The history of Easter originated in the Bible. Throughout the ages, man has added, taken from and changed the original history of Easter according to their culture and times. But here is a vintage retelling of the Bible story of how Christ died on the cross and rose from death. You'll love the beautiful vintage pictures that accompany this classic Easter story! (Go to the end of this page to download more Bible stories like this.)
By the way, I ALSO have a rare treat for you: an excellent AUDIO recording of the Easter Story. This is a vintage recording made by Vincent Price, Herbert Marshall, Robert Young, Victor Jourie and music by Bach!
An Audio Story: The Son of Man - A Passion Play
THE STORY OF THE PALM BRANCHES
Came to Bethany where his friends Martha and Mary lived
From Jericho, Jesus and his disciples went up the mountains, and came to Bethany, where his friends Martha and Mary lived, and where he had raised Lazarus to life. Many people in Jerusalem heard that Jesus was there, and they went out of the city to see him, for Bethany was only two miles from Jerusalem. Some came also to see Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead; but the rulers of the Jews said to each other:
"We must not only kill Jesus, but Lazarus, also; because on his account so many of the people are going after Jesus and are believing on him."
The friends of Jesus in Bethany made a supper for Jesus, at the house of a man named Simon. He was called "Simon the leper"; and perhaps he was one whom Jesus had cured of leprosy. Jesus and his disciples, with Lazarus, leaned upon the couches around the table, as the guests; and Martha was one of those who waited upon them. While they were at the supper, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, came into the room, carrying a sealed jar of very precious perfume. She opened the jar, and poured some of the perfume upon the head of Jesus, and some upon his feet; and she wiped his feet with her long hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of the disciples of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, was not pleased at this. He said: "Why was such a waste of the perfume made? This might have been sold for more than forty-five dollars, and the money given to the poor!"
This he said, but not because he cared for the poor. Judas was the one who kept the bag of money for Jesus and the twelve; and he was a thief, and took away for his own use all the money that he could steal. But Jesus said:
"Let her alone; why do you find fault with the woman? She has done a good work upon me. You have the poor always with you, and whenever you wish, you can give to them. But you will have me with you only a little while. She has done what she could; for she has come to perfume my body for its burial. And truly I say to you, that wherever the gospel shall be preached throughout all the world, what this woman has done shall be told in memory of her."
She wiped his feet with her hair
Perhaps Mary knew what others did not believe, that Jesus was soon to die; and she showed her love for him, and her sorrow for his coming death, by this rich gift. But Judas, the disciple who carried the bag, was very angry at Jesus; and from that time he was looking for a chance to betray Jesus, or to give him up to his enemies. He went to the chief priests, and said: "What will you give me, if I will put Jesus in your hands?"
They said, "We will give you thirty pieces of silver."
And for thirty pieces of silver Judas promised to help them take Jesus, and make him their prisoner.
On the morning after the supper at Bethany, Jesus called two of his disciples, and said to them:
"Go into the next village, and at a place where two roads cross; and there you will find an ass tied, and a colt with it. Loose them, and bring them to me. And if any one says to you, 'Why do you do this?' say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and they will let them go."
They went to the place and found the ass and the colt, and were loosing them, when the owner said:
"What are you doing, untying the ass?"
And they said, as Jesus had told them to say:
"The Lord has need of it."
Then the owner gave them the ass and the colt for the use of Jesus. They brought them to Jesus on the Mount of Olives; and they laid some of their own clothes on the colt for a cushion, and set Jesus upon it. Then all the disciples and a very great multitude threw their garments upon the ground for Jesus to ride upon. Others cut down branches from the trees and laid them on the ground. And as Jesus rode over the mountain toward Jerusalem, many walked before him waving branches of palm trees. And they all cried together:
They threw their garments upon the ground for Jesus to ride upon
"Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"
These things they said, because they believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Anointed King; and they hoped that he would now set up his throne in Jerusalem. Some of the Pharisees in the crowd, who did not believe in Jesus, said to him:
"Master, stop your disciples!"
But Jesus said:
"I tell you, that if these should be still, the very stones would cry out!"
And when he came into Jerusalem with all this multitude, all the city was filled with wonder. They said: "Who is this?"
And the multitude answered:
"This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth in Galilee!"
And Jesus went into the Temple, and looked around it; but he did not stay, because the hour was late. He went again to Bethany, and there stayed at night with his friends.
These things took place on Sunday, the first day of the week; and that Sunday in the year is called Palm Sunday, because of the palm branches which the people carried before Jesus.
Many people heard him gladly, but the great city was deaf to his pleadings. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem," he cried, "thou that killest the prophets, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"
The great city was deaf to his pleadings
THE STORY OF THE BETRAYAL
At the foot of the Mount of Olives, near the path over the hill toward Bethany, there was an orchard of olive trees, called "The Garden of Gethsemane." The word "Gethsemane" means "oil press." Jesus often went to this place with his disciples, because of its quiet shade. At this garden he stopped, and outside he left eight of his disciples, saying to them, "Sit here while I go inside and pray."
He took with him the three chosen ones, Peter, James, and John, and went within the orchard. Jesus knew that in a little while Judas would be there with a band of men to seize him; that in a few hours he would be beaten, and stripped, and led out to die. The thought of what he was to suffer came upon him and filled his soul with grief. He said to Peter and James and John:
"My soul is filled with sorrow, a sorrow that almost kills me. Stay here and watch while I am praying."
He went a little further among the trees, and flung himself down upon the ground, and cried out:
"O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou willest!"
So earnest was his feeling and so great his suffering that there came out upon his face great drops of sweat like blood, falling upon the ground. After praying for a time, he rose up from the earth and went to his three disciples, and found them all asleep. He awaked them, and said to Peter: "What, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not go into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
He left them, and went a second time into the woods, and fell on his face, and prayed again, saying:
"O my Father, if this cup cannot pass away, and I must drink it, then thy will be done."
He came again to the three disciples, and found them sleeping; but this time he did not awake them. He went once more into the woods, and prayed, using the same words. And an angel from heaven came to him and gave him strength. He was now ready for the fate that was soon to come, and his heart was strong. Once more he went to the three disciples, and said to them: "You may as well sleep on now, and take your rest, for the hour is at hand; and already the Son of man is given by the traitor into the hands of sinners. But rise up and let us be going. See, the traitor is here!"
The disciples awoke; they heard the noise of a crowd, and saw the flashing of torches and the gleaming of swords and spears. In the throng they saw Judas standing, and they knew now that he was the traitor of whom Jesus had spoken the night before. Judas came rushing forward, and kissed Jesus, as though he were glad to see him. This was a signal that he had given beforehand to the band; for the men of the guard did not know Jesus, and Judas had said to them:
"The one that I shall kiss is the man that you are to take; seize him and hold him fast."
Jesus said to Judas, "Judas, do you betray the Son of man with a kiss?"
Then he turned to the crowd, and said, "Whom do you seek?"
They answered, "Jesus of Nazareth."
Jesus said, "I am he."
When Jesus said this, a sudden fear came upon his enemies; they drew back and fell upon the ground.
After a moment, Jesus said again, "Whom do you seek?"
And again they answered, "Jesus of Nazareth."
And Jesus said, pointing to his disciples, "I told you that I am he. If you are seeking me, let these disciples go their own way."
PETER DENIES CHRIST—And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, 'Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.—(Matt. 26:75.)
But as they came forward to seize Jesus, Peter drew his sword, and struck at one of the men in front, and cut off his right ear. The man was a servant of the high-priest, and his name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter:
"Put up the sword into its sheath; the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it? Do you not know that I could call upon my Father, and he would send to me armies upon armies of angels?"
Then he spoke to the crowd, "Let me do this." And he touched the place where the ear had been cut off, and it came on again and was well. Jesus said to the rulers and leaders of the armed men:
"Do you come out against me with swords and clubs as though I were a robber? I was with you every day in the Temple, and you did not lift your hands against me. But the words in the scriptures must come to pass; and this is your hour."
When the disciples of Jesus saw that he would not allow them to fight for him, they did not know what to do. In their sudden alarm they all ran away, and left their Master alone with his enemies. These men laid their hands on Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to the house of the high-priest. There were at that time two men called high-priests by the Jews. One was Annas, who had been high-priest until his office had been taken from him by the Romans, and given to Caiphas, his son-in-law. But Annas still had great power among the people; and they brought Jesus, all bound as he was, first to Annas.
Simon Peter, and John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, had followed after the crowd of those who carried Jesus away; and they came to the door of the high-priest's house. John knew the high-priest and went in; but Peter at first stayed outside, until John went out and brought him in. He came in, but did not dare to go into the room where Jesus stood before the high-priest Annas. In the court-yard of the house, they had made a fire of charcoal, and Peter stood among those who were warming themselves at the fire.
Annas in the inner room asked Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him:
"What I have taught has been open in the synagogues and in the Temple. Why do you ask me? Ask those that heard me; they know what I said."
Then one of the officers struck Jesus on the mouth, saying to him:
"Is this the way that you answer the high-priest?"
Jesus answered the officer calmly and quietly:
"If I have said anything evil, tell what the evil is; but if I have spoken the truth, why do you strike me?"
While Annas and his men were thus showing their hate toward Jesus, who stood bound and alone among his enemies, Peter was still in the court-yard warming himself at the fire. A woman, who was a serving-maid in the house, looked at Peter sharply, and finally said to him:
"You were one of those men with this Jesus of Nazareth!"
Peter was afraid to tell the truth, and he answered her:
"Woman, I do not know the man; and I do not know what you are talking about."
And to get away from her, he went out into the porch of the house. There another woman-servant saw him and said: "This man was one of those with Jesus!"
And Peter swore with an oath that he did not know Jesus at all. Soon a man came by, who was of kin to Malchus, whose ear Peter had cut off. He looked at Peter, and heard him speak, and said:
"You are surely one of this man's disciples; for your speech shows that you came from Galilee."
Then Peter began again to curse and to swear, declaring that he did not know the man.
Just at that moment the loud, shrill crowing of a cock startled Peter; and at the same time he saw Jesus, who was being dragged through the hall from Annas to the council-room of Caiphas, the other high-priest. And the Lord turned as he was passing and looked at Peter.
Then there flashed into Peter's mind what Jesus had said on the evening before!
"Before the cock crows to-morrow morning, you will three times deny that you have ever known me."
Then Peter went out of the high-priest's house into the street; and he wept bitterly because he had denied his Lord.
THE STORY OF THE EMPTY TOMB
After Jesus was taken before the high-priest where he was ridiculed and the people spat upon him, he was taken before the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, who ruled over Judea. He heard their complaints, but did not find any cause for putting him to death. But at last he yielded to their demands, although he declared Jesus was innocent of all wrong.
He heard their complaints
And so Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, gave command that Jesus should die by the cross. The Roman soldiers then took Jesus and beat him most cruelly; and then led him out of the city to the place of death. This was a place called "Golgotha" in the Jewish language, "Calvary" in that of the Romans; both words meaning "The Skull Place."
With the soldiers, went out of the city a great crowd of people; some of them enemies of Jesus, glad to see him suffer; others of them friends of Jesus, and the women who had helped him, now weeping as they saw him, all covered with his blood and going out to die. But Jesus turned to them and said:
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are coming when they shall count those happy who have no little ones to be slain; when they shall wish that the mountain might fall on them, and the hills might cover them, and hide them from their enemies!"
They had tried to make Jesus bear his own cross, but soon found that he was too weak from his sufferings, and could not carry it. They seized on a man who was coming out of the country into the city, a man named Simon, and they made him carry the cross to its place at Calvary.
It was the custom among the Jews to give to men about to die by the cross some medicine to deaden their feelings, so that they would not suffer so greatly. They offered this to Jesus, but when he had tasted it and found what it was, he would not take it. He knew that he would die, but he wished to have his mind clear, and to understand what was done and what was said, even though his sufferings might be greater.
At the place Calvary, they laid the cross down, and stretched Jesus upon it, and drove nails through his hands and feet to fasten him to the cross; and then they stood it upright with Jesus upon it. While the soldiers were doing this dreadful work, Jesus prayed for them to God, saying: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they are doing."
The soldiers also took the clothes that Jesus had worn, giving to each one a garment. But when they came to his undergarment, they found that it was woven and had no seams; so they said, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to see who shall have it." So at the foot of the cross the soldiers threw lots for the garment of Christ.
Two men who had been robbers and had been sentenced to die by the cross, were led out to die at the same time with Jesus. One was placed on a cross at his right side, and the other at his left; and to make Jesus appear as the worst, his cross stood in the middle. Over the head of Jesus on his cross, they placed, by Pilate's order, a sign, on which was written:
"This is Jesus of Nazareth,
The King of the Jews."
This was written in three languages; in Hebrew, which was the language of the Jews; in Latin, the language of the Romans, and in Greek. Many of the people read this writing; but the chief priests were not pleased with it. They urged Pilate to have it changed from "The King of the Jews" to "He said, I am King of the Jews." But Pilate would not change it. He said:
"What I have written, I have written."
And the people who passed by on the road, as they looked at Jesus on the cross, mocked at him. Some called out to him:
"You that would destroy the Temple and build it in three days, save yourself. If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!"
And the priests and scribes said:
"He saved others, but he cannot save himself. Come down from the cross, and we will believe in you!"
And one of the robbers, who was on his own cross beside that of Jesus, joined in the cry, and said: "If you are the Christ, save yourself and save us!"
But the other robber said to him: "Have you no fear of God, to speak thus, while you are suffering the same fate with this man? And we deserve to die, but this man has done nothing wrong."
Then this man said to Jesus: "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom!"
And Jesus answered him, as they were both hanging on their crosses: "To-day you shall be with me in heaven."
Before the cross of Jesus his mother was standing, filled with sorrow for her son, and beside her was one of his disciples, John, the disciple whom he loved best. Other women besides his mother were there—his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and a woman named Mary Magdalene, out of whom a year before Jesus had sent an evil spirit. Jesus wished to give his mother, now that he was leaving her, into the care of John, and he said to her, as he looked from her to John: "Woman, see your son."
And then to John he said: "Son, see your mother."
And on that day John took the mother of Jesus home to his own house, and cared for her as his own mother.
At about noon, a sudden darkness came over the land, and lasted for three hours. And in the middle of the afternoon, when Jesus had been on the cross six hours of terrible pain, he cried out aloud words which meant:
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" words which are the beginning of the twenty-second psalm, a psalm which long before had spoken of many of Christ's sufferings.
After this he spoke again, saying, "I thirst!"
And some one dipped a sponge in a cup of vinegar, and put it upon a reed, and gave him a drink of it. Then Jesus spoke his last words upon the cross:
"It is finished! Father, into thy hands I give my spirit!"
And then Jesus died. And at that moment, the veil in the Temple between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, was torn apart by unseen hands from the top to the bottom. And when the Roman officer, who had charge of the soldiers around the cross, saw what had taken place, and how Jesus died, he said: "Surely this was a righteous man; he was the Son of God."
After Jesus was dead, one of the soldiers, to be sure that he was no longer living, ran his spear into the side of his dead body; and out of the wound came pouring both water and blood.
There were even among the rulers of the Jews a few who were friends of Jesus, though they did not dare to follow Jesus openly. One of these was Nicodemus, the ruler who came to see Jesus at night. Another was a rich man who came from the town of Arimathea, and was named Joseph. Joseph of Arimathea went boldly in to Pilate, and asked that the body of Jesus might be given to him. Pilate wondered that he had died so soon, for often men lived on the cross two or three days. But when he found that Jesus was really dead, he gave his body to Joseph.
Then Joseph and his friends took down the body of Jesus from the cross, and wrapped it in fine linen. And Nicodemus brought some precious spices, myrrh and aloes, which they wrapped up with the body. Then they placed the body in Joseph's own new tomb, which was a cave dug out of the rock, in a garden near the place of the cross. And before the opening of the cave they rolled a great stone.
And Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, and some other women, saw the tomb, and watched while they laid the body of Jesus in it. On the next morning, some of the rulers of the Jews came to Pilate, and said:
"Sir, we remember that that man Jesus of Nazareth, who deceived the people, said while he was yet alive, 'After three days I will rise again.' Give orders that the tomb shall be watched and made sure for three days, or else his disciples may steal his body, and then say, 'He is risen from the dead'; and thus even after his death he may do more harm than he did while he was alive."
Pilate said to them:
"Set a watch, and make it as sure as you can."
Then they placed a seal upon the stone, so that no one might break it; and they set a watch of soldiers at the door.
And in the tomb the body of Jesus lay from the evening of Friday, the day when he died on the cross, to the dawn of Sunday, the first day of the week, when he arose from the dead and appeared unto his disciples.
But the brightest day in all the world was this Sunday morning. For on that day the stone was rolled away from the tomb and Jesus came forth from the dead to gladden his disciples. This he had told them he would do. On this Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and another Mary, called Salome, came to the tomb, found the stone rolled away and an angel standing by the open tomb. He told them that Jesus was not there, but had risen.
Afterward Jesus was with his disciples for forty days, after which he was taken up into heaven.
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