A few years ago, a well-known supermarket, headed up its Easter shopping campaign with the phrase,
Cutting the cost of Easter
As we see from these readings, there was no cutting the cost of Easter – the price had to be paid in full, and it was paid by Jesus, Bringing in God’s new thing. There was no easy way, no short cut; just one man, living God’s way, bringing heaven to earth – giving his all.
Pilate Questions Jesus
1Early the next morning the chief priests, the nation’s leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses met together with the whole Jewish council. They tied up Jesus and led him off to Pilate.
2He asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Those are your words,” Jesus answered.
3The chief priests brought many charges against Jesus. 4Then Pilate questioned him again, “Don’t you have anything to say? Don’t you hear what crimes they say you have done?” 5But Jesus did not answer, and Pilate was amazed.
The Death Sentence
6During Passover, Pilate always freed one prisoner chosen by the people. 7And at that time there was a prisoner named Barabbas. He and some others had been arrested for murder during a riot. 8The crowd now came and asked Pilate to set a prisoner free, just as he usually did.
9Pilate asked them, “Do you want me to free the king of the Jews?” 10Pilate knew that the chief priests had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous.
11But the chief priests told the crowd to ask Pilate to free Barabbas.
12Then Pilate asked the crowd, “What do you want me to do with this man you say is the king of the Jews?”
13They yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”
14Pilate asked, “But what crime has he done?”
“Nail him to a cross!” they yelled even louder.
15Pilate wanted to please the crowd. So he set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross.
Soldiers Make Fun of Jesus
16The soldiers led Jesus inside the courtyard of the fortress and called together the rest of the troops. 17They put a purple robe on him, and on his head they placed a crown that they had made out of thorn branches. 18They made fun of Jesus and shouted, “Hey, you king of the Jews!” 19Then they beat him on the head with a stick. They spit on him and knelt down and pretended to worship him.
20When the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the purple robe. They put his own clothes back on him and led him off to be nailed to a cross. 21Simon from Cyrene happened to be coming in from a farm, and they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.
Jesus Is Nailed to a Cross
22The soldiers took Jesus to Golgotha, which means “Place of a Skull.” 23There they gave him some wine mixed with a drug to ease the pain, but he refused to drink it.
24They nailed Jesus to a cross and gambled to see who would get his clothes. 25It was about nine o’clock in the morning when they nailed him to the cross. 26On it was a sign that told why he was nailed there. It read, “This is the King of the Jews.” 27-28The soldiers also nailed two criminals on crosses, one to the right of Jesus and the other to his left.
29People who passed by said terrible things about Jesus. They shook their heads and shouted, “Ha! So you’re the one who claimed you could tear down the temple and build it again in three days. 30Save yourself and come down from the cross!”
31The chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses also made fun of Jesus. They said to each other, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. 32If he is the Messiah, the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross! Then we will see and believe.” The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus.
The Death of Jesus
33About noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until around three o’clock. 34Then about that time Jesus shouted, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”
35Some of the people standing there heard Jesus and said, “He is calling for Elijah.” 36One of them ran and grabbed a sponge. After he had soaked it in wine, he put it on a stick and held it up to Jesus. He said, “Let’s wait and see if Elijah will come and take him down!” 37Jesus shouted and then died.
38At once the curtain in the temple tore in two from top to bottom.
39A Roman army officer was standing in front of Jesus. When the officer saw how Jesus died, he said, “This man really was the Son of God!”
40-41Some women were looking on from a distance. They had come with Jesus to Jerusalem. But even before this they had been his followers and had helped him while he was in Galilee. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joseph were two of these women. Salome was also one of them.
Today Lord, I come.
I stand at the foot of the cross,
awed at how far you were willing to go.
That heaven and earth met on a cross,
that now, God’s new thing may really begin,
and I worship