1st Reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Responsorial Psalm: 31: 2,6,12-13,15-16,17, 25
2nd Reading: Hebrews 4: 14-16, 5:7-9
Gospel Reading: JN 18:1-19:42
Today we are called to remember the Passion of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. Today, he took the sins of the whole world upon his shoulders and out of his love for each and every one of us, he gave himself willing as the ultimate sacrifice. Our dear Lord suffered beyond our human comprehension. He was totured by scourging and beating, he was spat upon, mocked and humiliated, he had a crown of thorns pushed deep into his head and he suffered death nailed upon the cross so that our sins may be forgiven and that we may have the chance of eternal life.
Let us now spiritually accompany our Lord on this his sacrifice of ultimate love.
Jesus Is Tried by the Sanhedrin:
After Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was taken to the house of the High priest Caiaphas. Even though Peter had vowed to Jesus that he would never desert him, Jesus said to him, “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.” When Jesus was arrested and taken to the house of the High priest,all the disciples fled in fear except for Peter, who followed to the courtyard at a distance. It was there that three people recognised him as one of Jesus` disciples, but each time Peter strongly denied the fact. Then a rooster crowed, and Peter remembered what Jesus had told him. Peter felt very ashamed of what he had done and he began to cry.
The High priest, together with the chief priests, the elders and the scribes were at the High priests house waiting. This was a meeting of the Jewish ruling council-the Sanhedrin-which had been called to put Jesus on trial. The trial was to be anything but a fair trial as the religious leaders had the agenda of looking for evidence to justify sentencing Jesus to death. However hard they tried, the leaders were unable to find any evidence against Jesus and although many witnesses were called to testify against Jesus,none of them were able to agree with each other.
Eventually the High priest demanded to Jesus, “Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” To this Jesus replied, “I am, and you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God`s right hand and coming back on clouds of heaven.” To this response the High priest said, “You have just heard this blasphemy! why do we need anymore witnesses?” He asked the leaders for their verdict and they all shouted, “He deserves death!” Then they spat on Jesus` face and beat him.
Jesus is Tried by Pilate:
In their mockery of a trial, the religious leaders had agreed that Jesus should be put to death. However under Roman law, they did not have the authority to put anyone to death so they took Jesus to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. To Pontius Pilate, the leaders falsely accused Jesus of treason against the Roman Empire for claiming to be the King of the Jews and for urging people not to pay their taxes. Pilate could see that Jesus was innocent of any crime and wanted to release him but he didnt want any problems with the religious leaders so he asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my followers would have fought to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But my kingdom is from another place.”
At that time, it was the governor`s custom to release one prisoner at the Passover Feast-anyone the people chose to be released. The Jewish religious leaders knew this, so they had persuaded the gathered people to demand the release of Barabbas and to demand the crucifixion of Jesus. Pilate asked the crowd of people who they wanted to be released and this was answered by shouts for Barabbas. Pilate then asked the crowd what he should do with Jesus and this was met with yells of “Crucify him, crucify him!” So Pilate ordered the Roman soldiers to crucify Jesus.
Jesus is crucified:
Crucifixion was a very cruel form of execution reserved both for criminals and for slaves. First Jesus was beaten and scourged by the Roman soldiers and he had a crown of the sharpest thorns forced around his head. Then weak from his scourging and from hunger, he was made to carry his own cross to the place of his crucifixion. Jesus was obviously far too weak from the scourging and beatings to carry the cross all the way himself, and after Jesus fell several times on the journey to his death, the soldiers forced a man named Simon of Cyrene to carry it the rest of the way. Jesus`s cross was placed between two convicted criminals who were also to be crucified alongside him. The soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross and left him hanging there to die. They put a sign on the cross to mock Jesus that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
Around noon, darkness came over the land for three hours. Then finally, Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit”, and with that Jesus died.
One of Jesus` followers, a man from Arimathea named Joseph, went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He took Jesus`body and hastily placed it in a new tomb carved out of rock and he rolled a large stone into the opening to seal it. Jesus` death was an essential part of God`s plan for our salvation. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice to atone for the sins of all people.
Through the death of Jesus, we are freed from the deadly grip of sin and from death.
Without the death of Jesus upon the cross for our sins, no-one would have eternal life. “No one comes to the Father except through me”(JN 14:6).
In this statement, Jesus is telling us the reason for his birth, death and resurrection-to provide the way to heaven for sinful mankind, who could never manage to get their by themselves.
As a result of our past sins, all mankind is subject to both physical and eternal death by virtue of our sinful nature. But Jesus came and willingly died to become the ultimate perfect and unblemished sacrifice for our sins (Col 1:22, 1 peter1:19). Through him, the promise of eternal life with God becomes effective through faith to all who believe in Jesus.
“So that what was promised, being given to those who believe”(Gal 3:22). It is through our believing in the shed blood of Christ for our sins that death is forever banished and that we receive eternal life.
Let us pray:
Remember your mercies, O Lord, and with your eternal protection sanctify your servants for whom Christ your Son, by shedding of his Blood, established the Paschal Mystery.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.