Ministry of the Word
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Introduction to Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
When we look at the first three gospels – Matthew , Mark and Luke – we have much in common and are significantly different from John’s gospel. Hence they are called “Synoptic Gospels”
Synoptic Problem
When we place the synoptic gospels in parallel columns, we find that these gospels among themselves show similarities and dissimilarities.
(a)    Similarities: The synoptic gospels have much in common not only in material and language.
·         Order and material and language eg: the triptych: the preaching of John the Baptist, the Baptism of Jesus, and the temptation of Jesus.
·         Language
(b)   Dissimilarities: Some passages are found
·         Only in Mt (eg 25: 31 – 46)
·         Only in Mt (eg 4: 26 – 29)
·         Only in Lk (eg 15 : 11 – 32)
·         In both Mt and Lk but not in Mk (eg The Our Father)
The Answer to the Synoptic Problem
Introduction to the Passion Narratives
Preparation for the Passover Meal
1.1 “ On the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread”
(A) The passion and death of Jesus, which we are going to study in this series, occurred                                        during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast was celebrated for a week.
(B) Which was the first day of the Feast? To answer this question we need to know, that the Jewish system of reckoning a day was different from our way of reckoning a day.
  • For us- A day begins at twelve midnight and ends at twelve midnight.
  • For the Jews- A day began at six o’clock in the evening and ended the following evening at six o’clock. Thus, the Jewish day of Friday began on our Thursday 6 pm and ended on our Friday 6 pm.
Therefore, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was anytime between Wednesday 6:00 pm and Thursday 6: 00 pm. On Thursday before 6:00 pm the lambs for the Passover meal were sacrificed in the Temple to be eaten later that evening after 6: 00 pm.
(c) On this day, Jesus sent two of his disciples, to make the preparations for the meal.
  • What were the names of the twp disciples? See Luke 22:8 (Peter and John)
  • What instructions did Jesus give them? (they would meet a man “carrying a jar of water)
  • From his instructions, it would appear that Jesus had already made arrangements with a friend in Jerusalem to have the meal in his house in “a large upper room” (Mark, Luke). The two disciples found that everything was as Jesus had arranged and so they were able to prepare for the Passover meal.
1.2  Was the last Supper a Passover Meal?
( A) According to the Synoptics, the Last Supper was a Passover meal which began on Thursday after 6 pm.
 (B) But according to John, the Last Supper was not a Passover meal (Jn 13: 1, 18: 28,19:31). It was eaten on the day before the Passover. The Passover meal that year was eaten on Friday after 6 pm.
The Western Church follows the Synoptics; the Eastern Churches follows John.
  1. Betrayal Foretold:
1.1 Only the 12 disciples participated in the Last Supper.
Mark tells us that “ they reclined at table” (v. 18).Jews did not eat seated at the table, they reclined with their feet stretched away from the low table which was arranged like a square with one side left open for the servers.
1.2   “One of you will betray me…The one who dips his finer...”
(A) In what three stages did Jesus reveal his betrayer according to Matthew? Look at   Matthew 26: 21, 23 and 25
(B)  Judas had gone about his ugly business of betraying Jesus in secrecy – so he thought.
·         He hid this from the rest of the 12. For if they knew what he was doing, he would have to the face their wrath.
·         But he was not able to hide it from Jesus. Jesus knew what he was doing. This is always true: a person can hide his sins from others, but never from Jesus who sees the secrets of the heart.
(C) The disciples were troubled. They did not know whom was Jesus referring. Here John’s gospel gives us a helpful detail. Read John 13:21 – 30
·         Simon Peter asked the one whom Jesus loved,” namely John, who I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
·         Jewish custom of eating: three ate from one dish. Therefore, note that Judas’ place at table was by Jesus’ side, and not, at far end of the table.
·         When Jesus gave the morsel to Judas, he told him to do quickly whatever he wished to do. None of the other apostles understood what Jesus meant by those words.
(D) Here we see Jesus’ approach the sinner. He does not condemn, rather, he confronts the sinner with love. He tries to make him stop and think of what he is doing. He, as it were, says to him,Look at what you are thinking of doing. He, as it were, says to him, Look at what you are doing – can you really do a thing like that? Judas rejected the appeal of Jesus’ love. He left to carry out his awful plan of betraying Jesus.
(E) Why did Judas betray Jesus?
(F)   His action may have sprung from one of the 2 motives :
·         He may really, either from greed or from disillusionment, have wished to see Jesus killed,                                   or
·         He may have been trying to force Jesus’ hand, and may have wished not to see him killed but compel him to act.
1.3 Read Mark 14:21 or Matthew 26:24.
Jesus says that he is betrayed and adds,It would be better for that man if he had never been born. What do these words mean? Just because God’s plan is at work in Jesus’ death, it does not mean that Judas had no responsibility.
1.4 Note that Luke has a whole passage here – 22:24-30
That is not found in the Passion Narrative of Mark or Matthew. Luke has gathered here three truths which are taught elsewhere in Mark’s and Matthew’s gospel. Which are the three truths?
(A) The greatest in God’s kingdom is the one who is the servant of all. This teaching is found in Mark (9:34 – 35; 10:42- 44) in Matthew (20: 25 – 27; 23:11).)
(B) Jesus is the one among them who serves (cf. Mark 10: 45, Matthew 20:28)
(C) Those disciples who have stood by Jesus, faithful and loyal, will in the end reign with him. Those who have shared in Jesus’ suffering will share in his glory.
  1. The Passover Meal:
2.1 This passage gives us the institution of the Eucharist.
During the meal bread and wine was served. Jesus took the bread and wine and gave them a new meaning or significance.
(A)What were the words that Jesus spoke over the bread?
       (This is my body given for you)
(B) What were the words that Jesus spoke over the wine?
 (This is my blood… which will shed…for the forgiveness of sins)
(C) By these words of interpretation of Jesus over the bread and wine, what was Jesus                        referring to?(His sacrifice on the cross)
2.2 By his sacrificial death on the cross Jesus brought us into a new relationship with God.
(A)Which one word tells us this? (Covenant)
(B) Luke has new covenant (v. 20). Which was the old covenant?
(C) How would you describe the new covenant Jesus brought about?
       Read Heb 10: 11-18
2.3 Note the actions and words of Jesus regarding the bread according to Luke 22:19
(A)What four actions did Jesus perform with the bread?
(He took - blessed – broke – gave the bread to the apostles)
(B) What words did Jesus speak over the bread in this Lucan verse which is not found in Mark or Matthew? (“Do this in memory of me”)
(C) The Greek word is “anamnesis” which is more exactly translated as “memorial.”
(D)In the Eucharist we carry out this command of Jesus. The Eucharist is a memorial of the sacrifice (death and resurrection of Jesus by which he brought about the new covenant between God and us. The Eucharist (mass) is not another sacrifice, but the celebration of the only one, perfect sacrifice of Jesus in the New Testament.
2.4 The conclusion of the meal
(a)    Jesus’ words of faith and hope: Though he is going to his death, he tells his disciples that he will feast with them again in the kingdom of God,” I shall not drink”
(b)   Mark and Matthew tells his disciples that “after singing a hymn, they went out. “An essential part of the “Hallel”. “Hallel” means “Praise God!” the Hallel consisted of Psalms 113 – 118, which are all psalms of praise. These psalms were sung in sections at different points of the Passover meal. At the very end of the meal “the Great Hallel” was sung, which is Ps 136. That was the hymn they sang before they went out to the Mount of Olives.
  1. Failure Foretold:
3.1 Jesus predicted the disciples’ failure in faith.
(A)Why would their faith in Jesus be shaken? (Because of the tragic events that would destroy Jesus).
(B) Where in the Old Testament is the quotation from? Turn to Zechariah 13:7
3.2 What was the assurance that Jesus gave to.
(A)The apostles in Mark and Matthew? (that he would meet them in Galilee after his resurrection)
(B) Simon Peter in Luke? (that he has prayed for him)
3.3 Peter’s failure predicted.
(A)What was Peter’s boast? See Mark 14:29; Matthew 26:33
      What do you think of Peter’s boast?
(B) What did Jesus about Peter? (that Peter would deny being a disciple of Jesus)
(C) Look at the prediction in the three accounts:
·         What is common to all three? (Peter would deny him thrice)
·         What is different in Mark as compared to Matthew and Luke? (Mark: before the cock crows twice; Matthew and Luke: before the cock crows once)
   (D) What was Peter’s final boast? (Mark 14: 31) ; Matthew 26:35; Luke 22: 33)
(E) Only Luke has a passage that talks of swords. See Luke 22:35 – 38
What do these strange words mean? “Jesus was saying, ‘All the time so far you have had me with you. In a very short time you are going to be cast upon your own resources. What are you going to do about it? The danger in a very short time is not that you will possess nothing; but that you will have to fight for your very existence. ‘This was not an incitement to armed force. It was simply a vivid eastern way of telling the disciples that their very lives were at stake.                          (W. Barclays, Luke, pp 269 – 270)

*      SESSION 2
1.      Gethsamane:
1.1 After Jesus and his disciples finished the Passover meal, where did they go?
(Gethsamane according to Matthew and Mark; the Mount of Olives according to Luke). We have two words here – Mount of Olives and Gethsamane – but there is no contradiction between the Synoptic writers.
(A) The Mount of Olives: This was a mountain that stood opposite the Mount of Zion on which was built the city of Jerusalem; between the two mountains laid the Kidron Valley. Along the slopes of the Mount of Olives were gardens in which olive trees were cultivated. Hence the name given to the mountain.
(B) Gethsamane: This word very probably means an “olive-vat,” or an” olive-press.” It was here that the olive fruit was crushed to produce olive oil.
1.2 Why did Jesus choose to spend the night in this place?
John 18:1-2- It was a place where Jesus often met with his disciples.
1.3 It would appear that the owner of the garden had given Jesus the right into his private property. We are not told his name. Two other unnamed persons who helped Jesus in his last days. Who were they?
The man who gave him his donkey and the man who gave him the Upper Room for the Last Supper.
1.4 Jesus separated himself from his disciples because he wished to pray,” Sit here while             I go over there and pray” (Mt)
(A) From among his disciples, Jesus took three disciples along with him. Who were he three (Peter, James and John)
(B) On two other occasions during his ministry, Jesus took the same three men along with him. Which were those 2 occasions? Look at Mk 5:37 (The raising of Jairus’ daughter) and Mk 9:2 (The Transfiguration)
(C) Jesus wanted the three disciples to do two things while he prayed. What two things?
      Look at Mk 14: 34 (also Mt 26: 38) – to “watch”
      Look at Mk14: 38 9Also Mt 26:41) – to “watch and pray”
(a)   Therefore, why did Jesus take the three along with him?
      Select the appropriate answers from the following:
(1)   To have their fellowship? (2) To test their endurance? (3) To experience his grief so they could write about it?
(4) To pray for him? (5) To pray from themselves?
(e)Picture the three groups in the garden: the eight disciples,the three disciples, and      Jesus. Jesus was alone in his grief.
1.5 What was the mental/emotional state of Jesus as he went to pray?
(A) What do we read:
·         In Mk 14:33 (He was troubled and distressed);
·         In Mt 26 : 37 (He felt sorrow and distress)
·         In Luke 22:44 (He was in such agony that his sweat became like drops of blood)
(B) What does all this tell us about the person of Jesus at this moment of his life? (it reveals the human-ness (humanity) of Jesus, which indicate that Jesus was truly human and was not pretending to be so)
1.6 How many times did Jesus go to pray?
(A) Mk and Mt have Jesus going three times to pray.
      (In Mk vv.35, 39, and 41; in Mt vv. 39, 42, 44)
(B) On the other hand, how many times does Luke have Jesus going to pray? (Only           once)
1.7 In each Passion Narrative observe Jesus’ posture when praying
      (In Mk 14: 35 – he fell to the ground; in Mt 26: 39 – he fell on his face; in                           Luke 22: 41 – he knelt down)
1.8  Now Let us study Jesus’ prayer itself in the three accounts.
(A) How does he address God? (“ Abba, father” Mk 14:36, “My Father” Mt 26:39; “Father” Luke 22:42)
 What is this a sign of? (Intimacy, trust, confidence)
“Jesus’ use of the word ‘Abba’ in addressing God is unparalleled in the whole of Jewish literature. The explanation of this fact is to be found that ‘Abba’ was used by a young child to its father; it was an everyday family word, which no one had ventured to use in addressing God. Jesus did. He spoke to his heavenly Father in as childlike, trustful and intimate a way as a little child to its father” (Joachim Jeremias, “The Parables of Jesus”)
(B) Which two words refer to the passion and death of Jesus?
      (“Hour” in Mk 14:35; “Cup” in Mk 14:36; Mt 26:39, 42, Luke 22: 42)
(C) How does Jesus end his prayer? (“Not my will but yours be done,” Mt 26:39, 42;    Luke 22: 42; in Mk 14:35 this is stated indirectly, if it were possible”)
    In saying “your will be done,” is Jesus:
  • Helplessly submitting to fate?
  • Admitting defeat before a power that beat him?
  • Quietly trusting in God’s love even still?
1.9 When he returned from prayer Jesus found the three sleeping. He said three things to them in Mk and Mt. What are they?
  1. Could you not keep watch for one hour?
  2. Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
  3. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
1. Why did the disciples sleep?
v        According to Mk and Mt (they were tired)
v        According to Luke 22:45 (they were full of grief)
2. What is “the test” that Jesus spoke of?
3. Have you experienced the truth of the saying concerning the spirit and the flesh:
v       In your prayer life?
v       In other areas of your Christian life?
Contrast the words of Peter in Mk 14:31 (= Mt 26:35) and his behaviour in this passage. Peter promised to die for Jesus and here he could not even keep awake.
1.10          Look at the last 2 verses in Mk and Mt.
(A)What did Jesus mean when he said that the ‘hour” had come? (The time for his passion and death)
(B) Jesus referred to himself as the “Son of Man”. Why is this title used at this moment? Look up Mk 8:31; 10:33, 45.What is predicted in those verses is now going to be fulfilled.
(B) The Arrest
The events in this place took place very early Friday morning before 3 am.
2.1 Judas did not come alone; he came with a crowd of people. We are given two details about the crowd. What are they?
(They we armed with swords and clubs, and they were sent by the chief priests,       scribes and elders).
According to Luke, the chief priests and elders were also in the crowd (22:52). It is not likely that these leaders would themselves come in person top arrest Jesus
2.2 Judas had given the crowd a sign: a kiss
(A) Judas chose the most loving signs to commit the most terrible crime. It was customary to greet a rabbi with a kiss. It was a sign of respect and affection for a well- loved teacher. When Judas says ,”Whom I shall kiss that is he,” he used the word “philein” which is the ordinary word. But when he came forward and kissed Jesus the word used is “kataphilein”. Now “kata” conveys an intensive action, and therefore “kataphilein” is the kiss that a lover gives his beloved. The sign of betrayal was not a mere formal kiss of greeting.
(B) Why did Judas arrange his kiss as a sign? Why should any identification of Jesus have been necessary? Those who came to arrest Jesus would certainly have known him.
(C) Note that Mt 26:50 is translated differently:
  • In the RSV: “Friend, why are you here?”
  • In the NRSV, NAB, NIV: “Friend do what you have come for.”
The second translation is preferable. Why? (Because Jesus knew why Judas had come, so there was no need to ask the question)
Observe the difference in Jesus’ reaction to Judas’ kiss in Mt 26:50 and Luke 22:48. What is the difference?
2.3 When Jesus was arrested violence broke out. John 18:10-11
(A) What did one of Jesus’ disciples do?( He drew his sword and cut off the ear of the slave of the high priest).the NAB and NIV have “servant” but the more accurate translation (NRSV) is “ slave” for the Greek word here is “doulos” not “diakonos”
(B) Which ear did he cut off? (the right ear: Luke, John)
(C) Turn to john 18:10. In this verse we are given two extra bits of information. What information? (It was Simon Peter who drew his sword, and the slave’s name was Malchus)
(D) Jesus reprimanded the disciple. This is only in Mt. What two truths did Jesus utter in his reprimand?
(Violence only breeds violence; Jesus will submit to violence)
(E) Jesus replied violence with good. This is only in Luke. What did Jesus do?( he healed the slave’s ear)
2.4 Jesus then confronted the crowd. He referred to the past and the present.
(A) Which words refer to the past? (“Day after day I was with you in the temple yet you did not arrest me”).
(B) Which words refer to the present? (But now you come against me with weapons as if I would try to resist you. I will not resist you and the evil (darkness) you plan, because thereby the plan of god (in the scriptures) may be fulfilled)
2.5 The disciples all abandoned Jesus and fled, even as he had foretold.
2.6 Only Mk speaks about a young man who followed Jesus and escaped nqk3d (that is, with only his loincloth on) when he seized. Who is the young man?
We may distinguish two levels, the historic and the symbolic-
(A) The historical level: it has been suggested that this young man was young Mark himself. The Last Supper was probably eaten in Mark’s house. He either followed Jesus and the disciples after the meal or followed Judas and the crowd into the garden.
(B) The symbolic level:-
  • He followed Jesus means that he was a disciple. This disciple continued to follow Jesus even after the others had fled, and was seized just as Jesus was seized.
  • He escaped by leaving the linen cloth behind. Jesus would likewise be wrapped in a linen cloth at his burial (15:46) and will leave it behind in his resurrection, symbolizing his escape from death.
  • At the tomb there was a young man sitting at the right hand clothed in a white garment of victory. Thus the young man in the garden unwittingly reveals God’s victory plan as the forces of death close in on Jesus
*      SESSION 3
1. Trial before the Sanhedrin
1.1 Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin.
(A) Where in the text does the word “Sanhedrin” appear?
·         In Mk (v55) In Mt (v59) in Luke(v66)
(B) What was the body of the Sanhedrin? (The supreme religious Council among the Jews that decided on matters of creed, cult, and conduct)
(C) Who were the members of the Sanhedrin? Look at Mk 14: 53
Four categories are mentioned in the verse. Which?
(The high priest, chief elders and scribes)
Among the members of the Sanhedrin were also Pharisees and Sadducees. See Acts 23:6. The total number of members was seventy.
(D)Who was the High Priest at the time of Jesus’ trial?
Look at Mt v 57 (Caiaphas)
·         But now let us look at three texts in Jn’s Passion narrative.
·         The first text is John 18:13. What does this verse tell us?(that Jesus was first taken to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year)
·         The second text is John 18:19. How is Annas referred to in this verse?(As the high priest who questioned Jesus)
·         The third text in John 18:24. What does this verse say? (that Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas the high priest)So John calls both Annas and Caiaphas high priest.
Now turn to Luke 3:2. What does this verse say? (that Annas and Caiaphas were both high priests)
Finally turn to Acts 4:6. Who is the high priest in this text? (Annas)
Therefore the problem is: what is the relationship between Annas and Caiaphas in the high priesthood office?
·         Annas and Caiaphas in the high priest in AD 6 by Quirinius, the imperial governor of Syria, but was deposed in AD 15 at the beginning of the reign of Tiberius. Anna’ family was wealthy and influential, and five of his sons, as well as his son-in-law Joseph Caiaphas, attained the office of high priest.
·         Caiaphas was appointed high priest in AD 18 and held it until he was deposed by Vitellius, Pontius Pilate’s successor, in AD 36-37. He was therefore high priest at the time of the trial of Jesus.
A possible answer: Though Caiaphas was the high priest in office, his father-in-law Annas was ex-high priest and continued to exercise influence and even sit in at Sanhedrin meetings (just as an ex Bishop today is called “bishop Emeritus” and can continue to take part in Church council meetings)
1.2 When did the trial before the Sanhedrin take place?
This question is not easy to answer. It would appear that there were two sessions of the Sanhedrin, one at night and the other in the morning.
(A)At night: The first session was held at night according to Mk and Mt. Look at the    text in Mk and Mt and finds this out.
(B) In the morning: The second session was held in the morning.
  • According to Luke this was the only session. See Luke 22:66
  • Mk and Mt also refer to a morning session. See Mk 15:1 and Mt 27:1
1.3 A Farcical Trial
Having secured Jesus in their power, the members of the Sanhedrin in their eagerness to bring about his death, they broke the rules and laws that they themselves had laid down. Let us consider the rules and the evidence in the Passion Narratives.
(1) All criminal cases had to be tried during the daytime and completed during the daytime.
What is the evidence? The Sanhedrin first tried Jesus at night and then, it would appear as a formality, met again in the morning to observe the rule.
(2) Criminal cases could not be transacted during the Passover season at all.
What is the evidence? The trial of Jesus, a criminal case, was held during the Passover season.
(3) Only if the verdict was “Not Guilty” could a case be finished on the day it was begun. If the verdict was “Guilty” a night had to elapse before the verdict was pronounced, so that the court might sleep on it, and perhaps their condemnation might turn to mercy.
What is the evidence? Jesus was tried, pronounced “guilty,” and put to death before the day was over.
(4) No decision of the Sanhedrin was valid unless it met in its own meeting place, the Hall of Hewn Stone in the Temple precincts.
What is the evidence? The night trial took place in the house of the high priest. the morning trial may have been held in the Hall of hewn Stone.
(5) In any trial for the process began by laying before the court all the evidence for the innocence of the accused, before the evidence of his guilt was brought forward.
What is the evidence? Only evidence regarding Jesus’ guilt was brought forward against him.
(6) All the evidence had to be guaranteed by two witnesses separately examined and having no contact with each other. False witnesses were punishable by death. This was especially impressed upon witnesses in the case where a person’s life was at stake.
What is the evidence? The main business of the night meeting was to formulate a charge against Jesus. Many false witnesses came forward but their testimony did not agree. We are only told one such false charge,
(a)    What was the false charge? (that Jesus had said that he would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days.)
(b)   Did Jesus really say that? Look at Jn 2:19-21
  • Jesus did not say that he would destroy the temple.
  • Jesus did say that he himself would be killed and would rise on the third day.Thus his words were deliberately and maliciously twisted to incriminate him.
  • But Jesus was silent. Why did he refuse to answer the false charge? (He knew that to speak would be of no use; perhaps he knew that they falsely accusing him.)
1.3 The Crucial Question
(A) The trial had reached a dead-end. It was then that the high priest, Caiaphas, asked the crucial question. What was the question? (Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?)
(B) Why was this crucial question? (If Jesus said,” No,” the trial would come to an end, for there was no possible charge against him. He had only to say, “No,” and he could have walked out a free man and escape death. On the other hand, if Jesus said, “Yes,” he signed his own death warrant)
(C) Jesus was silent before the charges of the false witnesses. Now when the High priest questioned him, why did he speak?
(he had to speak because his identity was in question and he had to proclaim cost what it may. Throughout his ministry he kept his identity hidden and told others to do the same. Now at last he boldly revealed it)
(D) Jesus’ answer had two parts. Which were the two parts?
1    He admitted that he was the Messiah.
2.      He spoke of himself as the Son of Man seated at the right hand of god)
(E) In the second of his answer, Jesus referred to a text in the Old Testament.
1.      Which text? Read Daniel 7: 13-14
2.      What does the text say? (It speaks of the ultimate triumph and kingship of God’s chosen one who was believed to be a divine being)
(F) Hence the reaction of the high priest. His reaction took two forms. Which were they?
1. Deed: he tore his robes: this was a sign of hysterical horror.
2. Word: He declared Jesus of committing blasphemy.
(G) The Sanhedrin had what it wanted and it was savagely content. Because the Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, what was its verdict? (Jesus deserved to die)
1.5 Physical abuse at the hands of the Jewish Temple soldiers.
Jesus was then kept in the custody of the Jewish temple soldier until it was time for him to be taken to Pilate. Jesus underwent physical abuse at the hands of these soldiers. Identity the four ways in which Jesus was physically abused. (He was spat upon, he was beaten, he was slapped, and he was mocked)
2. Peter’s Denial
The events in this passage took place early Friday morning probably 3:00- 6:00 am
1.2 Peter in the courtyard
Go back to Mk 14:54 or Mt 26:58 or Luke 22:54
(A) Recall what you know about Peter in the gospel till this moment.
·         He was one of the first to follow Jesus.
·         He professed faith in Jesus as messiah.
·         He walked on water to come to Jesus
·         He boasted that he would be loyal to Jesus.
·         He cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave
 (B) Peter followed Jesus at a distance as far as the high priest’s courtyard. Look at Jn 18:15- 16. What two extra bits of information do these verses give us?
(Peter and another disciple followed Jesus; the other disciple’s influence enabled Peter sat with them.)
(C) Picture the scene as Luke draws it in v55: a group of people seated around a fore in the middle of the courtyard, and Peter sat with them.
2.2 First Denial (14:66- 68; 26:69- 70; 22:56-57)
(A) Who questioned peter the first time? (one of the maids)
(B) What was her question? (that he too had been with Jesus who was on trial, and therefore, knew the accused)
(C)With what words did Peter deny Jesus? (I do not know what you are talking about). He avoided the question, thereby what he indirectly said was: I do not know Jesus.
(D) He left the courtyard and went out into the outer court (see Mk 38) or “to the gate” (See Mt v71)
2.3 Second Denial
(A) Who questioned peter this time? (the bystanders)
(B) What was Peter questioned this time according to Mk and Lk? (that he was one of the disciples of Jesus)
(C) Peter again denied this. According to Mt, in order to strengthen his denial what did Peter do? (he swore)
2.4 Third Denial
(A) Who questioned Peter this third time? (the bystanders)
(B) Peter was accused of being one of Jesus’ disciples from Galilee. How did they recognize Peter to be a Galilean?
Look at Mt v73 (By his speech, that is, his accent)
(C) In denying this charge, Mt tells us that peter only swore but he did something else? What? (He cursed)
(D) The cock crowed. According to Mk the cock crowed a second time. Why the discrepancy as compared with Mt and Lk?
(Mk made the cock crow twice to show that the prediction of Jesus regarding Peter’s denial in Mk 14: 30 was fulfilled).
2.5 As we look at three denials together, we observe two things.
  • Where was Peter when he denied Jesus for the first time? (in the courtyard – Mk Mt)
  • Where was Peter when he denied Jesus the second and third time? (In the outer court – Mk; at the gate – Mt)
What is this telling us? (The increasing distance between Peter and Jesus was more than physical; it was a sign of his increasing distance in his relationship to Jesus.
  • In v70: he avoided the question thereby indirectly denying knowing Jesus.
  • In v 72: he swore that he did not know Jesus
  • In v 74: he cursed and swore that he was neither a follower of Jesus (“one of them”) nor that he knew Jesus
2.6 Peter broke down and wept bitterly
(A) What led Peter to break down and weep bitterly?
  • One reason is given to us by all three evangelists. What is it?
(Peter remembered the prediction of Jesus)
The word of Jesus.
  • Lk gives us an added reason. What is it? (The Lord turned and looked at Peter). The look of Jesus. What did that look of Jesus say to Peter?
(B) What were the tears of Peter a sign of? (Repentance)
Before Pilate (Mk 15:1 – 20; Mt 27:1 – 31; Lk 23:1-5, 13-25)
4 Segments:
(1) Jesus’ first appearance before Pilate.
(2) Jesus before Herod
(3) Jesus’ second appearance before Pilate.
(4) The repentance and despair of Judas.
The events in this passage took place on Friday morning between 6:00 – 9:00 am
*      First Part
1. Jesus’ First Appearance before Pilate
1.1 In the morning the members of the Sanhedrin bound Jesus and led him to Pilate, the governor.
(A) Who was Pilate?
  • At the time of Jesus’ ministry, Palestine was divided into four regions. Look at Lk 3:1. Which were the regions and who were their respective rulers?
(Judea: Pontius Pilate the governor
Galilee: Herod (Antipas) the tetrarch
Ituraea and Trachonitis: Philip the tetrarch
Abilene: Lysanias the tetrarch)
Therefore, Pilate was governor of only one region of Palestine, namely Judea, in which was the city of Jerusalem.
  • Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea from AD 2 – 36
  • His headquarters were at Caesarea maritime on the coast; he used to come to Jerusalem to oversee the Passover feast, lest trouble break out.
(B) Why did the members of the Sanhedrin take Jesus to Pilate?
Couldn’t they have put Jesus to death on their own?
The Romans were the rulers of the country. The Sanhedrin had full authority over the religious matters. But it had no authority to inflict the death penalty, expect in the case of a cases involving the death penalty, the Sanhedrin had to prepare the charge involving the death penalty, the Sanhedrin had to prepare the charge on which the criminal could not be tried before the Roman governor. Only the governor could condemn a person to death.
1.3 The Sanhedrin had already judged Jesus as deserving death on grounds of blasphemy. But that was a religious matter which would not interest the Roman governor. As governor, his job was to maintain law and order in the region. Therefore, the Sanhedrin had to accuse Jesus of a political crime if they were to obtain from the governor his death sentence.
(A)Look at Lk v.2. Which are the three political crimes that the Sanhedrin accused Jesus of? (of agitating the people; of opposing the payment of taxes to the Roman Emperor; and of assuming the title of king.
(B) Of these three charges the third was the most serious one from the governor’s point of view. So he asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’
(C)What was Jesus’ answer to Pilate? (You have said so).
What did Jesus’ answer mean? [Let the participants share].
(It was Pilate who said that Jesus was the king of the Jews; Not once in his ministry did Jesus himself claim to be the king of the Jews).
1.4 Other accusations: Read Mk 15:3-5.
 To the other accusations of the Sanhedrin, Jesus remained silent. Pilate urged Jesus to defend himself. But Jesus did not. What was Pilate’s reaction to Jesus’ behaviour? (He was amazed).
1.5 Conclusion of Jesus’ first appearance before Pilate
After listening to the charges of the Sanhedrin and to Jesus, Pilate expressed his decision to the Sanhedrin and the crowds.
What was Pilate’s decision? Read Lk v.4. (Not guilty)
2. JESUS BEFORE HEROD [20 minutes]
Look at the Chart and at Luke’s text. You notice that Lk has a passage – vv. 5-12 – which is found only in his PN. Let us study it.
2.1. Jesus was sent to Herod
Read Lk 22: 5-7.
(A)Can you find two reasons why Pilate sent Jesus to Pilate? (First, because the Sanhedrin said that Jesus had also preached in Galilee, and Galilee came under the jurisdiction of Herod the tetrarch. Second, because he could find no guilt in Jesus he wished to get Jesus off his hands and so he passed him on to Herod).
(B) We are told that Herod was in Jerusalem at that time.
·         Herod’s palace was in Tiberias on the shore of the Lake of Galilee. Most probably Herod also had his own residence in Jerusalem.
·         Why do you think Herod had come to Jerusalem at that time? [Let the participants share]. (To attend the feast).
2.2. Jesus questioned by Herod
Read Lk 22:8-10.
(A)This was the same Herod who had has John the Baptizer beheaded. Read Mk 6:14-16.
(B) Why was Herod eager to see Jesus? (He wanted to see Jesus perform some miracle).
(C)Zacchaeus had also been eager to see Jesus. Read Lk 19:1-4.
What is the difference between Zacchaeus and Herod? [Let the participants share]. (Zacchaeus was open to the truth and to changing his life; Herod was not).
(D)Why did Jesus remain silent to Herod’s questions?
[Let the participants express their views].
(Because Herod was not interested in learning the truth).
2.3. Jesus sent back to Pilate
 Read Lk 22:11-12.
(A) Having failed to find Jesus guilty, Herod sent him back to Pilate. Before he did so, how did he and his soldiers treat Jesus? (They treated him contemptuously and mocked him).
(B) Herod and Pilate became friends, when they were enemies before. Why do you think this happened? [Let the participants express their views]. (This statement of Lk is another illustration of the truth that Jesus’ ministry was that of reconciliation. Here he reconciled Herod and Pilate).
3.1. Pilate’s second pronouncement of Jesus’ innocence
(A)When Jesus appeared before him the first time, Pilate had found Jesus not guilty. Where did we read this? (LK 22:4).
(B) After Herod sent Jesus back to him, Pilate declared Jesus to be not guilty a second time. Read Lk vv.13-16.
(C)If Jesus was innocent of a capital crime, that is, a crime deserving death, why did Pilate say that he would have him flogged and then released? [Let the participants express their views]. (To appease the Sanhedrin and the mob).
3.2.  Jesus or Barabbas?
(A)Read Mk v.6. On the occasion of the feast the governor followed the custom of releasing a prisoner of the people’s choice.
(B) We are now introduced to Barabbas. What do we know about Barabbas? What does Mk tell us in v.7? (He had committed murder in a rebellion). Thus, very probably, he belonged to the group of violent, fanatical nationalists, who were ever ready to murder for the sake of their political ideas).
(C)Pilate offered a choice to the crowd: whom would they want released – Jesus or Barabbas? Let us reflect on the choice. Who was Barabbas and who was Jesus?
·         Barabbas was a nationalist. He had a common-sense slogan, ‘Judea for the Judeans.’ It was a stirring emotional appeal that excited people to political rebellion. On the other hand, Jesus spoke about loving one’s enemies.
·         Barabbas was a man of violence. There was no sentimental nonsense about him. Life was clean cut and straightforward. ‘Get a club.’ Use muscle power to overthrow the hated Romans.
On the other hand, Jesus said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’
·         Barabbas regarded evil as external, as outside us. Such simplicity is always attractive. Satan is at work in others but not in us. Drive out the Romans and all will be well. On the hand, Jesus saw the evil as something deeper and internal, and therefore called for repentance.
(D)What was Pilate’s motive in offering the crowd a prisoner exchange? [Let the participants express their views]. (He hoped thereby to release Jesus). This is clearly started in Lk vv.20-22. Read those verses.
(E) The crowd chose that Barabbas be released.
·         Who incited them to make this choice? (The chief priests and the elders).
·         What did they want Pilate to do with Jesus? (To crucify him).
(F) Contrast two crowds:
·         The crowd that met Jesus as he entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey on Palm Sunday. What was their attitude towards Jesus? (They were for Jesus).
·         The crowd that was assembled in Pilate’s courtyard on Good Friday. What was their attitude towards Jesus? (They were against Jesus).
(G)Mt has two incidents that are found only in his PN.
1.      Read Mt v.19. What does this verse tell us? [Let the participants share]. (Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. Through his wife he was warned to have nothing to do with his condemnation).
2.      Read Mt vv.24-25.
·         What do these two verses tell us :
Ø About Pilate? (by washing his hands he wished to state that he was innocent of Jesus death);
Ø About the crowd? (They took responsibility for Jesus death).
·         Compare two basins: the basins Jesus used at the last supper and the basin Pilate used in condemning Jesus.
What was the significance of each basin? [Let the participants express their views].
(Jesus basin signified commitment; Pilate’s basin signified non-commitment).
3.3. Jesus was condemned to death
(A) Pilate finally gave in to the pressure of the mob. Read MK v.15. What three things did Pilate do? (He released Barabbas; He had Jesus scourged; and he handed Jesus over to be crucified).
Pilate had Jesus scourged. The scourging was inflicted as a preparation for crucifixion. The scourging chain was made up of a number of leather thongs with pieces of bone or metal at the end. It literally tore a man’s back to ribbons. Sometimes it tore a man’s eye out. Some men died under it. Some men emerged from the ordeal raving mad. Few retained consciousness through it. Such was the scourging that Jesus had to undergo.
(B) Let us follow Mk. The ‘handing over’ as Jesus had foretold is now complete. Note the stages of this handing over:
First: Jesus predicted that he would be handed over (Mk 9:31; 0:33), that is, to be condemned to death.
Second: Judas delivered Jesus into the hands of the Sanhedrin (Mk 14:10; 14:44).
Third: The Sanhedrin delivered him to Pilate (MK 15:1).
Fourth: Pilate delivered him to be crucified (Mk 15:15).
(C) What was Pilate’s overriding answer concern in the trial?
Select the most appropriate answer from the following:
1.      Identifying the Messiah; 2. Hearing out Jesus;
3.   Exchanging prisoners;     4. Doing justice;
5.   Pacifying the Jewish leaders and mob.
3.4. Physical abuse at the hands of the Roman soldiers
           (A) After having being condemned to be crucified, where was Jesus taken? (Into     
                  the praetorium).
                  The Praetorium was the residence of the governor in Jerusalem, and the        
                  soldiers involved would be his headquarters contingent. Before he led out to    
                  his crucifixion, Jesus was at the mercy of the governor’s soldiers.
           (B) What did the governor’s soldiers do in the Praetorium?
                  Read Mk 15:17-20 and Mt 27:28-31. In which six ways did the Roman
                  soldiers ridicule Jesus as the ‘King of the Jews’?
                 (1. They clothed him in purple cloak; 2. They put a crown of thorns on his
                 head; 3. They placed a reed in his right hand; 4. They spat upon him; 5. They 
                 struck his head with the reed; 6. They mocked him by calling him ‘King of the
We now turn to the passage on the end of Judas which is found only in the Mt’s PN Look at the chart on page 9.
4.1.  Judas returned the money
    (A) What action and the words of Judas show us that he was seized with remorse?
          (He returned the money; I have sinned….).
    (B) Why was Judas suddenly seized with remorse? Was he expecting a different
           outcome? If so, what? [Let the participants express their views]. (His plan had
           gone wrong. He had meant to force Jesus to show forth his power; instead he
                 had driven him to the cross. And so life for Judas was shattered).
4.2. Judas hanged himself
   (A) How did Judas die? (He hanged himself).
   (B) What is the meaning of his action? (Despair that he was beyond God’s
 4.3. The field of Blood
   (A) What did the Sanhedrin do with the money that Judas returned? (They bought
             a field as a burial place for foreigners).
   (B) According to verse 9 a prophecy of Jeremiah was thus fulfilled. But we can
            find so such prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah. Perhaps this is a mixture of Jer         
           19:11; 32:6-9; and Zech 11:12-13.
4.4 The account of the end of Judas is differently told in Acts 1:18-19. Read it.
Observe the differences between Mt’s account and the Acts account in the following points:
(A) What did Judas do with money?
     (Mt: he returned it; Acts: he bought a field).
(B) The manner of Judas’ death
      (Mt: he hanged himself; Acts: he fell to his death).
(C) Why was the field called ‘the field of blood’?
     (Mt: the blood refers to the blood of Jesus; Acts: the blood refers to the blood of
*      CONCLUSION [15 minutes]
1. Sharing: Invite the participants to share the insights they have gained in this session.
(a) Insights into Jesus.
(b) Insights into ourselves as the disciples of Jesus.
2. Summarize the behaviour of Pilate in the whole trial.
(a) What efforts did he make to releases Jesus?
(b) What considerations finally influenced him to condemn Jesus?
3. The four demons that possess us:
(a) Power: domination, influence, control.
(b) Prestige: reputation, honour, fame, status, office, job.
(c) Pleasure: sex, enjoyment.
(d) Prosperity/Profit: wealth, money.
Which was Pilate’s demon? [Let the participants share]. (Prestige).
4. The choice between Barabbas and Jesus that Pilate presented to the crowd is the same choice that is presented to us today.
(a) The crowd chose:
·         The man of lawlessness instead of the man of law.
·         The man of violence instead of the man of peace.
·         The man of hatred instead of the man of love.
·         The man of hatred instead of the man of love.
(b) What is our choice today? The way of Barabbas or the way of Jesus?
5. Pilate finally succumbed to the pressure of the crowd.
 (a)When, if ever, have you been caught up in the enthusiasm of a group and done what  
       You would have preferred not to do? How can you be more effectively your own
 (b) On a scale of 1 (= easiest) to 10 (= toughest), how difficult is it for you to accept
        Responsibility for your own decisions?
6. If we go along with Mt’s account, what is the difference between Peter’s and Judas’ repentance? [Let the participants express their views]. (Peter repented and believed in God’s forgiveness; Judas repented but did not believe in God’s forgiveness. Peter hoped; Judas despaired).
*      SESSION V
(Mk 15:21-32; Mt 27:32-44; Lk 23:26-43)
1. THE WAY OF TO GOLGOTHA [40 minutes]
1.1. A soldier marched in front of the condemned prisoner carrying a board on which the crime of the prisoner was written. The prisoner carried only the crossbar, not the whole cross to the place of crucifixion where the upright stake was already in place. There the prisoner’s arms were affixed to the crossbar with the ropes or nails, and the crossbar was then raised and attached to the upright stake. A small wooden block attached to the stake beneath buttocks supported the weight of the suspended body, which was bound to the stake with ropes. Often the feet were also affixed to the stake with ropes or nails. Death came slowly, often after several days, and resulted from the combined effect of thirst, hunger, exhaustion, exposure, and the traumatic effects of the scourging. After death the body was usually left hanging on the cross.
1.2. The Roman soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross of Jesus.
(A) Why was Simon needed to carry Jesus cross? For the answer see Mk 14:65; 15:15, 19.
(B) Look at Mk 15:21 again. What three details are we told about Simon?
      1. He was originally from Cyrene in North Africa.
      2. He was coming in from the country (Mk, Lk).
      3. He was the father of Alexander and Rufus (Mk)].
Let us look at the three details:-
1. What was Simon from Cyrene doing in Jerusalem?
(No doubt he had come from that far off land for the Passover).
2. He ‘was coming in from the country.’ Why is this detail important in the narrative?
3. He was ‘the father of Alexander and Rufus.’ Why is this detail important in the narrative?
(When Simon was forced to carry Jesus cross, he must have hated the Romans and must have hated Jesus. It may be that when forced to do so, his intention was that after reaching Golgotha to fling down the cross and leave the scene as quickly as possible. It may be that along the way or when they reached Golgotha there was something about Jesus that touched him and changed his life so that he ended up becoming a disciple of Jesus. Mk mentions him as the father of Alexander and Rufus. Why would he do so, unless they were well-known members of the Christian community).
1.3. The women of Jerusalem
Lk has a long passage that is found only in his PN.
(A) Which is the passage? (Lk 23:27-31).
(B) What was the behaviour of the women in the crowd that followed Jesus? (They mourned and lamented him).
(C) Does this behaviour tell us anything about them? (They may have been a group of professional mourners that turned up at the death of someone. See Mk 5:38).
(D) Why would Jesus have no one weep for him? See Lk 21:20-24. (Days of terror were coming. In Judea there was no tragedy like a childless marriage. But the day would come when a woman would have no child would be glad that it was so. Once again Jesus was seeing ahead the destruction of that city which had so often before, and which had now so finally, refused the invitation of god.
(E) How do you understand the proverb that Jesus quotes in v.31? (This proverb could be used in many connections. Here it means, if they do this to one who is innocent, what will they some day do to those who are guilty?)
2. THE CRUCIFIXION [40 minutes]
2.1. When was Jesus crucified? Look at Mk 15:25
2.2. Look at Lk 23:32-33.
(A) What does this verse tell us? (Two others were also crucified on either side of Jesus).
(B) Where does Mk and Mt tell us the same fact? (Mk 15:27; Mt 27:38).
2.3. What do we know about the place of Jesus crucifixion?
(A) How is it called? (Golgotha).
·         Why is it called Golgotha? (Not certain. Probably because the place resembled the shape of a skull as suggested by the Synoptic).
·         In English the place is called ‘Calvary’ which is a translation of the Latin Vulgate’s ‘calvaria.’
(B) Where was it located?
·         See Jn 19:20. What does this verse tell us about the location of the place? (‘near the city,’ that is, outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem). It was Roman execution custom to crucify people outside the city walls.
·         See Mt 27:39. What does this verse tell us about the location of the place? (The reference to passers-by suggests that it was near a public thoroughfare, which is also according to Roman crucifixion customs).
·         See Mt 27:55. What does this verse tell us about the location of the place? (The fact that the cross was visible from a distance indicates an elevated location).
2.4. Jesus was offered drugged wine.
    Look at Mk 15:23 (also Mt 27:34).
(A) What was offered to Jesus as he hung on the cross? (Wine drugged with myrrh or with gall).
(B) Why was this offered to Jesus? (Following Jewish custom, Jesus was offered an opiate to dull the pain).
   (C) Why did Jesus reject it?
(When Dr.Samuel Johnson was ill with his last illness he asked his doctor to tell him honestly if he could recover. ‘Then,’ said Johnson, ‘I will take no more physic, not even opiates, for I have prayed that I may render up my soul to God
Unclouded.’ Jesus was resolved to taste death at its bitterest and to go to God with open eyes. - William Barclay, Commentary on Mark’s Gospel, pg. 380-381).
2.5. They divided his garments by lots.
Look at Mk 15:24 (also Mt 27:35 and Lk 23:34b).
(A)What did the soldiers do with the garments of Jesus? (They divided his garments by lot. This was the usual Roman custom).
(B) Which were the garments for which they cast lots? (A Jew wore five items of clothing- the inner tunic, the outer robe, the sandals, the girdle and the turban).
(C)Look at Jn 19:23-24. What is the special detail that Jn tells us about the division of Jesus clothing? (They divided four items among themselves, but they cast lots only for the outer robe. This was woven in one piece without a seam. To have cut it up and divided it would have ruined it; and so the soldiers gambled for it in the shadow of the cross).
(D)This event is a fulfillment of Ps 22:18. read the verse.
2.6. As was the Roman practice, an inscription was posted on the top of the cross stating the crime for which the criminal was crucified.
   (A) What was the inscription on Jesus’ cross?
         (‘The King of the Jews’)
(B) In which languages was the inscription written? The Synoptics do not tell us. But Jn does. Look at Jn 19:20. (Aramaic, Latin and Greek).
(a)    Now Let us read Jn 19:21-22.
·         Who authorized the inscription? The Synoptics do not tell us. But Jn does. (Pilate as the roman governor he could put Jesus to death only on a political charge. This was the only political charge that Pilate could find).
·         Who protested against the inscription? (The chief priests).
·         What was Pilate’s reply? (‘What I have written . . .’)
(d) Do you think that this charge that Jesus was the ‘King of the Jews’ true?
     (* From the Jewish religious leader’s point of view-no;
      * From Pilate’s point of view – no;
      * From Jesus’ point of view – no. Jesus was king, but he was king of a kingdom
         that included both Jews and Gentiles).
2.7 Consider the reaction of different people to Jesus on the cross.
(A) What was the reaction of the passer-by? Read Mk 15:29:30 and Mt 27:39 – 40. (They abused him, challenging him to come down from the cross).
(B) Was the reaction of the chief priests any different from that of the passers-by? Read Mk 15:15: 31 – 32a; Mt 27: 41- 43; Lk 23: 35 (No)
(C) What was the reaction of the revolutioners who were crucified with Jesus? Compare Mk 15:32b and Mt 27:44 on the one hand and Luke 23:39-43 on the other.
(According to Mk and Mt, both men abused Jesus. Lk tells us that their reaction was not the same)
Death and Burial
(Mk 15:33 – 47; Mt 27:45-66; Lk 2344-56)
First part
(A)What two events took place as Jesus carried his cross on the way to Golgotha? (events concerning Simon of Cyrene, and the women of Jerusalem)
(B) (b)What two events took place after Jesus was nailed to the cross?(the division of his clothes, he was offered drugged wine)
(C)Three groups of people reacted to Jesus as he hung on the cross. Which were the three groups?(the passers-by, the chief priests and the revolutioners)
(D)What two words did Jesus speak between 9: am and noon
1.      Death
The events in this passage took place on Friday between noon and 3:00 pm
1.1 Darkness at noon
Mk 15:33 and Lk 23:44-45a
(A) What happened at noon? (darkness came over the whole land)
(B) How long did the darkness last?(until 3 pm)
(C) What is Luke’s explanation for the darkness? (Sun’s Eclipse)
1.2  The Last moments Of Jesus
(A)Compare Mk 15:34-36 and Mt 27:46-49. Are they very similar to or different from each other? (very Similar)
(B) According to Mk and Mt:
1. What were the last words of Jesus before he died?
(“My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?)
2. In What language are the words reported? (Aramaic)
(C)Reaction of the bystanders
1. How did the bystanders understand the words of Jesus?
(They thought he was calling for Elijah to save him)
2. What did one of them do?
(He offered Jesus a sponge soaked in wine) Why did he do this?
(D)How do you understand these words? Are they words of despair or hope? Three interpretations have been given by scholars:
1.      They are the words of a man who felt abandoned by God.
2.      They are the words of a man who had immense confidence and hope in God. They are the opening words of Ps 22:1 which ends on a note of confident hope.
3.      At the Level of feeling: they are words of despair; but at the level of faith: they are words of confidence and hope.
(E) What were the last words of Jesus according to Lk? See Lk 23:46a (“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”)
1.      Are these last words, words of despair or of hope? (Hope)
2.      Luke’s text throws light on Mk/Mt’s text
(F) Turn to Jn 19:30
1.      What were the last words of Jesus in Jn’s narrative?
(“It is finished”)
2.      What do these words mean?
(the three English words, “It is finished.” Translates the one Greek word “tetelestai,” as it would be in Aramaic.
“Tetelestai” is a victor’s shout; it is the cry of a man who has completed his task; it is the cry of a man who has come out victorious through the struggle. So Jesus died a victor with a shout of triumph on his lips)
The Death of Jesus
(A)Which verse in Mk in Mt and in Lk reports the death of Jesus? (15:37; 27:50; 23:46b)
(B) For how many hours did Jesus hang on the cross before he died? Note the time in Mk 15:25 (9 am), Mk 15:33 (noon), and Mk 15:34 (3 pm) ( Altogether 6 hours)
(C)What event took place at the death of Jesus that is mentioned by all three Synoptics writers? (the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom)
1.      What was the veil of the temple? (The veil was the thick, heavy curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple. No person could enter the Holy of Holies except the High Priest on one day in the year, the day of Atonement)
2.      What is the symbolic meaning of this event?
3.      Early Christians interpreted the tearing of the veil to be a sign indicating the end of the old temple and the Old testament sacrifice. In the new testament, there is a new temple and new sacrifice.
·         What is the new testament temple? Read Jn 1:19-21(the body of Jesus).
·         What is the new testament sacrifice? Read Hebrew 9:14, 10:10(Jesus’ death on the cross)
·         Read Heb 10:19-20. What do these verses tell us about the meaning of Jesus’ sacrificial death? (the death of Jesus removed all that seapated us from God)
(D)Look at Mt narrative. Only he tells us about certain other events that took place when Jesus died.
1.      What were those events? (An earthquake occurred, many of the holy dead were raised who appeared to many after Jesus’ resurrection)
2.      What is the symbolic meaning of these events? ) in dying and in rising again Jesus destroyed the power of the grave. Because of his life, death and resurrection, The tomb has lost its power, and the grave has lost its terror, and death has lost its tragedy. We are certain that because he lives we shall live also),
(E) Read Mt 15: 39
·         What was the reaction of the Roman centurion? (he said , “truly , this man was the son of god” )
·         In Mk’s gospel this is the second great profession of faith in the unique person of Jesus. Who made the first great profession of faith? (Peter in 8:29).
·         Compare the 2 professions of faith.
First profession was made                                 
-          At the end of the first part of the gospel
-          By a Jew
Second profession was made
-          Towards the end of the second part of the Gospel
-          By a gentile
·         What do these 2 professions tell you about Jesus? (He is the Messiah; he is the Son of God)
(F) We are told that there were some women there at Golgotha looking on from a distance. No men disciples are mentioned in the Synoptic accounts. Jn does: See Jn 19:26.
·         From what part of the country did the women come? (Galilee)
·         Together Mk and Mt gave us the names of 4 of women. Who are the 4? (Mary Magdalene (Mk, Mt), Mary, Mother of James and Joses/Joseph (Mk, Mt), Mary mother of James and John (Mt) and Salome (Mk)).
·         What about Mary, the mother of Jesus, was she there?
The Synoptics do not mention her. Jn does: See Jn 19: 25.
The Seven Words Of Jesus from The Cross:
1.      “Father, forgive them, they know not ………” (Luke 23: 34)
2.      “ Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43)
3.      “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34: Mt 27:46).
4.      “ Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23: 46)
These are only 4 words. But Jesus spoke seven words from the cross. Where are the other three words found? (in Jan’s gospel).
Turn to the full verses in Jn:
5.      Jn 19: 26 - 27 – “Women, behold your son……”
6.      Jn 19: 28 – “I thirst”.
7.      Jn 19: 30 – “it is finished.”
2.  Burial
The events in this passage on Friday evening 3 to 6 pm
2.1 The time of the Burial.
Read Mk 15:42
(A)We are told about the time when the burial of jesus took place. What are they?
(it was “evening” and “the day before the Sabbath”).
(B) Why are these toe details important?
(It was Friday evening before 6 pm after that the Sabbath would begin; therefore, the burial had to be done before the Sabbath rest began.)
2.2 Joseph of Arimathea.
(A) His background :
Read Mk 15:43, Mt 27:57 and Lk 23:50-51.
In these verses we are introduced to Joseph of Arimathea. From these verses what 7 details do we hear about his background?
1        He was from Arimathea, a Jewish town,(Mk, Mt , Lk) ;
2        He was a rich man (Mt);
3        He was a respected member of the Sanhedrin (Mk, Lk);
4        He was a virtuous and a righteous man (Lk);
5        He was awaiting the kingdom of God (Mk, Lk) ;
6        He was a disciple of Jesus (Mt);
7        He had not consented to crucifixion of Jesus (Lk).
(B) He obtained the body of Jesus from Pilate :
Read Mk 15:43 – 45.
·         Mk tells us that “He courageously went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus”.
Why was this action of Joseph a courageous one? (Thereby, he risked damaging his political and religious reputation; he might be blacklisted by Pilate and by the other members of the Sanhedrin).
·         Again Mk tells us that “Pilate was amazed that he (Jesus) was already dead.” Why was he amazed? (because death came slowly, often only after several days, and resulted from the combine effect of thirst, hunger, exhaustion, exposure, and the traumatic effects of the scourging
·         With whom did Pilate check before he leased the body of Jesus to Joseph? (The Centurion who was in charge of the crucifixion)
(C) He attended to the burial of Jesus:
Read Mk 15:46, Mt 27: 59-60, and Lk 23:53.
·         According to these verses what four actions did Joseph “the undertaker” take in burying Jesus?
1.      He took the body down from the cross (Mt, Mk, Lk)
2.      He wrapped the body in a linen cloth (Mt, Mk, Lk)
3.      He laid it in a tomb hewn into the rock (Mt, Mk, Lk). This was the Jewish method of burying the dead; the dead were not buried not under the ground but in enclosed tombs above the ground. Within the tomb the body was placed on a little platform.
4.      He rolled a huge stone against the entrance of the tomb (Mk, Mt). This was also according to Jewish burial custom. The mouth of the tomb was shut by a huge stone to prevent outsiders from robbing articles and items of the dead
·   Mt and Luke give us two extra details about the tomb in which Jesus was buried. Which are they?
·   (It was Joseph’s own tomb (Mk); it had not yet been used to bury anyone else before Jesus (Lk, Mt)
2.3 The Women at the Tomb
Read Mk 15:47, Mt 27:61 and Lk 23:55-56
The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee noted the tomb in which the body of Jesus had been buried
(A)Why did they want to know where Jesus was buried? (the burial of Jesus had been done in a hurry in order to beat the dead-line of the Sabbath rest. Hence, Jesus’ body had not been properly embalmed according to Jewish burial rites. So they intended to embalm the dead body of Jesus immediately after the Sabbath rest)
(B) So, according to Lk, what did the women do? (They prepared the spices and perfumed oil for the embalmment).
(C)Does this action of the women reveal that they believed that Jesus would actually remain dead or would be raised from the dead? (They did not believe that Jesus had said that he would rise from the dead).
2.4 The tomb was sealed and guarded
Read Mt 27:62-66. This passage is found only in Mt’s Passion narrative.
(A) When did the chief priests and Pharisees assemble before Pilate? (The next day, the one following the day of preparation)
When would this meeting have taken place? (Probably immediately after the end of the Sabbath, that is, Saturday after sunset)
(B) What request did they make to Pilate? (To make the tomb secure)
(C) Why did they make this request? (To prevent Jesus’ disciples from stealing the body and claiming that Jesus had risen).
(D) Pilate granted their request. Which were the twp ways in which they made the tomb secure? (they had the tomb sealed and had soldier to guard it)
1. What is the meaning of Jesus’ death for you? What hope does Jesus’ death give you today?
2. How would you explain the necessity of Jesus’ death to a non-believer? Read Is 53:12. How would you paraphrase it to explain what Jesus’ death was all about?
3. The temple veil was a symbol of the separation of the people from God. What “veil” still separates you from God which must be torn apart this Lent?
4. The soldiers were posted at the tomb to see that the dead body of Jesus remained in the tomb. What persons or things “guard” against Jesus breaking through into your life? Why did you do it?
5. Like Joseph of Arimathea, what is the riskiest thing you have ever done because of your faith in Jesus? Why did you do it?
6. As you come to the end of this study of the Passion Narrative what is the most important insight that you have got about Jesus.
(a) About Jesus and his relationship to his father?
(b) About Jesus and his relationship with us?
7. As you come to the end of this study of the Passion narrative which persons in the passion narrative have taught you the most about your relationship to Jesus? Why?
(a) The disciples (b) peter (c) Simon of Cyrene (d) The Women of Jerusalem (e) The good revolutionary (F) The Roman Centurion (g) Joseph if Arimathea
8. Closing prayer:
Thanksgiving prayer for the sessions, for the Word of god in the Passion narrative, that having been united with Jesus’ suffering we may rise with him to new life this Easter. Close the session with the reading from Phil 3:8-11
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