April 2, 2023 -The Passion for Palm Sunday – the gospel according to St. Matthew – Mtr. Kathryn Boswell

Narrator The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew

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 The priests paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment Judas began to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus. On the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying,

Peter Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?

Narrator Jesus 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, Jesus 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 the disciples became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another,

Peter 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 Jesus replied,

Jesus You have said so.

Narrator While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said,

Jesus Take, eat; this is my body.

Narrator Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying,

Jesus Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

Narrator When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to his disciples,

Jesus You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.

Narrator Peter said to him,

Peter Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.

Narrator Jesus said to him,

Jesus Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.

Narrator Peter said to him,

Peter Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.

Narrator And so said all the disciples. Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to them,

Jesus Sit here while I go over there and pray.

Narrator He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them,

Jesus I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.

Narrator And going a little farther, Jesus threw himself on the ground and prayed,

Jesus My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want, but what you want.

Narrator Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter,

Jesus So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Narrator Again Jesus went away for the second time and prayed,

Jesus My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.

Narrator Again Jesus came and found the disciples sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them,

Jesus Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.

Narrator While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given the crowd a sign, saying,

Judas The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.

Narrator At once Judas came up to Jesus and said,

Judas Greetings, Rabbi!

Narrator and kissed him. Jesus said to him,

Jesus Friend, do what you are here to do.

Narrator Then the crowd came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him,

Jesus Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?

Narrator At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,

Jesus Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.

Narrator Then all the disciples deserted Jesus and fled. Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, Peter sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said,

False witness This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.”

Narrator The high priest stood up and said to Jesus,

High Priest Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?

Narrator But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to Jesus,

High Priest I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.

Narrator Jesus said to him,

Jesus You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.

Narrator Then the high priest tore his clothes and said,

High Priest He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?

Narrator The scribes and elders answered,

Scribe He deserves death.

Narrator Then they spat in Jesus’ face and struck him; and some slapped him, saying,

Elder Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?

Narrator Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came to him and said,

Servant 1 You also were with Jesus the Galilean.

Narrator But Peter denied it before all of them, saying,

Peter I do not know what you are talking about.

Narrator When Peter went out to the porch, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders,

Servant 2 This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.

Narrator Again Peter denied it with an oath,

Peter I do not know the man.

Narrator After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter,

Bystander 1 Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.

Narrator Then Peter began to curse, and he swore an oath,

Peter I do not know the man!

Narrator At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said:

Jesus Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.

Narrator And Peter went out and wept bitterly. When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor. 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. Judas said,

Judas I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.

Narrator But the chief priests and elders said,

Chief Priest What is that to us? See to it yourself.

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

Chief Priest 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 though the prophet Jeremiah,

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 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him,

Pilate Are you the King of the Jews?

Narrator Jesus said,

Jesus You say so.

Narrator But when Jesus was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him,

Pilate Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?

Narrator But Jesus gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to the crowd,

Pilate Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?

Narrator For Pilate realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests and the elders had handed Jesus over. While Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him,

Wife Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.

Narrator Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them,

Pilate Which of the two do you want me to release for you?

Narrator And the crowd said,

Everyone Barabbas.

Narrator Pilate said to them,

Pilate Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?

Narrator All of them said,

Everyone Let him be crucified!

Narrator Then Pilate asked,

Pilate Why, what evil has he done?

Narrator But the crowd shouted all the more,

Everyone Let him be crucified!

Narrator So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying,

Pilate I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.

Narrator Then the people as a whole answered,

Everyone His blood be on us and on our children!

Narrator So Pilate released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped Jesus and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying,

Soldier Hail, King of the Jews!

Narrator They spat on Jesus, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. As they went out, the soldiers came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry Jesus’ cross.

All stand.

Narrator And when the soldiers came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over Jesus’ head they put the charge against him, which read,

Soldier This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.

Narrator Then two bandits were crucified with Jesus, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying,

Passerby 1 You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!

Passerby 2 If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.

Narrator In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Jesus, saying,

Chief Priest He saved others; he cannot save himself.

Scribe He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.

Elder He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if God wants to; for this man said, “I am God’s son.”

Narrator The bandits who were crucified with Jesus also taunted him in the same way. From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice,

Jesus Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?

Narrator that is,

Jesus My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Narrator When some of the bystanders heard it, they said,

Bystander 1 This man is calling for Elijah.

Narrator At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said,

Bystander 2 Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.

Narrator Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.

Time of silence

Narrator At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the whole city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said,

Centurion Truly this man was God’s Son!

Narrator Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. Joseph went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. Joseph then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said,

Chief Priest Sir, we remember what that imposter said while he was still alive,

Pharisee He said, “After three days I will rise again.”

Chief Priest Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise Jesus’ disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people,

Pharisee “He has been raised from the dead,”

Chief Priest and the last deception would be worse than the first.

Narrator Pilate said to them,

Pilate You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.

Narrator So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

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