16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus,was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.  29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!”31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
(Mark 15:16-32 NIV)
In previous passages, Jesus was arrested by Jewish religious leaders, tried illegally, and condemned of blasphemy against God. Since the Romans would not allow the Jewish leaders to execute anyone, and the Roman courts would not hear any cases involving Jewish religious issues, the religious leaders changed their charges against Jesus from blasphemy to high treason against Ceasar and Rome. This charge would force Roman governor Pilate to hear their case.
Pilate agrees to hear the case against Jesus. Pilat sees through the envious intent of the Jewish leaders’ arguments but capitulates to the pressure of the crowd’s demand to crucify Jesus. Pilate sends Jesus to be flogged and then crucified.
As we look into today’s passage, we see Jesus being led away to crucifixion. As the arrangements are being made, the soldiers guarding Jesus pass the time by mocking Him as king. When preparations were complete, the soldiers took Jesus to Golgotha, where they crucified Him.
Along the way, the Roman soldiers, as was their right, pressed a nearby civilian into their service, having this man carry Jesus’ cross. Mark captures the man’s name (Simon the Cyrene), along with the names of his two sons (Alexander and Rufus). While Scriptures do not say, historians suspect that Simeon of Niger (Acts 13:1) is the same person as Simon the Cyrene, and that Rufus, Simon’s son is the same Rufus mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 16:13).
The soldiers offer Jesus some drugged wine to ease the pain, but Jesus refuses it. Jesus had promised to not drink wine again until He drinks it again with His disciples in God’s kingdom (Mark 14:25).
The soldiers strip Jesus naked, crucify Him, then gamble for His clothes. Two other men, both criminals, are crucified on either side of Jesus. The two criminals, along with the onlooking crowd and the religious leaders gathered at the crosses, mock Jesus. Mark tells us that all these activities happen between 9 AM and 12 Noon.
The crowds and religious leaders taunted Jesus to save Himself and come down off the cross. Little did they understand that Jesus had the power to come down off the cross, but refused to do so because love held Him there. His boundless and limitless love for you and me compelled Him to suffer instead of us for our sins, even to die in our place for the punishment of our sins.
In exchange, Jesus offers us eternal life and a right relationship with God through His death, burial, and resurrection. If we have accepted Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf and name Jesus as our only way to heaven and eternal life, then God sees us as pure and holy because of Jesus’ payment for our sins.
Yes, Jesus loves you and me that much.
Dear friend, what does Jesus’ love and sacrifice stir up in you this day?
A desire to receive His gift of salvation and eternal life, if you have not accepted His offer before?
Or a heart of gratitude and lifelong service to Him, if you have already accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord?