Death and resurrection

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Unit 3

Death and resurrection

In this unit we will be concerned with the events leading to the trial of Jesus, his death and resurrection as they are portrayed in the Gospel of Mark. For better understanding we divide this unit in three sections:

  1. The meaning and significance of the events leading up to the trial of Jesus

  2. The death of Jesus

  3. After death


****Essential vocabulary****


Associating oneself with God/language or deeds which insult God


the Roman death penalty suffered by Jesus when he was nailed to the cross

Feast of Unleavened Bread

the first day of the Passover festival


the place where Jesus was arrested


the place of the skull; the place where Jesus was crucified

High Priest

the chief Jewish leader at the time of Jesus

Judas Iscariot

the disciple who betrayed Jesus

Last Supper

the last meal Jesus ate with his disciples which founded the Eucharist


Jewish festival celebrating the release from Egypt

Pontius Pilate

the Roman procurator (governor) of Judea at the time of Jesus


the supreme Jewish council which found Jesus guilty of blasphemy

upper room

the place where the Last Supper took place

You will be required to study the following passages.

The trial of Jesus

Mark 14:12-31

The Last Supper

Mark 14:32-42

The prayers n Gethsemane

Mark 14:43-52

The betrayal and arrest

The death of Jesus

Mark 14:53-65

The trial before the High Priest

Mark 15:1-15

The trial before Pilate

Mark 15:21-39

The crucifixion

The resurrection

Mark 16:1-8

The resurrection

Resource sheet 3.0a

The learning journey through Mark’s Gospel


1 The meaning and significance of the Last Supper for Mark (Mark 14:12–31).

2 Why the Last Supper is important for Christians today.

3 The meaning and significance of the prayers in Gethsemane (Mark 14:32–42) and why they might cause problems for some Christians today.

4 The meaning and significance of the betrayal and arrest (Mark 14:43–52) in Mark and why there are different attitudes to Judas among Christians today.

5 The meaning and significance of the trial before the High Priest (Mark 14:53–65) in Mark and how it affects Christian attitudes to justice.

6 The meaning and significance of the trial before Pilate (Mark 15:1–15) in Mark and why Christians today see the significance differently from Mark.

7 The meaning and significance of the crucifixion (Mark 15:21–39) in Mark.

8 Why the crucifixion is important for Christians today.

9 The meaning and significance of the burial for Christians today.

10 The meaning and significance of the resurrection for Mark as recorded in Mark 16:1–8.

11 The meaning and significance of the resurrection for Christians today.

For each of the stories in this section you will need to:

• Know the story – you will not be asked to retell the story in the examination, but will need to be able to use parts of it as reasons and evidence.

• Know what this story tells us about the death and resurrection of Jesus.

• Know what this story means to Christians today.

• Know your thoughts and opinions on the issues/important points raised in each case.

    1. The meaning and significance of the Last Supper for Mark

Key words

Feast of Unleavened Bread

the first day of the Passover festival

Last Supper

the last meal Jesus ate with his disciples which founded the Eucharist


Jewish festival celebrating the release from Egypt

upper room

the place where the Last Supper took place

Biblical Reading: Mark 14:12-31
The story is divided in three sections

  1. preparation for the Passover

  2. the supper itself

  3. Jesus’ warning of Peter’s denial

1. Preparation

Background information for Passover from the Old Testament

The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are written up as separate festivals, but since one always followed immediately after the other, they naturally blended. The holiday began with Passover and was followed by the weeklong Festival of Unleavened Bread.

Passover is probably the most important holiday for the Israelites because it commemorated one of God’s most powerful interventions in the nation’s history. The Passover marked the time when God brought a final plague upon Egypt. In this plague, God destroyed the firstborn of the Egyptians but spared (passed over) those Israelites who had followed the command to place the blood of a lamb on their doorposts The result of this plague was Israel’s freedom from slavery in Egypt. God commanded that the day be observed as holiday (Exodus 23:14-15).

In order to understand the background of the original celebration of Passover read in you Bibles Exodus 12:11-30.

So as part of their preparations the disciples may have gone to the Temple to fetch the Passover lamb, which had to be killed as a sacrifice. Priests at the temple would perform the sacrifice. The blood of the lamb would be thrown on the altar by the priests and then the carcass could be taken back for the meal later in the evening.
2. The supper itself

The meal Jesus is having with his followers is the Passover meal for the following reasons:

  1. Jesus describes the bowl in which the disciples dip their bread = to the bowl of bitter herbs they had for the Passover meal (Mark 14:20)

  2. The words he speaks over the bread and wine have parallels with the words spoken by the head of the family to explain the significance of the food and drink in the Passover meal (Mark 14:22-25)

  3. The Passover instructions required the use of red wine and Jesus links this to his blood due to be shed at the crucifixion (14:24)

  4. Finally, before they leave for the Mount of Olives, they sing hymns and this was another part of the Passover instructions (14:26)

Why is the Last Supper so significant for Mark in his Gospel?

  • It was the last time Jesus’ disciples would eat with him before he was killed.

  • Jesus predicted what was going to happen:

• one would betray him

• one would deny him

• all would fall away.

  • Jesus took the Jewish traditional Passover meal and gave it new meaning as it is stated below:

  • The Passover in Egypt signified a turning point in the life of the Jews. Their release from slavery to a new life. Jesus’ coming death on the cross would liberate his followers from SIN and restore their relationship with God

  • The Lamb was killed but its bones were not broken. When Jesus was crucified His bones were not broken because He was already dead when the Roman soldiers came to speed up his death.

  • The blood of the Lamb had to be put on their doorposts in Egypt for the Angel of Death to pass over the house and not kill its first born son. Jesus blood saves us in the same way. If we believe that His blood was shed instead of ours - that Jesus took our place and was punished for our sins - then his blood saves us from death and we have eternal life with God.

  1. Jesus’ warning of Peter’s denial

We analyzed this section at the “Discipleship” part. Just a reminder that even though the disciples didn’t believe Jesus when He told them they would betray Him they finally did. He knew better. However he did not consider them failures but looked beyond their weaknesses into the men they developed through the years, men who were willing to lay down their very lives for Him.
Be ready to answer

  1. The Romans persecuted the early Christians because they claimed the faith was cannibalistic – they were eating Jesus’ body and blood. How do you think this claim originated?

  2. At the time, Christianity was still viewed as a sect of the Jewish faith. What evidence do you see for this?

  3. What are the reasons that Mark insists that the Last Supper Jesus is having with his disciples is the Passover meal?

  4. Why is the Last Supper significant for Mark the gospel writer?

  5. Do you think Jesus was the Lamb of God? Give two reasons for your answer.

3.2 Why the Last Supper is important for Christians today
Biblical Reading: 1st Corinthians 11:23-26
In the above Biblical reading you will find Ap. Paul’s teaching on The Last Supper and you will understand why it is important for Christians.

Through the years theologians tried to explain the Last Supper. Many churches hold different views on this matter. The whole service is a celebration of Jesus’ sacrifice for all different churches.





The body and blood of Jesus are being brought before the people afresh in the bread and wine received

When people receive the bread and wine they believe that they are really receiving the actual body and blood of Jesus

Jesus is really present in the bread and the wine in a spiritual way, as they are consumed.

There is no real change in those elements.

Jesus is really present in, with, and beneath the bread and wine offered in the celebration
There is no real change in the wine and the bread

The bread and wine are no more than symbols intended to remind believers of Jesus’ death and resurrection

Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican

The broad stream of the Church of England

Lutheran Church and some members of the Church of England

Evangelical Christians and most nonconformist Churches

Other terms used: Mass – Liturgy – Eucharist – Holy Communion

Most Christians agree that this service is important because:

  1. The service is intended to remind Christians of Jesus’ death and resurrection

  2. It enables Christians to “commune” with Jesus and each other

  3. Through the service the Church can look forward to Jesus’ return to earth and His establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.

  4. Jesus began this meal at the Last Supper

  5. He is present as the church meets to celebrate and is received by faith.

Be ready to answer

  1. Do you think it should be important for all Christians to believe exactly the same about this service or does it not matter?

  2. Why is the Last Supper significant for Christians today?

  3. What are the points on which most Christians agree when it comes to the importance of the service of the Last Supper?

  4. What are the different views held by the different churches for the Last Supper.

Resource sheet 3.2

Mark scheme

Explain why the Last Supper is important for Christians today. (8 marks)





No rewardable material.

Level 1


Little understanding of the issue shown, typically by:

• giving a brief reason

• or not explaining but only describing the issue.

The answer is likely to be in basic English. High number of spelling errors.

Level 2


Basic understanding of the issue is shown typically by:

• using two brief reasons

• or a developed reason.

The candidate is likely to express understanding with a limited command of

English and little use of specialist vocabulary. Frequent spelling errors are likely to be present.

Level 3


A more developed understanding of the issue is shown typically by:

• using three brief reasons

• or a fully developed reason

• or two reasons with one developed.

The candidate is likely to express understanding in a clear style of English with some use of specialist vocabulary.

Level 4


A clear understanding of the issue is shown typically by:

• using four brief reasons

• or two developed reasons

• or three reasons with one developed

• or a comprehensive explanation using one reason only.

The candidate is likely to express understanding in a clear and correct style of English with a correct use of specialist vocabulary where appropriate.

3.3– Jesus’ prayers in the Garden of Gesthemane
Key words


The place where Jesus was arrested

Biblical Reading: Mark 14:32-42

Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane is important since it reveals both Jesus’ humanity and divinity. As God, Jesus knew that death awaited Him. As a human, He anticipated the torture He would have to face at the hands of Roman guards before He was killed. He had to go through human agonies of despair, fear, tiredness and even trying to avoid the suffering if possible.

At the same time as He prayed He used the term “Abba” which is the Aramaic word for “father”. He appealed for help from God, His Father. In Jesus’ time most Jewish people would have thought this a disrespectful way to talk to God, but Mark recognises how close Jesus was to God, so that it would be completely appropriate.
Human or God?

Using these passages many people question Jesus’ divinity. How can He be God and pray? Does He pray to Himself? Why would Jesus ask God to take this cup away from Him? Did He not trust His Father, God? If he had to ask questions of God anyway, perhaps Jesus is not God?

In order to understand Jesus’ nature have in mind the following:

  1. When Jesus became human He left behind most of His godly attributes. When He was performing miracles for example He would perform them with the Father’s power given to Him.

  2. Even though He left behind His godly attributes He still knew everything since before becoming human He existed in constant present. Thus He had seen His life from the beginning to the end before His incarnation.

  3. As human now He prayed to communicate with the Father since He was limited to the human body and He was not in the Father’s constant and perfect presence.

Note: In studying this passage pick out the parts that show the divine side of Jesus. Pick out the parts that show the humanity of Jesus. Are there any that show both?
Resource sheet 3.3b

Why is Gethsemane a problem for
Christians today?

This resource sheet shows several people’s ideas about why Gethsemane poses a problem for

Christians today.


1 What do you think about each of these ideas?

2 Is there one that you feel might be stronger than the others, or are they all about the same?

3 Do you think they should be a problem for Christians? Why? Why not?

4 Write an answer to each question that a Christian who does not have a problem with this passage might give.

3.4– Betrayal and arrest
Key words

Judas Iscariot

The disciple who betrayed Jesus

Biblical Reading: Mark 14:43-52

When you read this have in mind:

  1. The religious leaders needed Judas to find Jesus away from public gaze simply because Jesus was famous and they were afraid that His arrest might start a riot

  2. They go there armed because they expected Jesus to react like a warrior-like Messiah. This is the picture of the Messiah they were waiting God to send to them, to save them from the Romans.

  3. Betrayal and arrest were predicted by Old Testament authors that’s why Jesus says “…but the Scripture must be fulfilled…”

Different views of Judas by the Evangelists

    • Matthew presents him as a greedy man who wanted money(he had asked 30 silver coins – the average price of a slave)

  • Both Matthew and John write that Judas was possessed by Satan

  • John refers to Judas as a thief

  • Mark refers to Judas as the traitor right from the beginning of chapter 3:19

  • The fact that Judas betrays his Master with a kiss makes betrayal seem worse.

Different views of Judas by people today

  • He has become the definitions of traitor

  • Some people believe that it wasn’t his fault since God predestined what Judas was about to do

  • Some others believe that since Jesus knew that someone would betray Him He should have stopped this. He didn’t do it so that the prophecy would be fulfilled.

Different views on Judas’ motives in betraying Jesus by people today

  • He was disappointed by his Master since Jesus didn’t seem to become the political and military Messiah. He might have expected that by Jesus’ arrest an uprising against the Romans would start.

  • Perhaps Judas was arrested when Jesus cleansed the Temple and in return for freedom he agreed to hand over Jesus.

  • He betrayed Jesus because he was actually helping Jesus to fulfil His destiny. Judas became the catalyst so that all the Prophecies would be fulfilled and Jesus would die for our sins.

Your teacher’s opinion

  • Nobody’s actions are predetermined by God. If that was so none of us could have been held responsible for anything. So Judas acted within the limited freewill we all have.

  • Judas wasn’t helping Jesus by any means. He was disappointed by Him as many others were and being greedy he betrayed Him. If he thought he was helping Jesus why did he then killed himself?

  • Jesus didn’t stop him not because He wanted the prophecies to be fulfilled but because God doesn’t intervene in human choices like that. The prophecies were there not to enslave anyone but to warn and guide people. They were not there because there was a mystique plan on how things should be done but because God had foreseen the future.

Does God predestine everything?

When we talk about God determining things and human responsibility remember the following:

  • Free will is a part of God’s nature therefore it becomes a part of our nature since we are made in His own image

  • God cannot force you, make you, make specific things and then ask you to be responsible because that would be unfair. And unfairness is against His nature.

  • The prophecies were foretold from the Old Testament prophets and came true because God knows the future (as He exists out of time and space). Not because God forces us to do specific things.

  • If Judas is not responsible for betraying Jesus then none of us is responsible for any of our actions and it would be fair to say God made me do it!!

Be ready to answer

  1. Judas was a traitor.’ Do you agree with this statement? Give 3 reasons for that. Give 3 reasons why someone may disagree with you.

  2. How do the evangelist view Judas?

  3. What do people today think about Judas? What is your teacher’s opinion.

  4. Does God predestine everything?
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