Air date 04/05/15
Truth – what is truth? Desert sands blow in the wind as three crosses stand erect and a blacksmith hammers a glowing metal spike. The fate of the young Nazarene is nailed shut.
Jesus is judged, as he stands trial in the courtyard before an angry mob.”The charge is blasphemy,” yells Caiaphas, the High Priest of the Jewish Temple. Peter, one of the 12 disciples watches in horror as the Jerusalem crowd calls for the death of Jesus, his leader. While amongst the angry crowd Peter spots Judas and they lock eyes, Judas flees once Peter sees him. Peter is recognized as one of the Nazarene’s followers, and denies knowing him as Jesus watches.
Caiaphas demands Jesus must die, but a sentence from the Jewish Sanhedrin is not enough; powerful Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, must give the final word. Pilate is certain the beliefs of one Jew could never damage the mighty authority of Rome, and he’s not sure he sees grounds for Jesus’ condemnation, but in order to maintain the peace and satisfy his people, he orders the crucifixion of Jesus and literally washes his hands of this issue.
Overcome with guilt, Judas knots a piece of rope onto a tree and hangs himself. While in the city, Peter hides from the Roman soldiers. He looks into the distance at the hill of Golgotha, noticing some movement on the mountain. That’s where Jesus lies on his cross, thorns piercing his head and blood drenching his body. On the hill of Golgotha Mother Mary, John and Mary Magdalene watch as the Romans nail Jesus to the cross and hoisted up, “My God,” he utters. “Why have you forsaken me?”
In the Temple’s courtyard, the Jewish people prepare for the Festival of Passover as Caiaphas walks through the crowd with his wife, Leah, and her father, Annas. Leah praises her husband as leader of the Sanhedrin. “Each day, more people were seduced by the Nazarene’s simplistic homilies,” she says. “He had to be exposed.” Annas agrees, but regrets Caiaphas involved Pilate in the matter. Caiaphas defends his decision, feeling it was necessary to call upon the full force of Roman law. “The Nazarene’s crucifixion sends a message to all who might challenge what we labor so hard to uphold,” he says. Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Council, speaks out, calling the execution of Jesus the needless death of a harmless soul, but Caiaphas and Leah dismiss him. Annas and Caiaphas discuss Jesus’ assertion that he would rise from death, “one of his many outrageous claims and crude manipulations of prophecy.” Annas advices Caiaphas to ensure Jesus dies quickly, by tonight, before he has the chance to perform a final deception. Overwhelmed, Caiaphas prays before the Holy Veil, asking for guidance from God.
Pilate receives a request from Caiaphas to expedite the death of Jesus, and a petition from Joseph to repossess Jesus’ body upon death. Pilate grants both requests in an effort to cause tension among the Jewish people, and sends one of his men to put Jesus out of his misery. Pilate’s wife Claudia, a believer of the prophecy warns Pilate he will live to regret crucifying Jesus. “The gods find us in our sleep. Their message was clear,” she tells her husband. “The Nazarene was a good man. Humble. Pure of heart.”
On the hill of Golgotha, Jesus whispers “It is finished,” releasing his final breath. Dark clouds roll over the entire city, and when a drop of Jesus’ blood splashes to earth, the desert ground shakes violently. Peter, still watching from the crevasses of the city, turns and runs away from Golgotha. The pillars and stone bricks of the temple crumble as all Jerusalem scrambles for safety, including Caiaphas and Leah. They rush toward Caiaphas’ sacred Holy Veil, only to see it rip apart right before their eyes.
When the dust finally settles, Mother Mary is still grieving at the foot of the cross, Pilate’s top soldier, arrives to fulfill his orders. John’s protests are to no avail, The Romans plunge a spear deep into Jesus’ chest, between his ribs. Joseph reports to take possession of Jesus’ body, offering the use of his private tomb. Joseph, Mother Mary, John and Mary Magdalene carry Jesus to his final resting place, where they wash the blood off his body and recite a prayer before closing the door to the tomb. Joseph returns to the Temple, where he informs Caiaphas and Leah of recent events. Furious, Caiaphas questions why Joseph has created the appearance of fulfilling the prophecy: “And he made his grade with the wicked and his tomb with the rich.” In order to guarantee both Jesus’ doctrine and corpse decompose, Caiaphas requests yet another favor from Pilate. He asks the Roman Governor to post soldiers outside the tomb, and place a Roman seal across the front – breaking the seal carries the death penalty. Pilate agrees, with the caveat that this is the last he will hear of the Nazarene. Caiaphas also sends his Temple guards to the tomb, ordering them not to speak to anyone, touch anything or let anyone pass.
Later that night, Mother Mary patiently awaiting her son’s promised return. Peter finally reunites with John and Mary Magdalene, now in hiding at the safe house. Peter admits denying Jesus, just as he foretold. “I never had you for a coward,” Mary Magdalene tells him, extremely disappointed. Two other disciples of Jesus, Simon and Matthew, wander through the city, trying to pass themselves off as ordinary peasants. When a Roman soldier spots them, Simon and Matthew sprint away. Just as they escape the guards, a group of violent Zealots, led by Boaz, captures them. Boaz threatens to kill them both, until fellow Zealot Simon tells him the truth about who they are and why they’re running from the Romans. Simon and Matthew take the Zealots to the safe house, where Peter recognizes Boaz as a friend from childhood. Boaz suggests the disciples join him and his group of freedom fighters to drive the Romans out of the city, but Peter declines. “We are fisherman, not fighters,” he says after hesitating for a moment. “Once the Romans realize your message remains a threat they will root you out. And when they’ve killed each of you, they will snuff out his ideas one by one,” Boaz warns Peter before leaving. “It will be as if they, he and you never existed.” Forewarned, the disciples must now agree upon their next course of action. John isn’t sure whether they should leave Jerusalem yet, since there’s no guarantee the Romans are searching for them. Simon, on the other hand, is certain the Romans will see them as a threat, and is eager to flee. Mother Mary comes downstairs during the heat of the debate and silences them all. “Have you forgotten his prophecy already?” she asks each of them with tears in her eyes. Peter makes the final decision: they are to wait three days, and if Jesus doesn’t rise on the third, they leave the city as men, not cowards.
Leah approaches Caiaphas as he works intensively at his desk, urging him to come to bed. “You have done exceptionally well to steer the community toward calm water,” she commends her husband, but he needs rest to continue. “I won’t be long,” he tells her, but his mind is far from his bedroom. Flashbacks of charging Jesus with blasphemy race through his head as he continues his work. Peter also sits in solitude, remembering his public denial of Jesus in a moment of desperation and panic. Suddenly, the earth begins to tremble once again, and the tomb illuminates behind the stone wall. A beam of golden light comes crashing in from the heavens above, and as the brightness expands, an Angel dressed as a warrior appears on top of the tomb and exposes its sword, a sign to the Roman guards to not interfere.
Later that night, Reuben knocks on Caiaphas’ door to deliver troubling news. The Roman seal has been broken, the tomb opened, and the Nazarene… gone! Could it be true? But what is truth?
WATCH FULL Episode 1 “The Tomb Is Open” >>HERE
Episode 2 “The Body Is Gone” airs Sunday April 12th on NBC
The Romans and the Sanhedrin retaliate when Jesus’ body disappears from the tomb on the next A.D. The Bible Continues.