Its 33A.D. and Israel is preparing for the great Feast of Passover.
But not everyone is in a festive mood. It seems the Jewish leadership, also known as the Sanhedrin,has just finished the hasty trial of a young rabbi: not just any rabbi, but one Jesus of Nazareth whom they have accused of blasphemy and high treason. They plan to hand him over to Pontius Pilate, Roman Governor of Judea, and petition him to pass the death sentence.
The task will not be an easy one because Jesus is well-known throughout the provinces–by Jews and Gentiles alike. He is a worker of miracles and wonders, and many see Jesus as a prophet, perhaps even the long-awaited Messiah come to free Israel from the brutal oppression of Rome. He has many followers and supporters within the ever-brewing cauldron of civil unrest that is a trademark of occupied Judea. Things might get hostile; and the Romans will stop at very little to maintain peace and order within their conquered regions.
In a weak and ineffectual attempt to have the Nazarene released, Pilate has Jesus scourged, mocked and beaten–only to give in to the pressures brought on by the shrewd arguments of those seeking Jesus’ death and an angry mob on the brink of rioting. Condemned to die, Jesus carries His cross through the streets of Jerusalem and outside the city gates where He is crucified at a place called Golgotha between two thieves.
A thick, eerie darkness settles in at noonday and remains until Jesus dies at about three o’clock. His death is accompanied by a series of supernatural events that start when Jesus announces His Death and then wills Himself to die. This is followed by a violent earthquake with the great veil in the Temple being torn in two from top to bottom as if ripped open by some giant invisible hand.
The Romans oblige Jewish Law and ,in keeping with Deuteronomy 21:23, hasten the death of the remaining two malefactors who were crucified with Jesus by breaking their legs. All of the bodies are removed from their crosses before sunset and Jesus is hastily buried in a nearby tomb.