Matthew 27-28 The Message Bible

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Jesus Brought before Pilate

27 1  In the first light of dawn, all the high priests and religious leaders met and put the finishing touches on their plot to kill Jesus. 2  Then they tied him up and paraded him to Pilate, the governor.

The Death of Judas

3  Judas, the one who betrayed him, realized that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests, 4  saying, "I've sinned. I've betrayed an innocent man." They said, "What do we care? That's your problem!" 5  Judas threw the silver coins into the Temple and left. Then he went out and hung himself. 6  The high priests picked up the silver pieces, but then didn't know what to do with them. "It wouldn't be right to give this - a payment for murder! - as an offering in the Temple." 7  They decided to get rid of it by buying the "Potter's Field" and use it as a burial place for the homeless. 8  That's how the field got called "Murder Meadow," a name that has stuck to this day. 9  Then Jeremiah's words became history: They took the thirty silver pieces, The price of the one priced by some sons of Israel, 10  And they purchased the potter's field. And so they unwittingly followed the divine instructions to the letter.

Pilate Questions Jesus

11  Jesus was placed before the governor, who questioned him: "Are you the 'King of the Jews'?" Jesus said, "If you say so." 12  But when the accusations rained down hot and heavy from the high priests and religious leaders, he said nothing. 13  Pilate asked him, "Do you hear that long list of accusations? Aren't you going to say something?" 14  Jesus kept silence - not a word from his mouth. The governor was impressed, really impressed.

Jesus Sentenced to Die

15  It was an old custom during the Feast for the governor to pardon a single prisoner named by the crowd. 16  At the time, they had the infamous Jesus Barabbas in prison. 17  With the crowd before him, Pilate said, "Which prisoner do you want me to pardon: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus the so-called Christ?" 18  He knew it was through sheer spite that they had turned Jesus over to him. 19  While court was still in session, Pilate's wife sent him a message: "Don't get mixed up in judging this noble man. I've just been through a long and troubled night because of a dream about him." 20  Meanwhile, the high priests and religious leaders had talked the crowd into asking for the pardon of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus. 21  The governor asked, "Which of the two do you want me to pardon?" They said, "Barabbas!" 22  "Then what do I do with Jesus, the so-called Christ?" They all shouted, "Nail him to a cross!" 23  He objected, "But for what crime?" But they yelled all the louder, "Nail him to a cross!" 24  When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was imminent, he took a basin of water and washed his hands in full sight of the crowd, saying, "I'm washing my hands of responsibility for this man's death. From now on, it's in your hands. You're judge and jury." 25  The crowd answered, "We'll take the blame, we and our children after us."

26  Then he pardoned Barabbas. But he had Jesus whipped, and then handed over for crucifixion. 27  The soldiers assigned to the governor took Jesus into the governor's palace and got the entire brigade together for some fun. 28  They stripped him and dressed him in a red toga. 29  They plaited a crown from branches of a thorn bush and set it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand for a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mocking reverence: "Bravo, King of the Jews!" they said. "Bravo!" 30  Then they spit on him and hit him on the head with the stick. 31  When they had had their fun, they took off the toga and put his own clothes back on him. Then they proceeded out to the crucifixion.

The Crucifixion

32  Along the way they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus' cross.

33  Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call "Skull Hill," 34  they offered him a mild painkiller (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when he tasted it he wouldn't drink it. 35  After they had finished nailing him to the cross and were waiting for him to die, they whiled away the time by throwing dice for his clothes. 36   37  Above his head they had posted the criminal charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38  Along with him, they also crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. 39  People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: 40  "You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days - so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you're really God's Son, come down from that cross!" 41  The high priests, along with the religion scholars and leaders, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: 42  "He saved others - he can't save himself! King of Israel, is he? Then let him get down from that cross. We'll all become believers then! 43  He was so sure of God - well, let him rescue his 'Son' now - if he wants him! He did claim to be God's Son, didn't he?" 44  Even the two criminals crucified next to him joined in the mockery. 45  From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. 46  Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" 47  Some bystanders who heard him said, "He's calling for Elijah." 48  One of them ran and got a sponge soaked in sour wine and lifted it on a stick so he could drink. 49  The others joked, "Don't be in such a hurry. Let's see if Elijah comes and saves him."

50  But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last. 51  At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. 52  What's more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. 53  (After Jesus' resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.) 54  The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death. They said, "This has to be the Son of God!" 55  There were also quite a few women watching from a distance, women who had followed Jesus from Galilee in order to serve him. 56  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the Zebedee brothers.

The Burial of Jesus

57  Late in the afternoon a wealthy man from Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, arrived. His name was Joseph. 58  He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. Pilate granted his request. 59  Joseph took the body and wrapped it in clean linens, 60  put it in his own tomb, a new tomb only recently cut into the rock, and rolled a large stone across the entrance. Then he went off. 61  But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary stayed, sitting in plain view of the tomb.

The Guard at the Tomb

62  After sundown, the high priests and Pharisees arranged a meeting with Pilate. 63  They said, "Sir, we just remembered that that liar announced while he was still alive, 'After three days I will be raised.' 64  We've got to get that tomb sealed until the third day. There's a good chance his disciples will come and steal the corpse and then go around saying, 'He's risen from the dead.' Then we'll be worse off than before, the final deceit surpassing the first." 65  Pilate told them, "You will have a guard. Go ahead and secure it the best you can." 66  So they went out and secured the tomb, sealing the stone and posting guards.

The Resurrection

28 1  After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. 2  Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God's angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. 3  Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. 4  The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn't move. 5  The angel spoke to the women: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you're looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. 6  He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed. 7  "Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.' That's the message." 8  The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. 9  Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. "Good morning!" he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him. 10  Jesus said, "You're holding on to me for dear life! Don't be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I'll meet them there."

The Report of the Guard

11  Meanwhile, the guards had scattered, but a few of them went into the city and told the high priests everything that had happened. 12  They called a meeting of the religious leaders and came up with a plan: They took a large sum of money and gave it to the soldiers, 13  bribing them to say, "His disciples came in the night and stole the body while we were sleeping." 14  They assured them, "If the governor hears about your sleeping on duty, we will make sure you don't get blamed." 15  The soldiers took the bribe and did as they were told. That story, cooked up in the Jewish High Council, is still going around.

Jesus Commissions the Eleven

16  Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. 17  The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. 18  Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: 19  Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 20  Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."

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