After Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the mob took Jesus to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. Peter had vowed he would never desert Jesus. But Jesus said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” All of Jesus’ disciples ran away in fear when Jesus was arrested. But Peter followed at a distance and came to the courtyard of the high priest. Three different people recognized him as one of Jesus’ disciples, but Peter strongly denied it each time. Then a rooster crowed, and Peter remembered what Jesus had said. He felt very ashamed and began to cry.
The high priest, all the chief priests, the elders and the scribes were waiting at the high priest’s house. This was an informal late-night meeting of the Sanhedrin , the Jewish ruling council. They had come together to put Jesus on trial, but it was not to be a fair trial. The religious leaders were looking for evidence that would justify putting Jesus to death, but they could not find any. They called many witnesses against Jesus, but the witnesses did not agree with each other.
Finally, the high priest demanded of Jesus, “Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, “I am, and you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God’s right hand and coming back on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest said, “You have just heard His blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? What is your verdict?” They all shouted, “He deserves death!” Then they spat in Jesus’ face and started beating Him.
In their mock trial, the religious leaders had agreed that Jesus should be put to death. But they did not have authority to put anyone to death under Roman law. So, as soon as morning came, they took Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate . They falsely accused Jesus of treason against the Roman Empire for claiming to be the king of the Jews and for urging people not to pay their taxes.
Pilate saw that Jesus was not really guilty of anything and wanted to let Him go. But Pilate did not want trouble with the religious leaders. He asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my followers would have fought to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But my kingdom is from another place.”
It was the governor’s custom to release one prisoner at the Passover Feast – anyone the people wanted released. The Jewish leaders knew this and had persuaded the crowd of people gathered around Pilate’s house to call for the release of a criminal named Barabbas [buh RAB bas] and to demand that Jesus be crucified.
Pilate asked the crowd of people, “Which do you want me to release, Barabbas or Jesus?” The crowd yelled for Barabbas to be released. Pilate asked, “Then what should I do with Jesus?”, and the crowd yelled “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” So Pilate ordered the Roman soldiers to crucify Jesus.
Jesus is crucified.Crucifixion was a cruel form of death reserved for criminals and slaves. First, Jesus was beaten by Roman soldiers. Then he was made to carry His cross to the place of execution. Jesus must have been too weak from the beating to carry His cross all the way; the soldiers forced a man named Simon of Cyrene to carry it the rest of the way.
The cross was placed between two other men who were being crucified that day. The soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross and left Him to die. They put a sign on the cross to mock Jesus that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
About noon, strange things begin to happen. Darkness came over the land for three hours. Then Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” and then He died. The curtain of the temple was mysteriously torn in two, and there was a great earthquake.
It was Friday afternoon, and the Sabbath would start at sundown. It was also a very special Sabbath because it was Passover. The Jewish leaders wanted all the bodies buried before the Sabbath started because they were not allowed to do any work on the Sabbath.
One of Jesus’ followers, a man from the town of Arimathea named Joseph, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. He took Jesus’ body and hastily put it in a new tomb that had been carved in rock. He rolled a large stone in front of the tomb to seal it.