What does Mark 15:12 mean?
ESV: And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?”
NIV: What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?' Pilate asked them.
NASB: And responding again, Pilate said to them, 'Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?'
CSB: Pilate asked them again, "Then what do you want me to do with the one you call the king of the Jews? "
NLT: Pilate asked them, 'Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?'
KJV: And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?
NKJV: Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”
Verse Commentary:
Pontius Pilate is often criticized for being an inept governor and a moral coward. However, he's not someone to be dismissed as a fool, or lacking intellect. The sarcasm and artistry of his words here are exquisite. By repeatedly using the term "King of the Jews" (Marks 15:9), Pilate is deliberately sneering at the people of Israel, mocking them by holding up someone like Jesus as their king. Jesus is a fatherless (Mark 6:3) itinerant teacher from Nazareth, from where nothing good comes (John 1:46).

But the powerful of Jerusalem are so jealous they try to get Jesus killed by claiming He is committing treason against Caesar. The most recent kings of the Jews have been from the line of Herod the Great. Herod was ethnically a descendent of Esau—then called the Idumeans (Mark 3:8)—and only vaguely Jewish in his religion. Herod trained his children in the ways of protecting one's authority through ruthless violence and crafty machinations. His legacy is reflected more in the Jewish leadership than in the humble man they accuse of trying to steal the crown.

It is custom during the Passover to release a prisoner, either a defendant or one who has been convicted. Roman law allows a governor or other magistrate to free someone upon the will of a large crowd. The chief priests have condemned Jesus according to the Mosaic law, and now they whip the crowd into demanding the release of Barabbas, a murdering insurrectionist.

We don't know who comprises this crowd. Scholars suggest it is filled with followers, or at least fans, of Barabbas. Those emphasizing the fickleness of human nature insist it is the exact same people who rejoiced over the return of David's kingdom during the triumphal entry (Mark 11:7–10), and who enjoyed watching Jesus defeat the logic of scribes, priests, and elders on the temple Mount (Mark 12:37). That kind of dramatic, immediate turn-around is not necessary to explain this scene, however. Considering the tens of thousands who have come to Jerusalem for Passover, it would be easy to find a mob that knows very little about Jesus. Even so, the desire to favor an insurrectionist over a peace-maker is a well-documented characteristic of human nature.
Verse Context:
Mark 15:6–15 describes history's greatest miscarriage of justice. The Sanhedrin has convicted Jesus with blasphemy, a crime in the Mosaic law (Mark 14:61–64). Such a charge won't convince the Roman authorities to execute Jesus, so they present Him to Pilate as an imminent insurrectionist (Luke 23:2, 5). Pilate interrogates Jesus and finds Him harmless (John 18:33–38). Pilate then sends Jesus to Herod Antipas, who also finds the Sanhedrin's charges baseless (Luke 23:6–15). Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate who must decide: risk rebellion by the Jewish leadership or kill an innocent man? Pilate's decision is also found in Matthew 27:15–26, Luke 23:13–25, and John 18:38—19:16.
Chapter Summary:
After sham trials, Jesus is taken to the local Roman governor, Pilate. This is the only person in Jerusalem with the legal authority to have Jesus executed. Pilate is not fooled, and he attempts to arrange for Jesus' release. But the ruler's ploys fail, in part because Jesus will not defend Himself, and partly because the mob is intent on His death. Pilate offers a prisoner exchange in Barabbas, and even has Jesus brutally beaten in order to pacify the crowd. Eventually, he caves in and Jesus is crucified. Thanks to His prior abuse, Jesus survives only a few hours on the cross before dying. Jesus is then buried in a tomb belonging to a secret follower among the Jerusalem council.
Chapter Context:
After being unfairly judged, Jesus will now be unfairly sentenced and cruelly murdered. It's reasonable to say this chapter provides context for everything else contained in the Bible. From Adam and Eve until the last baby born in the millennial kingdom, every person other than Christ is stained with sin. Conscience, law, Jesus' direct leadership, even the indwelling of the Holy Spirit cannot keep us from sinning. Sinless Jesus had to die on the cross, sacrificing Himself in our place, so our sins could be forgiven and we could be reconciled to God. Beneath the violence, darkness, dishonor, and death is the love of God for all mankind (John 3:16). Jesus' crucifixion is also found in Matthew 27, Luke 23, and John 19. The next chapter describes the miracle of His resurrection.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
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