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

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Don Stewart

It is important to have an idea of the basic chronology of the events surrounding the death of Christ. The truth of the message of the gospel of Jesus 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, death, and burial.

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 disciples (John 13:1-20). While they were eating the Last Supper Jesus announced that one of them would betray him.

A New Ordinance Given

After they had finished eating, Jesus introduced a new ordinance that his followers would observe - the Lord's Supper.

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you (Luke 22:17-20).

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.

Walking Toward Gethsemane With His Disciples

Jesus and his eleven disciples left the upper room and headed toward the Mount of Olives. Judas had left earlier in the evening to arrange the betrayal of Jesus. While he was walking along the way Jesus prayed for a number of things.

Praying In Gethsemane

Once they reached 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.

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 (Matthew 26:39-44).

When Jesus had finished praying he awoke his disciples. His arrest was about to occur.

The Arrest Of Jesus

The traitor Judas arrived with religious leaders and 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 arrested and taken away.

Jesus Experienced A Number Of Trials

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.

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. From a human perspective it looked like everything was over.

However, the New Testament records the good news that this was not the end; it was just the beginning!


The basic chronology of the death of Christ was as follows. Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples in the Upper Room. After washing the disciples feet, Jesus predicted that one of them would betray him that very night. After they ate Jesus instituted a new ordinance - the Lord's Supper. Jesus then gave his disciples their final teaching session before his death- 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 him 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!

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