Mark 15: The King of the Jews

As a child of the 1980s, Michael Jackson has always been a fixture in my memory.  Whether it was as a child with the Jackson 5 or his “Thriller” album (was there a household in America that did not own a copy of that record?) or the sad carnival sideshow that his life became, we all knew the “King of Pop.”  He spoke and we listened.  He acted and we paid attention.  He went on tour and he commanded hundred of dollars per ticket.  That is power, freakish though it may be.

Before there was the King of Pop, there was the King of Rock and Roll.  Just about anybody over age of 65 here in Memphis has their own personal Elvis Presley stories.  He shaped an entire genre of music.  He has a street named after him.  And a trauma center too.  His end was as sad as Jackson’s, but who can deny Elvis’ royalty?

The latest king plays basketball, King LeBron James.  Love him or hate him, none can deny he elicits strong emotions.  When the Miami Heat comes to town, count on a sold out arena.  This King has had his image plastered on magazine ads encouraging us to come “witness” the works of this king.  He has been emblazoned on murals the size of buildings.  He is at the height of basketball prowess, and even Michael Jordan knows it.

I grew up in Canada where the British royalty remains an honored institution.  Life stops for a royal wedding.  My mother still has a commemorative plate from Charles and Diana’s wedding in her china cabinet and that was twenty-five years ago.  Now, simply say the name “Kate” and we know you are referring to Kate Middleton, the new Duchess of Cambridge.  Beside her always is the dashing William, the next king of Britain.  I am too young to remember the coronation of Elizabeth II, but be assured that William’s coronation will be a fete unequaled in pomp and circumstance.

Then we come to a coronation of an entirely different sort today:

The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard–that is, the Praetorium–and called together the whole squad.  They dressed Jesus up in purple; then, weaving together a crown of thorns, they stuck it on him.  They began to salute him: “Greetings, king of the Jews!” And they hit him over the head with a staff, and spat at him, and knelt him down to do homage.  Then, when they had mocked him, they took the purple robe off him, and out his own clothes back on. (15:16-20)

This is a very different king.  Power means something very different to this king.  People respond differently to this king.  There must be different principles in this kingdom.

What affected you anew in this heart-rending chapter?  

Categories: Mark | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Mark 15: The King of the Jews

  1. The King of Jews. It be express in many way.
    1) Jews mocking Jesus (v3, 18, 19,20, 26, 31,32)
    2) Jesus as leader of Jews, but what about non-Jewish?
    but Jesus is not even a king.

    I like to take my first opinion. Jews are mocking Jesus. The motto of “The King of Jews” should not something to be proud of.

    v34 – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Who is Jesus God, he is not talking to himself, until his death, he not even do that and still talking to Father.
    Why have Father abandon Jesus.

    v39- “Surely this man was the Son of God!” This a totally mocking verse.

    • You are right that in many of the cases where “King of the Jews” is used in this passage it is used by people to mock him. They were expecting a warrior king. No such king would be in Jesus’ shoes at this point, so they thought. And if he were the kind of king they were looking for, they would be right. But Jesus was a different kind of king. We might call this a sort of irony. That is my point today; he may also not be the kind of king we are expecting. He is a king of the heart. His kingdom is within us. His kingdom overwhelms with love, not power. He saves, not destroys. So, in this way he was a king and his victory comes through death and resurrection, not vanquishing those who oppress.

      Yes, apart from a view of the Trinity this is a passage where Jesus prays to the Father seems odd. But a belief that holds that each is a separate personality within one whole can allow for just inter-trinitarian dialogue.

      Two views on why God would “forsake” him:
      1) Jesus is quoting here the first line of Psalm 22, a famous Messianic psalm, one that discusses the crucifixion. It is kind of like saying the first line of a famous song; people will start singing the following lines in their head too. Maybe Jesus was doing that same sort of thing here trying to remind people of this famous psalm so that maybe they would make the connection with Psalm 22 and see that he is the Messiah.
      2) Or maybe God the Father really has “forsaken” or turned his back on the Son because at this time Jesus has taken on all of the sins of the world and is thoroughly sinful at this time. With Jesus’ death this sin is paid for/atoned and the Father’s anger is quenched. Now normal relationships can be restored.

      As always, good logical questions.

      • I see also in another view:
        If I given name, example John from New York and in his home town they call you Johnny. Then some bullies come to me and said “Hey, King of New York” and I said yes. Then they spit on me, mocking me later. Put a throne in head and hanging in the wood and stated “King of New York”. Will I like that name or the throne? I dont think I will.

        I will consider different if the name is given by our loved one, example family or friends. There was many others proper way to called Jesus but why I see in Wikipedia, it seem “The King of Jews” is something an honor. For me there was many other honorific name that can give to Jesus.

        Again a throne putting in Jesus head also being put by Jews who want to killed him. This is not honor at all. Before this I thought it was a symbolic to put a throne. In this verse, I see it differently.

        But I look in this view – Christian also become a bully to our beloved Jesus, maybe they not doing directly but by supporting the bully. Seriously, at this point of view, I cant understand how Christianity can think of that, but may be we can find an answer in future chapter.


        • Good suggestion. Let’s keep reading. At this point we are talking past one another. I don’t think I am getting my point across very well to you. I think we will see that this idea of Jesus being a “king” comes back several times in other books, even next Tuesday in Acts 1:6-8.

  2. Georgia Stafford

    Jason, as I read your thoughts I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I have every lyric from Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” album memorized. I have been to Graceland at least five times with various family members and school groups, and I have a pretty good understanding of the history of Elvis. I can remember everything Princess Di wore, her carriage, and where I was during her wedding ceremony.

    However, I struggle to memorize scripture, I don’t take enough time to grasp all the history behind the story of Christ, and I am quick to focus on earthly treasures. I am very humbled by my King’s suffering and sacrifice for me. I am so undeserving and broken hearted about my sin.

    • Georgia, you are so right! Me too, well sort of. I might not remember Di’s dress that well! 🙂 It’s interesting, Elvis only one two Grammys. Both were for his gospel music not his RnR. They say by the end of his life the only thing that calmed him down (well, other than tranquilizers) was singing spirituals to and about the real King.

  3. Trent Williamson

    Barabbas was one lucky dude………….wait………….so am I!!! Isn’t it cool how Mark gives us a glimpse of Grace – a glimpse of redemption – a glimpse of Jesus taking our place………..even BEFORE the crucifixion! Was it Barabbas’ lucky day – or a glimpse of the Gospel. Barabbas was one lucky dude…….. wait………… am I!!!

  4. Trent Williamson

    Georgia – I just quoted about half of one of my favorite movies “O Brother Where Art Thou” just for kicks…………………but have a hard time remembering Psalm 23. Why is that???

  5. Melanie Semore

    I am amazed by Jesus’ silent acceptance of false accusations and of the cruel mockery. I suppose there was no point in his challenging his accusers, but his acceptance of his father’s will and of his role in redeeming all mankind is what really caused him not to protest. “It was my sin that held him there until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life–I know that it is finished.”

  6. Courtney

    Love verse 43, “Joseph was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.” May it be so for all of us.

  7. Eddy

    “Pilate gave the crowd what they wanted.” It hit me today that this happens to me too. Because of free choice my life is often what I wanted. I tend to blame God for how things are when I was the one who got exactly what I “wanted.” Also it occurred to me that not only did Jesus not speak, he didn’t rant that his people would riot if Pilate didn’t release him. He didn’t use his status as an innocent king to rile up his people to war against this unjust situation. He let his people choose what they wanted. He always does.

  8. I normally have words of response to these readings. Too many words. Today I just have sadness. How could so many have turned against him? How could so many want to do harm to him, and actually do it? I tomorrow will bring gladness. But I hope never to lose the sadness chapter 15 brings.

  9. “The soldiers took Jesus into the headquarters of the governor’s compound and summoned a military unit of nearly six hundred men.” (15:16)

    Never have I noticed the sheer numbers of soldiers there surrounding Jesus, mocking him, beating him. That must have been a horrific scene!

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