13. Then Pilate called together the Chief Priests, the rulers, and the people,
14. and said to them, "Listen...you brought me this Man, claiming that He was inciting the people to rebellion...but I've thoroughly examined Him in your presence, and just haven't found any basis for these charges.
15. And neither has Herod, obviously, because he sent Him right back here to us. In all honesty, you must realize that He hasn't really done anything to deserve death.
16. So, to help you save face...to make you feel satisfied that you've made your point...I'm going to have Him publicly flogged. But then I'm going to release Him. That way, no one has to die, and he'll probably just disappear after all this beating and humiliation.
17.(Verse 17 doesn't exist in the original text.)
18. But they wouldn't hear of it. With one voice they cried out, "We want this Man done away with! Release the prisoner Barabbas to us if you need to pardon someone for the feast!"
19. Barabbas was serving a prison sentence for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.
20. But Pilate really wanted to release Jesus, and made the same appeal to them again.
21. But they refused to acknowledge his words, and just kept shouting, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"
22. Then Pilate spoke to them a third time, saying, "Why are you people so adamant about this? Seriously...what crime has this Man committed, really? There just aren't any legitimate or valid grounds for the death penalty that I can find here. He's already been beaten up, and I'm going to have Him severely punished for whatever you think He's done...but enough is enough...I intend to release Him!"
23. But they just got louder with the shouts and the insistent demands for His crucifixion. Eventually they wore Pilate down, and their shouts prevailed.
24. So he reluctantly decided to grant them what they wanted.
25. And he released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder. He gave them the one they asked for, and provided consent for them to do to Jesus whatever they wanted.
26. So the soldiers led Him away, forcing Him to carry the heavy beam that would later form the horizontal part of His cross. But He had stood all night long, and had been beaten repeatedly throughout the night, so He collapsed under the weight of the solid piece of wood, weakened from exhaustion and the loss of blood. So they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was passing by on his way in from the country, and made him carry the cross-beam and follow along behind Jesus as He staggered toward the place of His execution.
27. By this time, a large number of people followed Him on His death-march, including women who mourned and wailed loudly for Him.
28. Jesus turned to some of them who were crying hysterically, and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, don't weep for Me...weep for yourselves and for your children.
29. For the time will come in this nation when you will say, 'Blessed are the women without children...the barren wombs and the breasts that never nursed!'
30. Then it will be fulfilled: 'they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" '
31. For if people do this kind of thing to a living, green tree, can you imagine what they'll do with deadwood?"
32. And two other men, both convicted criminals, were also led out with Him to be publicly put to death.
33. When they arrived at the place called 'The Skull'...a rock formation in the side of a hill that eerily resembled the face of a human skull...they crucified Him there beside the road in front of it, along with the criminals. One was on His right, the other on His left.
34. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them...for even though this is ultimately the fulfillment of Your will, they don't understand why they are acting with such physical cruelty." Then the soldiers divided up the clothes that they had stripped off Him by casting lots.
35. And then the people just stood there and watched...some wept, vehemently...others gawked, vacantly... the relentless religious rulers sneered at Him, and mocked Him right up to the very end. They said, "He saved others...let Him save Himself if He is God's Messiah, the Chosen One!"
36. The soldiers also came up to Him and piled on with their unique brand of mockery. They offered Him wine vinegar
37. and said to Him, "Hey! You! If You're really the King of the Jews, save Yourself!"
38. They nailed a written notice above His head, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39. One of the two criminals who hung there beside Him kept hurling insults at him. He yelled, "Aren't You the Messiah? Why don't You save yourself...and us!"
40. But the other one rebuked him, saying, "Don't you have any respect for God? How can you say that, seeing that you are under the same sentence?
41. We're being punished justly...getting what our deeds deserve...but everyone knows this Man hasn't done anything wrong."
42. Then he looked over at Jesus and said, "Sir...please remember me when You come into your Kingdom."
43. Jesus raised His head and answered him, "Friend, I'm telling you the truth...this will soon be over, and today you'll be with Me in paradise."
44. Around noon, a strange darkness settled in over the entire area, and remained until about three in the afternoon.
45. At one point, the darkness became so thick that it seemed as though the sun had stopped shining. Then the curtain of the Temple was torn in two, opening up the Holy of Holies to the entire world.
46. Right about then, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Father...into Your hands I commit My spirit." And with these words, He took His last breath in the physical body.
47. A Roman Centurion, standing close by and seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "No doubt...this Man was just, righteous, and innocent."
48. All the people who had gathered to witness the whole thing were, for the most part, overcome with sorrow when everything was said and done. They responded and reacted, each in his or her own way, and then left the scene of the execution.
49. But all those who actually knew Him, including the women who had followed Him all the way from Galilee, stood at a distance, keeping vigil.
50. Now there was a man named Joseph who was a member of the Council...a sincere man...a man of conscience...a man full of integrity.
51. He hadn't consented to the decisions and actions of the rest of the Council. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and had been open to the ministry of Jesus, because he himself had pursued and waited for the manifestation of the Kingdom of God.
52. So he went to Pilate, personally, and asked for permission to be the caretaker of Jesus' body.
53. Pilate allowed it, so he went and carefully took the lifeless corpse down off the cross, wrapped it in clean, linen cloth, and placed it in a tomb cut into the rock. The place was his own, personal property...a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
54. It was the day before Sabbath, known as Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
55. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph, saw the tomb, and observed how His body was laid in it.
56. Then they went home immediately and began to prepare spices and perfumes which they could use to anoint the body. But, in obedience to the commandment, they rested on the Sabbath.