Early in the morning

Early in the morning, the chief priests and the elders planned how they were going to put Jesus to death. Then they bound him, led him away and took him to Pilate, the governor.

When Judas, who’d betrayed him, saw that Jesus had been condemned, he was seized with remorse and tried to return the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.

“I’ve done something wrong,” he said. “I’ve betrayed an innocent man.”

“Why bother us?” they asked. “That’s your problem.”

So Judas threw the money on the floor of the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

The chief priests collected up the coins.

“It’s unlawful to put this into the treasury,” they said. “It’s blood money.”

So they decided to buy the potter’s field with the money and use it as a burial-place for foreigners. That’s why the place is called the Field of Blood to this day. This also fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy, which said: “They took the thirty pieces of silver – the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel – and purchased the potter’s field, as the Lord directed.”

Meanwhile, Jesus stood before Pilate, the governor.

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

“Those are your words,” said Jesus.

Then the chief priests and the elders brought their accusations against him, but Jesus made no reply.

“Can’t you hear all these charges these people are bringing against you?” asked Pilate. But Jesus gave no response to any of the charges – to the governor’s amazement.

Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release to the people any prisoner whom they chose. At that time there was a notorious prisoner held in custody, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered in front of Pilate’s house, he asked them, “Whom do you want me to release to you – Barabbas, or Jesus who’s called the Messiah?” Because Pilate knew that the leaders of the people had arrested Jesus for their own advantage

As Pilate was sitting on the judge’s bench, he received a message from his wife.

“Don’t get involved with that innocent man,” she said. “I had a horrible dream about him last night.”

But the chief priests and the elders incited the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus.

“Which of these two men should I release to you?” asked Pilate.

“Barabbas!” they answered.

“What should I do with Jesus who’s called the Messiah?” he asked.

“Crucify him!” they all shouted.

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

But they shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot might develop, he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands in front of the crowd.

“I’m innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It’s your responsibility!”

“Yes!” shouted the crowd. “His blood is on us and all of our children!”

So Pilate released Barabbas to them. Then he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Matthew

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