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Jesus of Nazareth (1977)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Synopsis of the final part of the four-episode version, first tx. 3/4/1988.

The Jewish elders meet to discuss Jesus' recent disruption of the activities at the temple. Although Nicodemus and Joseph of Aramathea defend him, Caiaphas insists that he must be brought before them to answer to his blasphemous claim to be the Messiah. Zerah contacts Judas and convinces him that the only way to be certain if Jesus really is the Messiah is if he is brought to the Sanhedrin to speak to Caiaphas and the elders.

Jesus and his disciples celebrate the Passover. He tells that soon he will have to leave them and when Peter remonstrates, says that he will deny having known Jesus that same night before the cock crows. Jesus tells them that they will all lose faith, but that once they have recovered they will continue their work, except the one who will betray him. Jesus tells John that Judas will be the one to betray him. Judas leaves. During their last supper, Jesus tells them that if they eat his bread and drink his wine it will be as if it were his flesh and blood and they will all be united.

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus accepts that God's will must be done. Judas arrives with the Temple guards. Jesus comes to meets him and lets Judas identify him with a kiss. Judas goes to see Zerah, asking to be present when Caiaphas speaks to Jesus. Zerah tells him that this won't be possible as Jesus is on trial for blasphemy. He gives Judas his payment for helping him. Joseph and Nicodemus try to defend Jesus, but when he repeats that he is the Messiah, Caiaphas condemns him. The crowd turns on Jesus and, in fear, Peter denies having known him. In despair at what he has done, Judas hangs himself.

Pontius Pilate returns, furious at the agitation among the people caused by Barabbas's followers. He goes to speak to the delegation from the Sanhedrin. He sees no harm in Jesus and orders that he be flogged instead. A Roman soldier makes a crown of thorns and puts it on Jesus' head. Pontius Pilate is unable to solicit an answer from Jesus to any of his questions. He decides that in honour of Passover he will let the people decide whether Barabbas or Jesus should be released. Barabbas's men go through the crowd to make sure that Jesus is not the one chosen to be set free. Mary Magdalene is struck by an agitator in the crowd for asking that Jesus be released instead. Jesus is condemned.

Jesus is tied to a cross piece and marched to Golgotha to be crucified, surrounded both by those who believe he is the Messiah and those who think him a traitor. Jesus is nailed to the cross and asks God to forgive his enemies. Jesus' mother Mary arrives and is let through by a sympathetic Roman officer. When Mary Magdalene arrives, Mary lets her through as one of the family. High Priests arrive and see that Jesus is quoting from the scriptures. Nicodemus sees that in Jesus' death is the possibility of a rebirth for his people. Jesus utters "It is accomplished" and dies. A rainstorm begins and the woman prostrate themselves in grief as the body of Jesus is brought down from the cross.

Zerah insists that a Roman guard be placed to make sure that Jesus' body not be removed, but when Mary Magdalene comes three days later, the body is gone. She goes to see the disciples and initially they refuse to believe her. Thomas asks all the apostles if they believe the story. But then Peter shows them that everything has happened exactly as Jesus had said it would and says that he believes. Zerah goes to the tomb and realises that Jesus is more of a danger to him now than ever before. Jesus tells his disciples that they must now go out in the world and spread his word. He promises to be with them throughout eternity.