←Books ←Chapters ←Previous

From Trials to Ascension

Trials by the Jewish council and the Romans

At dawn, a council convened with all the religious leaders to decide how to have Jesus executed. Then they tied him up and handed him over to the governor, Pilate. When the traitor Judas saw this, he was filled with remorse and tried to return the thirty pieces of silver to the religious leaders: “I have betrayed innocent blood!”

“What is that to us?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” So Judas flung the silver into the temple, then went off and hanged himself.

The religious leaders picked up the silver but said, “We can’t use this as a gift offering, because it’s blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field, which would then serve as a graveyard for foreigners. So it was known from then on as The Field of Blood. This fulfilled what was said by the prophet Jeremiah: “They took the thirty pieces of silver— the price agreed upon by the people of Israel— and bought the potter’s field, as my Master instructed.”

By the time they took Jesus to the governor it was morning, but they didn’t enter into the compound because it would make them ritually unclean, and they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came outside to them and demanded, “What is the charge against this person?”

They replied, “If he weren’t a criminal we wouldn’t have brought him here!”

“Then take him and judge him by your own law,” Pilate retorted.

“But we're not allowed to execute anyone,” they objected. This fulfilled what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was about to die. Then they added, “He agitates the people with his teachings all over Judea, from here to Galilee!”

When Pilate heard this, he wanted to know whether Jesus was a Galilean. Once he found out that he was under the jurisdiction of Herod, he sent him to him, since he was in Jerusalem at the time. Now when Herod found out about this he was very pleased, because for a long time he had wanted to meet him, since he had heard so much about him. He especially wanted to see Jesus perform a miracle. But though he asked him many questions, Jesus did not respond. Then the religious leaders who were standing there began to accuse him vigorously. Even Herod and his troops joined in the jeering, and then they dressed him up in fancy clothes and sent him back to Pilate. On that very day, Herod and Pilate became friends, though before this they were bitter enemies.

Then Pilate returned to the compound and called for Jesus. “So you are the king of the Jews,” he said.

Jesus asked, “Do you say this of your own accord, or is this what others have told you?”

“I’m not a Jew, am I?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and religious leaders handed you over to me. So what did you do?”

Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world; if it had been, my subjects would have fought to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. No, my kingdom is not from here.”

“So, you are a king then, right?” Pilate asked.

“You say I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “In fact, I was born for this and have come into the world to testify to the truth, and everyone who is of the truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Pilate retorted. Then he went out again to the Jews and told them, “I can’t find a single thing to charge him with. In fact, neither did Herod, since he sent him back to me. So my finding is that he has done nothing worthy of the death penalty. I will have him punished and then released.” Now the ruing priests and elders were hurling many accusations, but Jesus made no responses. So Pilate asked, “Don’t you hear all the charges they’re making?” Yet to the governor’s astonishment, he still said nothing.

Now the governor had a custom of releasing one prisoner of the crowd’s choosing during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. There happened to be a notorious prisoner called Jesus Bar-Abbas, who had been jailed along with some rebels who had committed murder during the revolts. So when everyone was assembled Pilate said to them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Bar-Abbas or Jesus who is called the Anointed One?” He knew very well that it was out of envy that Jesus had been handed over. But the religious leaders had incited the crowd to ask for Bar-Abbas to be released to them and have Jesus put to death. And while Pilate was holding court, his wife sent a message to him: “Have nothing to do with that righteous person, because I have had a terrible nightmare about him!”

So when the governor asked them, “Which of the two do you choose to be released to you?” they said, “Bar-Abbas!”

“So what should I do with Jesus who is called the Anointed One, the King of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“Crucify him!” they replied.

“But why?” asked Pilate. “What crime has he committed?”

Yet they only shouted louder, “Crucify him!”

So Pilate sent Jesus to the soldiers to be flogged. They got the whole garrison together, stripped him, dressed him in a crimson cloak, and put a braided wreath of thorns on his head. Then they put a stick in his right hand and dropped to their knees and mocked, “Hail, King of the Judeans!” They spat on him and took the stick and hit him in the head with it.

Pilate came out again and said to them, “Look, I’m taking him outside to you so you may know for sure that I have found no grounds for a charge against him.” Then Jesus came outside, wearing the thorny crown and the purple cloak, and Pilate said, “Look at him!”

When the religious leaders and their deputies saw him they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate said, “You crucify him! I have found no reason to do so.”

The Jews replied, “We have a law, and according to that law he must be executed, because he equated himself with God.”

When Pilate heard this he was afraid, so he returned to the compound and asked Jesus, “Where do you come from?” But Jesus didn't answer. So Pilate said, “You won’t talk to me? Don’t you realize that I have the authority to either release you or have you crucified?”

But Jesus replied, “You’d have no authority at all unless it had been given to you from above. But it’s the one turning me over to you who has the greater sin.”

From then on Pilate looked for a way to release him. But the Jews shouted, “If you ever release him you will no longer be a Friend of Caesar, because anyone claiming to be a king is challenging Caesar’s throne!” When Pilate heard this he led Jesus outside and then sat down on the seat called the Stone Pavement (known locally as Gabbatha). It was still the Preparation (the Passover), almost noon, and he said to the Jews, “Look at your king!”

But they shouted, “Lift him up! Lift him up! Crucify him!”

Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your king?”

But they responded, “We have no king but Caesar!”

When Pilate saw that it was pointless and that the people were on the verge of rioting, he took some water and washed his hands in front of them all and said, “I hereby declare to you that I am not guilty of this person’s blood!”

And all the people said, “May his blood be on our hands, and on the hands of our children!”

Execution and burial

Then Pilate released Bar-Abbas to them and handed Jesus over to be scourged and crucified. So the soldiers took Jesus from the governor and led him away to be crucified. On their way out they conscripted a Cyrenian named Simon to carry Jesus’ cross. There was a large crowd of people following Jesus, including women who grieved and mourned for him. But Jesus turned around to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me but for yourselves and your children. For the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the women who never gave birth or nursed a baby!’ Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’, and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will they do when it dries up?”

Two criminals were also taken away with him. When they got to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”) they crucified him, putting one criminal to his left and the other to his right. Above his head they posted the charge against him: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Many Jews read this notice, because the location where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Then the religious leaders went to Pilate and complained about the notice. “You should not write ‘The king of the Jews’, but ‘He said he was the king of the Jews.’” But Pilate retorted, “What I have written, I have written!”

It was about noon when the soldiers crucified Jesus. They took his clothes and divided them into four shares, one for each soldier. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. So they said to each other, “Let’s not split this but gamble to see who gets it.” This was in fulfillment of the scripture, “They divided my clothes among themselves and gambled for my tunic.” The soldiers literally did these things when they sat down to guard Jesus.

After this, having seen that everything was paid in full, Jesus said, “I’m thirsty”, to fulfill what was written. Now there was a jar nearby that was filled with the soldiers’ cheap wine mixed with pain-killer. They soaked a sponge in it and attached it to a hyssop branch, then lifted it to his mouth. But after tasting it he wouldn’t drink it, and he said, “Father, forgive them; they don’t realize what they’re doing.”

Standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdela. Seeing his mother there, along with the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, this is your son”, and to him, “This is your mother.” From that time on, the disciple took her into his own home.

Those who passed by mocked him, shaking their heads and saying, “So you were going to demolish the temple and then rebuild it in three days? Then save yourself, if you’re the God-Man! Come down off the cross!” The religious leaders jeered at him as well: “He saved others, but he can’t save himself! If he’s the King of Israel, let him come down from the cross right now and we’ll put our trust in him! Let God get him out of this if he wants. After all, he said, ‘I am the God-Man!’”

Even one of the criminals hanging there slandered him and said, “Aren’t you the Anointed One? Save yourself and us too!”

But the other one rebuked him and said, “Even now, do you not fear God, since you’re under the same judgment? We’re only getting what we deserved for our deeds, but this one has done nothing wrong.” And he said to Jesus, “Remember me when you acquire your kingdom!”

“I tell you truly,” Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The sun had gone dark, so the whole land was dark from about noon until three in the afternoon. Then Jesus shouted out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”). Some standing there said, “Hey, he’s calling for Elijah!” So one of them ran quickly and soaked a sponge with wine-vinegar and put it on the end of a stick, then lifted it to him to drink. And they said, “Now leave him alone; let’s see if Elijah comes to save him!”

Then Jesus shouted once more, “It has been paid in full! Father, into your hands I present my spirit!” And with that, he bowed his head and breathed his last. Suddenly the curtain in the temple (which conceals the Holiest Place) split in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook and the rocks split apart. Then the graves opened up and the bodies of many righteous people woke from the dead. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left their graves and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.) When the Roman army captain and those guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and everything else, they were terrified and honored God by saying, “Surely this was the righteous God-Man!” The crowd that had gathered to watch saw this too, and they turned away in shame.

There were many women watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee and provided for his needs. Among them were Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James the Small and Joseph, and Salome, the mother of Zebedee’s sons. There were many others who had accompanied him to Jerusalem as well.

Since it was nearing evening at the end of Preparation and a special sabbath was about to start, the Jews didn’t want the bodies to remain on the crosses. So they asked Pilate for permission to break the victims’ legs so they could be taken away. The soldiers broke the legs of one of the victims crucified with Jesus, and then the other. But when they came to Jesus they saw that he was already dead, so they did not break his legs. Just to make sure, one of the soldiers punctured him in the ribs with a spear, and immediately out came blood and water. (The one giving this testimony is an eyewitness and affirms that this is the truth. He’s telling you this so that you all can believe. These things happened in order to fulfill the scripture, “Not one of his bones will be crushed,” and in a different scripture, “They will see the one they pierced.”)

There was a rich person from Arimathea by the name of Joseph. He was a member of the Council with a reputation as a fair civic benefactor, and he had not consented to the Council’s intentions and deeds. He had been expecting the kingdom of God, but because he was afraid of the Jews he had kept it secret that he was a disciple of Jesus. Yet now he boldly approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. But Pilate was surprised that Jesus had already died, so he called for the Roman army captain to see how long ago it had happened. And when he found out, he released the body to Joseph. So Joseph and Nicodemas (the one who had interviewed Jesus one night early on), who brought along a mixture of myrrh and aloe weighing about seventy-five pounds, wrapped Jesus’ body in bandages with the aromatic spices, according to Jewish burial custom.

In the place of crucifixion was a garden cemetery with a new tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had quarried out of rock. Since it was the Jews’ Preparation and the tomb was nearby, they placed Jesus there. Finally, they rolled a very large stone in front of the tomb’s opening and went away. Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joses, who had come together from Galilee with Jesus, had been following along, and they made note of the tomb and how his body was placed in it. Then they went to prepare aromatic spices and perfumed oils to anoint Jesus’ body, but of course they had to rest on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

The tomb is sealed

(15th day of the month, the Great Annual Sabbath which begins the Feast of Unleaven Bread.)

Meanwhile, on the day following the Preparation, the religious leaders went to Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that while he was still alive, that deceiver claimed that after three days he would arise. So give the order to secure the grave until the three days are past. Then his disciples can’t steal his body and tell people he rose from the dead. The second deception would be worse than the first!”

“You have guards,” replied Pilate. “Secure it to your satisfaction.” So they went off and secured the grave by sealing it, and the guard was posted.

Jesus appears to Mary of Magdala

(17th day of the month)

Having risen early on First Sabbath, Jesus appeared first to Mary of Magdala, from whom he had thrown out seven demons. As the night was just turning to dawn, she went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been moved from the entrance. She stood outside near the grave, sobbing, and then she bent over to look into the grave. But there were two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one near the head and the other near the feet! And they said to her, “Dear woman, why are you sobbing?”

So she told them, “They took my Master and I don’t know where they put him.” She turned back around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t recognize him.

Jesus asked her, “Dear woman, why are you sobbing? Who is it you’re looking for?”

Presuming he was the caretaker, she replied, “Sir, if you took him away, tell me where you’ve put him and I’ll take him.”

Then Jesus said, “Mary!”

She turned toward him and exclaimed, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

“Stop hanging on to me!” Jesus said. “I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my siblings and tell them that I am ascending now to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.”

Jesus appears to the rest of the women

At earliest light after the Sabbaths, just as the sun was just beginning to rise, Mary the mother of James, Salome, and the other women brought the spices to the tomb. Along the way they had been wondering who would roll the very large stone away from the entrance for them, but they looked up to see that it had already been done! Suddenly there was a tremendous earthquake because an angel of the Master came down from heaven and sat on the stone. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear and passed out, but the terrified women bowed with their faces to the ground.

Then the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen! Remember how he told you this while you were all still in Galilee? ‘The Human must be handed over to scoundrels and crucified, but on the third day he will arise.’ Come and see the spot where his body was placed.”

And then they remembered what he had said. Upon entering the tomb they saw a young man dressed in a white robe, sitting to the right. Then the angel told them, “Quick, go tell his disciples and Peter that he has risen from the dead! He will go ahead of you into Galilee, and you will see him there, just as he told you. You have your assignment!”

So they hurried away from the tomb, shaking yet filled with amazement and great joy. But they were afraid and said nothing to anyone as they ran to announce this to his disciples. Along the way, suddenly there was Jesus! “Greetings!” he said. They went over to him and worshiped while holding on to his feet. Then he said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go and tell my brothers and sisters to leave for Galilee; I will meet them there.”

While they continued on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the religious leaders every detail of what had happened. So they called a meeting with the elders, who gave a sum of money to the soldiers and told them, “You are to say that his disciples came during the night and stole the body while you were sleeping. And if word of this reaches the governor, don’t worry; we will keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the payoff and did as they were told. This story was spread around throughout Judea and continues to this day.

The disciples don’t believe the women

The women met with those who had been with him and were grieving and sobbing, but when they heard that the women had seen him alive, they didn’t believe them. Even so, Peter and the other disciple that Jesus was fond of got up and ran to the tomb. They ran together but the other disciple outran Peter and got there first. He bent over and saw the bandages lying there, but he didn’t go inside. Then Simon Peter came along and went right in. He saw the bandages lying there, and the sweat cloth that had been on Jesus’ head was folded up in a separate spot. Then the other disciple went in, and he saw and believed. (Up until then, they had not understood that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Jesus appears to the two walking to Emmaus

Now on that very same day, two of them left for a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about all that had happened. And while they were talking and arguing, Jesus himself came near and went along with them, but they were kept from recognizing him.

Then he said to them, “What is all this conversation about as you walk along?”

They stood still and looked down in deep disappointment. One of them, named Cleopas, replied, “You must have just arrived in Jerusalem to not know what has been going on here in the last few days.”

“What happened?” Jesus asked.

“It’s all about Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and everyone. But our religious leaders handed him over to the Romans, who crucified him. We had hoped he would be the one to redeem Israel, and it’s now the third day since all this happened. But this morning some of our women told us something amazing. They went to the tomb at dawn but found no body there, and they had seen a vision of angels who said he is alive! So some of us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, though they didn’t see him.”

And Jesus said to them, “Don't you get it? You’re slow to believe all that the prophets said. Wasn’t it necessary for the Anointed One to suffer all these things and then to enter into his majesty?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted all the scriptures that wrote about him.

When they were about to enter the village, Jesus acted as though he would continue on his way. But they twisted his arm and said, “We insist that you stay with us! It’s getting dark and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. But as he reclined at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed it, and handed it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they exclaimed to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he spoke with us along the way and shed light on the scriptures?” So they got up at that very hour and returned to Jerusalem.

The disciples don’t believe the two from Emmaus either

That evening the Eleven convened a meeting with the others. The doors where they were staying were locked for fear of the Jews. Then the two told them, “The Master has indeed arisen and appeared to Simon Peter!” They told what happened to them along the way, and how he revealed himself to them as he broke the bread. But they didn’t believe them either.

While they were still saying these things, there was Jesus standing among them! “Greetings!” he said. But in their fear and terror they presumed they were seeing a ghost. So he said to them, “Why are you so shaken up? And why do you jump to such conclusions? Observe my hands and feet; it’s me! Touch and examine me; a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones, as you can clearly see that I have.” But they still couldn’t believe it because it seemed too good to be true. So he asked, “Do you have anything here to eat?” And they handed him some grilled fish, which he took and ate in front of them. Then he said to them, “This is what I was talking about when I was still with you; everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms had to be fulfilled.”

Then they finally worshiped him, but he scolded them for their skepticism and stubbornness, because they didn’t believe those who had seen him after he arose. Then he said to them, “Just as the Father sent me, now I am also sending you.” Having said this he exhaled on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you dismiss someone’s sins they are dismissed, and if you retain them they are retained.”

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “It is written that the Anointed One must suffer and then rise up from the dead the third day. Now proclamation is to be made on his behalf, starting in Jerusalem, for people of all nations to turn to God so they can be cleared of all charges against them. You are witnesses of these things. I will send you what my Father promised, but you must stay in the city until you’re filled with power from above. Then, since all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, go and make disciples throughout the nations. Immerse them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to hold tightly to everything I’ve commanded you. Rest assured I will be with you always, until the very end of the age.”

Thomas doesn’t believe anyone

Now Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the other disciples told him they had seen the Master he said, “Unless I see his hands and press my finger into the exact spot where the nails were, and put my hand on the exact spot in his ribs, I will refuse to believe it!”

About a week later the disciples were inside the room again, but this time Thomas was with them. As before, the doors were locked when Jesus suddenly stood among them and greeted them. Then he said to Thomas, “Examine my hands, feet, and side. Don’t be faithless, believe!”

“My Master and my God!” exclaimed Thomas.

Jesus responded, “You have seen and believed; happy are those who believe without seeing!”

Final events

Then the Eleven went into Galilee, to the mountain Jesus had told them to go. Jesus revealed himself to his disciples again at the Sea of Tiberias, and this is how it went. Simon Peter, Thomas the Twin, Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other of Jesus’ disciples were together. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’re coming with you” they replied, so they boarded the ship. But that night they caught nothing at all. In the morning Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t recognize him. He called out to them, “Haven’t you guys caught any fish big enough to eat?”

“Not a thing,” they replied.

“Throw the net over the right side of the ship and you will!” said Jesus. They did so, and the catch was so large they were unable to haul it in. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!” When Peter heard this he wrapped a garment around himself (for he had stripped for work) and dove into the sea.

Now the other disciples came in the other boat, dragging the net full of fish, because they weren’t far off-shore (about 100 yards). As they disembarked they saw fish and bread cooking over a charcoal fire. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught!” So Peter pulled the net up onto shore, and it was stuffed with 153 large fish, yet somehow the net didn’t tear. Jesus said to them, “Come and have dinner!” But none of the disciples dared to ask him who he was, since they knew it was the Master. Then Jesus took the bread and fish and passed them around. This was already the third time Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after he rose from the dead.

After dinner Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others?” And Peter replied, “Yes Master, you know I’m fond of you.” And Jesus said, “Pasture my lambs.”

Jesus asked him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And Peter replied, “Yes Master, you know I’m fond of you.” And Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”

Jesus asked him a third time, “Simon, son of John, are you fond of me?” Peter was distressed because Jesus said ‘Are you fond of me’ the third time, and he replied, “Yes Master, you know everything and you know I’m fond of you.” And Jesus said, “Pasture my sheep. Now I tell you very truly, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went wherever you chose, but when you’re old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would honor God.) Then he added, “Follow me.”

Turning around, Peter saw the disciple Jesus loved following Jesus (the one who leaned back at dinner near Jesus’ chest and asked who would betray him). Peter asked Jesus, “What about this one?”

“If I want him to remain until I return, what concern is that of yours?” Jesus replied. “You follow me.” Then the rumor spread among the others that this disciple would never die. But Jesus didn’t say that; he only said “What concern is it of yours if he remains till I return?”

This is the disciple testifying about these things and writing about them, and we know that his testimony is valid. Of course, there’s a lot more Jesus did, and if it all had been written down it would certainly be too much for the whole world to contain! But the part that was written was done in order for you to believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the God-Man, and that by putting your trust in him you can have eternal life.


Jesus gave final instructions to the Apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit. These are the ones to whom he presented himself alive after his suffering, with much indisputable evidence. They saw him at various times over a period of forty days, during which he told them things about the kingdom of God. Then he brought them together and reminded them, “Don’t leave Jerusalem until you receive what I told you the Father promised. Though John immersed people in water, before long you will be immersed in the Holy Spirit.”

Then they asked him, “Master, is now the time for you to restore the kingdom to Israel?” But he replied, “It is not for you to know the times or exact conditions the Father has set up by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. Then you will be my witnesses, not only in Jerusalem but also throughout Judea and Samaria— to the very ends of the earth.”

When he had led them out as far as Bethany, he raised his hands and blessed them, and then he went some distance away. They watched as he was lifted up into heaven and seated to the right of God, until a cloud hid him from their sight. As they stared intently at the sky, suddenly two men in white clothing appeared beside them and said, “You Galileans there! Why are you just standing here gazing into the sky? This very same Jesus who was lifted up from you into heaven will return the very same way you watched him go.” They worshiped Jesus and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy. They were praising God every day in the temple compound, and they went out proclaiming it everywhere. The Master helped and confirmed the Word by the signs that accompanied them.

↑ Page Top