After the soldiers tortured
Jesus, they crucified Him between two robbers (15:27). The Jews and the Romans
continued to ridicule Him while He was suffering on the cross. In spite of the
people’s rejection of Jesus, dramatic events during His crucifixion
proved that He was unlike any other man. Finally, “Jesus cried out with a
loud voice, and breathed His last” (15:37). His disciples buried Him, not
knowing that a greater miracle would soon take place on the third day.
“Truly this Man was the Son of God!”
Did You Know…?
Simon (15:21): From Cyrene, an important Libyan
city with a large Jewish population. He was probably a Jew who was in Jerusalem
to celebrate the Passover. His sons Alexander and Rufus were probably well
known to the early Christians. The two names are also mentioned in Acts 19:33
and Rom 16:13, respectively. However, these were common names and might belong
to other men.
“Bear His cross” (15:21): A
condemned man was usually forced to carry the crossbar (which weighed 30-40
pounds [14-18 kg]) on the shoulders to the place of crucifixion. Jesus must
have been too weak to carry the cross; therefore, the soldiers forced a
bystander to do it for Him.
Golgotha (15:22): Literally,
“Skull.” The Aramaic word referred either to the place of execution
or to a hill that resembled a skull.The English name “Calvary”
comes from the Latin word for skull (“calva”).
Myrrh (15:23): The dried resin of balsam wood.
It was used as medicine, and was mixed with wine to make an anesthetic. Myrrh
happens to play a role in the important episodes of Jesus’ life: His
birth (cf. Mt 2:11), His death (cf. Mk 15:23), and His burial (cf. Jn 19:39).
“Divided His garments, casting lots for
them” (15:24): The clothes were the soldiers’ bonus for guarding
the cross. Often they played a game of dice to determine who got which piece.
Crucified (15:24): A condemned man was stripped
naked and laid on the ground with the crossbar under his shoulders. The hands
were nailed to the crossbar, which was then lifted and secured to an upright
post. The feet were then tied to the post. A peg beneath the feet supported the
weight of the body to prevent it from tearing the hands free. The victim was
probably no more than a few feet above the ground (suggested by the fact that
Jesus spoke with the bystanders and a sponge tied to a stick was offered to
him). The pain was obviously intense, as the whole body was strained. After a
while, the arteries in the head and stomach were filled with blood, causing a
throbbing headache. Eventually, fever would set in. When for any reason it was
decided to put the victim out of his misery, his legs were shattered with a
club or hammer, as if to compensate for the act of mercy. It usually took at
least 36 hours (sometimes as long as 9 days) for a crucified man to die. It was
unusual that Jesus died so soon (about six hours), which might explain
Pilate’s surprise (cf. 15:44).
Third, sixth, ninth hour (15:25,33): 9 A.M., 12
P.M., 3 P.M., respectively.
Veil/curtain (15:38): An elaborate curtain
separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place (cf. Ex 26:31; 2Chr 3:14).
Sour wine/vinegar (15:36): A common inexpensive
beverage (when mixed with eggs and water) drank by laborers and soldiers.
Centurion (15:39): A Roman army officer
theoretically in charge of 100 men. He and his soldiers were guarding the cross
against a rescue.
Preparation Day (15:42): The day to prepare for
the annual Passover festival. Because it was late Friday afternoon, there was
an urgency to get Jesus’ body down from the cross before the Sabbath
(during which they could not do any work).
Joseph of Arimathea (15:43): A prominent and
wealthy member of the Sanhedrin who was against the decision to crucify Jesus
(Lk 23:50-51). He had become a disciple of Christ (Mt 27:57).
Tomb/sepulchre (15:46): Either a natural
or man-made cave in the rocks. After a body was placed in a tomb, a large
circular stone was rolled over it. To prevent anyone from stealing Jesus’
body, Pilate ordered that Jesus’ tomb be sealed and guarded (Mt
1. List how Jesus’ suffering,
death, and burial fulfilled the prophecies in Psalm 22:1-18 and Isaiah 53:1-9.
2. What is the greatest physical
and/or mental pain you have suffered? How does the knowledge of Jesus’
suffering help you overcome your pain?
What might have been on Simon’s mind when he was carrying the cross for
1b. Have you ever been
“compelled” to work for God? How did you react? What can you learn
from Jesus’ example as a servant?
2. Contrast the procession to
Golgotha (cf. Did You Know 2) to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (cf. Mk 11:8-10).
3a. Why did Jesus refuse the wine
mixed with myrrh (cf. Did You Know 4)? (Read what He did while He was on the
cross in Lk 23:34, 40-43; Jn 19:25-27).
3b. Jesus accomplished God’s
work even while hanging on the cross. How do you serve God and help others, in
spite of your own limitations and troubles?
4. What did the charge “The
King of the Jews” (26) mean to those who crucified Jesus? What does it
mean to a Christian? Compare it to the symbolism of the cross.
5. How might a person
“crucify” Jesus today? (cf. Heb 6:4-6).
6a. List the insults hurled at
6b. How did the people’s
insults show their ignorance?
7. Would the chief priests and
the scribes have believed if Jesus had come down from the cross, as they
claimed they would (32)?
8. Why didn’t Jesus save
Himself and come down from the cross?
9. How is the cross a
“stumbling block” (1Cor 1:23) to the people who rejected Him?
10. Whom did Jesus forgive while
He was on the cross? (cf. Lk 23:34, 40-43). What does this teach you about
11. Although both of the robbers
heaped insults on Jesus (32), one of them later repented (cf. Lk 23:40-42).
What does this tell you about how a person might come to Christ?
12a. What miraculous signs
occurred while Jesus was on the cross?
12b. What did these signs mean?
(cf. Amos 8:9; Heb 10:19-20).
13. Contrast Jesus’ cry
(“My God”) with His prayer (“Father”) in Gethsemane (Mk
14:36). How was Jesus forsaken by God (34)?
14a. Contrast the
centurion’s faith to that of the Jews.
14b. The centurion used the past
tense when he exclaimed, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” What
does this tell you about his understand of Jesus Christ? From the centurion, what
can you learn about growing in spiritual knowledge?
15. What does Jesus’ death
mean to you? (cf. Heb 10:19-31, 2Cor 5:14-15; 1Jn 3:17-19).
16. Are you afraid to die? Why or
17. Jesus was on the cross for a relatively
short time before He died (cf. the last part of Did You Know 6). What does this
unusual fact tell you? (Think in terms of Jesus’ physical suffering).
18. What did Joseph of Arimathea
do after Jesus died? What does this teach you about having faith with deeds