15 December 2021
Series: Recharge
Book: John

Comparing Accounts of the Crucifixion

Bible Passage: Mark 15:16-41

All four Gospels contain accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but each one views this event from a different perspective. #SalvationDawns #Recharge

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Comparing Accounts of the Crucifixion

Discussion Question: Why do we have multiple accounts of the crucifixion in the Bible?

Bible Study

Throughout our study of Mark, we have referred to the other 3 Gospels to get different details on certain stories. Each Gospel writer has unique contributions to the Story of Jesus as well as obvious complementary material. However, even in the complementary material, we can sometimes catch the unique perspective from that writer, their vantage point that allowed them to see details in a commonly reported event or teaching that others didn’t have a vantage point to be able to see or hear.

By far, the three most important events in the Gospels are the birth of Jesus (the account of the Doctrine of Incarnation and justification of Jesus as the GodMan), the crucifixion (which includes the definitive death of Jesus), and the resurrection of Jesus. 

In our study of Mark this past Sunday, we landed on his account of the crucifixion and death of Jesus. The text focused us on the 7 different responses to the event. However, given the significance and depth of the passage, I didn’t have time to point out material from the other Gospel accounts. Therefore, given the obvious importance of the death of Christ to the Christian Faith, we felt it was a good time to give you a compilation of all four Gospel accounts as well as to make sure we don’t miss the most important implication!

Compilation of Crucifixion Accounts (ESV)

Preliminary Mocking of Christ/Preparation for the Journey to the Cross.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31)

And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion.17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. (Mark 15:16-20)

Simon of Cyrene/The Journey to the Cross

As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. (Matthew 27:32)

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. (Mark 15:21)

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)

Others in the Procession to the Cross

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:27-31)

Place of Crucifixion

And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), (Matthew 27:33)

And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). (Mark 15:22)

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, (Luke 23:33)

So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. (John 19:16-17)

The Time He was Crucified

And it was the third hour when they crucified him. (Mark 15:25)

Offer of Narcotics

They offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. (Matthew 23:34)

And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. (Mark 15:23)

Roman Soldiers Cast Lots for His Clothing and Divide it Up

And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. (Matthew 23:35-36)

And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. (Mark 15:24)

And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23:34b)

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be. “This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, (John 19:23-24)

The Inscription Above Jesus

And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” (Matthew 27:37)

And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” (Mark 15:26)

There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews. (Luke 23:38)

Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” (John 19:19-22)

Two Robbers Crucified With Jesus

Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. (Matthew 27:38)

And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. (Mark 15:27)

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.  33 … and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. (Luke 23:32, 33b)

There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. (John 19:18)

Jesus Forgives Those Who Crucified Him

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34a)

By offering this prayer Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isa. 53:12: “Yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” 1

Doesn’t mean everybody around the cross was saved because He asked the Father to forgive them but what we see is Jesus living out the very thing He taught (forgive each other) and doing it in the MOST extreme circumstance possible!! Jesus held no bitterness towards those crucifying. He was dying for them too! He wanted their blessings and eternal prosperity! This is forgiveness. This is love! 

Jewish Response to Jesus on the Cross

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” (Matthew 27:39-43)

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. (Mark 15:29-32)

And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” (Luke 23:35)

Roman Soldiers Response to Jesus on the Cross

The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:36-37)

Robbers’ Response to Jesus on the Cross

Mocked

And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. (Matthew 27:44)

Mocked, But One Converted

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

I’m actually going to come back to this in the end but for now, I just want you to know all the religious stuff that is lacking! Jesus guarantees this man’s eternal destiny and yet we have no prayer, baptism, church involvement, etc. We say salvation at its first stage and in its raw reality. Ok, more on that when we wrap this up!

Vinegar/Sour Wine

And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. (Matthew 27:47-48)

And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” (Mark 15:35-36)

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. (John 19:28-29)

In Matthew and Mark, the motive of giving him something to drink seems to be to sustain his life to see if Elijah would come and rescue him.

The Confusion About Elijah

And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” … 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” (Matthew 27:47 & 49)

And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”  (Mark 15:35-36)

“Some Jewish bystanders apparently misunderstood or more likely, as a mockery, deliberately misinterpreted Jesus’ cry as a call to Elijah. Popular Jewish belief held that Elijah came in times of distress to deliver righteous sufferers. Probably in response to Jesus’ additional words “I thirst” (John 19:28–29) a bystander, likely a Roman soldier, soaked a sponge with wine vinegar diluted with a mixture of eggs and water, a common inexpensive beverage, and raised it on a stick to Jesus’ mouth so He could extract some refreshment from it (cf. Ps. 69:21). Jesus’ cross was probably higher than normal, holding Him two or three feet off the ground. If the drink prolonged His life, the spectators would have a chance to see if Elijah would take Him down.”2

Christ’s Declarations from The Cross.

Jesus’ instructions to John and His mother.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46)

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33-34)

Last Words

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. (Matthew 27:50)

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. (Mark 15:37)

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)

“The final word, by means of which the Savior, making use of the phraseology of Ps. 31:5, entrusts his soul to the care of his Father is beautiful because of: (a) what it retains of Ps. 31:5; (b) what it adds; and (c) what it omits. a. It retains “I commend my spirit.” This is significant, for it indicates that the Savior died the only kind of death that was able to satisfy the justice of God and to save man. It had to be a voluntary sacrifice. The very fact that Jesus uttered this word with a loud voice also shows that he willingly, voluntarily laid down his life (John 10:11, 15). b. It adds the significant word Father, not found in the psalm. The importance of this word at this point has already been indicated. c. It omits the clause that immediately follows in the psalm, namely, “Thou hast redeemed me.” In the case of Christ, the Sinless One, no such redemption was necessary nor even possible.”3

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

“It is finished. He repeats the same word which he had lately employed. Now this word, which Christ employs, well deserves our attention; for it shows that the whole accomplishment of our salvation, and all the parts of it, are contained in his death. We have already stated that his resurrection is not separated from his death, but Christ only intends to keep our faith fixed on himself alone, and not to allow it to turn aside in any direction whatever. The meaning, therefore, is, that every thing which contributes to the salvation of men is to be found in Christ, and ought not to be sought anywhere else; or—which amounts to the same thing—that the perfection of salvation is contained in him. There is also an implied contrast; for Christ contrasts his death with the ancient sacrifices and with all the figures; as if he had said, “Of all that was practised under the Law, there was nothing that had any power in itself to make atonement for sins, to appease the wrath of God, and to obtain justification; but now the true salvation is exhibited and manifested to the world.” On this doctrine depends the abolition of all the ceremonies of the Law; for it would be absurd to follow shadows, since we have the body in Christ. If we give our assent to this word which Christ pronounced, we ought to be satisfied with his death alone for salvation, and we are not at liberty to apply for assistance in any other quarter; for he who was sent by the Heavenly Father to obtain for us a full acquittal, and to accomplish our redemption, knew well what belonged to his office, and did not fail in what he knew to be demanded of him. It was chiefly for the purpose of giving peace and tranquillity to our consciences that he pronounced this word, It is finished. Let us stop here, therefore, if we do not choose to be deprived of the salvation which he has procured for us.”4

The Curtain Torn In the Holy of Holies

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:51a)

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38)

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. (Luke 23:44-45b)

Signs of Judgment

Darkness

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.  (Matthew 27:45)

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  (Mark 15:33)

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. (Luke 23:44-45a)

Earthquake

And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. … 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, (Matthew 27:51b, 54)

Jesus’ Side Pierced

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness–his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth–that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” (John 19:31-37)

The response to Christ’s death.

Resurrections

The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52-53)

“But he goes on to say that after his resurrection they came out of the tombs, so that their rising may possibly not be connected with the earthquake. We could put a full stop after were opened (there is no punctuation in the oldest MSS) and understand the breaking of the tombs as occurring on Good Friday and the rising of the saints on Easter Day. Carson cites J. W. Wenham for this view and says: “On the one hand, Jesus’ sacrificial death blots out sin, defeats the powers of evil and death, and opens up access to God. On the other, Jesus’ victorious resurrection and vindication promise the final resurrection of those who die in him.” This may be the way of it, but perhaps we should bear in mind that we too easily separate the death and the resurrection of Jesus and tend to attribute some things to the one and others to the other. There may be some scope for this, but the two go together. The death of Jesus was that of one who would in due course rise again; the rising of Jesus was the rising of one who had died for sinners. The one would be meaningless without the other. It seems that here Matthew has the great death-and-resurrection in mind and links his raising of the saints to the whole happening. Thus he mentions it when he speaks of the death of Jesus but goes on to what he says happened at the time of the resurrection: some of the saints that were asleep … came out of the tombs. Nobody else mentions this, and we are left to conclude that Matthew is making the point that the resurrection of Jesus brought about the resurrection of his people. Just as the rending of the temple curtain makes it clear that the way to God is open for all, so the raising of the saints shows that death has been conquered. Those so raised went into Jerusalem and appeared to many. Since there are no other records of these appearances, it appears to be impossible to say anything about them. But Matthew is surely giving expression to his conviction that Jesus is Lord over both the living and the dead.”5

“And graves were opened. This was also a striking miracle, by which God declared that his Son entered into the prison of death, not to continue to be shut up there, but to bring out all who were held captive. For at the very time when the despicable weakness of the flesh was beheld in the person of Christ, the magnificent and divine energy of his death penetrated even to hell. This is the reason why, when he was about to be shut up in a sepulchre, other sepulchres were opened by him. Yet it is doubtful if this opening of the graves took place before his resurrection; for, in my opinion, the resurrection of the saints, which is mentioned immediately afterwards, was subsequent to the resurrection of Christ. There is no probability in the conjecture of some commentators that, after having received life and breath, they remained three days concealed in their graves. I think it more probable that, when Christ died, the graves were immediately opened, and that, when he rose, some of the godly, having received life, went out of their graves, and were seen in the city. For Christ is called the first-born from the dead, (Col. 1:18,) and the first-fruits of those who rise, (1 Cor. 15:20,) because by his death he commenced, and by his resurrection he completed, a new life; not that, when he died, the dead were immediately raised, but because his death was the source and commencement of life. This reason, therefore, is fully applicable, since the opening of the graves was the presage of a new life, that the fruit or result appeared three days afterwards, because Christ, in rising from the dead, brought others along with him out of their graves as his companions. Now by this sign it was made evident, that he neither died nor rose again in a private capacity, but in order to shed the odour of life on all believers. But here a question arises. “Why did God determine that only some should arise, since a participation in the resurrection of Christ belongs equally to all believers? I reply: As the time was not fully come when the whole body of the Church should be gathered to its Head, he exhibited in a few persons an instance of the new life which all ought to expect. For we know that Christ was received into heaven on the condition that the life of his members should still be hid, (Col. 3:3,) until it should be manifested by his coming. But in order that the minds of believers might be more quickly raised to hope, it was advantageous that the resurrection, which was to be common to all of them, should be tasted by a few. Another and more difficult question is, What became of those saints afterwards? For it would appear to be absurd to suppose that, after having been once admitted by Christ to the participation of a new life, they again returned to dust. But as this question cannot be easily or quickly answered, so it is not necessary to give ourselves much uneasiness about a matter which is not necessary to be known. That they continued long to converse with men is not probable; for it was only necessary that they should be seen for a short time, that in them, as in a mirror or resemblance, the power of Christ might plainly appear. As God intended, by their persons, to confirm the hope of the heavenly life among those who were then alive, there would be no absurdity in saying that, after having performed this office, they again rested in their graves. But it is more probable that the life which they received was not afterwards taken from them; for if it had been a mortal life, it would not have been a proof of a perfect resurrection. Now, though the whole world will rise again, and though Christ will raise up the wicked to judgment, as well as believers to salvation, yet as it was especially for the benefit of his Church that he rose again, so it was proper that he should bestow on none but saints the distinguished honour of rising along with him.”6

Centurion(s) Converted

When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54)

Note: Matthew suggests all the guards converted!

And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)

Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” (Luke 23:47)

The Crowd Mourned

48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. (Luke 23:48)

Luke says those who left mourning the death of Christ were, “All the crowds that had assembled for the spectacle.” I don’t believe this includes the religious leaders or others mentioned in Luke’s account, I believe he is speaking of those who simply gathered to witness a crucifixion, not necessarily of Jesus, but certainly could include those who had heard of Jesus and thus served as a motive to see the crucifixion. However, “assembled for this spectacle” seems to take the attention OFF of being there in some context directly related to Christ (the religious leaders who wanted to make sure he died, the roman soldiers doing their job, the followers of Jesus who stood at a distance (seemingly only female followers of Christ from Galilee), Mary the mother of Jesus and John who was with her.)

Noted Christ supporters at the Cross (other than John and Mary the Mother of Jesus)

There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (Matthew 27:55-56)

There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem. (Mark 15:40-41)

And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. (Luke 23:49)

Interesting Luke says “acquaintances.” This seems to be people with casual relationships with Christ and thus furthers the significance that His own disciples (minus John) are not there.

Conclusion

There is so much we could talk about to land this plane, but I wanted to share a little 3-minute video clip of Alistair Begg highlighting the story of the thief on the cross and the MASSIVE implication it has to our faith!

 

And there it is! Learning the facts about the crucifixion of Jesus is important, but those facts are not there for us to become historians but rather to encourage us and motivate us to be faithful followers of Jesus, to worship Him with all our heart, and to stand fully convinced of HIS AMAZING and ALL SUFFICIENT GRACE! God wants you to fully understand that the death of Jesus is not only in its historical context but most importantly in its life application context. Listen to the words of Paul.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Footnotes

  1. Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, p. 1028). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
  2. Grassmick, J. D. (1985). Mark. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 189). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, p. 1036). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
  4. Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Gospel according to John (Vol. 2, pp. 235–236). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  5. Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 725). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.
  6. Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 3, pp. 324–326). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.