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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

Have you ever noticed that even though the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) all chronicle the life of Jesus, the events included or omitted can vary, as can the order in which they're presented? 

One thing that I've learned from many years of reading the Bible is that EVERYTHING was done the way it was for a reason. There's meaning in everything; sometimes it just takes some digging discover what it is. It helps our understanding if we remember the Bible was written by specific people in a certain time and place. In other words, context matters. If we take a closer look we'll discover many of the New Testament writers were influenced by the Romans who lived among them.  

In a previous post we saw how the book of Revelation was structured like something the original audience, familiar with the practices of Rome, would understand - the Roman emperor's advent. (This is when he declares himself to be god.) We find the same thing happening in the book of Mark, which was written as a letter to Rome. It is believed that Mark mentions Alexander and Rufus as sons of Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21) because they were members of the church in RomeThe book of Mark is patterned after the process of the emperor's coronation. (This is when he declares himself to be the king of the world.)  

Mark deliberately did this because the Romans didn’t value people who were weak or who didn’t fight, they valued strength.  The order of events in Mark differs from those in the other gospels because he wants the Romans to see Jesus’ walk to the cross as His coronation.  This letter was written close to the time of Nero’s coronation, so the readers would’ve been familiar with the process. 

Nine steps to the Caesar’s coronation/Jesus crucifixion

#1.  The entire Praetorian guard assembles in the Praetorium.

#1. “The soldiers led Jesus away into the Praetorium and called together the whole company of soldiers.”  ~ Mark 15:16

#2.  A purple robe is placed on his shoulders and a wreath (Greek word “stephanos” meaning a crown you earn) placed on his head.  

#2.  “They put a purple robe on Him, then . . . a crown of thorns.” Mark 15:17

#3.  Caesar is acclaimed by the Praetorians; they call out “Hail Caesar.”

#3.  Jesus is acclaimed by the Praetorians: “Hail, king of the Jews.” Mark 15:18

#4.  There is a procession through the city.  Caesar leads the sacrificial bull, carrying the instrument of death (usually an axe).

#4.  Jesus, who was the sacrifice, was in a procession through the city, carrying the instrument of death (the cross). Mark 15:20-21

#5.  They proceed to the highest hill, Capitaline Hill (Capital means “head.”)

#5.  They proceeded to the hill called Golgotha (the place of the skull) Mark 15:22

#6.  Wine is offered to Caesar, but he refuses it, pouring it out.

#6.  “They offered Him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.” Mark 15:23
(This is only found in Mark’s gospel, probably because while unimportant to the other audiences, it was essential to Mark’s parallel to a coronation)

#7.  The sacrifice is made at the bottom of the hill.

#7.  The sacrifice is made.  “They crucified him.” Mark 15:24

#8.  The next two men in rank are elevated.  With one on Caesar’s right and one on his left, they proceed up the hill.

#8.  “They crucified two robbers with Him, one on his right and one on his left.” Mark 15:27  Jesus’ next in rank were the lowest of the low. 

#9.  The people and the gods publicly acclaim Caesar. (There was a total eclipse of the sun at the time of Nero’s coronation.  He probably had prior knowledge of this, but to the people, this would’ve been a sign of acceptance from the gods.)

#9.  The people and God publicly acclaim Jesus.  “At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.” ~ Mark 15:38  

“Surely this man was the Son of God!” ~ Mark 15:39  
When the Roman declares Jesus is God, he’s declaring this is a coronation. 

Mark wanted the recipients to understand that Jesus wasn’t defeated; He was victorious!

There were three criteria that an area had to meet to hold a crucifixion. (1) It had to be by a main gate to the city, (2) near a busy street and (3) by a “cursed” place.  There are two sites in Jerusalem that are possible locations of Jesus’ crucifixion because they both meet these three criteria.  In both cases, the cursed place is an abandoned quarry.  These quarries were abandoned because all the good rock had been removed.  The inferior rock that was left was prone to crack.  

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” ~ Psalm 118:24  

Why do we rejoice?  Look back a couple verses.  

The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;” ~ Psalm 118:22

This is the day the abandoned stone (Jesus) became the head.    


*This post is based on a lecture from Ray VanderLaan that I heard many years ago. You can find more of Ray's teachings here.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    This kinda boggled my mind. It's amazing how deep and rich God's Word is. We can never get through all the layers!

  2. Dee Dee says:

    Wow. I don't think I've ever heard of how the gospel of Mark spoke so specifically to those who understood the Roman coronation. It makes a lot of sense.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog! Have a wonderful Easter!

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