During the week of Easter, there are many events in the life of the Lord in which Biblical scholars often say the Gospel writers used literary devices. These devices include sarcasm and irony. Many of these scholars do not believe these events actually took place, and the Gospel accounts are to be read simply as interesting novels.
Of course, such irony and sarcasm could have occurred during actual historical events. That is exactly what happened. What were some of these events?
When Jesus appeared before the Sanhedrin, they accused Him of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of Man of Dan 7:13. As a result, they condemned Him to death (Mark 14:63-64). The irony of course is that He was the Son of Man of Dan 7:13.
Then, the Sanhedrin blindfolded Him and hit Him in the face and demanded that He “prophesy.” This was a sarcastic taunt. But the irony is that He had prophesied before to the disciples that He would be treated like this before the Sanhedrin, and the Old Testament prophets had said the same thing.
When Jesus stood before Pilate, the governor brought Him out to the people and asked them what he should do with the “King of the Jews” (Mark 15:9). When the soldiers mocked Him, they called Him by the same title (Mark 15:18). Pilate placed a sign on the cross when He was crucified with that same title (Mark 15:26). In all these instances, these men were using the title in a sarcastic way. The irony, of course, is that it was all true. Jesus was the King of the Jews.
When Jesus died, the centurion at the cross said that He was truly the “Son of God” (Mark 15:39). This is another literary device. It was an understatement. Whatever the centurion meant by this statement, Jesus was much more than the centurion could have imagined. He was the Son of God in a way that far exceeded what he thought.
Perhaps the most dramatic ironical statement also happened before Pilate. The governor was given the opportunity to release a prisoner to the crowd, whomever they wanted. Whom did they pick? Barabbas (Mark 15:11). Barabbas was a murderer and a rebel against Rome. The meaning of his name is “son of the father.” A few hours earlier, in Gethsemane, Jesus had prayed to His Father and called Him “Abba, Father.” He was the true Son of the Father. And even though he was innocent, He was condemned by Rome to die for being a rebel, while a true rebel was set free.
Some will say the authors of the Gospels wove these events into their accounts in order to draw the reader into the story. They were like early Shakespeares. But these events show us something so much more. The world is blind to who Jesus Christ is. Because of that blindness, they treated Him with irony, sarcasm, and understatement. But Easter morning showed who He is. He is the Suffering Servant Son of God, the King who did all that was necessary to give eternal life to all who believe in Him for it.