The entire narrative has been inexorably heading towards this point.
Reading this afresh it is remarkable how much Mark says in the sparest of prose. Simon of Cyrene is introduced, the account of the soldiers’ gambling for Jesus’ last vestiges of dignity and life is told, the drink of gall and Jesus’ refusal is mentioned – and all framed by these three words, ‘they crucified him‘.
Unadorned facts. Short. Brutal. Real. Left to the reader’s imagination – of an all too familiar form of violent death.
I have a confession here. I have never watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. I can’t even articulate exactly why but I know I’ve never had any inclination to see it. It just felt so ‘out of step’ with the Gospels. The violence is not overlooked but it is not centre stage.
The real point, and more of Mark’s irony is at play here, is that this powerless, condemned, thirsty, beaten, bloodied, publicly humiliated, mocked, shamed and abandoned Jew dying a cursed man’s death, really is, against every expectation and every prior theological framework, the long promised King of the Jews, the Messiah of God.
But that’s a crazy foolish thing to say. Makes no sense at all. Does it?
The Crucifixion of Jesus
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. 24And 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.