EPISODE SUMMARY

Passion: Nicodemus, Caiaphas, Pilate, Crucifixion and Resurrection

Dawn on the day of Passover. Peter, fearful and disillusioned, denies that he knows Jesus and realizes Jesus’ terrible prediction has come true. Judas faces his own guilt and hangs himself. Pilate’s wife is also troubled – she dreams that her husband is about to execute an innocent man. But Pilate has little choice. Caiaphas leans on Pilate, warning him that Jesus’ execution is necessary to keep the peace. Neither can afford for the teeming Passover crowds to riot. Pilate sentences Jesus to a beating - he does not want this man’s life on his hands. At a public trial, he gives the crowd an option to free Jesus, or to free murderer Barrabas. But the crowd clamour for Jesus’ death and Pilate grants them their wish. Jesus, mocked and beaten, carries his cross through the crowds to Golgotha, the hill overlooking Jerusalem. Here he is nailed to the cross, watched by his tormented mother, and left to die a torturous death. When he breathes his last breath, the city quakes and the skies blacken. The days following Jesus’ death are dark, especially for Peter who feels he failed Jesus. But when Mary Magdalene goes to Jesus’ tomb, the world is yet again turned on its head. The stone is broken, the tomb empty. A figure walks towards her... He’s back.

NOVEL

Jesus is in agony as he struggles toward his death. His body is bend by the weight of the cross, and the crown of thorns inflicts a new burst of pain whenever the cross bumps against it. The many beatings he had endured in the hours since his capture make it hard to breathe, for his jailers have kicked and punched him in the ribs again and again.

Yet he sees everything. Both the sympathetic and not-so-sympathetic faces in the crowd. He also sees Mary, his mother. Jesus stumbles and feels the lash of a Roman whip as he falls. He reaches out to steady himself, pressing his hand flat against a stone wall. It leaves a bloody print. As Jesus moves forward to continue his grueling march, a woman in the crowd places her own hand against Jesus' handprint. She weeps; she knows who Jesus truly is.

The ground is cobbled, so the cross bumps along rather than drags smoothly. The distance from Pilate's palace to Golgotha, the place where Jesus will die, is five hundred yards.

Jesus knows he cannot make it. He spits out a gob of blood and falls to his knees. He drops the cross and crumples to the ground. Roman soldiers are upon him in an instant, raining kicks and pouches on his helpless body. Mary races forward to save her son, but a Roman guard grabs her roughly and throws her back.

"Please," John says, risking his life by stepping from the crowd. "She's his mother!"

Tears stream down Mary's cheeks. The Roman guard steps toward John with a menacing glare on his face, but the disciple is undeterred. "Have mercy. Please!"

Mary can't help herself. She flings herself forward and falls onto her keens, next to her son. She wraps her arms lovingly around him in what will surely be their last embrace. Jesus' eye are swollen shut, and he can hardly react.

"My son," Mary sobs.

Jesus forces his eyes open. "Don't be afraid," he tells his mother. "The Lord is with you." Repeating exactly what Gabriel had told her when he visited her as a young virgin. He's words give her strength, and his look of love fills her with courage. She tried to help him up with the cross. If she could she would carry it for him, but she knows this is what he came to do.

Then suddenly Mary is pulled away from her boy. The soldiers whip the fallen Jesus, but it is clear that he cannot carry the cross any further. A man, Simon of Cyrene, is chosen for his broad back and obvious strength, and he is forced to shoulder the cross for Jesus. Their eyes lock, and then their hands link to lift the heavy wood. Together, they share the burden. Step by painful step, the two complete the long walk up to the crucifixion site.

A Story of God and All of us

This novel is a companion to The Bible miniseries. Readers will revel in this epic saga of warriors, rebels, poets and kings, all called upon by God to reveal His enduring love for mankind. Ultimately, God’s plan is fulfilled in the story of Jesus the Messiah, whose life, death and resurrection bring salvation to one and all. Hardcover 337 pages.

CASTS

  • Caiaphas - Adrian Schiller

  • Pilate - Greg Hicks

  • Claudia - Louise Delamere

BIBLE LOOKUP

Jesus Before Pilate (John 18:28-38)

Jesus Before Pilate

28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.

© New International Version (NIV)

Crucifixion of Jesus (John 19)

Jesus Sentenced to Be Crucified

19 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.”

So this is what the soldiers did.

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Death of Jesus

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

The Burial of Jesus

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

© New International Version (NIV)

DISCUSSION

Faith and obedience

This scene of Pilate meeting Jesus provides a contrast between the two authorities in life: The Authority of God versus The Authority of Man.

Pilate was the representative of the Roman Empire, the invading force, in Jerusalem. He held the power to sentence Christ to death.

Yet, Christ, the representative of God’s kingdom on Earth, truly held the power over life and death.

Christ’s authority superseded Pilates and was demonstrated by not needing to defend himself to Pilate.

Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.” Jesus references his claim to divinity here as well as to his ultimate power as the Son of God.

Christ also says “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth.” Christ reaffirms his purpose in coming to Earth.

Christ’s statement that he came into the world “to bear witness to the truth” echoes his claim in John 14:6, “I am the Truth, the Way, and the Light.” Christ did not just claim to be a great teacher. He instead came to be the source of Truth and Light and the only Way.

Questions to reflect upon

How is Christ’s kingdom different that earthly kingdoms?
Pilate responds to Christ, “What is truth?” How would you answer that question?

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