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Editor’s Note: This series on the Bible is from the book Catholicism & Scripture. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. See postal and email addresses at the bottom of this column.

Special Course On Catholicism And Scripture (Chapter 20)

After three years of public life, the time had arrived for Jesus to suffer excruciating abuse, torture, and death, all within a period of less than twenty-four hours. His Passion began around midnight, shortly after the Last Supper had ended, as He led the Apostles outside the city of Jerusalem to a place known as the Garden of Gethsemane. On the way, He said that “all of you will have your faith shaken,” but Peter said that he would not lose faith in Christ. On the contrary, Jesus told Peter, “This very night before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Peter said that he would never deny the Lord (Mark 14:27-31).
Jesus left most of the Apostles at the entrance to the Garden and took Peter, James, and John into the grove of olive trees with Him. “My heart is sorrowful even to death,” He told them. “Remain here and keep watch with me” (Matt. 26:38). He walked a short distance away, prostrated Himself on the ground, and prayed that His Father would spare Him from the upcoming ordeal. His agony became so great that He sweat drops of blood, but instead of seeking a way out, Jesus said to His Father, “Not as I will but as you will” (Matt. 26:39).
While Christ was suffering this agony, Peter, James, and John fell asleep. Three times Jesus woke them, admonishing them to “watch and pray that you may not undergo the test” (26:41). After the third time, a mob of soldiers and Temple guards, led by Judas, the Apostle who had betrayed his Master for thirty pieces of silver, entered the Garden to arrest Jesus.
Because it was dark and the soldiers did not know Jesus, Judas gave them a signal by going up to Jesus and kissing Him on the cheek. The soldiers then arrested Jesus and led Him back to Jerusalem to be put on trial. The eleven Apostles fled into the night, although Peter and John followed at a distance.
The Jewish leaders wanted to find Jesus guilty of a crime, so they first brought Him to the house of Annas, a former high priest, who questioned Him unsuccessfully and then sent Him to his son-in-law Caiaphas for trial before the ruling council known as the Sanhedrin. When the witnesses against Jesus gave confusing testimony, Caiaphas asked Jesus directly to tell them “whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Knowing that a positive answer would mean His death, Christ replied, “I am” (Mark 14:62). The Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, of claiming to be God, and sentenced Him to death.
Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard outside and was asked three times if he were a friend of Jesus, and three times he said no, even cursing and swearing that “I do not know this man about whom you are talking” (14:71). He then heard the rooster crow, as Jesus had predicted, and went off and wept bitterly.
Although the Sanhedrin had sentenced Jesus to die for claiming to be God, they had no power to execute anyone. That power belonged to the Roman governor, and so early Friday morning, they took Jesus to the governor, Pontius Pilate, and accused Him of refusing to pay taxes to the Romans and of making Himself a king. Pilate wouldn’t have cared about the religious crime of blasphemy, so they accused Jesus of political crimes instead.
After questioning Christ, Pilate concluded that He was innocent and said that he planned to release Him. But when the mob shouted that Jesus should be crucified, Pilate twice tried to placate them, first, by offering them a choice between releasing Christ or a murderer named Barabbas — the crowd shouted for Barabbas — and then by having Jesus scourged, a terrible punishment that often resulted in death for the prisoner. The soldiers then placed a sharp crown of thorns on Jesus’ head and Pilate showed the wounded and bloody Christ to the crowd, thinking they would feel sorry for Him. But instead, they yelled all the louder for Jesus to be crucified and Pilate caved in to the mob and sent an innocent man to His death.
The walk to the place of execution was about half a mile, and the weight of the heavy cross caused Jesus to fall several times. The soldiers forced a bystander named Simon of Cyrene to help carry the cross and the condemned man reached the hill of Golgotha (or Calvary) around noon. Nails were driven through His hands and feet, and He was raised up on the cross between two thieves.
During three hours on the cross, Jesus spoke seven times. He forgave His tormentors who had crucified Him, promised Paradise to the Good Thief who repented of his sins, gave His Mother into the hands of John, the only Apostle who was present, expressed a feeling of abandonment, said that He was thirsty, declared that His mission of saving us from our sins was finished, and commended His soul to His Father in Heaven.
After Jesus had died, a soldier stabbed Him in the heart with a lance, causing water and blood to flow out, symbolizing the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. He was taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of His mother before being buried in a tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin who was a secret admirer of Jesus.

List of Answers:



  1. Jesus suffered His agony in the Garden of __________________________.
  2. ____________ helped the mob of soldiers to identify and arrest Jesus.
  3. The Apostle ______________ denied three times that he knew Jesus.
  4. The high priest _____________ brought in witnesses to testify against Jesus.
  5. The Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty of _________________, that is, of claiming to be God.
  6. Pontius Pilate gave the crowd a choice between freeing Jesus or ___________.
  7. A man named _____________ of Cyrene helped Jesus to carry His Cross.
  8. Jesus was crucified on a hill called _________________________ or Calvary.
  9. Jesus told His Father to ________________ those who were mocking Him.
  10. ________________ was the only Apostle at the foot of the Cross.
  11. Jesus’ final words were, “_________, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
  12. A soldier stabbed Jesus in the ______________, sending out water and blood, symbols of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
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