two woman look at a book in an impressionist painting

Questions for Reflection and Discussion – Mark 15 6-15, 33-39

We are studying portions of Mark 15 (Mark 15:6-15, 25-26, and 33-39) for Sunday, June 9. June 9 is Pentecost – which has to do with our scripture in the way something that comes afterwards has to do with what came before it, and was a condition for it. Our text is a portion of Mark’s account of how “Jesus Christ, God’s only son, our Lord” “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead …” which as we know, if we affirm the Apostles’ Creed regularly, is followed by “On the third day He rose again …”

Study notes for the text are here. Here are a few questions we might want to consider before or during class:

Verses 6-12 refer to several different leaders: Pilate, the Roman governor; Barabbas, an insurrectionary leader; the “King of the Jews” – a term applied by Pilate to Jesus; the chief priests who reportedly “stirred up the crowd.” What elements of leadership do these leaders seem to represent? Are any of these elements or aspects of leadership part of Jesus’ Lordship? Are any of these leaders similar to Jesus in any ways, do we think? How are they different from Jesus? What does any of this tell us about leadership? About Jesus?

Pilate describes Jesus as “King of the Jews.” Pilate may intend this to be mocking, and to demonstrate that Roman power is greater than the Jews’ power, or this alleged King’s power. We can read this reference as ironic, because “King of the Jews” may be a reference to the messiah, and we know that Jesus is the messiah. In what ways is this title correct and appropriate? In what ways is it incorrect and inappropriate?

How does the role of “King” work in our own understanding of Jesus? Do we ourselves think of Jesus as “King” – and what does that mean for us? Or do we most often think of Jesus some other way? What other way? What does thinking of Jesus as “King” add to our thoughts and feelings about Jesus? What does it change in our thoughts and feelings about Jesus?

In verse 33, “darkness came over the whole land.” What does that darkness in the story mean to us?

In verses 35-36, bystanders misunderstand Jesus’ cry in verse 34, and are excited by the prospect of a dramatic, miraculous event – “Elijah” coming “to take him down.” What is going on in this episode, do we think? Are we ever like these bystanders? How, in what ways? Are we different from them? Again, how? If Mark is showing us their behavior for a reason – what is the reason, do we suppose? What can we learn from them, about ourselves? About God?

What do we think the centurion in verse 39 saw – perceived? How is his perception different from that of the others in the story – from Pilate’s, from the crowd’s and the bystanders’, from the chief priests’? What makes it different, do we think?

Do we ourselves see Jesus from the centurion’s perspective? Why, or why not?

two woman look at a book in an impressionist painting

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