Day 6: The Crucifixion

2 04 2010

For the sixth day of Holy Week I have read Mark 15:1 – 41 and am going to look at the ‘Coronation’ of Jesus, which is something that is highlighted by Shane Claiborne in his book ‘Jesus for President’ (a book that is well worth reading in its entirety!). He looks at the powerful way that Jesus’ procession to the cross is contrasted with Caesar’s coronation and procession, and how significant it must have been to the early readers of the Gospel.

Coronation and Procession (8 steps)

1. Caesar: The Praetorian guard (six thousand soldiers) gathered in the Praetorium. The would-be Caesar was brought into the middle of the gathering.

1. Jesus: Jesus was brought to the Praetorium in Jerusalem. And the whole company of soldiers (at least two hundred) gathered there.

2. Caesar: A purple robe was placed on the candidate. They were also given an olive-leaf wreath made of gold and a sceptre for the authority of Rome.

2. Jesus: Soldiers brought Jesus a wreath (of thorns), a sceptre (an old stick), and a purple robe.

3. Caesar: Caesar was loudly acclaimed as triumphant by the Praetorian Guard.

3. Jesus: Sarcastically, the soldiers acclaimed, mocked, and paid homage to Jesus.

4. Caesar: A procession through the streets began. Caesar walked with a sacrificial bull and a slave with an axe to kill the bull behind him.

4. Jesus: The procession began. But instead of a bull the would-be king and god became the sacrifice and Simon of Cyrene was to carry the cross.

5. Caesar: The procession moved to the highest hill in Rome, the Capitolene hill (‘head hill’).

5. Jesus: Jesus was led up to Golgotha (in Aramaic ‘head hill’).

6. Caesar: The candidate stood before the temple altar and was offered a bowl of wine mixed with myrrh, which he was to refuse. The wine was then poured onto the bull and the bull was then killed.

6. Jesus: He was offered wine, and he refused. Right after, it is written, “And they crucified him.”

7. Caesar: The Caesar-to-be gathered his second in command on his right hand and his third on his left.

7. Jesus: Next came the account of those being crucified on his right and left.

8. Caesar: The crowd acclaimed the inaugurated emperor. And for the divine seal of approval, the gods would send signs, such as a flock of doves or a solar eclipse.

8. Jesus: He was again acclaimed (mocked) and a divine sign confirmed God’s presence (the temple curtain ripped in two). Finally, the Roman guard, who undoubtedly pledged allegiance to Caesar, the other ‘Son of God’, was converted and acclaimed this man as the Son of God.

This extraordinary symbolism would have been unmistakable to the first readers of the Gospel. The crown of thorns, the purple robe, the royal staff; the whole section leading up to the crucifixion reads like the coronation of Jesus! At the apex of this passage is the Roman Centurion’s exclamation that “Surely this man was the Son of God!” He saw how Jesus died and became the first evangelist. His realisation tears apart his whole view of the world and reveals the fallacy of earthly empire and the nature of the true King.

Mark is trying to show us where our allegiance should lie. At the foot of the cross, when even those that Jesus loved must have been bewildered (only failed Messiahs hung on crosses), a Roman Centurion proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God! The journey to the cross was the final coronation of the Son of God, the rightful King, who in the cross defeated sin and death.





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2 04 2010


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