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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Betrayal, Trial, and Death of Jesus

Don Stewart :: What Was the Chronology of the Events Surrounding the Death of Christ?

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What Was the Chronology of the Events Surrounding the Death of Christ?

The Betrayal, Trial, and Death of Jesus – Question 1

It is important to have an idea of the basic chronology of the events surrounding the death of Jesus Christ. The truth of the message of the gospel of Christ is rooted in historical events. Just as the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was an historical event, so were the events surrounding Jesus’ betrayal, death, resurrection, and ascension.

We will briefly summarize the main points of his betrayal, trial, death, and burial as we begin to look at the significance of these events.

The Last Supper

The final night of Jesus’ earthly life began with the celebration of the Last Supper with his intimate disciples. Jesus, in an act of humility, washed the feet of His Twelve disciples (John 13:1-20). While they were eating the Last Supper, Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him:

When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” (John 13:21 RSV)

This surprise declaration certainly shocked the disciples.

After they had finished eating, Jesus introduced a new ordinance that His followers would observe—the Lord’s Supper. Luke records the following:

Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant [established by] My blood; it is shed for you”. (Luke 22:17-20 HCSB)

Jesus then gave them the Upper Room Discourse. This contained teaching on a number of important subjects. He was continuing to teach these disciples up until the very end.

The Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus and His eleven disciples left the upper room and headed toward the Mount of Olives. Judas Iscariot had left earlier in the evening to arrange the betrayal of Jesus. While He was walking along the way to Gethsemane Jesus prayed for a number of things to God the Father. This prayer is recorded in John 17.

Once they reached the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus withdrew a short distance from His disciples. Jesus prayed again. He specifically addressed God the Father about the events that He would soon experience. He also prayed for His own disciples as well as those who would someday believe in Him. He also prayed for Himself. Matthew writes what occurred:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. (Matthew 26:39-44 NIV)

When Jesus had finished praying, He awoke His disciples. His arrest was about to occur. The powers of darkness had arrived.

The Arrest of Jesus and Trials of Jesus

The traitor Judas arrived with religious leaders and a large group of soldiers. Although a large crowd came to arrest Jesus He offered no resistance. Instead He asked them why they came after Him like some kind of criminal. Jesus was then arrested and taken away.

A number of trials occurred during the night and early morning. Jesus appeared before the High Priest, the Sanhedrin, Pontius Pilate, Herod, and then He was sent back to Pilate. Although Pilate admitted that he found Jesus innocent, he still presented Him to the crowd to suggest how Jesus should be punished. The crowd said to crucify Him. Pilate gave in to the crowd and ordered Jesus to be crucified. Evil had triumphed.

Jesus Died By Crucifixion

The New Testament reports that the soldiers beat Jesus before leading Him away to be crucified. The accusation against Him would have been written out and tied around His neck while He was carrying His cross to the place of crucifixion. This would let everyone know the crime for which He was being executed. The accusation was then be nailed above the cross. Jesus’ crime was published in three languages. It read:

This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

According to the New Testament, Jesus was on the cross for about six hours. When the soldiers came to break His legs to hasten His death they found that He had already died.

Jesus Was Buried

Jesus was taken down from the cross by friendly hands. He was anointed with spices and then buried in the tomb of a rich man. This ended the earthly life of Jesus Christ.

From a human perspective it looked like everything was over. It seemed as if the religious leaders had won and that Jesus and His disciples had been defeated.

That Is Not the End of the Story!

However, the New Testament records the good news that this was not the end; it was just the beginning! Something happened on Easter Sunday that changed the world forever—Jesus Christ had risen from the dead!

Summary – Question 1
What Was the Chronology of the Events Surrounding the Death of Christ?

The basic chronology of the death of Christ was as follows. On the last night of His earthly life, after washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus predicted that one of them would betray Him that very night. After they ate a meal together Jesus instituted a new ordinance—the Lord’s Supper. Jesus then gave His disciples their final teaching session before His death known as the Upper Room Discourse.

Jesus and His eleven disciples then went to the Garden of Gethsemane. The traitor Judas had long since left to bring the religious leaders to Gethsemane to arrest Jesus. Jesus was arrested and taken away.

After going through a number of trials He was sent to Pontius Pilate. Pilate pronounced Jesus of Nazareth innocent but still ordered Him to be crucified. Jesus was crucified. He was on the cross some six hours when He died. He was taken down from the cross by loving hands, anointed with spices, and then buried in the tomb of a rich man. At that time the religious leaders assumed they had defeated Jesus.

However, they were about to learn of an incredible event—an event that would literally change the world. Jesus of Nazareth did not stay dead!

The Last Days of Christ (Introduction) ← Prior Section
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