Passion of Jesus

Jesus Christ in his Passion as the Lord of Patience or Lord of Contemplation as offered with the crown of thorns, the scepter reed and mocked by Roman soldiers. Oil on canvas by Matthias Stom.
Events in the
Life of Jesus
according to the Gospels
Life of Jesus

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In Christianity, the Passion (from Late Latin: passionem "suffering, enduring" [1]) is the short final period in the life of Jesus covering his entrance visit to Jerusalem and leading to his crucifixion on Mount Calvary, defining the climactic event central to Christian doctrine of Salvation History.

The commemoration begins with the portent grievance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, followed by Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and includes his institution of the Eucharist at Last Supper, his bleeding and Agony in the Garden followed by his arrest by the Sanhedrin priests and ultimate trial before Pontius Pilate. Those parts of the four Gospels that describe these events, as well as the non-canonical Gospel of Peter, are known as the "Passion narratives". In the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, the Passion is commemorated in Holy Week, beginning on Friday of Sorrows, the Palm Sunday and culminating on his death on Good Friday.

The word passion has since taken on a more general application and now may also apply to accounts of the suffering and death of Christian martyrs, sometimes using the Latin form passio. [2]

Gospel narratives according to the four evangelists

The accounts of the Passion are found in the four canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Three of these, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, known as the Synoptic Gospels, give very similar accounts. The Gospel of John accounts varies slightly.

The events include:

  • The conspiracy against Jesus by the Jewish Sanhedrin priests and the teachers of the law, now known as Council Friday. [3] [4] [5]
  • Triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his anger and outburst at the Cleansing of the Temple
  • A meal a few days before Passover. A woman anoints Jesus. He says that for this she will always be remembered.
  • In Jerusalem, the Last Supper shared by Jesus and his disciples. Jesus gives final instructions, predicts his betrayal, and tells them all to remember him.
  • On the path to Gethsemane after the meal. Jesus tells them they will all fall away that night; after Peter protests he will not, Jesus says Peter will deny him three times before the cock crows.
  • Gethsemane, later that night, Jesus prays, meanwhile, the disciples rest. Then Judas Iscariot leads in either "a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees" [6] (accompanied according to Luke's Gospel by the chief priests and elders), [7] or a "large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and elders of the people," [8] [9] which arrests Jesus; all his disciples run away. During the arrest in Gethsemane, someone (Peter according to John) takes a sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest's servant, Malchus.
  • The high priest's palace, later that night. The arresting party brings Jesus to the Sanhedrin (Jewish supreme court); according to Luke's Gospel, Jesus is beaten by his Jewish guards prior to his examination; [10] the court examines him, in the course of which, according to John's Gospel, Jesus is struck in the face by one of the Jewish officials; [11] the court determine he deserves to die (see Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus). According to Matthew's Gospel, the court then "spat in his face and struck him with their fists." [12] They then send him to Pontius Pilate. According to the synoptic gospels, the high priest who examines Jesus is Caiaphas; in John, Jesus is also interrogated by Annas, Caiaiphas' father-in-law.
  • The courtyard outside the high priest's palace, the same time. Peter has followed Jesus and joined the mob awaiting Jesus’ fate; they suspect he is a sympathizer, so Peter denies he knows Jesus. Suddenly, the cock crows and Peter remembers what Jesus had said.
  • The governor's palace, early morning. Pilate, the Roman governor, examines Jesus, decides he is innocent; the Jewish leaders and the crowd demand Jesus’ death; Pilate gives them the choice of saving Barabbas, a criminal, or saving Jesus. In response to the screaming mob Pilate sends Jesus out to be crucified. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Judas, the betrayer, is filled with remorse and tries to return the money he was paid for betraying Jesus. When the high priests say that that is his affair, Judas throws the money into the temple, goes off, and hangs himself. [13]
  • Golgotha, a hill outside Jerusalem, later morning through mid afternoon. Jesus is crucified and dies.

The Gospel of Luke states that Pilate sends Jesus to be judged by Herod Antipas because as a Galilean he is under his jurisdiction. Herod is excited at first to see Jesus and hopes Jesus will perform a miracle for him; he asks Jesus several questions but Jesus does not answer. Herod then mocks him and sends him back to Pilate after giving him an "elegant" robe to wear. [14]

All the Gospels relate that a man named Barabbas [15] was released by Pilate instead of Jesus. Matthew, Mark and John have Pilate offer a choice between Jesus and Barabbas to the crowd; Luke lists no choice offered by Pilate, but represents the crowd demanding his release.

Icon of the Passion, detail showing (left) the Flagellation and (right) Ascent to Golgotha ( fresco by Theophanes the Cretan, Stavronikita Monastery, Mount Athos).

In all the Gospels, Pilate asks Jesus if he is King of the Jews and Jesus replies "So you say". Once condemned by Pilate, he was flogged before execution. The Canonical Gospels, except Luke, record that Jesus is then taken by the soldiers to the Praetorium where, according to Matthew and Mark, the whole contingent of soldiers has been called together. They place a purple robe on him, put a crown of thorns on his head, and according to Matthew, put a rod in his hand. They mock him by hailing him as " King of the Jews", paying homage and hitting him on the head with the rod.

According to the Gospel of John, Pilate has Jesus brought out a second time, wearing the purple robe and the crown of thorns, in order to appeal his innocence before the crowd, saying Ecce homo, ("Behold the man"). But, John represents, the priests urge the crowd to demand Jesus' death. Pilate resigns himself to the decision, washing his hands (according to Matthew) before the people as a sign that Jesus' blood will not be upon him. According to the Gospel of Matthew they replied, " His blood be on us and on our children!" [16]

Mark and Matthew record that Jesus is returned his own clothes, prior to being led out for execution. According to the Gospel accounts he is forced, like other victims of crucifixion, to drag his own cross to Golgotha, [17] the location of the execution. The three Synoptic Gospels refer to a man called 19:17) Jesus is made to carry His own cross. The Gospel of Mark gives the names of Simon's children, Alexander and Rufus. However, the Gospel of Luke refers to Simon carrying the cross after Jesus, in that it states: "they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus". [18] Luke adds that Jesus' female followers follow, mourning his fate, but that he responds by quoting Hosea 10:8.

Crucifixion by Albrecht Altdorfer

The Synoptic Gospels state that on arrival at Golgotha, Jesus is offered wine laced with myrrh to lessen the pain, but he refuses it. Jesus is then crucified, according to Mark, at "the third hour" (9 AM) the morning after the Passover meal, but according to John he is handed over to be crucified at "the sixth hour" (noon) the day before the Passover meal, although many resolve this by saying that the Synoptics use Jewish time, and that John uses Roman time. Pilate has a plaque fixed to Jesus' cross inscribed, (according to John) in Hebrew, Greek and Latin - Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum, [19] meaning Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Mark has the plaque say simply, King of the Jews. The Gospels then state that the soldiers divide Jesus' clothes among themselves, except for one garment for which they Psalms 22:18. Some of the crowd who have been following taunt Jesus, saying "He trusts in God; let God deliver him now!", and suggest that Jesus might perform a miracle to release himself from the cross.

According to the Gospels, two thieves are also crucified, one on each side of him. According to Luke, one of the thieves reviles Jesus, while the other declares Jesus innocent and begs that he might be remembered when Jesus comes to his kingdom (see Penitent thief).

John records that Mary, his mother, and two other women stand by the cross as does a disciple, described as the one whom Jesus loved. Jesus commits his mother to this disciple's care. According to the synoptics, the sky becomes dark at midday and the darkness lasts for three hours, until the ninth hour when Jesus cries out Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?") [20] The centurion standing guard, who has seen how Jesus has died, declares Jesus innocent (Luke) or the "Son of God" (Matthew, Mark).

John says that, as was the custom, the soldiers come and break the legs of the thieves, so that they will die faster, but that on coming to Jesus they find him already dead. A soldier pierces his side with a spear.

Other Languages
беларуская: Мукі Хрыстовы
brezhoneg: Pasion Jezuz
čeština: Pašije
Deutsch: Passion
Ελληνικά: Άγια Πάθη
euskara: Nekaldia
한국어: 수난
қазақша: Пассионарлық
日本語: 受難
norsk nynorsk: Lidingssoga
polski: Pasja
română: Patimile
slovenščina: Jezusovo trpljenje
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Stradanje Isusa
українська: Страсті Христові
中文: 耶穌受難