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The Victory of Spirit over Matter

And so for a man who lives not the personal life but the common life in the will of the Father, there is no death. Physical death is union with the Father.

For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory

After this Jesus said: Come now, let us go: he who will betray me is near.

Hardly had he said this before Judas, one of the twelve pupils, appeared, and with him a large throng carrying sticks and swords. Judas said to them: I will show you where he is with his pupils, and that you may know him among them all, he whom I shall first kiss, is he. And he at once went up to Jesus and said:

Hall, master! and kissed him.

And Jesus said to him: Why are you here, friend?

Then the guard surrounded Jesus and were about to take him.

And Peter snatched a sword from a servant of the high priest and slashed the man's ear.

But Jesus rebuked him and said: You must not resist evil. Do not do so. Give back the sword to him from whom you took it, for he who takes the sword shall perish with the sword.

Then he turned to the crowd and said: Why have you come out against me with weapons as if I were a robber? I was among you every day teaching in the temple and you did not take me. But now is your hour and the power of darkness. And seeing that he was taken, the pupils all fled.

Then the officer told the soldiers to take Jesus and bind him. They did so and took him first to Annas. This was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year and lived in the same palace with Annas. He was the same Caiaphas who had planned how to destroy Jesus, saying that it was good for the people that Jesus should be killed, and that if this was not done it would be worse for the whole people. So Jesus was taken to the palace where this high priest lived.

When Jesus came there one of his pupils, Peter, followed him from afar to see where they would take him, and when Jesus was led into the court of the high priest, Peter went in also to see how the matter would end. And a girl in the yard saw Peter and I said to him: You also were with Jesus of Galilee! But Peter was afraid that he might be accused, and said aloud before all the people: I do not know what you are talking about! Afterwards, when Jesus had been taken into the house, Peter also went into the passage with the people. A woman was warming herself there at the fire, and Peter went up to it. She looked at Peter and said to the others: See, this man is like one who was with Jesus of Nazareth. Peter was still more frightened, and swore that he had never been with Jesus and did not know him at all. A little later people went up to Peter and said: It is easy to see that you also were one of these disturbers. We can tell by your speech that you are from Galilee. Then Peter began to affirm and swear that he had never known or seen Jesus.

And he had hardly said this before the cock crew. And he remembered the words Jesus had said to him when he had assured Jesus that though all should abandon him he would not deny him: 'Before the cock crows this night you will deny me thrice.' And Peter went out into the yard and wept bitterly. He wept because he had fallen into temptation: he had fallen into one temptation, that of strife, when he tried to defend Jesus, and into another temptation, the fear of death, when he denied Jesus.

And the Orthodox chief priests, the scribes, and the officers, came together to the high priest. And when they were all assembled, they brought in Jesus, and the high priest asked him what his teaching was and who were his pupils. And Jesus answered: I always spoke openly before all men and bid nothing, and I hide nothing from anyone. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard and understood my teaching. They will tell you.

When Jesus said this, a servant of the high priest struck him in the face and said: To whom are you speaking? Is that the way to answer the High Priest? Jesus said: If I have spoken ill, tell me what I have said that is wrong. But if I said nothing ill, why strike me?

The Orthodox chief priests tried to accuse Jesus, but at first found no proof on which he could be condemned. Then they found two witnesses who said of him: We ourselves heard this man say: 'I will destroy this temple of yours made with hands and in three days will build up another temple to God, not made with hands.' But this evidence also was not enough to convict him. And so the high priest called Jesus up and said: Why do you not answer their evidence?

Jesus remained silent.

Then the high priest said to him: Tell me, are you the Christ, a son of God? Jesus answered him and said: Yes, I am the Christ, a son of God. And you will yourself now see that the son of man is equal to God.

Then the high priest cried out: you blasphemer! Now we need no more evidence. We have all heard that you are a blasphemer! And the high priest turned to the assembly and said: You have yourselves heard that he blasphemes God. What do you condemn him to for that?

And they answered: We condemn him to death.

Then all the people and the guards fell upon Jesus and spat in his face and struck him and mishandled him. They bound his eyes, and hit him on the cheek and asked: Now, prophet, who was it that struck you? Jesus held his peace.

Having reviled him, they led him bound to Pontius Pilate and took him to the hall of judgment.

Pilate the governor came out to them and asked: Of what do you accuse this man?

They said: He is an evil doer, so we have brought him to you.

Pilate said to them: But if he does you harm, judge him yourselves according to your law.

But they replied: We have brought him to you that you may execute him, for the law does not allow us to kill anyone.

And so what Jesus had expected came to pass. He had said that he must be ready to die on the cross at the hands of the Romans instead of dying a natural death or perishing at the hands of the Jews.

And when Pilate asked what they accused him of, they said he was guilty of stirring up the people, forbidding them to pay tribute to Caesar, and made himself out to be the Christ and a king.

Pilate listened to what they had to say, and then ordered Jesus to be brought to him to the judgment seat. When he came in, Pilate said: So you are king of the Jews?

Jesus replied: Do you really think I am a king, or are you only repeating what has been told you?

Pilate said: I am not a Jew so you cannot be my king, but your own people have brought you to me. What kind of a man are you?

Jesus replied: I am a king, but my kingdom is not an earthly one. If I were an earthly king my subjects would fight for me and would not have given me up to the chief priests. But, as you see, my kingdom is not an earthly one.

Pilate replied: Yet you consider yourself a king? Jesus said: Not only I, but you also, cannot but account me a king. I only teach in order to reveal to all men the truth of the kingdom of heaven. And everyone who lives by the truth is a king.

Pilate said: You speak of 'the truth' but what is truth?

And having said this he turned away and went out to the chief priests and said to them: I do not find that this man has done anything wrong.

But the chief priests insisted, and said that he did much evil and stirred up the people and had raised all Judea, right from Galilee.

Then Pilate again began to question Jesus in the presence of the chief priests, but Jesus did not answer. Pilate then said to him: Do you not hear how they accuse you? Why do you not defend yourself?

But Jesus was still silent and said not another word, so that Pilate wondered at him.

Then Pilate remembered that Galilee was under the jurisdiction of King Herod, and asked: Is he not from Galilee?

They told him: Yes.

Then he said: If he is from Galilee he is under Herod's authority and I will send him to him.

Herod was then in Jerusalem, and Pilate, to rid himself of Jesus, sent him to Herod.

Herod was very glad to see Jesus when they brought him. He had heard much about him and wished to know what kind of a man he was. So he called him up before him and began to question him about all he wished to know. But Jesus gave him no answer. And the chief priests and scribes accused him vehemently, as they had done before Pilate, and said that he was a rioter. And Herod regarded Jesus as an empty fellow, and to mock him had him dressed in a crimson robe, and sent him back to Pilate. Herod was pleased that Pilate had treated him with respect by sending, Jesus to him to be judged, and so they were reconciled after having previously been at variance.

Now. when Jesus was brought back to Pilate, Pilate again called the chief priests and rulers of the Jews and said to them. You brought this man to me for stirring up the people, and I examined him in your presence and do not find him to be a rioter. I sent him with you to Herod, and you see that again he is not convicted of any wrong-doing. I do not see any reason for condemning him to death: would it not be better to chastise him and let him go? But when the chief priests heard this, they all cried out: No, punish him in the Roman way! Crucify him!

Pilate listened to the chief priests and said to them: Very well! But you have a custom at the feast of the Passover to pardon one prisoner. Well, here I have in prison Barabbas, a murderer and robber. Which of the two shall be released: Jesus or Barabbas?

Pilate wished thus to save Jesus, but the chief priests had so influenced the people that they all cried out: Barabbas! Barabbas!

And Pilate said: But what shall be done with Jesus?

They again cried: Crucify him in the Roman way, crucify him!

And Pilate tried to persuade them, and said: Why are you so hard on him? He has done nothing to deserve death and has done you no harm. I will let him go, for I find no fault in him.

The chief priests and their servants cried: Crucify him! Crucify him! And Pilate said to them: Then take him and crucify him yourselves, for I see no fault in him.

The chief priests answered: We ask only what our law demands. By our law he ought to die for making himself out to be a son of God.

When Pilate heard these words he was troubled, for he did not know what the term 'son of God' meant. And returning to the judgment hall he again called up Jesus and asked him: Who are you and where are you from?

But Jesus did not answer him.

Then Pilate said to him: Why do you not answer me? Do you not see that you are in my power and that I can crucify you or set you free?

Jesus answered him: You have no power. All power is above.

Still Pilate wished to release Jesus, and lie said to the Jews: How is it that you wish to crucify your king?

But they said to him: If you release Jesus you will show yourself a disloyal servant to Caesar, for he who sets himself up as a king is Caesar's enemy. Our king is Caesar; but let this man be crucified!

When Pilate heard these words he understood that he could not refuse to execute Jesus. And he went out to the Jews, took some water, washed his hands, and said: I am not guilty of the blood of this just man.

And the people all cried: Let his blood be upon us and on our children! So the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate sat on his judgment seat and ordered Jesus first to be scourged.

After the soldiers had scourged him they put a wreath on his head and a rod in his hand and threw a red cloak on him and began to mock him, bowing down before him mocking and saying: Hail, King of the Jews! And they struck him on the cheek and on the head, and spat in his face.

But the chief priests cried: Crucify him! Our king is Caesar! Crucify him!

So Pilate gave orders that he should be crucified.

They stripped Jesus of the red cloak and put on him his own clothing, and bade him carry the cross to a place called Golgotha, there to be crucified. And he carried his cross and so came to Golgotha. And there they stretched him on a cross between two other men.

When they were nailing him to the cross, Jesus said: Father, forgive them: they know not what they do.

And when Jesus was hanging on the cross the people thronged round him and railed at him. They went up, wagged their heads at him, and said: So you wished to destroy the temple of Jerusalem and rebuild it in three days! Well now, save yourself and come down from the cross! And the chief priests and leaders stood there also and mocked him, saying: He saved others, but cannot save himself'. Show us now that you are the Christ. Come down from the cross and we will believe you. He said he was the son of God and that God would not forsake him! Has not God forsaken him? And the people and the chief priests and the soldiers railed at him, and even one of the robbers crucified with him railed at him. This robber, railing at him, said: If you are the Christ, save yourself and us! But the other robber heard this and said: Do you not fear God? You are yourself on the cross and yet rail at an innocent man. You and I are executed for our deserts, but this man has done no harm.

And turning to Jesus he said: Lord, remember me in your kingdom!

And Jesus said to him: Even now you are blessed with me!

And at the ninth hour, Jesus, worn out, cried aloud: Eli, Eli, lama sabaclithani! which means: My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me?

And when the people heard this, they began to jeer and said: He is calling the prophet Elias! Let us see whether Elias will come!

Then Jesus said: I thirst! And a man took a sponge, dipped it in vinegar that stood by, and gave it to Jesus on a reed.

And when Jesus had sucked the sponge he cried out in a loud voice: It is finished! Father, into Thy hands I resign my spirit! And letting his head droop he gave up the ghost.

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Leo Tolstoy

  • Full name: Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy
  • Russian novelist and philosopher
  • Born September 9th, 1828 and died November 20th, 1910
  • Best known for War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877)

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