Next week begins Holy Week,  It is my favorite season of the church.  Though I am not a practitioner of traditional church and its structures, I love the seasons and rhythms of the life and breath of God's church.  Belief and participation in Holy week and Easter gatherings are the most radical, extreme, and revolutionary acts of a Christian.  These events were cataclysmic and forever changed the the paradyme we live in.  They launched the movement of Christ and the movement of his church. 

For ODC's Holy week reflection I spent time going through all for accounts of the Passion narratives in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Each one of these Gospel's accounts contains different details of Jesus' betrayal, arrest, trials, and crucifixion.  I took these various details and combined them chronologically into one more comprehensive passion narrative. Reading through it gives you a more complete picture of the last hours of Jesus leading up to the cross.  I included it below in this reflection.  All of it could be in "quotations" as it is made completely from Scripture verses.

I broke it down into different roles and groups so it could be read in a congregation, with different people taking on a role and reading its lines.  Please feel free to use this in any of your gathering this Holy Week.  After you read through it, I would love if you would post your comments and reflections.

The Passion of Christ


A compilation of selections from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

by Gary Liederbach


NARRATOR:  One of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said,


JUDAS:          "What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?"

NARRATOR:  They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.  On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying,

DISCIPLES:  "Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?"

NARRATOR:  He said,

JESUS:            "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'"

NARRATOR:  So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said,

JESUS:            "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me."

NARRATOR:  And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another,

DISCIPLES:  "Surely not I, Lord?"

NARRATOR:  He answered,

JESUS:            "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born."

NARRATOR:  Judas, who betrayed him, said,

JUDAS:           "Surely not I, Rabbi?"

NARRATOR:  He replied,

JESUS:            "You have said so."

NARRATOR:            He said to them,

JESUS:            "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."

NARRATOR:  Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said,

JESUS:            "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

NARRATOR:  Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,

JESUS:            "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

NARRATOR:  And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying,

JESUS:            "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!"

NARRATOR:  Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this.  A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them,

JESUS:        "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

                        "You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

                        "Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

NARRATOR:  And he said to him,

PETER:           "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!"

NARRATOR:  Jesus said,

JESUS:            "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me."

NARRATOR:  He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them,

JESUS:            "Pray that you may not come into the time of trial."

NARRATOR:  Then he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed,

JESUS:            "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done."

NARRATOR:  Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them,

JESUS:            "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial."

NARRATOR:  He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter,

JESUS:            "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

NARRATOR:  And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them,

JESUS:            "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand."

NARRATOR:  Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,

JUDAS:          "The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard."

NARRATOR:  So when he came, he went up to him at once and said,

JUDAS:          "Rabbi!"

NARRATOR:  and kissed him

JESUS:            "Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?"

POLICE:           "Jesus of Nazareth?"

NARRATOR:  Jesus answered,

JESUS:            "I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go."

NARRATOR:  This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, "I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me." Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave's name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter,

JESUS:            "Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?"

NARRATOR:  And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him,

JESUS:            "Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!"

NARRATOR:  So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said,

SERVANT 1:  "This man also was with him."

NARRATOR:  But he denied it, saying,

PETER:           "Woman, I do not know him."

NARRATOR:  A little later someone else, on seeing him, said,

CONFRONTER1:      "You also are one of them."

NARRATOR:  But Peter said,

PETER:           "Man, I am not!"

NARRATOR:  Then about an hour later still another kept insisting,

CONFRONTER 2:"Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean."

NARRATOR:  But Peter said,

PETER:           "Man, I do not know what you are talking about!"

NARRATOR:  At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

NARRATOR:     Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered,

JESUS:            "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said."

NARRATOR:  When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying,

POLICE:         "Is that how you answer the high priest?"

NARRATOR:  Jesus answered,

JESUS:            "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?"

NARRATOR:  Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying,

ACCUSERS:   "We heard him say, `I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.'"

NARRATOR:  But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus,

HIGH PRIEST:          "Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?"

NARRATOR:  But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him,

HIGH PRIEST:          "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?"

NARRATOR:  Jesus said,

JESUS:            "I am; and `you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,' and `coming with the clouds of heaven.'"

NARRATOR:  Then the high priest tore his clothes and said,

HIGH PRIEST:          "Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?"

NARRATOR:  All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him,

ACCUSERS:   "Prophesy!"

NARRATOR:  The guards also took him over and beat him.

NARRATOR:            Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate's headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover.  When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said,

JUDAS:          "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood."

NARRATOR:  But they said,

CHIEF PRIESTS:  "What is that to us? See to it yourself."

NARRATOR:  Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said,

CHIEF PRIESTS:  "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money."

NARRATOR:  After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter's field as a place to bury foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me."

NARRATOR: So Pilate went out to them and said,

PILATE:         "What accusation do you bring against this man?"

CHIEF PRIESTS:       They answered,  "We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king."   "If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you."

NARRATOR:  Pilate said to them,

PILATE:         "Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law."

NARRATOR:  The Jews replied,

CHIEF PRIESTS:  "We are not permitted to put anyone to death."

NARRATOR:  (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)  Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him,

PILATE:         "Are you the king of the Jews?"

NARRATOR:  He answered,

JESUS:            "You say so."

NARRATOR:  Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds,

PILATE:         "I find no basis for an accusation against this man."

NARRATOR:  But they were insistent and said,

CHIEF PRIESTS:       "He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place."

NARRATOR:  When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.  Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them,

PILATE:         "You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death.

NARRATOR:  Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him,

PILATE:         "Are you the King of the Jews?"

NARRATOR:  Jesus answered,

JESUS:            "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?"

NARRATOR:  Pilate replied,

PILATE:         "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?"

NARRATOR:  Jesus answered,

JESUS:            "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here."

NARRATOR:  Pilate asked him,

PILATE:         "So you are a king?"

NARRATOR:  Jesus answered,

JESUS:            "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

NARRATOR:  Pilate asked him,

PILATE:         "What is truth?"

NARRATOR:  After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them,

PILATE:         "I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?"

NARRATOR:  They shouted in reply,

CROWD:        "Not this man, but Barabbas!"

NARRATOR:  Now Barabbas was a bandit. This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting,

ASSEMBLY:  "Crucify, crucify him!"

NARRATOR: Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying,

SOLDIERS:    "Hail, King of the Jews!"

NARRATOR:  and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them,

PILATE:         "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him."

NARRATOR:  So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them,

PILATE:         "Here is the man!"

NARRATOR:  When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted,

CROWD:        "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

NARRATOR:  Pilate said to them,

PILATE:         "Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him."

NARRATOR:  The Jews answered him,

CROWD:        "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God."

NARRATOR:  Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus,

PILATE:         "Where are you from?"

NARRATOR:  But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him,

PILATE:         "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?"

NARRATOR:  Jesus answered him,

JESUS:            "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

NARRATOR:  From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out,

CROWD:        "If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor."

NARRATOR:  When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge's bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews,

PILATE:         "Here is your King!"

NARRATOR:  They cried out,

CROWD:        "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!"

NARRATOR:  Pilate asked them,

PILATE:         "Shall I crucify your King?"

NARRATOR:  The chief priests answered,

CHIEF PRIESTS:       "We have no king but the emperor."

NARRATOR:      But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.

                        As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said,

JESUS:            "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.' For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

(At the mention of the place called the Skull, all should stand, as able.)

NARRATOR:  So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,

PRIESTS:        "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'"

NARRATOR:  Pilate answered,

PILATE:         "What I have written I have written."

NARRATOR:  When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another,

SOLDIERS:    "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it."

NARRATOR:  This was to fulfill what the scripture says, "They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots." And that is what the soldiers.   Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother,

JESUS:            "Woman, here is your son."

NARRATOR:  Then he said to the disciple,

JESUS:            "Here is your mother."

NARRATOR:  And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

NARRATOR:  Then Jesus said,

JESUS:            "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."

ASSEMBLY:  "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!"

NARRATOR:  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying,

SOLDIERS:    "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!"

NARRATOR:  One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying,

CRIMINAL 1: "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!"

NARRATOR:  But the other rebuked him, saying,

CRIMINAL 2: "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong."

NARRATOR:  Then he said,

CRIMINAL 2: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

NARRATOR:  He replied,

JESUS:            "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

NARRATOR:  When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice,

JESUS:            "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?"

NARRATOR:  which means,

JESUS:            "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

NARRATOR:  When some of the bystanders heard it, they said,

BYSTANDERS:         "Listen, he is calling for Elijah."

NARRATOR:  And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying,

BYSTANDERS:         "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down."

NARRATOR:  Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said,

JESUS:            "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

NARRATOR:  Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said,

CENTURION: "Truly this man was God's Son!"

NARRATOR:  And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

                        Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken." And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced."

                        Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

            On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

(The Bible text is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989)




1.     Narrator

2.     Jesus-

3.     Peter-

4.     High Priest-

5.     Chief Priests:

6.     Judas:

7.     Disciples:

8.     Police 

9.     Servant 1-

10.  Confronter -

11.  Confronter 2-

12.  Accusers-

13.  Crowds:

14.  Soldiers:

15.  Criminal 1-

16.  Criminal 2-

17.  Bystanders:

18.  Centurion:

19.  Pilot