14 Apr Passion Week Readings | Good Friday
Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
“Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I AM he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said “I AM he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
“I told you that I AM he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”
— John 18:2-12
Then the people who had arrested Jesus led him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and the elders had gathered. Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end.
Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’ ”
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”
“Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!”
Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him, jeering, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?”
— Matthew 26:57-68
At daybreak all the elders of the people assembled, including the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. Jesus was led before this high council, and they said, “Tell us, are you the Messiah?”
But he replied, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand. ”
They all shouted, “So, are you claiming to be the Son of God?”
And he replied, “You say that I am.”
“Why do we need other witnesses?” they said. “We ourselves heard him say it.”
Then the entire council took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor. They began to state their case: “This man has been leading our people astray by telling them not to pay their taxes to the Roman government and by claiming he is the Messiah, a king.”
So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
Pilate turned to the leading priests and to the crowd and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man!”
Then they became insistent. “But he is causing riots by his teaching wherever he goes—all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!”
“Oh, is he a Galilean?” Pilate asked. When they said that he was, Pilate sent him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and Herod happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.
— Luke 22:66-23:7
Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)
Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”
Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”
The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”
Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
They shouted back, “Crucify him!”
“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”
But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”
Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”
And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”
So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). The soldiers gave Jesus wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.
After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli,Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”
Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.
The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
— Matthew 27:15-54
Good Friday at a Glance
• Shortly after midnight — Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested by the authorities (Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12).
• Approx. 3am — Jesus’ Jewish trial
– Part 1: Jesus has a hearing before Annas (former high priest, Caiaphas’s father-in-law) (John 18:13-14, 19-24).
– Part 2: Jesus stands trial before Caiaphas and part of the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65).
– Part 3: Jesus stands before the full Sanhedrin and is sent to Pilate (Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71).
• Peter denies Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:55-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27).
• Judas hangs himself (Matthew 27:3-10).
• Approx. 6am — Jesus’ Roman trial
– Part 1: Jesus has his first appearance before Pontius Pilate, is sent to Herod Antipas (Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:1-7).
– Part 2: Jesus appears before Herod Antipas, but is sent back to Pontius Pilate (Luke 23:6-12).
– Part 3: Jesus’ second appearance before Pilate results in a death sentence (Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:13-25; John 18:28-19:16).
• Approx. 9am — Jesus is led away and crucified (Matthew 27:27-54; Mark 15:16-39; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-37).
• Approx. 12pm (noon) — Darkness covers the land for three hours (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33).
• Approx. 3pm — Jesus dies; several miracles coincide with the moment of his death, and Joseph of Arimathea buries Jesus in a tomb. Jewish leaders take measures to ensure the tomb is fully secured, so that none of Jesus’ followers will remove his body (Matthew 27:51-66; Mark 15:38-47; Luke 23:44-55; John 19:31-42a).
You can download a full timeline of events for the upcoming week here.
Music is an important part of reflection and worship. As you spend some time reflecting on this text and these events, we encourage you to listen to these hymns over the next few days as we lead up to Easter Sunday.