Mark 15:1-20 | Discussion Questions

Mark 15:1-20

Preached at SoBo on October 30, NM on November 6, 2022



How do you react when accused of something? Are you immediately defensive? How do you respond if the accusation is true? If it is false?

In a few hours, Jesus goes from enjoying the Passover meal with his disciples to being betrayed, arrested, deserted, and tried. His trial continued into Friday morning when the religious leaders bound and delivered him to Pilate, accusing him of many things. Yet Jesus remains silent. His quiet amazes Pilate, yet Pilate passively releases a murderer, Barabbas, due to the anger and rage of the crowd. Jesus takes Barabbas’s place and is given a crown of thorns, mocked, spit on, and beaten, leading to his crucifixion.

The moment Jesus has alluded to multiple times throughout Mark (8:31-9:1; 9:30-32; Mark 10:32-24) is here. Jesus will be sent to authorities to be condemned, mocked, and killed. Our passage falls on Friday morning following the Passover meal, Jesus in Gethsemane, the betrayal by Judas, Jesus’ trial, and Peter’s denial. Here we encounter Jesus’ final sentencing and handing over to be crucified.


MARK 15:1-20
15 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

16 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.


  • Begin by examining the text together. What do you notice? What stands out? What is unexpected? Who are the main characters? What is surprising?
  • Compare and contrast Jesus in this passage to the Jesus we have come to know through the rest of Mark. What are the similarities? Differences? 
  • Why do you think Pilate is so passive?
  • What is significant about Barabbas, a criminal, being released while Jesus is condemned? 
  • Read John 19:1-16. How does this text differ? Does it impact our understanding of Mark 15:1-20?


  • Jesus is addressed three times with the title “King of the Jews.” While twice it is mockingly, there is an ironic affirmation of Christ’s kingship. 
    • Where in your life is Christ reigning as King? Where is he not? 
    • How can we have Christ be King over our entire lives? 
  • At this point, Jesus is entirely alone. His disciples have abandoned him, Peter has denied him, and he has taken the place of a murderer. From all vantage points, there is little or no hope, but Jesus continues in faithfulness.
    • Read Hebrews 12:1-2. What was the hope set before Christ? 
    • Are you as hopeful as Christ? Do you live life with the hope that Christ has died, risen, and will rise again? 


Father, we thank you for Christ’s perseverance through abandonment, slander, beating, and death. He is reigning as King at your right hand! May we have the faith to follow in Christ’s footsteps, to be faithful to you from the mountaintop to the valley-low. May our hope be rooted in Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and future return. Renew us and Restore us. Amen.