Summary: Mark 15 is not only the story of the crucifixion of Christ, but presents us with a series of amazing paradoxes that reveal wonderful truths to us.

Passion Paradoxes

Lead up to Easter sermon (preached on Palm Sunday)

Chuck Sligh

April 5, 2020

NOTE: PowerPoint presentation is available for this sermon by request at Please mention the title of the sermon and the Bible text to help me find the sermon in my archives

Inspired and adapted from a sermon by Dennis Davidson on

TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 15


This morning we’re going to be in Mark still, but we’re going to go almost to the end of Mark to look at something that I found to be very interesting in the run-up to Easter. As I studied Mark 15 preparing for today’s sermon, a number of paradoxes jumped out at me.

Webster’s defines a paradox as a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that, when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true. For instance, someone said, “Some of the biggest failures I ever had were successes.” Now a failure is, by definition, the opposite of success. But we understand that though technically that statement is self-contradictory, there’s a deeper truth that what may be a failure today might turn out to be something different in retrospect.

Here are a couple of other examples of paradoxes:

• Save money by spending it. – To save money is the opposite of spending it, but we understand that sometimes we should spend some money for means or ways that will in the end save us more money.

• If I know one thing, it’s that I know nothing. – Well, if you know nothing, you cannot know one thing, but we intuitively get the underlying point of the paradox.

Jesus gave a paradox when he said in Mark 8:35, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” On the surface, this seems contradictory. But Jesus was speaking of saving or losing our lives in the temporal realm on earth and having the opposite effect on eternity.

Paradoxes help us see deeper truths than what is on the surface. As I studied Mark 15, I realized the chapter is saturated with paradoxes and that they help us see the crucifixion of Christ from God’s perspective. Let’s examine the many paradoxes of the cross this morning to see what I’m talking about:


Think about Jesus’ weakness on the way to Calvary, known as the Via Dolorosa. In Mark 15:21-23 we read, “And they compelled one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. 23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he did not take it.”

I mentioned earlier in our study of Mark that Mark frequently mixes in his narrative the “vivid present tense” in the Greek. Even though our modern versions translate Mark as using the past tense words, Mark writes the story as if it is occurring before our own eyes.

This is especially effective in the story of Christ’s crucifixion. The Greek reads like this throughout Mark 15: “They carry Him, they crucify Him, they divide His garments, they are wagging their heads, and so on.”

This literary device was used by ancient writers to evoke the sense of the reader being an eyewitness to the events recorded. The King James Version is the only version I know that maintained most of the present tense just as Mark wrote it.

Now the words translated “brought him” in verse 22 means “to bear Him” or to “carry Him” in the Greek, not to bring or lead Him. So in the Greek, Mark is saying “they are BEARING Him or CARRYING Him to the place Golgotha,” not bringing or leading Him to Golgotha.

Jesus left Jerusalem carrying His cross, but on the way, He staggered under it. So verse 21 says that they pressed Simon of Cyrene into service to carry His cross. Having endured the agony in Gethsemane, having been up all night as he was judged by a kangaroo court, and having been whipped and tortured, Jesus was so weak by this point, that not only was Simon needed to carry the cross, but the soldiers had to “bear” or “carry” Jesus along the rest of the way to Golgotha.

Here’s the first paradox of the Passion: He who bore all of our sins not only had to have someone else carry His cross but He Himself had to be carried along.

Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus upholds ALL THINGS by the word of His power.

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