Darkness covered the land

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, the elders, the teachers of the law and the entire high council met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” replied Jesus.

Then the chief priests began accusing him of many crimes, but Jesus made no reply.

“Aren’t you going to answer these charges?” asked Pilate. “See how many accusations they’re making against you.”

But still Jesus kept silent, much to Pilate’s amazement.

Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover to release a prisoner that the people requested. One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising. The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual.

“Would you like me to release the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate asked, for he realized that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him out of envy. But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus.

“Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“Crucify him!” shouted the crowd.

“Why?” asked Pilate. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

So, to pacify them, Pilate released Barabbas. He ordered that Jesus should be flogged, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

The soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters (known as the Praetorium) and called together the entire regiment. They dressed him in a purple robe, twisted thorns into a crown and put it on his head. Then they saluted him and cried, “Hail, king of the Jews!” After striking him repeatedly on the head with a stick, they spat on him, then fell on their knees in mock worship. When they were finally grew tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe, put his own clothes upon him and led him away to be crucified.

The soldiers found a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene – the father of Alexander and Rufus – who had just come into the city from the countryside, and they made him carry the cross. When they came to Golgotha (a name which means “the place of the skull”) the soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh, but he refused it. Then they crucified him to the cross. Dividing his clothes between them, and threw dice to decide who would get each piece.

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified Jesus and the sign announcing the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were also crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left. The people who passed by shouted abuse at him. Shaking their heads in mockery, they shouted: “So, you who were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days – come down from the cross and save yourself!”

The chief priests and teachers of the law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe in him!” And even the men who were crucified with Jesus heaped insults on him.

At noon, darkness covered the land, and it lasted until three o’clock in the afternoon. Then Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

Some of the bystanders heard this and said, “Listen, he’s calling for Elijah.”

One of them ran and filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and held it up so Jesus could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”

Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

When the centurion who was watching the execution saw how Jesus, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Some women were also there, watching from a distance. Among them was Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and Joseph), and Salome. They had followed Jesus and cared for his needs while he had been in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.

It was Preparation Day – that is, the day before the Sabbath. So, as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea – a respected member of the high council and a man who was waiting for the kingdom of God – went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the centurion and asked if he was dead. The centurion confirmed that this was true, so Pilate gave Joseph permission to take the body. Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. He took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance.

And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body was laid.

Mark

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