Mark 15

Chapter 15

Jesus before Pilate.[a] 1 As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a council with the elders and the scribes and the whole Sanhedrin. They bound Jesus and led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.

2 Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said so.” 3 Then the chief priests brought many charges against him. 4 Again, Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer to offer? Just consider how many charges they are leveling against you.” 5 But Jesus offered no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Jesus Is Sentenced to Death. 6 Now on the occasion of the feast, he released a prisoner to them, anyone for whom they asked.[b] 7 At the time, a man named Barabbas was in prison along with some rebels who had committed murder during an uprising. 8 When the crowd came forward and began to ask him to do the customary favor for them, 9 Pilate asked them, “Do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?”[c] 10 For he realized that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over.

11 However, the chief priests incited the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Pilate then asked, “And what shall I do with the man you call the king of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate asked them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they only screamed all the louder, “Crucify him!” 15 And so Pilate, anxious to appease the crowd, released Barabbas to them, and after ordering Jesus to be scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.

16 Jesus Is Crowned with Thorns.[d] Then the soldiers led Jesus away inside the palace, that is, the Praetorium, and they called the whole cohort together. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they placed it on him. 18 Then they began to salute him with the words, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They repeatedly struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down before him in homage. 20 And when they had finished mocking him, they stripped him of his purple robe and dressed him in his own clothes. Then they led him out to crucify him.

21 The Way of the Cross.[e] They compelled a passer-by who was returning from the country to carry his cross. The man was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

22 Jesus Is Crucified. They brought him to the place called Golgotha, which means the place of the skull. 23 They offered him some wine that had been mixed with myrrh, but he refused to take it. 24 Then they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them to see what each should take.[f]

25 It was around nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.[g] 26 The inscription giving the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 Along with him they crucified two thieves, one on his right and the other on his left. [ 28 Thus was the Scripture fulfilled that says, “And he was counted among the wicked.”][h]

29 Those people who passed by jeered at him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who claimed you could destroy the temple and rebuild it within three days, 30 save yourself and come down from the cross.”

31 In much the same way, the chief priests and the scribes joined in the mockery among themselves, saying, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down from the cross right now so that we may see it and come to believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

33 Jesus Dies on the Cross.[i] Beginning at midday, there was darkness over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

35 On hearing this, some of the bystanders said, “Listen! He is calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran off, soaked a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait! Let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”

37 Then Jesus cried out in a loud voice and breathed his last. 38 And the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion who was standing facing him saw how Jesus had breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

40 A number of women were also present, looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger[j] and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These women used to follow Jesus when he was in Galilee and minister to his needs. And there were many other women there who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

42 Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb.[k] It was the Day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath. So when evening came, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also awaiting the kingdom of God, boldly went to Pilate and requested the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead, and he summoned the centurion to ascertain that Jesus had indeed died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that such was the case, he turned over the body to Joseph.

46 Having purchased a linen shroud, he lowered Jesus from the cross, wrapped him in the shroud, and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of rock. He then rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was buried.


  1. Mark 15:1 See notes on Mt 27:11-26 and 27:11.
  2. Mark 15:6 Outside the Gospels no such Passover privilege is explicitly found in other sources. However, this does not mean it didn’t exist.
  3. Mark 15:9 According to Mark, Barabbas had been arrested in a rebellion, possibly in a political rebellion against the Romans. Thus, he was a hero with the people and fed their national pride. When Herod brings forth Jesus as the King of the Jews, the same people will have none of it—a Messiah reduced to a pitiful state, chained, and despised!
  4. Mark 15:16 See note on Mt 27:27-31.
  5. Mark 15:21 Those condemned to death were usually forced to carry the crossbeam of the cross, often 30 to 40 pounds, to the place of crucifixion. Jesus starts out by doing the same (see Jn 19:7), but he is so weak as a result of his scourging and overall ill-treatment that the soldiers decide to have someone else take over that task. The man chosen is Simon, a man from Cyrene, an important city of Libya, North Africa, with a large Jewish population, who is probably in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Alexander and Rufus: the sons are named probably because they were known to the early Christians to whom Mark’s Gospel is addressed.
  6. Mark 15:24 See note on Mt 27:35.
  7. Mark 15:25 Mark sketches the Passion in a quasi-liturgical fashion and as it were in thirds: the coming together of the Sanhedrin at the first hour (6 A.M.); crucifixion at the third hour (9 A.M.); darkness at the sixth hour (12 P.M.); and death at the ninth hour (3 P.M.). The “third hour,” however, must be taken in a wide sense, between 9 A.M. and 12 P.M., for Jesus was crucified at 12 P.M. (see Jn 19:14). See also note on Mt 27:35.
  8. Mark 15:28 This verse is omitted by the best manuscripts.
  9. Mark 15:33 After hours on the cross, there comes a final humiliation (v. 36). While God remains silent, the crucified Jesus cries out his aloneness in the words of Ps 22:2, and breathes his last. But the work of Jesus has been completed. The end of Judaism has come, signified by the tearing of the curtain of the temple. Even now a pagan recognizes Jesus as the Son of God; this is the first time in Mark’s Gospel that a human being is allowed to give him this title.
  10. Mark 15:40 James the younger: this James is known as “the Lesser,” to distinguish him from the other apostle of the same name, the son of Zebedee and brother of John. From Mt 27:56 we know that Salome was the wife of Zebedee.
  11. Mark 15:42 The burial of Jesus is arranged by Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Sanhedrin who had not consented to the decision of that body concerning Jesus (see Lk 23:51). Matthew calls Joseph a “rich man” (Mt 27:57), which recalls the text of Isaiah’s prophecy about the Suffering Servant (53:9: “They assigned him a grave with the wicked and a burial place with evildoers”).

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