THE PASSION HISTORY
ACCORDING TO THE FOUR GOSPELS
All four of the Gospels provide us with the account of Jesus’ suffering and death.
This is a compilation of all four accounts, divided into seven sections.
The text used is a pre-1984 edition of the Holy Bible: New International Version.
I. In the Upper Room
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to arrest Jesus and kill him. “But not during the feast,” they said, “or the people may riot.”
Jesus said unto his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on, Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came unto Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
He replied, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
When evening came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said unto them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in thekingdomofGod.”
And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth: one of you will betray me.”
They were very sad and began to say unto him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
“What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, then God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going’?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat, this is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Also a dispute arose amongst them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said unto them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them are given the title Benefactor. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest amongst you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am amongst you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer upon you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one upon me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
II. In Gethsemane
Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night before the rooster crows twice, you will disown me three times.”
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said unto them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said unto them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” An angel from heaven appeared unto him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Then he returned to the disciples and said unto them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Jesus replied, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? Friend, do what you came for.”
When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And Peter struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call upon my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
“I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
The men seized Jesus and arrested him. “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”
Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
III. Trial and Denial
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials bound Jesus and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people. Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas, the high priest.
Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there, and brought Peter in.
It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in the synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
When Jesus had said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is that any way to answer the high priest?” he demanded.
“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “speak up about it. But if I spoke the truth, why did you hit me?”
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man!’ ” Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent and gave him no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming upon the clouds of heaven.” •
The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And the guards took him and beat him.
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway. Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.
When the servant girl saw him there, she said again unto those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it.
After a little while, those standing near said unto Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?”
Then he began to call down curses upon himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
Immediately the rooster crowed the second time.
The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken unto him: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
When Judas, who betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty silver coins, the price set upon him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”
IV. He Suffered Under Pontius Pilate
To avoid ceremonial uncleanness, the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected. This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”
Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Is that your idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
“Do you think that I am a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
“What is truth?” Pilate asked.
With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.”
When Jesus was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear how many things they are accusing you of?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge.
The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer?” But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
But the chief priests insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
Upon hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends; before this they had been enemies.
Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said unto them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and release him.”
Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release unto you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
While Pilate was sitting upon the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, because I have suffered a great deal today in a dream on account of him.”
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
V. Condemned and Crucified
“Which of the two do you want me to release unto you?” asked the governor.
With one voice they cried out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed unto them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe upon him, then wove a crown of thorns and set it upon him. And they began to call out unto him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him upon the head with a staff and spit upon him. Falling upon their knees, they worshiped him.
Once more Pilate came out and said unto the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said unto them, “Here is the man!”
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”
The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.
“Do you refuse to speak unto me?” Pilate asked. Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answered, “You have no power over me that was not given unto you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free. But the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar’s. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down upon the judge’s seat at a place known as The Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said unto the Jews.
But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
All the people answered, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children!”
Then he released Barabbas to them and handed Jesus over to be crucified.
The soldiers took off the purple robe and put his own clothes upon him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross upon him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said unto them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then, ‘they will say to the mountains: Fall upon us; and to the hills: Cover us.’ For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.
They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. There they crucified him, along with the criminals; one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened onto the cross. It read, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”
Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
VI. Jesus’ Death
When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
“Let’s not tear it,” they said unto one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments amongst themselves and cast lots for my clothing.”
So this is what the soldiers did. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ “
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him, “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said unto his mother, “Here is your son,” and unto the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”, which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge upon a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his life.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.
Some women were watching from a distance. Amongst them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
VII. He Was Buried
Now it was the Day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left upon the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may have faith. These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another Scripture says, “They will look upon the one they have pierced.”
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph took the body. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden Joseph’s own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there and rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was alive that impostor said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal upon the stone and posting the guard.