New Defender's Study Bible Notes
15:3 answered nothing. Note here the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7. Also note Peter’s use of this example in I Peter 2:20-23.
15:7 Barabbas. Barabbas was a robber (John 18:40), as well as a seditionist (Luke 23:25), insurrectionist and murderer. Yet the priests and the multitude preferred him to Jesus. Pilate, knowing Jesus was innocent, released Barabbas and had Jesus crucified! What a commentary on human nature!
15:21 Simon a Cyrenian. This incident is mentioned in all three synoptic gospels. Cyrene was a city in North Africa. Simon evidently became a Christian; otherwise it is doubtful that the writers would have known his name, and especially the names of his sons.
15:21 Alexander and Rufus. Matthew and Luke also mention Simon, but only Mark mentions Alexander and Rufus, presumably because he knew the family. Rufus probably became a Christian, for there is a Rufus mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:13.
15:25 third hour. “The third hour” means the third hour after sunrise, using the usual Jewish nomenclature at the time, making it about 9:00 a.m. Many years later, John, writing mainly for Gentile readers, used the Roman nomenclature, commenting that Jesus was before Pilate at “about the sixth hour” (John 19:14). Since the Roman day started at midnight, this would have been about 6:00 a.m.
15:26 superscription. Compare Matthew 27:37, Luke 23:38, and John 19:19. These slightly different versions of the superscription can be combined to indicate that the complete text was: THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. Also, since the superscription was written in three languages (Luke 23:38), it is just possible that Matthew recorded the Hebrew version, Mark and Luke the Greek version (with Mark slightly abbreviating it), and John the Latin version.
15:28 fulfilled. The Scripture thus fulfilled was Isaiah 53:9,12. We are thus certainly justified in regarding the amazing chapter of Isaiah 53 as a prophetic picture of Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross, just as Psalm 22 also describes His crucifixion in much detail (note Mark 15:24, in reference to Psalm 22:18).
15:29 wagging their heads. This scene, described graphically in Mark 15:29-32, is plainly predicted in Psalm 22:6-8, written a thousand years beforehand.
15:33 there was darkness. This darkness was mentioned by an early Greek historian named Thallus, who tried to explain it as a solar eclipse. However, the Jewish Passover season was during the time of the full moon, when no solar eclipse could take place. The darkness was altogether unnatural. See note on Matthew 27:45.
15:35 Elias. When Christ called out: “Eloi, Eloi” (addressing God), some mistook Him as calling on Elijah. Already smitten in conscience for the crime being committed, and knowing the Old Testament prophecy of the future return of the translated Elijah (Malachi 4:5), some were suddenly fearful that this might be the time when Elijah would “come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). At this time, having already endured in full measure the three hours of hell (complete separation from the Father) on the cross (see notes on Matthew 27:45,50), He accepted the vinegar He had previously refused (see note on Matthew 27:34), in fulfillment of the one final prophecy yet to be fulfilled in the crucifixion (Psalm 69:21—see John 19:28-30), and then volitionally “gave up the ghost” (Mark 15:37).
15:39 Son of God. This amazing confession of the soldier in charge of the crucifixion (see also Luke 23:47) sprang almost involuntarily from his lips after all he had seen, including the mighty earthquake (Matthew 27:54), and then Christ’s great victory cry (John 19:30), and His voluntary yielding up His spirit so His body could die (Luke 23:46).
15:41 other women. In addition to the women named in Mark 15:40, Matthew indicates the mother of James and John was there (Matthew 27:56). Mary the mother of Jesus had been sent home with John (John 19:27).
15:43 an honourable counseller. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, but was a believer in Jesus (Luke 23:50-51; John 19:38). He evidently had prepared a nearby tomb ahead of time and was waiting in the tomb himself, in order to be aware of the very moment when Jesus died. His request of Pilate was bold indeed, risking his position and perhaps his life to do it. See notes on parallel passages in the other three gospels.