What does Mark 15:8 mean?
ESV: And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them.
NIV: The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.
NASB: And the crowd went up and began asking Pilate to do as he had been accustomed to do for them.
CSB: The crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do for them as was his custom.
NLT: The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual.
KJV: And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.
NKJV: Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them.
Verse Commentary:
The chief priests, elders, and scribes of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, have riled up a crowd. This mob is assembled to push Pilate to crucify Jesus. The crowd also demands Pilate follow the tradition of releasing one prisoner at the Passover.

This tradition is not widely corroborated. The Jewish Mishnah mentions that if someone is promised to be released from prison, others may prepare their portion of the Passover lamb. Another document records the governor of Egypt releasing a prisoner by request of the crowd instead of scourging him.

However, the act is corroborated in Roman law. Roman magistrates can endorse an abolition, which frees a defendant, or an indulgentia, which pardons a convicted criminal, if a crowd demands it. Even if the evidence is overwhelmingly against the defendant or the prisoner was proven guilty, if a crowd demands their release, they can be freed so long as the charge is not high treason.

The practice is consistent with the history of Passover. The first-borns of the Egyptians were killed while the Jews were spared (Exodus 12:1–32). To release a prisoner may be a Roman custom, but it is mirrored in Jewish history.

This little detail is even more poignant for us. Pilate gives the mob a choice between Jesus, an itinerant teacher who heals and feeds people, and Barabbas, an insurrectionist and murderer. Entirely separate from what's happening with Jesus and Pilate, Barabbas is already convicted and was likely set to be crucified this day. Instead, the people demand Jesus be executed. Jesus literally takes the physical punishment meant for a murderer. While doing so, He takes the spiritual punishment we deserve.

It's easy for modern readers, especially believers, to condemn Jerusalem's leadership for accusing Jesus, to berate the disciples for fleeing, and to criticize Pilate for not having the backbone to do what is right. But we have an ugly role in this story, as well: we are Barabbas.
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.
Accessed 5/29/2024 1:51:18 PM
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