Mark 15:21-32 – The Journey to Golgotha and the Crucifixion


Mark 15:21-32


Jesus is led outside of the city and crucified.


Crucifixion was intended as a punishment that inflicted extreme pain, not only physically, but also psychologically. The physical side of the punishment is still obvious: nails were pounded through Jesus’ hands and feet and he was expected to die a slow death by asphyxiation. The psychological side may require more explanation. Crucifixion was intended to also shame Jesus publicly. He was paraded in front of his peers, taunted, and spit upon. The charge against him–“King of the Jews”–was also intended to mock him as the royal title contrasted with his degraded state. He died alongside two common criminals, reinforcing the ridiculousness of his claim to kingship. Even more shamefully, Jesus could not even carry his own cross, and so someone was forced to do it for him.

Mark includes several details in his crucifixion that allude to other parts of scripture. First of all, he mentions that Simon of Cyrene was the father of Alexander and Rufus. He probably mentioned them because they were known to his readers and it is possible that this is the same Rufus mentioned in Romans 16:13. The soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ clothing, though a common practice, also alludes to Psalm 22:18, a psalm that Jesus quotes at his own death. Finally, the chief priests admission that Jesus “saved others” as well as the crucifixion as a whole is reminiscent of the songs of the suffering servant in Isaiah, especially Isaiah 50:6 “I offered my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting” and Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.”