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Today’s Reading: Mark 15:16-32

16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the praetorium); and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him,”Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and they knelt 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.
21 And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Gol- gotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour, when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 saveyourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes, 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.

Today’s Commentary:

they crucified him: A form of Roman execution adopted from earlier Persian practice. Crucifixion was torturous, degrading, and reserved for the most heinous criminals – usually insurrectionists. The victims’ feet were nailed to an upright stake and their wrists to a wooden crossbeam (Ps 22:16). Death came slowly from a combination of blood loss and asphyxiation, a process that could be hastened by breaking the criminal’s legs (Jn 19:33). Corpses were often lefthanging for days as a public deterrent against criminal activity and a powerful symbol of Rome’s domination of Palestine.

Christian tradition sees in Jesus’ physical death on the tree (Acts 10:39) the antithesis of Adam’s spiritual death at the tree of good and evil (Gen 3:6, 17-19). Whereas Adam’s sin brought death to the entire human family, Jesus’ death rescues man from sin and gives him new life in the family of God (Rom 5:12-19).