John 20:1-18 The Passion Translation
Very early Sunday morning, before sunrise, Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb. And when she arrived she discovered that the stone that sealed the entrance to the tomb was moved away! 2 So she went running as fast as she could to go tell Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. She told them, “They’ve taken the Lord’s body from the tomb, and we don’t know where He is!”
3 Then Peter and the other disciple jumped up and ran to the tomb to go see for themselves. 4 They started out together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He didn’t enter the tomb, but peeked in, and saw only the linen cloths lying there. 6 Then Peter came behind him and went right into the tomb. He too noticed the linen cloths lying there, 7 but the burial cloth that had been on Jesus’ head had been rolled up and placed separate from the other cloths.
8 Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first went in, and after one look, he believed! 9 For until then they hadn’t understood the Scriptures that prophesied that He was destined to rise from the dead. 10 Puzzled, Peter and the other disciple then left and went back to their homes.
11 Mary arrived back at the tomb, broken and sobbing. She stooped to peer inside, and through her tears 12 she saw two angels in dazzling white robes, sitting where Jesus’ body had been laid—one at the head and one at the feet!
13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” they asked.
Mary answered, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.”
14 Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realize that it was Him!
15 He said to her, “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Mary answered, thinking He was only the gardener, “Sir, if you have taken His body somewhere else, tell me, and I will go and . . .”
16 “Mary,” Jesus interrupted her.
Turning to face Him, she said, “Rabboni!” (Aramaic for “my teacher”)
17 Jesus cautioned her, “Mary, don’t hold on to Me now, for I haven’t yet ascended to God, My Father. And He’s not only My Father and God, but now He’s your Father and your God! Now go to My brothers and tell them what I’ve told you, that I am ascending to My Father—and your Father, to My God—and your God!”
18 Then Mary Magdalene left to inform the disciples of her encounter with Jesus. “I have seen the Lord!” she told them. And she gave them His message.
“My name is Mary Magdalene, and I’m here to give testimony to the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth,” I said to the court of men standing before me.
One of the court cleared his throat and said crisply, “It’s not customary for the court to allow a woman to stand before us. You must understand that your testimony is not considered valid in accordance with the law.”
“My testimony is true, and you need to hear what I have to say.”
The fact that I am standing before you is testimony in itself, for when Jesus found me, I suffered from sickness and seven demons. I had no family left. I lived alone in my house, except for the seven demons—my captors within me.
Without anyone to save me, I retreated deeper and deeper into myself. And while the darkness inside me promised escape from the suffering, I knew that one day soon I would not be able to return from that darkness. It would devour me. And no one would notice; no one would mourn.
The day I met Jesus, I was walking along a side alley, which suddenly entered into a crowd of people listening to Him. His words were like water. Sweet water to some, that quenched their souls and bitter water to others, which they spit out onto the ground before them. I meant to turn and walk away, but my eyes found their focus on this man Jesus and I could not look away. And then He looked at me, and He saw me even though my head cover was pulled down low over my eyes. He saw through the cloud of darkness, surrounding me. Shame screamed inside my head and jerked my eyes away.
It took all my strength to look up again towards Jesus. He had bridged the distance between us and now stood before me. He smiled and asked, “Do you want to be free?”
“Oh yes, truly, I want to be free,” I said in a quiet voice for an unseen hand was clenched around my throat.
Jesus commanded the demons to leave. I fell to the ground and then I was free. The demons and the darkness were gone. I was healed of my sickness!
I followed Jesus, from that day on. Mary, the mother of Jesus, took me under her wing and loved me like a daughter. The other women became my sisters and my friends. I bloomed like flowers in a desert quenched by the gentle rain that was the love and acceptance I received from Jesus and His followers. I was transformed.
I witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion. I stayed until the soldiers took His body down. I was there when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. They took His body and wrapped Him in spices and linen and placed Him in the tomb Joseph had bought. A large and heavy stone was rolled across the entrance of the grave. Because it was Passover, we all went home. Two Roman soldiers guarded the tomb.
On the first day of the week, I returned to the tomb, and immediately I knew something was wrong. The stone was rolled away from the entrance of the tomb. The Roman guards were gone. “NO, NO, NO!” I moaned. “They took His body!”
I ran, sobbing, to find the disciples. I told them what I had seen, but they did not believe me. Only Peter and John went to the tomb with me and confirmed my fear. Jesus’ body was gone. They returned home but I stayed. I looked inside the tomb and then I saw two angels dressed in dazzling bright, seated where Jesus’ body should have been.
They asked me why I was crying. I told them, “They took away my Lord and I don’t know where to find Him.” I cannot be certain but I think the angels smiled, looking past me.
I turned and there was a man I didn’t recognize. I assumed the gardener. He asked me why I was crying and who was I looking for.
By this time I was desperate. I begged the man, “Please! If you took Him away, tell me where you put Him. I must find Him. I need to find Jesus! Please!”
“Mary.” I knew that voice. I looked up. I wiped away my tears so I could see clearly and even then I could not believe my eyes. It was Jesus—my dear Jesus. Alive, standing before me!
“Teacher” I cried and I threw my arms around Him. He laughed out loud. “Mary, you’ve got to let go of Me. I need to return to My Father. But know this, He is not just My Father; He’s your Father too. He is My God and your God! Go and tell your brothers what I’ve just said.”
And then He was gone. I ran once again back to the disciples, laughing and crying. When finally I could contain myself, I exclaimed, “I have seen the Lord!” I told them everything Jesus had said
Jesus appeared to me first that day, and then appeared several more times to all the disciples and to others, but you already have their testimony. Before He returned to heaven He commissioned us all to go and preach the good news of the kingdom of God to all the world. He will one day return and restore all things to Himself.
Jesus knew He was going to suffer and die. And He knew He would rise again. His Father in heaven told Him so. And He tried to tell us, but we could not understand at the time. He knew that His body would be broken and His blood poured out for the forgiveness of the sins of us all, and to begin a new covenant with God and mankind. It was the reason He came. Through His death and resurrection, He is the way to the Father.
“My name is Mary Magdalene, and I’m here to give testimony to the life and death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.”
Dear Jesus. I have also been transformed by Your love and Your resurrection power. You conquered death and overcame the grave so that I too could pass from death to life. You have rescued me from the kingdom of darkness and brought me into Your kingdom of light and love. Give me the grace and power to live for you so that I, too, may give testimony to the life and death and resurrection of You, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and that I may proclaim to the world around me that You are my Savior, my Deliverer, my Healer and my Lord.
Matthew 27:45-54 The Passion Translation For three hours, beginning at noon, darkness came over the earth. 46 And at three o’clock Jesus shouted with a mighty voice in Aramaic, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?—that is, “My God, My God, why have you deserted me?” 47 Some who were standing near the cross misunderstood and said, “He’s calling for Elijah.” 48 One bystander ran and got a sponge, soaked it with sour wine, then put it on a stick and held it up for Jesus to drink. 49 But the rest said, “Leave Him alone! Let’s see if Elijah comes to rescue Him.”[
50 Jesus passionately cried out, took His last breath, and gave up His spirit.
51 At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth shook violently, rocks were split apart, 52 and graves were opened. Then many of the holy ones who had died were brought back to life and came out of their graves. 53 And after Jesus’ resurrection,[f they were plainly seen by many people walking in Jerusalem.
54 Now, when the Roman military officer and his soldiers witnessed what was happening and felt the powerful earthquake, they were extremely terrified. They said, “There is no doubt, this man was the Son of God!”
See also Matthew 27:32-54; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:26-47; John 19:17-37
I was a Roman Centurion, and I oversaw the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was my job to oversee the crucifixion, to delegate and to order the execution of it.
I was there when the Jewish religious authorities brought Jesus to Pilate to be questioned. He had already been beaten. Pilate found no basis for a charge against Him. He ordered Him to be flogged, and I watched as soldiers whipped Jesus and placed upon His head a crown of thorns they had twisted together. They gave Him a purple robe and mocked Him saying, “Hail! King of the Jews!” striking Him in the face.
I ordered Jesus to be given a cross to carry up to Golgotha, the hill that resembled a skull. I supervised as my soldiers nailed His feet and hands to the beams and lifted up the cross and secured it in the ground in the middle of two criminals also being crucified that day. Four soldiers played a game of dice for His purple robe. Hanging on the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Who was this man’s father and who needed to be forgiven?
People passed by hurling insults along with the religious leaders who mocked Jesus. A small group of women stayed near Jesus the entire time. One of them was Jesus’ mother and a young man named John. Jesus saw them and said to them in a clear voice, “My dear mother, he will be a son to you,” and to the man, “and she will be a mother to you.” The woman and man held each other, nodded and wept.
At noon, the sky went dark as night. It was as if the sun just stopped shining. After three hours of darkness, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
My Father? My God? Who is this Jesus crying out to? What was the meaning of Jesus’ words?
Jesus asked for water. He was suffering and weakened by the hours He had hung on the cross, but not to the point of death. I had witnessed many crucifixions. A man would hang on a cross often for days, until death came from exhaustion and asphyxiation. Jesus had many more hours to endure before death would come for Him.
After taking a drink, Jesus raised His head and cried out in a loud and strong clear voice, “Father, I commit My spirit into Your hands. It is finished.’’ And He breathed His last.
Jesus spoke as if death had no power over Him unless He allowed it. He chose His last breath just as He chose His last words.
What was the meaning of His words?
Just then the earth shook so hard that the ground, the very rocks, split. Those of us who were there were thrown to the ground. We were unified in our terror. Never had any of us experienced anything such as this.
Something broke inside me. It felt like my heart was torn in two. It was as if I’d been dead in a tomb and the tomb had been broken open. I had come from death to life like a babe comes forth from the womb. And like a babe I cried. I wailed.
Jesus. Father. God. Who was this man?
In that moment light pierced my soul and finally I understood. I knew. And the truth came rushing out of my mouth, “Surely this is the Son of God!” And I praised Him. That day and the next and every day after, I praised Him—Jesus, the Son of God.
Dear Jesus—Son of God, Savior of the world—thank you for enduring the cross for the joy set before you. You willingly gave Your life as ransom for mine. You brought me from death to life and I too will praise You every day of my life and for eternity. Shine Your light in to my soul, so that I can understand and know the truth of Your love and grace and mercy toward me.
Matthew 26:17-29 The Passion Translation
On the first day of Passover, the day when any bread made with yeast was removed from every Jewish home, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where should we prepare the Passover meal for You?”
18 He answered them, “My heart longs with great desire to eat this Passover meal with you. Go into Jerusalem and you will encounter a man. Tell him that the teacher says, ‘My appointed time is near. I am coming to your home to eat the Passover meal with My disciples.’”
19 The disciples did as Jesus had instructed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. 20 When evening came He took His place at the table and dined with the Twelve. 21 While they were eating, Jesus spoke up and said, “One of you is about to betray me.”
22 Feeling deeply hurt by these words, one after another asked Him, “You don’t mean me, do You?”
23 He answered, “It is one who has shared meals with Me as an intimate friend. 24 All that was prophesied of Me will take place, but how miserable it will be for the one who betrays the Son of Man. It would be far better for him if he had never been born!”
25 Then finally, Judas the traitor spoke up and asked Him, “Teacher, perhaps it is I?”
Jesus answered, “You said it.”
26 As they ate, Jesus took the bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to His disciples. He said to them, “This is My body. Eat it.” 27 Then taking the cup of wine and giving praises to the Father, He entered into covenant with them, saying, “This is My blood. Each of you must drink it in fulfillment of the covenant. 28 For this is the blood that seals the new covenant. It will be poured out for many for the complete forgiveness of sins. 29 The next time we drink this, I will be with you and we will drink it together with a new understanding in the kingdom realm of my Father.”
None of us understood that night. Perhaps none of us wanted to understand. It wasn’t the first time that Jesus said He was going to die. He tried to explain to us that He was going to suffer many things at hands of our religious leaders and that He must be killed, but on the third day He would be raised to life. I think only Peter really understood. When he told Jesus not to say such things, Jesus sternly rebuked him. But I didn’t understand, or I didn’t want to understand.
While we were eating what would be our last supper together, we were focused on passing the food and drink to one another, enjoying the meal, and enjoying a respite from the crowds of people. Our stomachs were full and we were content.
Jesus then spoke saying that one of us was going to betray Him. All of us sat up straight, each of us crying out, “Surely, not I Lord!” The last one to say this was Judas as he said, “Surely not I Teacher?” And to Judas Jesus replied, “Yes, it is you.” I barely noticed Jesus’ answer to Judas. I was just relieved that it wasn’t me. I was okay. I was not guilty. No one could blame me.
We continued eating—all of us. Jesus took the bread, gave thanks for it as He had a hundred times before, and broke it, and gave some to each of us and beckoned us to eat it, telling us, “This is My body.” He had said that before but I thought He was speaking in riddles, parables, as He often did. I didn’t understand—none of understood.
He took the cup, filled with wine, and told us to drink. He said it was His blood, poured out for forgiveness of sins. As a Jew I understood that blood must be shed for sins. We celebrated Passover each year, remembering how God through Moses instructed our people to sacrifice a pure, spotless lamb. They covered the doorposts of their homes with its blood. The blood protected our people from death. It spoke of forgiveness of sins and salvation and deliverance from our ancient oppressor, Egypt.
Jesus said it was His blood. I didn’t understand. None of us did. None of us wanted to hear and understand what He was trying to tell us. It was just too much for our hearts and minds to understand.
Instead, we retreated to the safety of knowing we weren’t the one who was going to betray Jesus. I mean all of us except Judas, of course. Knowing that I was in the right was more important in that moment than understanding what Jesus was trying to say to us, what He was trying to experience with us. This was His last meal with us. His last time to commune with us.
I didn’t understand. None of us did.
Dear Jesus, how many times have I received Your forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of Your body and Your blood poured out for me? How many times did I then continue on my day with my agenda, content in knowing that I’m cleared of any wrong doing. How much do I not understand? How much more do You want to say to me? I don’t want to just be content and satisfied in knowing my sins are forgiven. I want to know You. I want to commune with You. Help me to not miss the moments You want to share with me. Help me to understand.