3 The triune God

161 What events followed Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem?


Jesus cleansed the temple by driving out the merchants and money changers. Thereby He made it clear that the temple, the house of God, is holy, and not a place for conducting business. In Bethany Jesus was anointed with costly oil of spikenard. This transpired in accordance with His own words foreshadowing His impending death, as the dead were often anointed with precious oils in those days (cf. Mark 14: 8).

Jesus had many enemies among the Pharisees and Sadducees, which included the chief priests. They plotted to kill Him, and so His situation became more and more menacing.

Oil of spikenard: spikenard is a plant that grows in the area of the Himalayas (e.g. India, Bhutan, and Nepal). A fragrant juice was extracted from its roots, which was mixed with anointing oil. Spikenard was already exported to the Mediterranean region in ancient times. Because it came from so far away, it was also very expensive. Pharisees and Sadducees were representatives of the best known religious groups in Judaism at the time of Jesus’ activity on earth.
The Pharisees strove to observe the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law very strictly in order to thereby gain merit before God through works. This kind of devotion to God is often criticised in the gospels since it can lead to self-righteousness and hypocrisy. It was from the Pharisees that modern Judaism developed.


The Sadducees rejected any belief in angels or the resurrection of the dead. Their ranks primarily included the affluent levels of the population, as well as the priests of the temple in Jerusalem. After the destruction of the temple, the Sadducean school of Judaism was dissolved.

In addition to the Pharisees and Sadducees, there were also the Essenes, a third group within ancient Judaism.

162 Who betrayed Jesus Christ?


One of the twelve Apostles, Judas Iscariot, visited Jesus’ enemies prior to the Passover feast. “Then [...] Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’” (Matthew 26: 14-16). These men offered him 30 pieces of silver. This was the amount that was generally paid for a slave. Thereby a prophecy of Prophet Zechariah was fulfilled (cf. Zechariah 11: 12-13): the Lord was, so to speak, placed on the same level as a slave (cf. Exodus 21: 32).

“Then I said to them, ‘If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.’ So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter.” Zechariah 11: 12-13

163 How did Jesus institute Holy Communion?


Jesus was together with the twelve Apostles and celebrated the feast of Passover with them. Judas Iscariot, who had previously visited Jesus’ enemies in order to betray Him, was thus also present. As they sat together at the table, the Lord instituted Holy Communion:

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26: 26-28).

During this meal Jesus identified His betrayer, Judas Iscariot. After this the latter left their fellowship. He went away “and it was night” (John 13: 30).


Holy Communion: see Questions 494→ et seq.

164 What happened in the Garden of Gethsemane?


After the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane with the eleven remaining Apostles. The human nature of the Son of God became evident in His dread over the impending crucifixion. In humbleness He knelt down and wrestled in prayer: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22: 42). Jesus thus subjected Himself completely to His Father’s will—He was prepared to bring the sacrifice. After this an angel appeared and strengthened Him (cf. Luke 22: 43), but the Apostles were sleeping. Shortly thereafter, Jesus was arrested.

165 How did the arrest of Jesus occur?


While Jesus was asking the Apostles to watch with Him, a large group of armed soldiers sent by the chief priests arrived. Judas Iscariot led them to Jesus and betrayed Him with a kiss: “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him” (Matthew 26: 48).

“Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26: 40-41

166 How did the Apostles behave?


To protect Jesus, Simon Peter drew the sword and cut off the ear of the servant of one of the chief priests (cf. John 18: 10). Jesus, however, held him back and healed the servant.

Jesus did not make use of His divine power, but allowed Himself to be arrested. Thereupon the Apostles left Him and fled.

Later that same night, when Simon Peter was accused of being a disciple of Jesus, He denied it. He denied the Lord three times.

“Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee.’ But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you are saying.’And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, ‘This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ But again he denied with an oath, ‘I do not know the Man!’And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.’ Then he began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man!’ Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26: 69-75

167 Did Jesus later reproach the Apostles for their behaviour?


No. Jesus even knew the human weaknesses of His Apostles, but He did not reproach them for these. After His resurrection, He came to them with a greeting of peace.

168 What happened after Jesus’ arrest?


The high council, the chief priests and scribes, accused Jesus of blasphemy and condemned Him to death. The fact that He claimed to be the Son of God was interpreted as blasphemy.

169 What did Judas Iscariot do after Jesus’ sentencing?


After Jesus had been condemned to death, Judas Iscariot regretted his betrayal and brought the 30 pieces of silver back to the chief priests. These men no longer wanted anything to do with him. He threw the money into the temple, then went out and hanged himself (cf. Matthew 27: 1-5).

170 How did Jesus fare before Pilate and Herod?


After Jesus had been condemned by the high council—the highest authority in Judea—He was given a hearing before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. The latter was responsible for the area since the Jews were under Roman rule at the time.

Pilate saw no fault in Jesus and thus sent Him to Herod (who was surnamed Antipas), the king of the Jews. Since the Jews were forbidden by the Romans to carry out a death sentence, Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. The latter had Jesus scourged. The people demanded Jesus’ crucifixion and accused Him of having exalted Himself over the Roman emperor as the “King of the Jews”. This offence was punishable by death (cf. John 19: 12).

Pilate thought he knew a way to grant Jesus His freedom: since it was customary for one convicted individual to be pardoned at the Passover feast, the people were to decide whether Jesus or the criminal Barabbas should be released. Stirred up by the chief priests and elders, the people chose Barabbas. In order to bring to expression that he was not responsible for what was to follow, Pilate washed his hands before the people and said: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person...” (Matthew 27: 24). He had Jesus scourged once again and then turned Him over to the soldiers for crucifixion.

Jesus’ birth occurred during the rule of Herod I. When Jesus was led before Pontius Pilate, Herod Antipas, the son of Herod I, reigned in Galilee.

Scourging was a means of corporal punishment and torture in antiquity, by way of which a person would be struck with whips, rods, or canes by his tormenters. The gospels tell of the scourging of Jesus, while the Acts of the Apostles record the occasions on which the Apostles had to endure scourging.

171 How did Jesus conduct Himself in His sufferings?


Jesus endured all the mistreatment, humiliation, and mocking to which He was subjected. When a crown of thorns was placed upon His head in derision, He endured this with holy dignity.

172 Where did Jesus’ suffering end?


Jesus was nailed to the cross on Golgotha. Two criminals were crucified along with Him. The cross of Jesus stood between theirs. Here the words of Isaiah 53: 12, namely that the Lord would be numbered with the transgressors, were fulfilled. In other words, He was treated like a criminal. The heavy sufferings of Jesus ultimately led to a cruel death struggle before He finally died, hours later.

Crucifixion was a mode of execution commonly practised in antiquity, by way of which the condemned would intentionally die a slow and tortured death. For this he was either bound or nailed to an upright post, with or without a cross beam.

173 Who is to blame for the death of Jesus?


On account of the Roman governor’s involvement, the conviction and execution of Jesus was no longer only a matter concerning the Jews: Gentiles had also shared in it.


All human beings of all time periods are sinners and charge themselves with guilt. Jesus died for the sins of all mankind. For this reason, all human beings also ultimately bear the blame for Jesus death.

174 What were the last words of Jesus on the cross?


Traditionally, the final words of Jesus, which are recorded variously in the gospels, are arranged in the following sequence:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23: 34).

Jesus interceded for all those who had brought Him to the cross and who were unaware of the scope of their actions.

Here the commandment to love one’s enemies was fulfilled in unparalleled fashion (cf. Matthew 5: 44-45, 48).


“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23: 43).

Jesus addressed these words to the remorseful criminal who had asked Him for grace and professed Him as Saviour. Here “Paradise” was understood to be the dwelling place of the devout and righteous in the beyond.

“Woman, behold your son!”—“Behold your mother!” (John 19: 26-27).

Jesus entrusted His mother Mary to the care of Apostle John. This demonstrates the love and care of Christ, who still took care of the needs of others, despite His own need.

In Christian tradition, Mary is interpreted as a symbol of the church. This church was thus commended to the care of the Apostle ministry, represented here by John.

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15: 34).

When death is near, devout Jews address these words from Psalm 22 to God. On one hand, they thereby lament the feeling of God’s distance, but on the other hand also profess their faith in His power and grace. Jesus likewise made use of this statement, which was commonly used by those in mortal agony.


“I thirst” (John 19: 28).

In His death struggle Jesus was thirsty and thus wanted something to drink. These words are associated with Psalm 69: 21: “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink”. This is interpreted to mean that Jesus had to drink the “cup of suffering” in its entirety, in other words, that He had to suffer until the end.


“It is finished!” (John 19: 30).

It was about the ninth hour, which is in the early afternoon, that these words were spoken. Jesus had brought the sacrifice for the redemption of mankind.

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23: 46).

This makes it clear that, even in the moment of death, Jesus Christ fully trusted in His Father.

175 What events accompanied the crucifixion of the Lord?


When Jesus died on the cross, the earth shook and rocks were split. The veil of the temple, which separated the holiest space (“the Most Holy Place”) from the rest of the temple, was torn in two. This signified that the Old Testament’s sacrificial service was no longer necessary, owing to the death of Christ. His sacrifice opened the way to God.

When the Roman captain and the soldiers guarding Jesus on the cross felt the earth shake, they cried out: “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27: 54). Thereby even the Gentiles professed that Jesus is the Son of God.

Old covenant/new covenant: On Mount Sinai, God made a covenant with the people of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The mark of the old covenant was circumcision. The old covenant also includes the Mosaic Law, in which the will of God comes to expression. The new covenant was established with Jesus’ sacrificial death. This new covenant no longer applies to the Jews alone, but to all human beings. Anyone can share in the new covenant through baptism with water.

176 What happened to the body of Jesus?


Joseph of Arimathea, who was part of the high council, asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, because he wanted to put Him into a tomb. Together with Nicodemus, who had gone to the Lord one night and been taught by Him (cf. John 3: 1-2), he brought the body of Jesus into a tomb that had never been used before, which had been hewn from the rock. A stone was rolled in front of the tomb. The chief priests had the tomb guarded by soldiers to prevent the disciples from taking the body away.

“On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, “He has risen from the dead.” So the last deception will be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.” Matthew 27: 62-66

177 To what purpose did Jesus have to suffer and die?


God, the Son, became human in Jesus and came into the world in order to take the sins of mankind upon Himself. He brought the sacrifice by His own free will in divine love in order to deliver mankind from death. The power of sin is great, but the power of divine love, which is demonstrated by the fact that Jesus Christ surrendered His life, is even stronger.


Deliverance from spiritual death / Redemption: see Questions 89→, -90→108→, 109→215→, 216→

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15: 13

178 What significance does the suffering and death of Jesus thus hold for mankind?


The sacrificial death of Jesus is the foundation of a new relationship between mankind and God. Sinful man can now find his way back to God.

179 Does the Old Testament make reference to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ?


Yes. Isaiah 53: 3-5 describes a suffering servant of God who is abased. There it says: “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief [...] Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows [...]. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” These are references to the suffering of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death.

180 Did Jesus Himself give make any reference to His suffering and death?


Yes, Jesus made many references to His suffering and death, but also to His resurrection. After Peter had told Him: “[You are] the Christ of God”, Jesus made reference to His impending suffering and death: “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Luke 9: 22).

Jesus spoke similar words following the events on the Mount of Transfiguration: “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day” (Mark 9: 31).

Before His entry into Jerusalem He told His Apostles: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again” (Matthew 20: 18-19).

When He spoke to the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus stated that He would resurrect after three days. Here he recalled the story of the Prophet Jonah: “For as Jonah was three days in and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12: 40).

181 What do the letters of the Apostles have to say about the sacrificial death of Jesus?


The significance of Jesus’ sacrificial death is described as follows in 2 Corinthians 5: 19: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” In 1 John 3: 16 it says: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.”

In his arguments with heretics who sought to deny the humanity of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, Apostle Paul made it clear “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15: 3-4).

182 What does the cross signify?


The cross of Christ is a sign that God has reconciled sinful mankind to Himself. In the ancient world, crucifixion was an expression of defeat: a shameful end for a despised person who had been cast out of human society. In the case of Jesus, however, this apparent defeat is a victory: through His death on the cross, He has achieved a work of salvation beyond compare.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1: 18

183 What happened after Jesus died?


After Jesus Christ had died, He entered the realm of the dead. In 1 Peter 3: 18-20 it says that, after His death, the Son of God preached to those who had been disobedient to God in the time of Noah. He did this in order to offer salvation: “For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4: 6).

Just as the Son of God had turned to sinners on earth, so He now turned to the dead. Since He brought His sacrifice, salvation has also been possible for the dead.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.” 1 Peter 3: 18-20

184 By what power did Jesus Christ resurrect?


The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an act of the triune God:

  • On the one hand, the power of God, the Father, is revealed in that He raised Jesus from the dead: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree” (Acts 5: 30).
  • On the other hand, the words of God, the Son, were fulfilled: “I have power to lay it [My life] down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10: 18).
  • Finally, the activity of God, the Holy Spirit, is also attested: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8: 11).


The power of God over death is shown by the fact that Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead.

185 Are there any witnesses to the resurrection of Christ?


The resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred without any human witness to the event. Nevertheless, the resurrection of the Son of God is attested in many places in Holy Scripture. One such testimony is the empty tomb. Other evidence includes the various appearances of the Risen One over the 40 days between His resurrection and ascension: these are specifically named individuals to whom He showed Himself and who recognised Him.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not wishful thinking on the part of His followers, but a real event. It did indeed occur.

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the Apostles.” 1 Corinthians 15: 3-7

186 What significance does the resurrection of Christ hold for mankind?


Jesus Christ is risen. As a result, believers have justified hope in their own resurrection and eternal life: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15: 20-22).

Belief in the resurrection of Jesus is necessary because His resurrection shows that Jesus is the Saviour of the world (cf. 1 Corinthians 15: 14).


Saviour: see Question 108→, also 110→ et seq.

187 What appearances of the Risen One are attested in the New Testament?


The risen Jesus appeared to His disciples on several occasions. Following are some examples:

Mary of Magdala and other women were the first witnesses of the Risen One. “And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying ‘Rejoice!’ So they came and held Him by the feet and worshipped Him” (Matthew 28: 9).

Though unrecognised by them at first, the Risen One accompanied the disciples who were travelling to the village of Emmaus. He explained the Scriptures to them and finally broke bread with them, after which they recognised Him (cf. Luke 24: 13-35).

On the evening of His resurrection Jesus appeared in the midst of His disciples. As the Risen One and Lord over death and sin He gave the Apostles authority to make the forgiveness of sins accessible to mankind: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 19-23).

On another occasion the Lord appeared to some of the disciples on the Sea of Tiberias and gave Apostle Peter the commission to “tend” the “lambs and sheep of Christ”—in other words, to care for all the members of the church (Petrine Office; cf. John 21: 15-17).

The Risen Lord also showed Himself to His Apostles “by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1: 3).

In 1 Corinthians 15: 6, Apostle Paul mentions that the risen Jesus was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once.


Forgiveness of sins: see explanation of Question 415→, Questions 644→ et seq. Office of Peter: see Question 457→ and explanation of Question 457→

“But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’ Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, ‘Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher).” John 20: 11-16