Finding the personal connection and resisting the crowd
Matthew 26 57 After Jesus had been arrested, he was led off to the house of Caiaphas the high priest. The nation’s leaders and the teachers of the Law of Moses were meeting there. 58 But Peter followed along at a distance and came to the courtyard of the high priest’s palace. He went in and sat down with the guards to see what was going to happen.
59 The chief priests and the whole council wanted to put Jesus to death. So they tried to find some people who would tell lies about him in court] 60 But they could not find any, even though many did come and tell lies. At last, two men came forward 61 and said, “This man claimed he could tear down God’s temple and build it again in three days.”
62 The high priest stood up and asked Jesus, “Why don’t you say something in your own defense? Don’t you hear the charges they are making against you?” 63 But Jesus did not answer. So the high priest said, “With the living God looking on, you must tell the truth. Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?”
64 “That is what you say!” Jesus answered. “But I tell all of you,
‘Soon you will see
the Son of Man
sitting at the right side
of God All-Powerful
and coming on the clouds
of heaven.’ ”
65 The high priest then tore his robe and said, “This man claims to be God! We don’t need any more witnesses! You have heard what he said. 66 What do you think?”
They answered, “He is guilty and deserves to die!” 67 Then they spit in his face and hit him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “You think you are the Messiah! So tell us who hit you!”
69 While Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, a servant girl came up to him and said, “You were with Jesus from Galilee.”
70 But in front of everyone Peter said, “That isn’t so! I don’t know what you are talking about!”
71 When Peter had gone out to the gate, another servant girl saw him and said to some people there, “This man was with Jesus from Nazareth.”
72 Again Peter denied it, and this time he swore, “I don’t even know that man!”
73 A little while later some people standing there walked over to Peter and said, “We know you are one of them. We can tell it because you talk like someone from Galilee.”
74 Peter began to curse and swear, “I don’t know that man!”
Right then a rooster crowed, 75 and Peter remembered that Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will say three times you don’t know me.” Then Peter went out and cried bitterly.
Matthew 27 Early the next morning all the chief priests and the nation’s leaders met and decided that Jesus should be put to death. 2 They tied him up and led him away to Pilate the governor.
11 Jesus was brought before Pilate the governor, who asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Those are your words!” Jesus answered. 12 And when the chief priests and leaders brought their charges against him, he did not say a thing.
13 Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear what crimes they say you have done?” 14 But Jesus did not say anything, and the governor was greatly amazed.
15 During Passover the governor always freed a prisoner chosen by the people. 16 At that time a well-known terrorist named Jesus Barabbas was in jail. 17 So when the crowd came together, Pilate asked them, “Which prisoner do you want me to set free? Do you want Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 Pilate knew the leaders had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous.
19 While Pilate was judging the case, his wife sent him a message. It said, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man. I have had nightmares because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the leaders convinced the crowds to ask for Barabbas to be set free and for Jesus to be killed. 21 Pilate asked the crowd again, “Which of these two men do you want me to set free?”
“Barabbas!” they shouted.
22 Pilate asked them, “What am I to do with Jesus, who is called the Messiah?”
They all yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”
23 Pilate answered, “But what crime has he done?”
“Nail him to a cross!” they yelled even louder.
24 Pilate saw that there was nothing he could do and that the people were starting to riot. So he took some water and washed his hands in front of them and said, “I won’t have anything to do with killing this man. You are the ones doing it!”
25 Everyone answered, “We and our own families will take the blame for his death!”
26 Pilate set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross.
27 The governor’s soldiers led Jesus into the fortress and brought together the rest of the troops. 28 They stripped off Jesus’ clothes and put a scarlet robe on him. 29 They made a crown out of thorn branches and placed it on his head, and they put a stick in his right hand. The soldiers knelt down and pretended to worship him. They made fun of him and shouted, “Hey, you king of the Jews!” 30 Then they spit on him. They took the stick from him and beat him on the head with it.
31 When the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the robe. They put his own clothes back on him and led him off to be nailed to a cross. 32 On the way they met a man named Simon who was from Cyrene, and they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.
33 They came to a place named Golgotha, which means “Place of a Skull”. 34 There they gave Jesus some wine mixed with a drug to ease the pain. But when Jesus tasted what it was, he refused to drink it.
35 The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross and gambled to see who would get his clothes. 36 Then they sat down to guard him. 37 Above his head they put a sign that told why he was nailed there. It read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 The soldiers also nailed two criminals on crosses, one to the right of Jesus and the other to his left.
39 People who passed by said terrible things about Jesus. They shook their heads and 40 shouted, “So you’re the one who claimed you could tear down the temple and build it again in three days! If you are God’s Son, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
41 The chief priests, the leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses also made fun of Jesus. They said, 42 “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. If he is the king of Israel, he should come down from the cross! Then we will believe him. 43 He trusted God, so let God save him, if he wants to. He even said he was God’s Son.” 44 The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus.
45 At noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until three o’clock. 46 Then about that time Jesus shouted, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”
47 Some of the people standing there heard Jesus and said, “He’s calling for Elijah.” 48 One of them at once ran and grabbed a sponge. He soaked it in wine, then put it on a stick and held it up to Jesus.
49 Others said, “Wait! Let’s see if Elijah will come and save him.” 50 Once again Jesus shouted, and then he died.
51 At once the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, and rocks split apart. 52 Graves opened, and many of God’s people were raised to life. 53 They left their graves, and after Jesus had risen to life, they went into the holy city, where they were seen by many people.
54 The officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus felt the earthquake and saw everything else that happened. They were frightened and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”
55 Many women had come with Jesus from Galilee to be of help to him, and they were there, looking on at a distance. 56 Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of James and John were some of these women.
from margaret of antioch 289-304 CE)
O Lord God, Ruler of heaven and of the earth, Creator of things visible and invisible, Giver of eternal life and Consoler of the sorrowful, make me to stand firm in the confession of they name that as with thine aid I have begun the good fight, so with thine aid I may be deemed worthy to gain the victory, lest the adversary spitefully mock at me saying: “Where is now her God in whom she trusted?”… Amen.
Egeria in the Holy land, c. 380 CE
Egeria was a nun from France who was touring the Holy Land in the late 4th century. She was in Jerusalem during Holy Week and provides the only eye witness account of how the early church celebrated.
… following the dismissal from the Cross which occurs before sunrise, everyone now stirred up goes immediately to Sion to pray at the pillar where the Lord was whipped. Returning from there then, everyone rests for a short time in his own house, and soon all are ready. A throne is set up for the bishop on Golgotha behind the Cross, which now stands there. The bishop sits on his throne, a table covered with a linen cloth is set before him, and the deacons stand around the table. The gilded silver casket containing the sacred wood of the cross is brought in and opened. Both the wood of the cross and the inscription are taken and placed on the table. As soon as they have been placed on the table, the bishop, remaining seated, grips the ends of the sacred wood with his hands, while the deacons, who are standing about, keep watch over it. There is a reason why it is guarded in this manner. It is the practice here for all the people to come forth one by one, the faithful as well as the catechumens, to bow down before the table, kiss the holy wood, and then move on. It is said that someone (I do not know when) took a bite and stole a piece of the holy cross. Therefore it is now guarded by the deacons standing around, lest there be anyone who dare come do that again… All the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and after kissing the cross they move on. No one, however, puts out his hand to touch the cross… When the sixth hour is at hand, everyone goes before the Cross, regardless of whether it is raining or whether it is hot. This place has no roof, for it is a sort of very large and beautiful courtyard lying between the Cross and the Anastasis. The people are so clustered together there that it is impossible for anything to be opened. A chair is placed for the bishop before the Cross, and from the sixth to the ninth hours nothing else is done except the reading of the passages from Scripture… There is no one young or old, who on this day does not sob more than can be imagined for the whole three hours, because the Lord suffered all this for us. After this, when the ninth hours is at hand, the passage is read from the Gospel according to Saint John where Christ gave up His spirit. After this reading, a prayer is said and the dismissal is given… After the dismissal from the Martyrium, everyone comes to the Anastasis, and after they have arrived there, the passage from the Gospel is read where Joseph seeks from Pilate the body of the Lord and places it in a new tomb… And so, those among the people who wish, or rather those who are able, to keep the vigil do so until dawn… The greater part of the people keep watch, some from evening on, others from midnight, each one doing what he can.