16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’
40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
"New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved."
All four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ execution are indebted to Psalm 22 to explain the significance of the events they describe. This is the psalm of lament that begins. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” but ends on a note of praise for the God who vindicates, “Future generations will proclaim the Lord’s deliverance to a people yet unborn.” The central verses of the psalm have always reminded Christians of Jesus’ death, and this includes the four evangelists. In addition to commonalities dependent on Psalm 22, all four Gospel account portray Jesus as crucified between two other men, that “the King of the Jews” was his capital offense, and that women disciples witnessed the execution.
Once again, the differences among the accounts reveal much of the evangelists’ minds. In Mark’s Gospel, the execution begins with Jesus being mockingly crowned with thorns by Roman soldiers. Jesus is led to the crucifixion site, but a passerby is made to carry his cross. Jesus is crucified at 9 a.m. and agonizes for 6 hours until his death at 3 p.m. Everyone – bystanders, priests, and the other crucifixion victims – mock Jesus. Jesus is offered a sponge soaked in vinegar to drink.
His last words in Mark’s Gospel are vs. 1 of Psalm 22, “My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?” However, it is unclear whether this is a cry of abandonment or only the first words of a psalm of vindication that Jesus is unable to complete. Mark may have deliberately left this ambiguous in order to challenge his readers to decide what Jesus’ cross means to them. When Jesus expires, the curtain of the Temple is torn. Though no physical cause is described, it seems clear that the active agent is God. Mark is portraying divine judgment coming upon the Temple, an ominous allusion to its destruction four decades later.
The centurion’s exclamation, “Truly this was God’s Son” is the climax of the Gospel. For his entire narrative, Mark has presented every group of human characters – Jesus’ disciples, Jesus’ family, the priests and scribes, the crowds – as unable to fathom Jesus’ identity. The reader has been made aware of Jesus’ divine Sonship by the Gospel’s first verse, twice by a heavenly voice, and on numerous occasions by the howls of demons. Now, at the moment of his death, the centurion is the first human Marcan character to perceive things clearly by “seeing the manner in which he died.” For Mark, no one can appreciate Jesus’ divinity unless they have encountered the cross. It is through his execution that God’s love is disclosed. This is a crucial message for Mark’s persecuted church.