The Passion is the short and final chapter of the life of Jesus Christ starting from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and ending in his crucifixion, the climax of the salvation history of Christianity.
The word Passion is derived from the Latin word Passion meaning ‘enduring’ or ‘suffering’. The passion is described in all four Gospels of Luke, Mathew, Mark, and John. Of these, Luke, Mark, and Mathew called as the synoptic gospels provide very similar descriptions of the Passion. The account of John is slightly different.
The events of the passion of Christ are as follows:
- A plot is hatched by the Jewish priests called as Sanhedrin and the law teachers to punish Jesus. They bribed Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus to betray his master for thirty silver pieces. (Luke 22)
- When Jesus was at the house of Simon in Bethany, a woman came to Jesus and anointed his feet with expensive ointment. When disciples rebuked her for her action, saying she could have used her money instead to help the poor, Jesus gives an indication of his upcoming crucifixion. He says you will always have the poor with you, but I will be with you only for a short time. (Mathew 26: 13)
- The Last Supper: Jesus and his disciples gathered in the upper room of a house to celebrate the Day of the Unleavened Bread (Passover). Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist. He broke bread and offered it to them. He said, “This bread is symbolic of my body that will be shed for you.” Raising a cup of wine, he said, this cup is symbolic of my blood, which will be shed for you. He urged them to follow the Eucharistic celebration always in his name. (Luke 22).
- Jesus predicts his betrayal by Judas and also that Peter will deny Jesus three times after he is arrested by the Jewish authorities.
- Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives followed by his disciples. He goes ahead of them, kneels down and prays. He says, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. But let your will be done, not mine.” An angel appears to give him strength and he sweats with great drops of blood. Returning, he finds his disciples sleeping and asks them to pray not to be put to the test. (Luke 22)
- When Jesus was with his disciples, in a garden that night, Judas brought a cohort of guards sent by the Pharisees to arrest Jesus and betrayed him with a kiss. Jesus gave himself up readily, but Peter drew out his sword and cut the ear of one soldier called as Malchus. Jesus rebuked Peter and healed the soldier with his touch.
- All the disciples fled on the arrest of Jesus, but Peter followed at a distance. When he was in the compound of the Jewish authorities, he was accosted three times by some as being a disciple of Jesus. All three time he denied knowing Jesus and the cock crowed as Jesus had predicted. Peter wept with remorse.
- The scene shifts to the palace of the high priest, later that night. The group that arrested Jesus brings him to the Sanhedrin (The supreme court of the Jews). According to Luke, Jesus is subject to beatings and insults by soldiers before this. According to John, Jesus is slapped on his face by Jewish officials.
- The Sanhedrin conducts the mock trial of Jesus. They ask him if he is the Christ. He replies that the Son of God will be seated at the right hand of God. So the Sanhedrin decides he is committing blasphemy by claiming to be the Son of God.
- Next, Jesus is sent to Pilate. They accuse Jesus of inciting people against Caesar by claiming he is Christ, the King. Pilate asks him if he is the King of Jews. Jesus replies that it is you who say so. Pilate says he finds nothing against Jesus, but at the persistence of the crowd sends him to Herod.
- Herod was delighted to meet Jesus, as he had heard a lot about him. He questioned Jesus at length but got no reply. So, he asked soldiers to mock him and dress him in a purple robe and sent him back to Pilate.
- Pilate again declares that he finds Jesus innocent. As per the Passover custom, Pilate can provide amnesty for anyone of his prisoners. He asks the crowds to choose from Jesus and Barabbas, a murder accused. The screaming crowd calls for the crucifixion of Jesus. A reluctant Pilate delivers Jesus to the crowds to be crucified.
- Next comes the tortuous journey of Jesus to Calvary, carrying his cross. On the way, he is helped by Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross. A big crowd, including women, follows him weeping.
- When they reached the hill of Skulls or Golgotha, Jesus is crucified with two criminals on his either side. Jesus raises a prayer up to heaven, saying Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing. The soldiers cast lots to share his clothing.
- The soldiers mock Jesus saying why he couldn’t save himself, being the Son of God. They fix an inscription above his head saying, “Here is the King of Jews.”
- One of the criminals on his side prays to Jesus to remember him in his kingdom. He replied that he will earn a place in paradise.
- Darkness spreads all over the place, and Jesus dies after crying out to God, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
- Those who witnessed this event praise God and Jesus as the true son of God. Joseph of Arimethaea, a pious man claims the body of Jesus and places him in his tomb.
With this, the account of the passion of Christ comes to an end. This is followed by the wonderful event of the Resurrection of Christ. It is a message of love and hope after the great sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of mankind.