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Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Passion Sunday - Liturgy of the Passion - March 29, 2015



Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures
Author's note:
Sometimes I have material left over when I edit Comments down to fit the available space. This page presents notes that landed on the clipping room floor. Some may be useful to you. While I avoid technical language in the Comments (or explain special terms), Clippings may have unexplained jargon from time to time.

A hypertext Glossary of Terms is integrated with Clippings. Simply click on any highlighted word in the text and a pop-up window will appear with a definition. Bibliographic references are also integrated in the same way.

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Verse 4: “tongue of a teacher”: The phrase in the consonantal Masoretic text translates as disciple’s tongue.

Verse 4: “weary ...”: Another translation places a period (full stop) after “weary”. It continues: The word wakens me each morning . For “those who are taught”, it has like a disciple. [ NJBC]

Verses 7-9: In Jeremiah 1:18-19, God says through the prophet: “And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land – against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you”. See also Jeremiah 17:17-18; Ezekiel 3:7-11; Romans 8:33. [ NOAB]

Verse 7: “face like flint”: The phrase is common in prophetic teaching: In Isaiah 48:4 God says to the Israelites: “... I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass”. See also Ezekiel 3:8-9. Luke 9:51 tells of a turning-point in Jesus’ ministry: “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem”. [ NJBC]

Verse 8: Courtroom terminology is also used in Chapter 41. [ NJBC]

Verse 9b: This naturally follows v. 3, so it appears that the Servant Song has been inserted. [ NJBC]

Psalm 31:9-16

The concepts of honour and disgrace (losing face) played an important part in Israel’s consciousness. [ NJBC]

Vv. 1-8 and 9-24 are parallel in form, both containing the principal elements of a lament:

Cry for help vv. 1-5 v. 9
The psalmist’s situation v. 4 vv. 10-13
His expression of confidence in God v. 5 vv. 14, 19-24
His grateful recognition of God’s help vv. 7-8 vv. 21-24 [ NOAB]

Verse 4: “take me out of the net”: A common motif: see also 9:16 (“the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands”); 10:9 (“they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert; they lurk that they may seize the poor; they seize the poor and drag them off in their net”); 25:15 (“My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net”). [ NJBC]

Verse 5: “Into your hand I commit my spirit”: Jesus utters this expression of serene confidence just before he dies: see Luke 23:46. [ NJBC]

Verse 6: A protestation of innocence: I deserve God’s protection because I am loyal to him. In 17:3-5, a psalmist prays to Yahweh: “If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress. As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped”.

Verse 12: “broken vessel”: Ecclesiastes 12:6 speaks of the breaking of “the golden bowl” as a sign of death. [ NOAB]

Verse 13: “terror all around!”: In Jeremiah 20:10, the prophet says of a time of adversity: “For I hear many whispering: ‘Terror [i.e. his persecutor] is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’ All my close friends are watching for me to stumble. ‘Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him’”.

Verse 15: “My times are in your hand”: In ancient Near East cultures, the major events of life were seen as being in the hands of the god(s). [ NJBC]

Verse 22: “‘I am driven far from your sight’”: This probably means: I am excluded from God’s life-giving presence in the Temple.

Philippians 2:5-11

For other fragments of early Christian hymns on the subject of Christ’s work, see 1:15-20; Ephesians 2:14-16; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 3:18-19, 22; Hebrews 1:3.

Verse 6: “in the form of God”: i.e. pre-existent and divine (see John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4), sharing in God’s very nature. [ NOAB]

Verse 7: “slave”: Perhaps an allusion to Isaiah 52:13-53:12, a Servant Song. [ NOAB]

Verse 8: In Matthew 26:39, we read: “And going a little farther, he [Jesus] threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want’”. See also John 10:18; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 5:8; 12:2. [ NOAB]

Verse 9: “highly exalted him”: In his resurrection and ascension. In Acts 2:32-33, Peter tells the crowd on the Day of Pentecost: “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear’”. See also Acts 5:30-31 and Ephesians 1:20-21.

Verses 10-11: These verses seem to be patterned on Isaiah 45:23: “By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.’ Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; all who were incensed against him shall come to him and be ashamed”. [ NOAB]

Verse 11: In Romans 10:9, Paul writes: “... if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”. See also 2 Corinthians 9:13. [ NJBC]

Mark 14:1-15:47

The parallels are:

Mark Matthew Luke John
14:1-2 26:1-5 22:1-2
14:3-9 26:1-13 12:1-11
14:10-11 26:14-16 22:3-6 18:2-5
14:12-16 26:17-19 22:7-13
14:17-21 26:20-25 22:14, 21-23 13:21-30
14:22-25 26:26-29 22:15-20 -
14:26-31 26:30-35 22:39; 22:31-34 18:1; 13:36-38; 16:32
14:32-42 26:36-46 22:40-46 18:1; 12:27; 14:31; 18:11
14:43-52 26:47-56 22:47-53 18:2-12, 20
14:53-72 26:57-75 22:54-71 18:13-27
15:1 27:1-2 23:1 18:28-32
15:2-5 27:11-14 23:2-5 18:33-37; 19:6, 9-10
15:6-15 27:15-26 23:17-25 18:38-40; 19:4-16
15:16-20 27:27-31 19:1-3
15:21-32 27:32-44 23:26-43 19:17-24
15:33-47 27:45-61 23:44-56 19:25-42

14:2: “Not during the festival”: Did the priests hope to arrest Jesus before or after the feast? The latter seems more likely. Judas's willingness to betray Jesus led them to execute him during the feast (according to Mark) or before it (as seems more likely on the historical level). [ NJBC]

14:3-9: The spiritual insight and generosity of the woman are contrasted with the spiritual blindness of the high priests and scribes ( 14:1-2) and Judas ( 14:10-11). [ NJBC]

14:3: “at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper”: So unusual is such precision about places and names in Mark that the details must have been part of the original story. [ NJBC]

14:3: “Simon the leper”: His identity is unknown. [ NOAB]

14:3: “poured the ointment on his head”: See also Luke 7:38 and John 12:3, where the woman anoints the feet of Jesus. [ NJBC]

14:6: “good service”: i.e. what is good and fitting under the circumstances of impending death. The same Greek words are translated as “good works” in 5:16. [ NOAB]

14:7: Deuteronomy 15:11 says “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbour in your land.’” [ NOAB]

14:7: “you will not always have me”: The saying explains Jesus' tolerant attitude of 14:6 and his description of the woman's act as a good deed. It is a christological saying like the bridegroom saying in 2:19, not a social commentary. [ NJBC]

14:8: John 19:40 tells us: “They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews”. [ NOAB]

14:11: “they ... promised to give him money”: The other evangelists make Judas's motives explicit: greed (Matthew 26:15), Satan (Luke 22:3), and Satan plus a habit of stealing (John 13:2; 12:6). [ NJBC]

14:12-16: These verses identify the Last Supper as a Passover meal in the strict sense that it took place on the 15th of Nisan; the other synoptic gospels follow Mark's chronology. John 19:14, however, places Jesus' death on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan and thus makes the Last Supper a pre-Passover meal. John's chronology is more likely correct, since it is dubious that the chief priests and scribes would have acted as they did on the first day of Passover. The effect of Mark's making the Last Supper a Passover meal was to draw Jesus' death more closely into the great Passover themes of sacrifice and liberation. [ NJBC]

14:12: “Unleavened Bread”: The spring agricultural festival of Unleavened Bread had been combined with the celebration of ancient Israel's release from bondage in Egypt (see Exodus 12:15-20; 34:18-20). It began on the 15th of Nisan (March-April) and lasted for eight days. The sacrifice took place on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan before the first day began at sunset. Thus the disciples were sent out to make preparations for the Passover meal celebrated at the beginning of the 15th of Nisan. [ NJBC]

14:12: The institution of the Passover is detailed in Exodus 12:1-13. It was celebrated in homes. [ CAB]

14:13: “a man carrying a jar of water”: Is this an example of Jesus' extraordinary foreknowledge, or was it the result of prearrangement? See 11:1-6 (the colt) for a similar problem. [ NJBC]

14:13: “two of his disciples”: According to Luke 22:8, they are Peter and John. [ NOAB]

14:14: “guest room”: It was on the second floor, probably served by steps outside. In Luke 22:12, Jesus tells Peter and John: “‘He [the owner of the house] will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there’” . [ NOAB]

14:16: The disciples’ lack of amazement is an indication of prearrangement between Jesus and the man carrying the jar of water. [ NJBC]

14:17-21: The first incident in the Last Supper account stresses Jesus' foreknowledge regarding Judas's plot to betray him and Jesus' willing submission to God's will in his suffering and death. [ NJBC]

14:17: “When it was evening, he came with the twelve”: In the light of 14:12-16, it is the beginning of the 15th of Nisan (since Jewish days were reckoned to begin at sunset). The two disciples are already at the appointed site according to 14:12-16, but here they are in the party coming to it. [ NJBC]

14:18: In John 13:18, Jesus tells Peter: “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me’”. The prediction shows that Judas's betrayal does not catch Jesus by surprise. [ NJBC]

14:19: The Greek shows that the question is so worded as to imply that the answer would be negative. [ NOAB]

14:21: “the Son of Man goes as it is written of him”: Although fulfilment of the Old Testament is a major theme in the passion story in Mark, there is no Old Testament passage that speaks of the sufferings of the Son of Man. [ NJBC]

14:21: “woe to that one ...”: Just because God's plan is at work in Jesus' death, it does not mean that Judas has no responsibility. [ NJBC]

14:22-25: The re-enactment of the Last Supper in the subsequent life of the Church recalls the past event, celebrates the present communion of God’s people, and looks forward to the liberation and reunion of Christians with Jesus in the ‘kingdom of God”. [ CAB] The bread and wine are interpretations in the light of Old Testament sacrificial traditions (see Exodus 24:8 and Isaiah 53:12) and the hope for the messianic banquet in God's kingdom. The disciples are invited to share in Jesus' sacrificial death. Exodus 24:8 says: “Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, ‘See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words’”. Isaiah 53:11-12 foretells: “... The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors”.

14:22: “this is my body”: Translations. such as represents or symbolizes fail to do justice to the realism of the words. [ NJBC]

14:23: “he took a cup”: At a Passover meal the bread would be shared toward the beginning and the cup (actually three cups) in the course of it. Here the cup follows after the bread (as in the accounts of Paul and of Luke), which suggests that it was not an official Passover meal. [ NJBC] In 1 Corinthians 11:25, Paul states what he has received from the Lord about the Last Supper and had handed on to the Corinthian church: “In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’”. See also Luke 22:20.

14:24: “my blood of the covenant”: This is an allusion to Exodus 24:8, quoted above. [ NJBC]

14:24: “for many”: An allusion to Isaiah 53:12 (one of the Servant Songs) and gives the action a sacrificial dimension. [ NJBC]

14:24: See also Hebrews 9:20; Matthew 20:28; Mark 1:4; Exodus 24:6-8. In the background of Jesus’ words are several important ideas in Judaism:

  • one’s sins lead to death;
  • God has rescued his people, as from Egypt, and may be trusted to deliver from death itself;
  • in mercy God forgives those who obey him;
  • God will make a new covenant: see Jeremiah 31:31-34. [ NOAB]

Jesus speaks of his blood as being the mediating reality in a new relationship between God and humankind. In 10:45, Jesus speaks of “his life [as] a ransom for many”. A “ransom” is given to gain release. There Jesus speaks of his life and death as achieving freedom for “many”, i.e. with no specified limit to a few, but does not spell out details. See also Luke 4:18; 13:29; 1 Timothy 2:5-6. [ NOAB]

14:25: “until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God”: This places the Last Supper in the context of the messianic banquet (see 6:35-44, the feeding of the five thousand, and 8:1-10, the feeding of the four thousand). Rather than seeing the Last Supper (and the Eucharist) as an isolated event, it is important to connect it with Jesus' earlier meals with tax collectors and sinners (see 2:16) and to the future eschatological banquet. [ NJBC]

14:26: A Passover meal ended with the singing of Psalms 115-118, the second part of the Hallelujah psalms. [ NOAB]

14:26: “they went out”: John 18:1-2 tells us : “After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples”. [ NOAB]

14:27: In John 16:32, Jesus tells his disciples: “‘The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me’”. [ NOAB]

14:27: “I will strike the shepherd”: Jesus is identified as a shepherd in 6:34. The quotation is Zechariah 13:7 – a prediction of both Jesus’ death and the flight of the disciples. [ NJBC]

14:28: This verse points forward to Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. The “ young man” (see 16:5) at the tomb on Easter Day tells the two Marys and Salome “‘But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’” (see 16:7) [ NJBC]

14:30: See also 14:66-72; John 13:26-38; 18:17-18, 25-27. [ NOAB]

14:32: See also John 18:1, quoted above, and Hebrews 5:7-8. [ NOAB]

14:32-52: What sustains Jesus is his unique relationship to God and his conviction that God's will revealed in the Scriptures is being fulfilled. [ NJBC]

14:32-42: Only Mark reports Jesus’ prayer that he might escape the period (“hour”) of agony through which he is soon to pass, and his addressing God as “Abba”. [ CAB] Mark’s version of the agony in the garden presents Jesus as the obedient Son of God who struggles to accept God's will in his passion. It portrays the disciples as hopelessly unaware of what is going on, thus as an example to be avoided. [ NJBC]

14:33: “began to be distressed and agitated”: The text expresses his deep emotional plight in the face of his impending death. This emphasis does not necessarily contradict the stress on Jesus' foreknowledge and acceptance of God's will in the preceding passages, since one can be terrified of what awaits one, that is, one’s fate (e.g. as a cancer patient does). [ NJBC]

14:34: In John 12:27, Jesus says: “‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour’’”. [ NOAB]

14:34: “I am deeply grieved, even to death”: NJBC offers my soul is sorrowful, even unto death. In speaking to the three disciples, Jesus uses the language of Psalm 42:6, 12. [ NJBC]

14:35-36: Jesus would not accept for himself the possibility of anything contrary to God’s will. [ NOAB]

14:36ff: This prayer bears some resemblance to the Lord’s Prayer. See Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. [ NJBC]

14:36: “Abba”: In Romans 8:15-16, Paul writes: “... When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God”. See also Galatians 4:6. This word passed into the prayer life of the early Church. [ NOAB]

14:36: “cup”: A metaphor for that which is allotted by God, whether blessing (see Psalms 16:5; 116:13) or judgement (see Isaiah 51:17 and Lamentations 4:21). It here refers to Jesus’ suffering and death. See also Matthew 20:22 and Mark 10:38. [ NOAB]

14:36: “not what I want, but what you want”: Jesus had to discipline himself to accept his sufferings. Recall the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:10: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. [ NJBC]

14:41: The three passion predictions (see 8:3 1; 9:3 1; 10:33-34) are being fulfilled. [ NJBC]

14:43: “Judas”: The synoptic gospels do not report his movements on this night. John 13:30 says “after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night” and John 18:3 “Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there [i.e. to the garden across the Kidron valley] with lanterns and torches and weapons”. [ NOAB]

14:43: “a crowd”: The arrest is carried out by a kind of mob, rather than by the Temple police (as stated in Luke 22:52) or the Roman soldiers (John 18:3,12 says). [ NJBC]

14:47: “one ... who stood near”: According to John 18:10, it was Peter. [ NOAB] Luke 22:50-51 tells us that Jesus healed the man's ear. The Greek suggests that only part of the ear was cut off. [ NJBC]

14:49: Luke 19:47 tells us: “Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard”. and John 18:19-21 tells us Jesus’ answer to the high priest: “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret” . [ NOAB]

14:49: “Day after day”: Mark has told us that Jesus had only been in Jerusalem for three days , so that Jesus had been teaching “day after day” in the Temple looks odd. [ NJBC]

14:49: “let the scriptures be fulfilled”: Apparently a reference to 14:27 (where Zechariah 13:7 is quoted), though it may be meant in a more general sense, as in 14:21 (“the Son of Man goes as it is written of him”). [ NJBC]

14:51: “A certain young man”: His identity is not disclosed. Perhaps he was sleeping in the house where Jesus ate the Last Supper and rose hastily from bed to follow Jesus to Gethsemane. If the house was that of Mary, the mother of John and Mark (where the disciples met at a later date: see Acts 12:12), it is possible that the “young man” was the Evangelist himself. [ NOAB] Only Mark mentions him. [ CAB] The identity of the young disciple who flees away naked has attracted many guesses through the centuries. [ NJBC]

14:53-15:15: Throughout the trials, Jesus the innocent sufferer remains almost entirely silent: see Isaiah 53:7. [ NJBC]

14:53-65: Mark presents the hearing at the high priest's house on the first evening of Passover as a full-scale trial (though there are serious historical problems connected with this portrayal). Could the whole Sanhedrin meet there (see 14:64)? Would they have met there on the first night of Passover? These problems suggest that Jesus underwent a preliminary hearing at the house of the high priest on the evening before the first evening of Passover (see 14:12-16). The preliminary hearing was conducted by a small group or committee of Jewish leaders. [ NJBC]

14:55: The Law required at least two witnesses who gave the same testimony. See Numbers 35:30 and Deuteronomy 19:15. Jesus endorses this law in Matthew 18:16. [ NOAB]

14:55: “the chief priests and the whole council”: Mark presents the hearing as a full-scale trial before the whole Sanhedrin. This tendency was probably part of the general Christian effort to play down Roman involvement and to play up Jewish involvement in Jesus' death. [ NJBC] Was this because Christians needed to live in a degree of harmony with the civil authorities?

14:58: “‘I will destroy this temple”: Jesus may have contrasted Temple worship in the present with the kind of worship that will prevail when God's kingdom comes. The “I” may have been God, or perhaps even Jesus speaking in God's name. The saying probably had some relation to the cleansing of the Temple (see 11:15-19). Later New Testament writers tended to spiritualise it (see Matthew 26:61; John 2:21; Acts 6:14) in the light of the fact that the Romans rather than Jesus destroyed the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70. [ NJBC]

14:61: “‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One”: Peter has identified Jesus as the “Messiah” in 8:29; a voice from heaven has identified Jesus as “my Son, the Beloved” in 1:11 (at his baptism) and 9:7 (his transfiguration). [ NJBC]

14:62: According to NOAB, this is Daniel 7:13 combined with the thought of Psalm 110:1.

14:63: “tore his clothes”: An action expressing grief. See also Acts 14:14 (Paul and Barnabas lament that they are taken for Greek gods) and Joel 2:12-13 (“... rend your hearts and not your clothing ...”). [ NOAB]

14:64: “All of them condemned him as deserving death”: Jesus was probably viewed as a Jewish political-religious agitator (see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 17.10.4-88 269-85; 18.4.1 85-87; 20.8.6 167-72) who threatened the power of both the Romans and the Jewish leaders. [ NJBC]

14:64: “All of them”: But according to Luke 23:51 Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the council, had not assented. [ NOAB]

14:65: “‘Prophesy!’”: This request carries the irony that the treatment fulfills the Old Testament prophecies found in Servant Songs (see Isaiah 50:4-6; 53:3-5). It may also allude to popular perceptions about Jesus as a prophet (see Mark 6:15; 8:28). [ NJBC]

14:66-72: Note the progression in the audiences for Peter's denials: a “servant girl” ( 14:66), the “servant-girl” plus some “bystanders” ( 14:69), and “the bystanders” ( 14:70). [ NJBC]

Comments: Peter’s dialect shows him to be Galilean: On the Day of Pentecost, the crowd asks: “‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans’” (Acts 2:7).

14:66: See also 14:30. [ NOAB]

14:71: “curse”: Peter not only denies his participation in the movement, but confirms by a “curse” his lack of links with Jesus. [ CAB]

14:72: “the cock crowed for the second time”: i.e. before dawn. In 13:35, Jesus warns: “Therefore, keep awake – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn ...” [ NOAB]

14:72: “he broke down”: The meaning of the Greek is uncertain. [ NOAB]

15:1-5: To CAB, the sanhedrin is a regional one, not the national one.

15:1: “As soon as it was morning”: Jewish law required that the Sanhedrin take formal action by daylight. See also Luke 23:1 and John 18:28-32. [ NOAB] This verse seems to assume the occurrence of a second official meeting of the Sanhedrin in the morning (see also Matthew 26:66; 27:1). [ NJBC]

15:2: “Pilate”: Pilate's headquarters were at Caesarea Maritima; he came to Jerusalem to oversee the Passover pilgrimage, lest trouble break out. [ NJBC]

15:2: “‘Are you the King of the Jews?’”: Pilate's question is a political translation of the titles Messiah and Son of God. It shows that the strategy against Jesus was to connect him with political-messianic movements of the time and to condemn him as a revolutionary. [ NJBC]

15:3: “the chief priests accused him of many things”: Their repeated accusations contrast with the silence of Jesus See also Isaiah 53:7 and Psalm 38:13-15. [ NJBC]

15:6: “he used to release a prisoner for them”: Perhaps the occasional practice of amnesty has been made into a custom by the evangelists or their sources. [ NJBC]

15:7: “Barabbas”: The name is a transliteration of the Aramaic bar ‘abba’, son of the father. [ NJBC]

15:7: “insurrection”: We have no record of this particular insurrection. The crime was more serious than that of brigandage. See also 15:27. John 18:40 tells us “... Barabbas was a bandit”. [ NOAB]

15:11: See also Acts 3:14 (Peter’s statement to the sanhedrin). [ NOAB]

15:13: “Crucify him!”: Mark tells us that Pilate had Jesus crucified not because he was guilty but because the high priests through the crowd put pressure on him (“wishing to satisfy the crowd” according to 15:15) [ NJBC]

15:13: Deuteronomy 21:23 states that a religious curse is implicit in crucifixion. [ NOAB]

15:15: “after flogging Jesus”: The victim was bound to a pillar. [ NJBC]

15:16-47: Jesus is put to death as king of the Jews in accordance with Old Testament prophecy, without playing down the implacable hatred displayed by his adversaries: see 14:21. [ NJBC]

15:16: “the whole cohort”: At full strength, about 500 men. [ NOAB] These men were natives of Palestine and Syria, recruited by the Romans. [ NJBC]

15:21: “Simon of Cyrene”: It is not stated whether he was in Jerusalem as a pilgrim or as a permanent resident [ NJBC] “Cyrene” was the capital city of the north African district of Cyrenaica. The city had a large Jewish community. [ NOAB]

15:21: “Alexander and Rufus”: Probably also known to the Christians who first read Mark. A connection with the “Rufus” Paul greets in Romans 16:13 is possible but has not been established. [ NOAB]

15:22: “Golgotha”: In Jesus' time this place was outside the city walls of Jerusalem. The traditional name Calvary comes from the Latin word for skull, calvaria. [ NJBC]

15:23: “wine mixed with myrrh”: On the basis of Proverbs 31:6-7, the phrase is usually interpreted as a narcotic to ease the pain of the dying person. [ NJBC]

15:25: “nine o'clock in the morning”: Mark’s chronology and John’s differ: according to John 19:14, Jesus was crucified “about noon”. [ NJBC]

15:29: See also 13:2; 14:58; John 2:19. [ NOAB] The claim that Jesus promised to rebuild the Temple in three days distorts his prediction that he will rise from the dead after three days. The accusers confuse his identity with the fate of the Temple. [ CAB]

15:31: The quotation is Psalm 22:7-8. [ NOAB] The “chief priests” and “scribes” echo the charge in 14:61 that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. [ NJBC]

15:32: While here in Mark “those ... crucified” with Jesus “also taunt him, in Luke 23:39-43 one of the criminals acknowledges Jesus’ innocence and asks to be remembered when he comes into his kingdom. [ NJBC]

15:33-39: Jesus' death took place according to God's will made known in the Old Testament. [ NJBC]

15:33: “darkness came over the whole land”: The “land” is most likely Judea. The darkness has been variously interpreted as a sandstorm, an eclipse of the sun (see Luke 23:45, “while the sun's light failed”), or the fulfilment of Amos 8:9: “On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight”. [ NJBC]

15:34: “Jesus cried out with a loud voice”: After a loud cry, Jesus expelled his breath, which implies a voluntary action.

15:35: “he is calling for Elijah”: For Elijah as forerunner of the kingdom, see Mark 1:6; 9:11-13. [ NJBC]

15:36: Psalm 69:21 says “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”. The motive in offering the “sour wine” may have been to revive Jesus, thus prolonging the ordeal. [ NOAB]

15:38: The “curtain” closed off the holy place from the Holy of Holies (see Exodus 26:33; Hebrews 9:3), the sanctuary which represented God’s presence with his people. See also 2 Kings 19:14-15; 2 Chronicles 6:1-2, 18-21; Hebrews 10:19-20. [ NOAB] The rending of the “curtain” at Jesus' death suggests the end of the old covenant with Israel. [ NJBC]

15:39: “‘Truly this man was God's Son!’”: The centurion's confession echoes the opening words of the Gospel: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”. [ NJBC]

15:40: “Mary Magdalene”: She saw Jesus die, knew where he was buried ( 15:47), and went to the tomb on Easter Day ( 16:1).

15:40: “Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome”: To CAB, “James the younger” may be James the son of Alpheus (see 3:18 and Acts 1:13) and “Joses” one of Jesus’ (half-) brothers (see 6:3; “Joseph” in Matthew 13:55). “Salome”, mentioned again in 16:1, is not mentioned in Matthew’s account. [ NJBC] To NJBC, “Mary” is not the mother of Jesus.

15:41: Luke 8:1-3 tells us that women travelled with Jesus and his disciples. Some of the women provided financial support; some had been cured by Jesus. [ NOAB]

15:42: i.e. late afternoon on Friday. [ NOAB] The Sabbath would begin at sunset.

15:46: Acts 13:29 tells us that as Paul tells those attending the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia about Jesus he says: “When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb”. [ NOAB]

15:46: “laid it in a tomb ...”: The area around Jerusalem in Jesus' time has been described as a gigantic cemetery. [ NJBC]

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