Reader, over this view of thy Redeemer! Here is that Great Prophet, which so many ages before had been promised, as coming into the world, whom the LORD said they should hear; and that every one which would not hear that Prophet, should be destroyed from among the people: here he now stands, silent and accused, as a delinquent and malefactor, before Pontius Pilate and the Elders! Mark well, the striking difference, and then ask, in what sense are we to be hold him, but as the surety of his people? Deuteronomy 18:15 ; Acts 3:22 , and Acts 7:37 .

Verses 6-14

(6) Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. (7) And there was one named. Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. (8) And the multitude crying aloud, began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. (9) But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the king of the Jews? (10) For he knew that the chief priests had de livered him for envy. (11) But the chief priests moved the people that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. (12) And Pilate answered, and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? (13) And they cried out again, Crucify him. (14) Then Pilate said unto them, Why what evil hath he done? and they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.

Here is a beautiful meaning also, in allusion to the great purposes of redemption. The lot was to fall on Jonah, an eminent type of CHRIST, and he the only Israelite at that time in the ship, from Joppa. Jonah 1:7 . The lot for the Scape Goat, was also determined the same way. Leviticus 16:8 . And JESUS being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of GOD, shall be the one, on whom the whole voice of the people shall decide. Revelation 13:8 . What striking allusions of a mystical nature are there in all these things!

Verses 15-20

(15) And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. (16) And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. (17) And they clothed him with purple, and plat ted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head. (18) And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! (19) And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. (20) And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.

Before we enter upon this part of the awful events, in the cruel ties exercised upon CHRIST's person, I beg the Reader to turn to the 18th chapter of Luke, (Luke 18:31-34 ,) and read our LORD's prediction concerning them; then mark, one by one, the woeful account. And I request the Reader, yet more particularly, to observe through the whole, that he acted as the surety of his people. There certainly was, as I before remarked, a mystical meaning in all. For it forms a grand feature of our holy faith, that for the joy which was set before CHRIST, he endured the cross, despised the shame, before that he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. JEHOVAH, which lay on him the iniquities of his people, turned his glory into shame, Psalms 4:2 , that the sin of his redeemed might be made appear exceeding sinful. Let the Reader attend to the shame, and reproaches, and cruelties, poured upon CHRIST, with an eye to this; and the blessedness of the whole will then appear, in their true colours.

The first act of cruelty which Mark takes notice of, exercised upon the sacred person of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, after Pilate had passed sentence of death upon him, and given him up into the hands of the Roman soldiers, is that of scourging. John, in his Gospel, relates that Pilate scourged CHRIST, or caused him to be scourged, before this; when he did it with a view to release him. And no doubt that this first scourging by Pilate, had been with no small severity. Among the Jews, there was no permission to give stripes in any case of delinquency, to above thirty and nine, lest, saith the law, thy brother should seem vile unto thee. Deu 25:3 ; 2 Corinthians 11:24 . But CHRIST, our Brother, must be made vile, as the surety of his people, who had made themselves vile by reason of sin, and therefore the Gen tiles, into whose hands he shall fall, shall lay on stripes without number, as far as their savage cruelty shall incline them. And thus CHRIST, both at the first and second scourging, shall be made vile, that we might be made the righteousness of GOD in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 . Oh! the preciousness in this mystical allusion, concerning Him, and his unequaled sufferings, by whose stripes we are healed!

The next view we have in Mark's Gospel, of our LORD, after Pilate had delivered him up into the hands of the soldiers, is the calling together the whole band, to insult him, and then clothing him with purple, crowning him with thorns, spitting upon him, striking him on the head, bending the knee before him in mockery, and then unkinging him and unclothing him of his sham royalty, before they led him away to crucify him. In every one of these acts, more or less, we may, under divine teaching, discover the LORD's hand, directing to some interesting circumstances of a mystical nature, in allusion to the persons of CHRIST's redeemed, for whom he became surety, and for whom he suffered.

The clothing him in purple was wholly in derision; but then it should be remembered, that to do this, they first stripped him and made him naked; and indeed so was he crucified. And what so shameful as being wholly naked. But this also was necessary, and highly significant; for as our first parents had made themselves naked to their shame, in taking away the curse, CHRIST must be put in their very law-room and place so as to fulfil all righteousness.

The thorny crown, had mock royalty been only intended, would have been as well played off for their sport, with a crown of reeds! But it was not sport, but cruelty, added to mockery, they meant; and therefore thorns were chosen to be struck into his Sacred head. Sinners are threatened with having their heads and their hairy scalp wounded, as enemies to GOD. Psalms 68:21 , etc. The LORD JESUS shall therefore, as the sinner's surety, suffer in their stead. And forasmuch as the curse pronounced at the fall, declared, that thorns and thistles should the earth bring forth to the man. Genesis 3:18 . Here also Jesus shall be pre-eminent in suffering, as he is in all things; and shall be crowned with thorns, that the Head may feel, what in his members the Feet only of his redeemed go through, in a thorny wilderness.

Little did those Gentiles consider, how they were by their mockery, fulfilling JEHOVAH's design, in the setting forth these things. Insult and cruelty they intended, yet the LORD was then in reality setting his king upon his holy hill in Zion, and declaring the decree. Psalms 2:6-7 . They bowed the knee in derision; but in truth then began in a more open display that declaration of GOD, that when He who was in the form of GOD, and with whom it was no robbery to be equal with GOD, humbled himself to the death of the Cross, every knee should bow before him, and every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, to the glory of GOD the FATHER. Philippians 2:8-11 . The

purple robe and the thorny crown, and the reed for a sceptre, were the insignalia of this mock royalty. But whatever they meant, the LORD's purposes were fully answered: for the SON of GOD was at that moment, the brightness of his FATHER's glory, and the express image of his person, whose sceptre of righteousness was the sceptre of his kingdom; and concerning whom when the LORD JEHOVAH bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, and let all the Angels of GOD worship him. Hebrews 1:3-9 .

Verses 21-37

(21) And, they compel one Simon, a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. (22) And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a scull. (23) And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. (24) And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them what every man should take. (25) And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. (26) And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. (27) And with him they crucify two thieves, the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. (28) And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. (29) And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, (30) Save thyself, and come down from the cross. (31) Likewise also the chief priests mocking, said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. (32) Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and, believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. (33) And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. (34) And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (35) And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. (36) And one ran, and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. (37) And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.

In the relation which John gives, of their leading away CHRIST to be crucified, he saith; that JESUS bearing his cross, went forth into a place, called the place of a skull. But the three other Evangelists tell us, that this Simon the, Cyrenian, they compelled to this labour. And no doubt, the relation by the whole is correct. For JESUS first went forth with it, but when they found him sinking under the burden, and fearing had he really died with fainting and loss of blood, before they arrived at Golgotha, their inhumanity would have lost the greatest triumph over him; they compelled the Cyrenian to bear the cross for him.

I beg to detain the Reader at this place, just to observe to him, what otherwise perhaps may not so immediately strike him, in tracing the unequalled sorrows of CHRIST, that it is not to be wondered at that the LORD JESUS should have fainted under the cross. For when we consider what he had already undergone of pain and fatigue, and loss of blood, and agonies, the only astonishment is, that he had not sunk under the pressure before. They who have studied the map of Jerusalem and its vicinity, and have marked the ground over which the LORD JESUS was hurried up and down from one place to another, have shewn that CHRIST actually walked the day of his Crucifixion, and the night immediately before it, many a mile, perhaps not less than seven, without rest or intermission. And add to these, the LORD JESUS, six days before the Passover visited Bethany, and was closely engaged every portion of the time, from that period to his death. John 12:1 . And Luke saith, that he abode in the Mount of Olives by night, and in the morning early the people came to hear him in the temple. Luke 21:37-38 . And from the moment of his being apprehended to his death, after all these fatigues and sufferings, there was no interval allowed for sleep. Well might the Prophet say, we have caused him to serve with our sins, and wearied him with our iniquities. Isaiah 43:24 . Oh! ye that are weary and heavy laden with sin! come to this wearied SAVIOR. He knows your feelings by his own!

In respect to the painful and ignominious death of the Cross, I refer to the observations made in the Commentary on Matthew 27:0 . But in addition, I would just remark, that such were the cruelties exercised upon the occasion, that the malice of hell seems to have been at study, to make the whole the most aggravated and full of torture. Yet what I chiefly beg the Reader not to lose sight of, in beholding the Cross, is the wonderful coincidence of circumstances so over-ruled by the LORD, as that everything done to CHRIST, or suffered by CHRIST should have a mystical allusion, to the great design for which he offered his soul an offering for sin. Under this view of the subject, what but GOD's sovereignty could have brought about such an event, that in their despising the offices of CHRIST, I mean his Priestly, Kingly, and Prophetical offices, they should have used the very same words, in which CHRIST complained of those reproaches, a thousand years before those events were accomplished. All they that see me (said CHRIST by the spirit of prophecy,) laugh me to scorn, they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, he trusted on the LORD that he would deliver hint; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him; Psalms 22:7-8 . the Evangelists have recorded those very words, as among the taunts and reproaches of the multitude. The Reader will not fail, I hope to recollect, that the LORD of life and glory was then in very deed, saving his people from their sins by the gracious act of thus offering himself in sacrifice. And their testimony though very differently intended by them, was in fact overruled by the LORD to the same. He saved others, (said they) himself he cannot save.

Blessed Lamb of GOD! enable thy people to have these things, always in remembrance; and never, oh! never may we fail to connect with the view, the intimate concern thy Church and people all have in the wonderful events of this day. But for this thy gracious interposition, thy Church in every individual of it, must have been bound hand and foot, as JESUS was for them, and hurried away to the Judge. Silent as JESUS was; must we all have stood at that tremendous bar. And after sentence had been passed, hell in an army, would have seized upon us, and driven we must have been from the presence of GOD, into regions of endless despair. Oh! the unspeakable mercy of GOD in JESUS CHRIST.

Verses 38-41

(38) And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. (39) And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. (40) There were also women looking on afar off, among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less, and of Joses, and Salome: (41) (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.

Amidst the prodigies which distinguished the death of CHRIST, the renting the vail of the temple was not the least. I am led to view it indeed as of great moment; and as such, would request to call the Reader's attention to it somewhat more particularly. The Reader should be told that in the temple there was a vail of separation between the, holy and the most holy place, The HOLY GHOST, by his servant the Apostle, hath thought proper, to give the Church some account of it. Hebrews 9:3-12 . This vail then, by some invisible hand, was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom, at the moment CHRIST cried with a loud voice and gave up the ghost. And as this was at the 9th hour, that is, three of the clock in the afternoon, which was the time of the evening sacrifice, I pause, to remark how astonished the Priest, who was at that very hour with the people present then in the outer temple, must have been to have seen it, by which the inner temple appeared at once open to his and their view!

This vail was not simply torn, or separated in part, but rent in twain, and that from the top to the bottom. Yes! by the death of CHRIST, the separation between GOD and his people was now forever removed. JESUS had then opened a new and living way by his blood. Before this, the vail of separation kept back the people. It was impossible to go in; yea, dangerous to LOOK in: and the High Priest himself, could not enter without blood, and that only once in a year. Hence, therefore, the SON of GOD having now accomplished redemption by his blood, he hath himself entered as our forerunner, and opened a new and living way for all his redeemed to follow; and the vail of separation, both to Jew and Gentile can be found no more. Precious LORD JESUS! I would say for myself, and all his redeemed; blessed forever be thy name; thou hast removed by thy death all vails which stood in the way of our access to GOD. And thou wilt remove all the remaining vails of darkness, sin, and corruption, which are in us. The vail of death, and the covering, cast over all faces, thou wilt utterly do away, now thou hast swallowed up death in victory, and the rebuke of thy people thou hast taken away from of all the earth, for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. Isaiah 25:7-8 .

Verses 42-47

(42) And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation; that is, the day before the sabbath, (43) Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. (44) And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked, him, whether he had been any while dead? (45) And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. (46) And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. (47) And Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses, beheld where he was laid.

Excepting the enquiry which Pilate made of the Centurion by way of being assured of the certainty of CHRIST's death; we have the same account given by Matthew as is related by Mark. I therefore refer to the observations which were then offered. But, if I detain the Reader a moment longer on those verses, it shall he only to invite him to contemplate the tomb of JESUS. Never did death before detain such a prisoner. But, Reader! it is the joy of his redeemed that he then did. For it is by death CHRIST hath destroyed him that had the power of death; that is, the Devil: and delivered them, who through fear of death, were all their life time subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:14-15 . But what a funeral is here! The sacred body begged, and then perfumed. A few following the procession, and but a few; and those by stealth as it were. But, Reader! as the death of CHRIST was of the highest importance to the everlasting salvation of his Church, so his burial became essential both to prove that death, and to answer the prediction of prophecies concerning it. See Isaiah 53:9 ; Psalms 22:15 ; Matthew 12:40 ; Hosea 13:14 ; Jeremiah 31:26 ; Revelation 1:13-18 ; Psalms 23:4 . Reader! let you and I frequently in solemn meditation visit the Sepulchre of Jesus! Sacred garden of the most blessed thoughts! From hence, the first distinct prospect was given of the upper and brighter world. Here JESUS the resurrection and life of his redeemed taught them to look up, and by faith enter upon the possession of those mansions which be is gone before to pre pare for them, until he shall come again to receive them to himself, that Where he is, there they may be also, Hail! thou risen and exalted SAVIOR! In thy triumphs over death, hell, and the grave, we already can and do sing the Apostle's song: Oh death where is thy sting! O grave where is thy victory!

Verse 47


READER! let us not hastily pass away from this most solemn and interesting chapter. It is profitable to follow the footsteps of the LAMB whithersoever he goeth. And while from the High Priest's palace, to the palace of Pilate, we attend the lowly Redeemer, marking his footsteps with his blood, oh! for grace to ponder well the cause of all his sufferings. The HOLY GHOST in one line of his blessed word, hath explained the whole. CHRIST hath once suffered for sins; the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to GOD.

Reader! do not overlook that every hand, both Jew and Gentile, were embrued in his blood; yea, above all, behold the hand of JEHOVAH engaged in the vast design. Look at the cross, and hear the voice of the LORD, calling to the sword to awake. Awake, O sword, against any shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of HOSTS! Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered!

Reader? let us both, as lovers of JESUS, attend the funeral. This is the office of near and dear friends. Remember, he is still the same, and the covenant in his blood cannot be dissolved by death. And in the contemplation of our own death, and our sure resurrection in JESUS, let us say with Job, Oh! that thou wouldst hide me in the grave, that thou wouldst keep me secret until the wrath be past; that thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me!

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 15". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.