The closely guarded tomb

The next day the chief priests and Pharisees assembled before Pilate and said “Sir, we remember that while that liar was alive he said ‘I will rise again after three days’. Therefore, we request that you give orders for the tomb to be secured until then. If not, his disciples may steal his body and tell everyone that he has been raised from the dead. If they do that it will make a bad situation worse.”

Pilate told them to use some soldiers as a guard saying “Go make it secure in the best way you know.” Then they left and secured the tomb by putting a seal around the stone and posting guards.

MT 27:62-66

Crucified between two criminals

They made their way to Golgotha (Skull Place). There were two criminals who were crucified that same day along with Jesus. There was one on either side of him. This fulfilled the scripture which said β€œHe was counted among the outlaws.”

Jesus said “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.” They offered him bitter wine with an anesthetic in it but he refused to drink it after he tasted it.

Pilate had the charge against him mounted above him and written in Greek, Latin and Hebrew. It said “This is Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.” Many Jews read the sign because Golgotha was near the city. The chief priests said to Pilate “Don’t write that he is ‘the King of the Jews’, but that ‘he claimed to be the King of the Jews’.” Pilate replied, “I have written what I have written.”

Four soldiers took Jesus’ clothes when they crucified him, dividing them between them. They decided to cast lots for his tunic because it was woven as one piece, without seams, so they didn’t want to tear it up. In doing this they fulfilled the scripture that said “They divided my clothes among them, and they cast lots for my clothing.” The soldiers then sat down there to guard him.

The passers-by were yelling insults at him, shaking their heads and saying “You said you would demolish the Temple and rebuild it in three days!? Save yourself by getting off that cross if you are the Messiah!”

Likewise, the chief priests and scribes were mocking him among themselves and saying “He saved other people but he can’t save himself! Let the ‘Messiah’, the ‘King the Jews’ save himself now so we can see and believe in him! He said that he is God’s son. If God loves him, then let God rescue him!”

One of the criminals being crucified alongside Jesus also began to mock him saying “Save yourself and us if you’re the Messiah!” But the other criminal rebuked him, saying “Don’t you have any fear of God since you’re being punished in the same way? We deserve to be punished like this for the things we’ve done, but this man is completely innocent.” Then he added “Jesus, Lord, think of me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied “Truly, you will be with me today in paradise.”

MT 27:33-44, MK 15:22-32, LK 23:32-43, JN 19:17-24

Jesus or Barabbas

It was the preparation day for the Passover, and it was around nine in the morning by this point. While Pilate was presiding over the court, his wife sent him a message saying “Leave that righteous man alone, because I had a terrible nightmare about him last night!” Pilate knew that the Jewish authorities had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous of how popular he was with the people.

Pilate called together the Jewish authorities and said “You have brought this man to me saying that he leads people astray. But after examining him, I have found that there’s no evidence to charge him with any crime that you have accused him of. Herod hasn’t found anything either, because he returned him back here. Therefore I will have him flogged to discipline him and then release him to you.”

The chief priests and Temple police shouted “No! Crucify him!” Pilate replied “Crucify him yourself, because I find no reason to charge him.”

The Jewish religious leaders responded “He has to die because of our Law, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

Pilate was even more afraid when he heard this. He went back inside his headquarters and asked Jesus “Where are you from?” But Jesus did not answer. Pilate said “You won’t answer? Don’t you know I have the power of life and death over you?”

Jesus answered “You have no authority over me at all except that which is given to you from heaven. This is why the greater guilt is upon the One who handed me over to you.” Pilate was even more desperate to release Jesus after hearing this.

There was a custom for the governor to release a prisoner to the Jews during the Passover festival. The chief priests agitated the crowds to demand for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. Barabbas was a notorious criminal who had been thrown into prison for taking part in a rebellion and murder.

Pilate wanted to release Jesus, so he brought him outside for the crowds to see. He sat on the judge’s bench in a place called Gabbatha (The Stone Pavement) and asked the crowds “Of the two of them, who do you want me to release to you, the man called Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

“Barabbas!” they shouted, adding “If you release Jesus, you oppose Caesar! He said he was our king! Only Caesar is our king!”

Pilate then asked “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

With one voice they answered “Crucify him!”

Pilate asked “Why? What is his crime? Should I crucify your king?”

But the crowds and the chief priests shouted even louder “Caesar is our king! Take this man away! Crucify him!”

Pilate saw that he wasn’t making any progress with the crowds, and in fact a riot had started. He took a bowl of water and washed his hands before them, saying “I am innocent of any guilt concerning this righteous man. This is your concern now!” The mob answered “His blood will be upon us and our children forever!”

Pilate yielded to their voices and released Barabbas to them. After having Jesus flogged, he released him to them, to be crucified as they demanded.

MT 27:15-26, MK 15:6-15, LK 23:13-25, JN 18:38b-40 and 19:6-16

Jesus faces Pilate

As soon as the sun rose, the chief priests, elders, scribes and the entire Sanhedrin met, plotting to find a way to execute Jesus. They bound him and led him out to hand him over to Pilate, the governor of that area. They did not enter Pilate’s headquarters because they would have become ritually unclean and thus unable to eat the Passover meal.

Pilate came out of his headquarters to speak to them. He asked them “What do you accuse this man of?” They answered “He has been dividing our nation, telling people to not pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that he is the Messiah, our king. We wouldn’t have brought him to you if he weren’t a criminal.”

Pilate replied “You should take him back and judge him by your own law.”

“Our Law doesn’t allow us to sentence anyone to crucifixion,” they replied. In saying this, they fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy as to how he would be killed.

Pilate then went into his headquarters, summoned Jesus, and asked him “Are you their King?”

Jesus answered, “You have said the truth. Are you asking me for yourself if I am the Messiah, or have others said it to you?”

“I’m not Jewish, am I?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and the chief priests brought you to me. What have you done to warrant that?”

“My kingdom is not an earthly one. If it was, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But actually, my kingdom is not of this world.”

“Then you are a king?” Pilate persisted.

“You say that I am.” Jesus answered. “This is why I was born, why I came into this world – to speak the truth. Everyone who is truthful listens to what I have to say.”

“What does ‘truth’ mean?” asked Pilate.

Pilate then told the Jewish authorities that he found no reason to press charges against Jesus.

The Jewish authorities began to accuse Jesus of many things, saying that he riled people up through his teachings, all throughout Judea, from Galilee to here.

Jesus did not answer their accusations.

Pilate said to Jesus “Don’t you hear all that they are accusing you of? Aren’t you going to say anything?” And Jesus still would not defend himself. Pilate was stunned.

MT 27:1-2 and 11-14, MK 15-1-5, LK 23:1-5, JN 18:28-38a