"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Mark 15:16-39 Commentary
by C. Clifton Black
Unvarnished and raw: that’s how Mark recounts Jesus’ death. More than any other evangelist, Mark drives the church into the heart of its gospel in all its horror and wonder.
Every temptation to prettify it should be resisted.
Attraction to Jesus is hyperbolic in Mark (1:28, 45; 3:7-8); 15:16-20 reverses the polarity by spotlighting a huge gang’s enmity. Easy on the sadism, Mark magnifies Jesus’ humiliation: draped in royal purple, crowned with thorns (15:17) with the reed as a faux scepter (15:19), and a faithless “Hail [to] the King of the Jews” (15:18). “Bending [of] their knees” (15:19, my translation) compounds their sarcasm. Here we have the photographic negative of Paul’s Hymn to Christ (Philippians 2:5-11), whose last stanza thunders Christ’s exaltation, with every knee bowed and every tongue confessing. Mark recasts that image in a stridently minor key, accenting the Messiah’s descent into shameful self-abasement.
Golgotha (Mark 15:21-32) answers Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11). When Jesus entered David’s City, the cry was “Hosanna,” “Lord, save” (11:9-10). He exits to a very ...
| Bible Text
Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
March 25, 2016
This podcast discusses Mark 15:16-39, the Narrative Lectionary readings for Mar. 25, 2016.