Tag Archives: Pontius Pilate



“With two criminals also condemned to be crucified, Jesus was led out from Jerusalem to Golgotha, the ‘Place of the Skull.’ He was so weak that the soldiers forced a man named Simon of Cyrene to assist Him in carrying His Cross.

On the was some women of Jerusalem wept over His fate. Jesus said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For behold days are coming in which men will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if in the case of green wood they do these things, what is to happen in the case of the dry?’ (Luke 23:28-31).


At Golgotha Jesus was nailed to His Cross and the two thieves were crucified, one on His right hand, and the other on His left. In this way there was fulfilled the prophecy of Isaias [Isaiah] which Jesus had applied to Himself: ‘For I say to you that this which is written must yet be fulfilled in me. ‘And He was reckoned among the wicked” (Luke 22:37, and Isaias 53:12).


Jesus was nailed to the Cross at noon. His first words after He had been raised on the Cross were, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34). These words are a witness to the love of God for men, to the love Jesus’ human heart for men. They are also a witness to the foolishness and malice of men.

Jesus was shedding His Blood on the Cross for the salvation of mankind. His own race, His own people had brought this about. Misled by their leaders, they stood at the foot of the Cross of human redemption, mocking their Redeemer.


Pilate, in one last gesture of disdain for the passions of the Jewish leaders, had inscribed on the Cross, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’ (John 19:19) [in Latin:’INRI’ – Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum]. The chief priests, refusing to have Jesus for their king, protested, but Pilate remained firm. He was not courageous enough to follow his own principles and save an innocent man. But he was brave enough to indulge in this one small vanity. He would flaunt his own power in the face of the priests and people. But Jesus, ever kind and merciful, prayed to His Father for all of them, the weak, the cowardly, the blind, the malicious.


While Jesus was thus praying for those who were mocking Him, regarding Him as a criminal, the soldiers, as was their custom at an execution, were dividing His garments among themselves. There were four soldiers, and they divided His garments four ways. But when they came to His tunic there was a difficulty. The tunic was seamless and could not be divided. They therefore cast lots to see who should win this prize. Both St John and St Matthew point out that in this way there was fulfilled in the life of Jesus what the Psalmist had said of himself (and, by anticipation, of Jesus): ‘They divide my garments among them; and for my vesture they cast lots’ (Psalm 21:19).


In the midst of this story of humiliation and suffering there was one note of gentleness and compassion. Some of the friends of Jesus were present at the foot of His Cross. His mother Mary was there, Mary of Cleophas, Mary of Magdala, and perhaps a cousin of Mary, the mother of James and Joseph. St John, the beloved disciple, was also there. Noticing them, Jesus addressed His mother and said, ‘Woman, behold thy son.’ Then addressing St John, He said, ‘Behold thy mother’ (John 19:26-27).

Thus Jesus, even in the hour of His agony, was mindful of His filial duty to provide for the care of His mother. And, as St John himself tells us, ‘from that hour the disciple took her into his home’ (John 19:27). Down through the centuries since then, Christians have also seen, and rightfully, in this incident a symbol of the fact that the followers of Jesus, like St John, are the spiritual children of Mary, the mother of the Redeemer.


Meanwhile, the soldiers and the crowd were mocking Jesus. Some who were passing by remembered His words about the destruction of the temple and shouted up to Him, ‘Aha, thou who destroyest the temple, and in three days buildest it up again; come down from the cross, and save thyself!’ (Mark 15:29-30).

The priests and Scribes (perhaps knowingly) applied to Him the words of the twenty-first Psalm, saying, ‘He saved others, himself he cannot save! If he is the King of Israel, let him come down now from the Cross, and we will believe in him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he wants him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:42-43).


The two thieves who had been crucified, one on each side of Him, entered into the raillery against Him. Finally one of them said, ‘I thou art the Christ, save thyself and us!’ (Luke 23:39). At this moment the other thief (usually known as Dismas) changed his mind and his heart about Jesus. From an unbeliever he became a believer. He turned to the other thief and said, ‘Dost not even thou fear God, seeing that thou art under the same sentence?’ (Luke 23:40). He recalled the fact that they were all to die shortly and face the judgment of God.


His language implies that they also were being executed for rebellion against the Roman authorities. It is possible that they belonged to some group active in its opposition to Rome. This is confirmed by his next words, ‘And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what our deeds deserved, but this man has done nothing wrong’ (Luke 23:41).

Then, believing in Jesus, he turned to Him and said, ‘Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.’ Jesus rewarded his faith by saying to him, ‘Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:42-43). Jesus meant that on that very day the good thief would be with Jesus in the ‘paradise’ where the souls of the just were awaiting release so that they might enter heaven, the Kingdom of God.


About the ninth hour, that is, about three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani,’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46). The words are mysterious. Jesus is the very Son of God, one with God the Father, equally God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. How then could God forsake Him, abandon Him?


It is true that Jesus, as St Paul teaches, bore on His shoulders on the Cross the sins of all humanity (Galatians 3:13). At this moment then He could be regarded in God’s eyes as representative of all human evil. But God sees truly and He knows that Jesus, while bearing the sins of men, is in Himself the innocent, the unstained victim for the sins of men. Hence He could not have abandoned Jesus absolutely; it would have been to abandon Himself.

The mystery of these words vanished somewhat when we recall that Jesus is reciting the opening words of the twenty-first Psalm. Twice already this Psalm has entered the story of the Passion of Jesus. The soldiers cast lots for His garments as the Psalm had said. The rulers of the people had quoted it against Him. Now Jesus Himself recites the Psalm as a prayer.

He applies the Psalm to Himself in His own human nature. In the Psalm the author presents Himself as a man apparently abandoned by God. He is a ‘worm and no man: the reproach of men and the outcast of the people’ (Psalm 21:8). He has been laughed to scorn; His hope in the Lord has been mocked; He has been ‘dug’ in his hands and feet (Psalm 21:8-9, 17). Now all these things are true of Jesus on the Cross. But the speaker in the Psalm, the ‘poor man’ of the Psalm, hoped in the Lord and the Lord did not forsake him. He will declare the name of the Lord to his brethren. And because of this ‘the ends of the earth shall remember, and shall be converted to the Lord: and all the kindreds of the Gentiles shall adore in his sight… and to him my soul shall live: and my seed shall serve him. There shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come: and the heavens shall show forth his justice to a people that shall be born, which the Lord hath made’ (Psalm 21:23, 28-32).


The words of Jesus on the Cross are then chiefly words of hope and of prophecy. It is true that God, even that Jesus Himself as God, has abandoned the human nature of Jesus, His body and blood, even His soul, to the torment of the cross, to the mockery and hatred of His own people. The words of Jesus testify this fact. But this passion of Jesus will give birth to a new people who will worship truly the one true God, Who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Some of the bystanders, not understanding correctly the words of Jesus, thought that He was calling on the prophet Elias. One of the soldiers, taking pity on Him, dipped a sponge in a mixture of water and vinegar, and tried to slake the thirst of Jesus, Who had just said, ‘I thirst’ (John 19:28). When the bystanders would have stopped the soldier, as if he were entering into their raillery, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elias is coming to take him down’ (Mark 15:36).

Jesus drank from the sponge. Then He said, ‘It is consummated’ (John 19:30). Then, in full control of Himself, He said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ (Luke 23:46). With this He bowed His head and died. Thus there was accomplished on a Cross at Calvary the great drama of human redemption. Jesus, the son of God, Who had become also the Son of Man, gave up His human life, bled to death in suffering and ignominy for the salvation of men.


In the beginning, in some mysterious trial whose nature and details are not known to us, Satan and the angels who followed him had rebelled against God. Thus sin entered God’s creation for the first time. Then, in the beginning of human history, Adam, through pride and weakness, fell victim to the seduction of Satan and mankind fell under the curse of sin.

But God, in His love for men, determined to save men. Here at Calvary God’s plan for human salvation is accomplished. Jesus, the Son of God, God Himself, gives up His human life as a sacrifice of expiation, a sacrifice of propitiation to God for sin. ‘To this end the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the devil’ (1 John 3:8). ‘In this has the love of God been shown in our case, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we may live through him. In this is the love, not that we have loved God, but that he has first loved us, and sent his Son a propitiation for our sins’ (1 John 4:9-10). ‘In this we have come to know his love, that he laid down his life for us’ (1 John 3:16).


Certainly, in the mind of Jesus, He was dying on the Cross for the salvation of mankind. He was offering His life for men. The miraculous works He had already accomplished, the spirituality of His teaching, these surely would recommend belief in His mission. But the conclusion of His story is still to come. The sequel to His passion and death are a divine sign of the validity of His mission to preach the Kingdom of God to men, of the efficacy of His suffering and death to save men.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959 (headings in capital letters added afterwards)


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



“After the Paschal meal Jesus and His eleven faithful disciples left the room where they had celebrated the feast and went to a place called Gethsemani (‘oil-press’). There Jesus told eight of the Apostles to sit down while He Himself would go some little distance away, a stone’s throw, to pray. He took with Him Peter, James and John, who had witnessed His glory at Mt. Thabor. Now He would allow them to witness Him in His hour of agony and humiliation.


Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to offer His life for the sins of men. He knew that the bad will of men towards Himself was already taking steps to bring about His death. The priests, the Pharisees and the Scribes had already determined to bring about His death. Judas, one of His chosen Apostles, had already agreed to betray Him and was even then carrying out the execution of that criminal agreement. Sadness and dread filled the human soul of Jesus and He said to the three Apostles, ‘My soul is sad even unto death. Wait here and watch with me’ (Matthew 26:38).


Then He went forward a little, knelt on the ground and prayed, ‘Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; yet not as I will, but as thou willest’ (Matthew 26:39).

This prayer of Jesus reveals, as perhaps no other incident in the Gospel does, the reality of the human nature of the Son of God. As the Son of God, God Himself, Jesus knew that it was the will of His Father that He should die a violent death for the salvation of men.


In His human nature, assumed to Himself at the moment when Mary said, ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word,’ He shrank instinctively from the prospect of death. Death was abhorrent to Him for many reasons. His soul was saddened by the thought that His death would be brought about by the pride and blindness of those of His own people who should have accepted Him as their Messias. This sadness was increased by the knowledge that His enemies would succeed in their plans against Him through the assistance of one of His chosen friends. But fundamentally His sadness was made almost unbearable by the most human of reasons – His body and soul naturally and instinctively revolted against the thought of death. But His will, His free human will, was in perfect harmony with the divine designs of His Father.


And so, even though His human nature shrank from the ordeal of death, His will accepted the approach of death. In the midst of sadness and dread Jesus accepted the cup of death which His Father wished Him to drink. Adam had chosen something of this world, some created perfection in preference to God and submission to God’s will. By so doing Adam had turned the whole course of human history away from God, its true destiny. Jesus would give up this whole world – can a man give up this world more completely than by voluntarily submitting Himself to death? – in obedience to the will of His Father. By so doing Jesus would turn the course of human history back to God, its true destiny. Thus He would become the true centre of all history.


After this prayer Jesus returned to the three Apostles and found them asleep. How deeply human is this incident, and how touching. Jesus is enduring His time of trial. But His closest friends, even though they have been warned, are too sleepy to stand by, to console Him. The pain and the agony are not theirs, and so they give in to their own natural desires and instincts. The pain and the agony they do not understand, and so they refuse to believe in them.


Jesus leaves them again and makes the same prayer to His Father. Again He returns to the three Apostles and finds them asleep. Then He returns once more to prayer and the contemplation of His approaching fulfilment of the Divine will by His own death. The natural tumult of His soul at the vision of His own death causes His body to break out in a sweat which became ‘as drops of blood running down to the ground’ (Luke 22:44).


A third time Jesus returned to His disciples and found them asleep. Ruefully He said to them, ‘Sleep on now, and take your rest!’ (Matthew 26:45). But then, sensing the approach of Judas and His enemies, He said to them, ‘Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go. Behold, he who betrays me is at hand’ (Matthew 26:45-46).


At that moment some Roman soldiers, some Temple guards sent by the High-priest, entered the garden. Judas accompanied them. In the darkness of the garden, lit now only by the flickering torches of some of the people sent to arrest Jesus, it might have been difficult to recognise Jesus. Judas therefore had arranged to give the guards a signal. He would kiss Jesus and, by this gesture of friendship, betray Jesus to His enemy.


Judas advanced and kissed Jesus. The soldiers and guards moved forward to arrest Him. Jesus Himself advanced and said, ‘Whom do you seek?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he’ (John 18:4-5).


Something in His bearing or in His voice – a quality of dignity and, perhaps of majesty – confounded those in the foreground and they fell back, pressing on those behind them so that some of them fell to the ground. But this effect of the inner power of Jesus did not prevent the fulfilment of the predestined mission of Jesus. Once more the crowd pressed in upon Jesus. Mindful of the safety of His own Apostles, and desiring to fulfil His own words that none of the Apostles, except Judas, the son of perdition, should be lost, Jesus said to them, ‘I have told you that I am He. If, therefore, you seek me, let these go their way’ (John 18:8).


Simon Peter, with his usual impetuosity, drew a sword to protect Jesus. He struck the ear of Malchus, a servant of the High-priest. But Jesus knew that He would not fulfil His Father’s command by allowing His disciples to start an open revolt. ‘Put up thy sword,’ He said to Peter, ‘into the scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?’ (John 18:11).


Then, with sorrowful dignity, Jesus said to the crowd, ‘As against a robber have you come out, with swords and clubs. When I was daily with you in the Temple, you did not stretch forth your hands against me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness’ (Luke 22:52-53). And thus, Jesus, the Son of Man and the Son of God, resigned Himself into the hands of men to be done to death for the salvation of men.


The soldiers and the attendants of the Jews seized Jesus, bound Him and led Him to Annas, formerly High-priest, now the father-in-law of Caiphas, the incumbent High-priest. Peter and John had followed Jesus to the home of Annas. John was known there and gained entrance. He induced the guards to allow Peter to enter the courtyard. One of the serving maids, a portress, thought she recognised Peter as a disciple of Jesus, but Peter denied this.


Meanwhile Annas was questioning Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. Jesus, refusing to admit that there had been anything furtive or criminal about His behaviour, replied, ‘I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. Why dost thou question me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them: behold these know what I have said’ (John 18:20-21).

One of the attendants then struck Jesus, saying, ‘Is that the way thou dost answer the high priest?’ (John 18:22). Jesus, confident of the justice of His cause, replied, ‘If I have spoken ill, bear witness to the evil; but if well, why dost thou strike me?’ (John 18:23).

Meanwhile, in the courtyard Peter had been again tentatively identified as one of the disciples of Jesus, and had again denied knowing Him.


Annas made no decision, but sent Jesus bound to Caiphas. A hasty session of the Sanhedrin was called. The priests, Pharisees and Scribes were all represented. A parade of false witnesses appeared against Jesus. But their testimony was not sufficient to enable the Sanhedrin to pronounce a sentence of death against Him. Caiphas had previously decided that Jesus must die. It was necessary, therefore, for Caiphas to find some cause for death which would both satisfy the Jews and induce the Roman authorities to make the sentence of death effective.


Two witnesses come forward to say that they had heard Jesus say that He would destroy the temple and in three days restore it. This supposed threat to the temple was a serious charge. But the testimony of the witnesses was not concordant.

Then the High-priest himself asked Jesus, ‘Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ (Mark 14:61). Jesus replied, ‘I am. And you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven’ (Mark 14:62). Upon hearing these words the High-priest tore his garments and said, ‘What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ (Mark 14:63). Then the Sanhedrin judged that Jesus was liable to death.

Again, outside, Peter was challenged and denied knowing Jesus. At that moment a cock crew and Peter remembered the warning of Jesus that he would deny Him thrice before the cock crowed thrice. Peter then wept bitterly.


At daybreak Jesus was again led before the Sanhedrin. Again He was questioned. ‘If thou art the Christ, tell us.’ Jesus said, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe me; and if I question you, you will not answer me, or let me go. But henceforth, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God’ (Luke 22:66-69).

Remembering that Jesus had allowed Himself to be called the ‘Son of God,’ thus making Himself equal to God, they asked Him, ‘Art thou, then, the Son of God?’ He answered, ‘You yourselves say that I am.’ This acknowledgement by Jesus that He was the Son of God convinced the Sanhedrin that He was guilty of blasphemy. They were unable to believe that He Whom they saw as man could be also be God. Hence they found Him guilty of blasphemy, a capital offence, punishable by death.


But, although the Sanhedrin had the power to try Jesus and convict Him, they had not the power to carry out effectively a sentence of death. Hence they were compelled to appeal to Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judea, to condemn Jesus and see to His execution.


After the Sanhedrin had passed the sentence of death on Jesus, Judas, who had betrayed Him, became appalled at the consequences of his betrayal. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the priests. Then, in despair, he went out and hanged himself.

The priests, unwilling to use this blood money for the Temple itself or for themselves, bought a field to be used as a burial ground for the poor. St Matthew, putting together a prophecy from Jeremias [Jeremiah] and one from Zacharias [Zechariah], remarks, ‘Then was fulfilled what was spoken through Jeremias the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him who was priced, upon whom the children of Israel put a price; and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’ (Matthew 27:9-10).


Now Pilate was both a Roman and a politician. As a Roman he had great respect for law. As a politician he had a great desire to administer his procuratorship successfully, above all, to avoid getting into trouble with the Emperor at Rome. His respect for law was an advantage to Jesus, for, after all, Jesus had done nothing to bring upon Himself the wrath of Rome. But his political ambitions were the weaknesses which the priests used to induce him to accede to their wishes.


First they pretended that Jesus was inciting the people to rebellious or seditious acts. ‘We have found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding the payment of taxes to Caesar, and saying that he is Christ a king’ (Luke 23:2). Pilate asked Jesus if He were the king of the Jews. Jesus answered him, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my followers would have fought that I might not be delivered to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate, seeing that Jesus did speak of a kingdom as His own kingdom, said to Him, ‘Thou art then a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘Thou sayest it; I am a king. This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’ Pilate, a practical government official, not given much to questions of philosophy or religion, said, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:33-38).


The Jews had attempted to induce Pilate to condemn Jesus on the charge that He was pretending to be a political king, inciting the people to rebellion against Rome. Jesus had acknowledged that He was a king indeed, but the king of a spiritual realm, the realm of truth. Pilate, seeing this, knew that Jesus was not a threat to the political domination of Rome. As for intellectual or religious domination, he was indifferent to such matters. Hence he found Jesus guilty of no crime against the state.


But the enemies of Jesus persisted in saying that Jesus was stirring up the people. On learning from them that Jesus was from Galilee Pilate seized the opportunity to rid himself of this troublesome case and regain the friendship of Herod Antipas, king of Galilee. He sent Jesus to Herod for judgment. Herod was pleased at this mark of respect for his own authority. Besides, he had heard of Jesus and thought that Jesus might work a miracle for him. Jesus, of course, refused to cater to such curiosity seeking and, in fact, refused to answer any questions. Thereupon Herod, himself a shrewd politician, sent Jesus back to Pilate.


Pilate then pointed out to the priests and leaders of the people that both he and Herod had found no guilt in Jesus. But they persisted in their demands for the execution of Jesus. Pilate then thought of a stratagem.

It was customary for the procurator to release a prisoner at the time of the festival. Pilate then offered to the crowd the choice between a man called Barabbas, a political prisoner and assassin, and Jesus, called the Christ. Unfortunately Pilate asked whether they wished him to release Jesus, ‘the king of the Jews’? (Mark 15:9). Now the very people clamouring for the death of Jesus had refused to acknowledge Jesus as their king in the world of spirit. Moreover, at the moment, He was a figure of humiliation, a prisoner in the hands of the hated Roman authorities. Hence they cried out, ‘Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas’ (Luke 23:18).


Pilate tried again. ‘What then do you want me to do to the king of the Jews?’ (Mark 15:12). The people cried out, ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate, in desperation, asked, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they kept crying out ‘Crucify him!’ (Mark 15:12-13).


Pilate resorted to another stratagem. He ordered his soldiers to scourge Jesus. This was a procedure usually adopted by the Romans before the crucifixion of a condemned criminal. Pilate seems to have thought that when the people saw Jesus so brutally wounded and helpless they would relent and consent to His release.

The soldiers led Jesus away to the courtyard of the praetorium. There they stripped Him, scourged Him until His skin was stripped to the bone and His blood ran on the pavement.


Then, in the fashion of rough soldiers, they mocked Him, clothing Him in the purple of kings and crowning Him with a crown of thorns. After this they led Him back to Pilate.


Pilate then showed Him to the people and said to them, ‘Behold, I bring Him out to you, that you may know that I find no guilt in him.’ When the priests and their attendants saw Jesus they cried out again ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate in anger said, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.’ But the Jews replied, ‘We have a Law, and according to that Law he must die, because he has made himself Son of God’ (John 19:4-7).


Now Pilate, a Roman, was accustomed to the notion that the gods might have sons or daughters. Moreover, he had no doubt been impressed by the calm and dignified behaviour of Jesus, as contrasted with the turbulence and violence of the crowd. Hence, if only through superstition, he became afraid.

He went to Jesus and asked Him, ‘Whence art thou from?’

Pilate already knew that Jesus was from Galilee. His question, therefore, was not concerned with the geographical place of origin of Jesus. He was wondering whether or not Jesus might belong to the pantheon of gods in whom the Romans believed, or to the pantheon of one of the eastern nations of the world.


Jesus gave no answer. Then Pilate reminded Him that he had the power of life and death over Him. Jesus then replied, ‘Thou wouldst have no power at all over me were it not given thee from above. Therefore, he who betrayed me to thee has the greater sin’ (John 19:11).


Pilate was still in doubt about the identity of Jesus. But his confidence was shaken and he wished to release Jesus. But the priests and the crowd put his own personal issue to him clearly. ‘If thou release this man,’ they said to Pilate, ‘thou art no friend of Caesar; for everyone who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar’ (John 19:12).


Pilate made one last effort. He brought Jesus before the crowd once again. Jesus stood before them, a man weak and bleeding, clad in a mock robe of royal purple, wearing a mock crown of thorns. Then Pilate said, ‘Behold your king!’ But the people, rather than accept so abject a figure as their king, cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked, ‘Shall I crucify your king?’ The priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar’ (John 19:13-15).

Pilate’s Roman instinct for law lost the battle. His conscience was conquered. Before the threat to report him to Rome for negligence in dealing with possible enemies of the Emperor, Pilate betrayed his own principles. He delivered Jesus to the Jews to be crucified.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


At that time Jesus said to his disciples: You know that after two days shall be the pasch, and the Son of Man shall be delivered up to be crucified. Then were gathered together the chief priests and the ancients of the people, into the court of the high priest, who was called Caiphas: and they consulted together, that by subtilty they might apprehend Jesus and put him to death. But they said: Not on the festival day, lest perhaps there should be a tumult among the people.

And when Jesus was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, there came to him a woman having an alabaster-box of precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he was at table. And the disciples seeing it, had indignation, saying: To what purpose is this waste? For this might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. And Jesus, knowing it, said to them: Why do you trouble this woman? For she hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always. For she, in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial. Amen I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done will be told, for a memory of her.

Then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests, and he said to them, What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? But they appointed him thirty pieces of silver. And from thenceforth he sought opportunity to betray him.

And on the first day of the azymes the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the pasch? But Jesus said, Go ye into the city to a certain man, and say to him, The master saith: My time is near at hand, I will keep the pasch at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus appointed to them; and they prepared the pasch.

Now when it was evening, he sat down with his twelve disciples: and whilst they were eating, he said, Amen I say to you, that one of you is about to betray me. And they, being very much troubled, began every one to say, Is it I, Lord?

But he answering, said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me. The Son of Man indeed goeth, as it is written of him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man shall be betrayed: it were better for him if that man had not been born. And Judas that betrayed him, answering, said, Is it I, Rabbi? He saith to him, Thou hast said it.

And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave it to his disciples, and said, Take ye, and eat: this is my body. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks: and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins. And I say unto you, I will not drink from henceforth from this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you in the kingdom of my Father. And a hymn being said, they went out unto Mount Olivet.

Then Jesus saith unto them, All you shall be scandalised in me this night; for it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed: but after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. And Peter answering, said to him, Although all shall be scandalised in thee, I will never be scandalised. Jesus said unto him, Amen I say to thee, that in this night, before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice. Peter saith to him: Yea, though I should die with thee, I will not deny thee: and in like manner said all the disciples.

Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples, Sit you here till I go yonder and pray: and taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them, My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here and watch with me. And going a little farther, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh tohis disciples, and findeth them asleep: and he saith to Peter, What! Could you not watch one hour with me? Watch ye, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak. Again the second time, he went, and prayed, saying, My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done. And he cometh again, and findeth them sleeping: for their eyes were heavy. And leaving them, he went again: and he prayed the third time, saying the self-same word.

Then he cometh to his disciples, and saith to them, Sleep ye now, and take your rest; behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go: behold, he is at hand that will betray me.

As he yet spoke, behold Judas, one of the twelve, came: and with him a great multitude with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the ancients of the people. And he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he: hold him fast. And forthwith coming to Jesus, he said, Hail, Rabbi, and he kissed him. And Jesus said to him, Friend, whereto art thou come? Then they came up, and laid hands on Jesus, and held him. And behold one of them that were with Jesus, stretching forth his hand, drew out his sword, and striking the servant of the high priest, cut off his ear. Then Jesus saith to him, Put up again thy sword into its place; for all that take the sword shall perish by the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and he will give me presently more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that so it must be done?

In that same hour Jesus said to the multitudes, You are come out, as were to a robber, with swords and clubs to apprehend me. I sat daily with you teaching in the Temple, and you laid not hands on me. Now all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then the disciples, all leaving him, fled.

But they holding on to Jesus, led him to Caiphas the high priest where the scribes and ancients were assembled. And Peter followed him afar off, even to the court of the high priest. And going in, he sat with the servants, that he might see the end.

And the chief priests and the whole council sought false witnesses against Jesus, that they might put him to death. And they found not; whereas many false witnesses had come in. And last of all, there came two false witnesses. And they said, This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and in three days to rebuild it. And the high priest, rising up, said, to him, Answerest thou nothing to the things which thee witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest said to him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us if thou be the Christ the Son of God. Jesus saith to him, Thou hast said it. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his garments, saying, He hath blasphemed, what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy. What think you? But they answering, said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face and buffeted him; and others struck his face with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, O Christ, who is it that struck thee?

But Peter sat without in the court, and there came to him a servant-maid, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And as he went out of the gate, another maid saw him, and she saith to them that were there, This man also was with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I know not the man. And after a little while, they came that stood by and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for even thy speech does discover thee. Then he began to curse and swear that he knew not the man; and immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus which he had said, Before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice. And going forth, he wept bitterly.

And when morning was come, all the chief priests and ancients of the people took counsel against Jesus, to put him to death. And they brought him bound, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate, the governor. Then Judas, who betrayed him, seeing that he was condemned, repenting himself, brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and ancients, saying, I have sinned, in betraying innocent blood: but they said, What is that to us? look thou to it. And casting down the pieces of silver in the Temple, he departed, and hanged himself with a halter. But the chief priests having taken the pieces of silver, said, It is not lawful to put them into the corbona; because it is the price of blood. And after they had consulted together, they bought with them the potter’s field, to be a burying place for strangers. Wherefore that field was called Haceldama, that is the field of blood, even to this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was prized whom they prized of the children of Israel; and they gave them unto the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed to me.

And Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus saith to him, Thou sayest it. And when he was accused by the chief priests and ancients, he answered nothing. Then Pilate saith to him, Dost not thou hear how great testimonies they allege against thee? And he answered him to never a word; so that the governor wondered exceedingly.

Now upon the solemn day the governor was accustomed to release to the people one prisoner, whom they would; and he had then a notorious prisoner that was called Barabbas. They, therefore, being gathered together, Pilate said, Whom will you that I release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus that is called the Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. And as he was sitting in the place of judgment, his wife sent to him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and ancients persuaded the people that they should ask Barabbas, and make Jesus away. And the governor answering, said to them, Whether will you of the two to be released unto you? But they said, Barabbas. Pilate saith to them, What shall I do with Jesus that is called Christ? They say all, Let him be crucified. The governor said to them, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. And Pilate seeing that he prevailed nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, taking water, washed his hands before the people, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just man; look you to it. And the whole people answering, said, His blood be upon us and upon our children. Then he released to them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him unto them to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto him the whole band; and stripping him they put a scarlet cloak about him. And plaiting a crown of thorns they put it upon his head and a reed in his right hand. And bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying, Hail, king of the Jews. And spitting upon him, they took the reed and struck his head. And after they had mocked him, they took off the cloak from him, and put on him his own garments, and led him away to crucify him.

And going out, they found a man of Cyrene, named Simon; him they forced to take up his cross. And they came to the place that is called Golgotha, which is, The place of Calvary. And they gave him wine to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted he would not drink.

And after they had crucified him, they divided his garments, casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, They divided my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast lots. And they sat, and watched him. And they put over his head his cause written, This is Jesus the King of the Jews.

Then were crucified with him two thieves, one on the right hand, and one on the left. And they that passed by, blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying, Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days dost rebuild it, save thy own self; if thou be the Son of God come down from the cross. In like manner also the chief priests with the scribes and ancients mocking, said, He saved others, himself he cannot save: if he be the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross, and we will believe him; he trusted in God, let him now deliver him if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God. And the self-some thing the thieves also, that were crucified with him, reproached him with.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over the whole earth, until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani; that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some that stood there, and heard, said, This man calleth Elias. And immediately one of them running, took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed and gave him to drink. And the others said, Let be; let us see whether Elias will come to deliver him. And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

(Here all kneel, and pause.)

And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top even to the bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent, and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy city, and appeared to many. Now the centurion and they that were with him watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying, Indeed this was the Son of God.

And there were many women, afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him; among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

And when it was evening, there came a certain rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate, and asked the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded that the body should be delivered. And Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new monument, which he had hewn out in a rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the monument and went his way.

And the next day, which followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees came together to Pilate, saying, Sir, we have remembered that the seducer said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again: command therefore the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day, lest perhaps his disciples come and steal him away, and say to the people, He is risen from the dead; and the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said to them, You have a guard; go, guard it as you know. And they, departing, made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting guards.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



When the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I was eager to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for, I tell you, I shall not eat again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Then they passed him a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that, from now on, I will not drink the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. Jesus also took bread, and after giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And after the supper, he did the same with the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant, sealed in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Yet the hand of the traitor is with me on the table. Know that the Son of Man is going the way marked out for him. But alas for the one who betrays him!” They began to ask one another which of them could do such a thing.


They also began to argue among themselves which of them should be considered the most important. And Jesus said, “The kings of the pagan nations rule over them as lords, and the most hardhearted rulers claim the title ‘Gracious Lord’. But not so with you; let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is the greatest, he who sits at the table or he who serves? He who is seated, isn’t it? Yet I am among you as the one who serves.

You are the ones who have been with me, and stood by me, through my troubles; because of this, just as the kingship has been given to me by my Father, so I give it to you. You will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones and govern the twelve tribes of Israel.

Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like grain, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have recovered, you shall strengthen your brothers. Then Peter said, “Lord, with you I am ready to go even to prison and death.” But Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you have denied three times that you know me.”

Jesus also said to them, “When I sent you without purse or bag or sandals, were you short of anything?” They answered, “No.” And Jesus said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and a bag as well. And if anyone is without a sword, let him sell his cloak to buy one. For Scripture says: ‘He was numbered among criminals.’ These words have to be fulfilled in me, and now everything written about me is taking place. Then they said, “See Lord, here are two swords!” but he answered, “That is enough.”


After this, Jesus left to go as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he came to the place, he told them, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.”

Then he went a little further, about a stone’s throw, and kneeling down he prayed, “Father, if it is your will, remove this cup from me; however, not my will but yours be done.” And an angel from heaven appeared to give him strength.

As he was in agony, he prayed even more earnestly, and great drops of blood formed like sweat and fell to the ground. When he rose from prayer, he went to his disciples, but found them worn out with grief, and asleep. And he said to them, “Why do you sleep? Get up and pray, so that you may not be put to the test.”


Jesus was still speaking when a group appeared, and the man named Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, and Jesus said to him, “Judas, with a kiss do you betray the Son of Man?”

Those with Jesus, seeing what would happen, said to him, “Master, shall we use the sword?” And one of them struck the High Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus stopped him, “No more of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus spoke to those coming against him, the chief priests, officers of the Temple and elders; and he said to them, “Did you really set out against a robber? Do you need swords and clubs to arrest me? Day after day I was among you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest me. But this is the hour of the power of darkness; this is your hour.”


Then they seized him away, bringing him to the High Priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance.

A fire was kindled in the middle of the courtyard where people were gathered, and Peter among them. A maidservant noticed him. Looking at him intently in the light of the fire, she exclaimed, “This man also was with him!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

A little later someone who saw him said, “You are also one of them!” Peter replied, “My friend, I am not!”

After about an hour another asserted, “Surely this man was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

Again Peter denied, “My friend, I don’t know what you are talking about.” He had not finished saying this, when a cock crowed. The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times. Peter went outside, weeping bitterly.

And the guards, who had arrested Jesus, mocked and beat him. They blindfolded him, struck him, and then asked, “Who hit you? Tell us, prophet!” And they hurled many other insulting words at him.

At daybreak, the council of the elders of the people, among whom were the chief priests and the scribes, assembled again. Then they had Jesus brought before them, and they began questioning him, “Tell us, are you the Christ?” Jesus replied, “You will not believe, if I tell you, and neither will you answer, if I ask you. Yet, from now on, ‘the Son of Man will have his seat at the right hand of the Mighty God’.”

In chorus they asked, “So you are the Son of God?” And Jesus said to them, “You are right, I am.”

Then they said, “What need have we of witnesses? We have heard it from his own lips.”


The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation: “We found this man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ the king.”

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with his teaching. He began in Galilee and now he has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see him because of the reports about him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed him and with his guests mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on him, he sent him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this man before me and accused him of subversion. In your presence I have examined him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent him back to me. It is quite clear that this man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have him scourged and then release him. (On the Passover Pilate had to release a prisoner.)

Shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder. Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have him scourged and let him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.


When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed him; among them were women beating their breasts and grieving for him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!’ And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?”

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, he was crucified together with two criminals – one on his right and another on his left. (Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.) And the guards cast lots to divide his clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at him, saying to one another, “Let the man who saved others now save himself, for he is the Messiah, the chosen one of God!”

The soldiers also mocked him and, when they drew near to offer him bitter wine, they said, “So you are the king of the Jews? Free yourself!” Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted him, “So you are the Messiah? Save yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as he did? For us it is just: this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” And saying that, he gave up his spirit.

[When this part is read out in Church, all of the faithful go down on their knees.]

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God. “Surely this was an upright man!” He said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts. But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Then intervened a member of the Jewish supreme council, a good and righteous man named Joseph, from the Judean town of Arimathea. He had not agreed with the decision and action of his fellow members, and he lived uprightly in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. Joseph went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. He then took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a yet unused tomb, cut out of a rock.

It was Preparation Day, and the star which marks the beginning of the Sabbath was shining. So the women, who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph to see the tomb, and how his body was laid. And returning home, they prepared perfumes and ointments. And on the Sabbath day they rested, as the Law required.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,