First broadcast during Holy Week 2008 on BBC ONE
Jesus tells his disciples that he wants to enjoy one last meal with them. But they are bewildered and embarrassed when he, their teacher, starts to wash their feet. Jesus brushes aside their protests, saying that they need to be ready to serve each other, and to love each other as he has loved them. He tries to reassure them about what is to come in the next few hours. When Peter asserts that he, for one, will remain undaunted, Jesus gently tells him that by daybreak he will have denied knowing him three times. But he tells them there will be room for them all in God's house, and he lets Judas know that he, too, is included before sending him on his way.
Caiaphas is becoming increasingly anxious. He knows that the clock will start ticking at the moment of Jesus' arrest. Only the Romans can order a death sentence, and Pilate will be reluctant to get involved. Caiaphas will have only hours to complete the Council trial and obtain Pilate's approval before the city awakes and news of Jesus's arrest starts to spread. If the Romans are not involved and on the streets by then, all hell will break loose.
Jesus has gone with the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, his heart breaking at the thought of what's to come. For a moment he's tempted to keep walking, back to Galilee. He prays desperately to God for a sign that will bring him some comfort, but is given nothing. Looking back, he finds the disciples asleep and in a sudden fit of anger, kicks them awake.
As Jesus prays and Judas leads the Sagan and his Temple Guards to where he knows they'll find him, Pilate is disturbed by a terrible shriek; Claudia, his wife, has had a nightmare about an innocent prisoner steeped in blood.
In Gethsemane, Jesus, calmer now, wakes the disciples as Judas and the Temple Guards approach. He locks eyes with Judas and invites him to do what he's come to do. Judas kisses Jesus and the Sagan seizes him. As the disciples jump to his defence, Jesus orders them to put down their weapons. The Guards drag Jesus away and the disciples flee.
Jesus is dragged to Caiaphas's house to be put on trial by the Temple Elders. Pilate is still trying to fathom Claudia's dream. What does it mean? Why does she feel such a sense of dread? Back at the trial, Jesus remains calm but defiant - answering the questions without giving anything away. Caiaphas is under increasing pressure, but the mood changes when Jesus is accused of threatening to destroy the Temple. Finally Caiaphas asks him if he is the Son of God. There is a stunned silence as Jesus calmly assents. The trial is over.
Only Peter and John have had the courage to follow Jesus. The rest of the disciples are in hiding - paralysed by fear and indecision. Peter sends John back to them, but finds a way to slip inside Caiphas's house undetected. Concealed, he watches the climax of the trial with growing trepidation, before being surprised by a servant girl who accuses him of being a follower of Jesus. Peter denies this three times, just as Jesus is brought out by the Guards. Peter is horrified by his own betrayal.
Thinking ahead, Caiaphas sends the Sagan to rally a crowd of their supporters to demonstrate to Pilate the city's outrage at Jesus's teaching. He is committed now. Jesus is taken to a holding cell, a grim oubliette sunk into the ground. He's lowered in. The cell cover is dragged over the entrance. Jesus is plunged into darkness.
As light begins to dawn, Jesus is taken from the oubliette and dragged through the streets to the courtyard of a disgruntled Pilate, who has been called from his bed and his distraught wife. Pilate wants nothing to do with the matter. It is a religious dispute, not a Roman issue. Annas raises the stakes by characterising Jesus as a potential insurgent, but Pilate isn't buying that either. The stand-off is interrupted when Pilate is summoned by his wife to be told that this is the man in her dream. She pleads with Pilate not to harm him. Pilate is in a difficult position - Caiaphas appears determined to get his way and he must tread carefully. He returns outside and offers a prisoner release: the insurgent Barabbas or Jesus of Nazarath? The Sagan and his Temple Guards have done their job; the crowd demand he release Barabbas.
Pilate makes one final attempt to avoid Roman involvement, but an adamant Caiaphas plays his last card; unless the Romans step in, there will be a riot once word of Jesus's arrest reaches the street. Such an outcome will reflect badly on Pilate in the eyes of Rome, particularly when the Judean authorities make clear that he ignored their explicit warnings. A furious Pilate agrees to the death sentence and returns to his wife, who attacks him for ignoring her pleas. Pilate roars that her desire for a return to Rome will not be helped by a riot in Jerusalem.
Judas has spent the night at the brothel, grappling with his demons. His wine-sodden stupor is interrupted when an exhilarated Barabbas charges in. His life has been exchanged for that of the preacher from Galilee!
Peter brings news of the forthcoming crucifixion back to the waiting disciples. He reminds them that Jesus had said he'd rise again but some of them are beginning to lose faith. James and Philip make plans to leave the city.
Jesus drags his cross through the streets of Jerusalem; the same streets where he'd been heralded as Messiah just a few days before. A half-crazed Judas encounters the grim procession. It's the final straw. Unable to live with the choice he made, Judas ties a rope round his neck and plummets into a well. At the Temple, Joseph of Arimathea confronts Caiaphas; he has put an innocent man to death. But Caiaphas is convinced that he's done the right thing.
Jesus reaches Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion. He refuses a Guard's offer of wine to numb the pain and offers himself up to God. John, who's found the courage to leave his hiding place, joins a stricken Mary and Mary Magdalene. They watch in horror as Jesus is nailed to the cross. For his mother, it is almost too much to bear.
Above Jesus's head is the inscription 'King of Judea', placed there on Pilate's instructions. When Caiaphas sends his aide Yehuda to protest, Pilate gives him short shrift. He has no right to question a representative of Rome.
Alongside Jesus are the two thieves, Asher and Eban. Eban taunts him "why doesn't he save himself?" but Asher begs for forgiveness. John, Mary Magdalene and Mary approach the cross and the sight of them brings Jesus a brief respite from his suffering. There's a moment between the four of them that is charged with love.
A soldier, needing to hurry Jesus' death before the Sabbath, prepares to break his legs. Jesus cries out to God, demanding to know why he has abandoned him. Mary catches her breath, willing Jesus to revoke his words. Jesus meets her eyes and with one last effort offers his spirit to God. God's will is done. Jesus dies.
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