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Celebrating Easter at The Holiday Zone -- He is not here, for He is risen as He said!

The Crucifixion: A Reporter's View
(Upper Intermediate Reading Comprehension Exercise)
Used with permission.

Note: The following exercise, based on the biblical account of the crucifixion, is written from a reporter's perspective. Its primary purpose is to emphasize the six questions addressed in effective writing: who, what, when, where, why, and how.

The air has a strange stillness. There is no wind. No birds sing, and an unusual odor fills the air. A man who only days ago was hailed as a king will today die a lonely death as a traitor and a heretic. This morning Jesus of Nazareth will be executed. The people chose a thief and murderer for freedom, screaming for the death of this teacher from Galilee.

The soldiers are business-like. They have carried out their task with the same grim determination of other crucifixions. They forced Jesus to drag His cross through the streets. This tired, weakened man collapsed several times until, finally, the guards forced a black man, a slave perhaps, to carry the heavy cross beam. Still, Jesus could barely walk to the hill known as "Golgatha," the place of the skull.

The disciples, that loosely knit band of twelve men, have mostly disappeared since his arrest. One young disciple named John stands beside the preacher's mother. She finds some comfort in his quiet presence. The widow will soon loose her oldest son. Her grief is obvious, but under control.

The Jewish religious leaders have all gathered to watch the execution. They want to see the death of this man who has been a thorn in their flesh for the last three years.

I can hear the sound of the hammers driving nails into the hands and feet of those who are to die. I can hear the screams from the two thieves scheduled to die with Jesus. The screams become even louder as the crosses and their victims are erected, then roughly driven into the ground, cruelly ripping skin and muscle tissue.

The morning light has all but disappeared, giving way to a strange darkness. Lightening streaks across the sky. The thunder sounds almost like God talking.

The ground is shaking! I can feel the rise and fall of the earth as an earthquake shakes the area. It is so quiet I can hear the sounds of the horses breathing in the corral five hundred meters away. The sobs from the preacher's mother fill my ears.

When the dying preacher sees his mother there with his disciple, he says to her, "Dear woman, here is your son." Then, to the disciple he says, "Here is your mother." The young disciple promises to care for her.

Jesus cries in a loud voice. Lightening flashes. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit! It is finished" he shouts. Strangely, this shout sounds far more like that of a warrior declaring victory over the enemy than that of a condemned prisoner breathing his last breath.

Immediately, Jesus bows his head. His breathing has stopped. He is dead, only three hours after the start of all this. This is the strangest crucifixion I've ever covered. Even the guards recognize it. One just told me, "Truly, this man the Son of God." Today, did God's Son die in this lonely place of death? Only time will tell.


Do you know what these words mean? If not, look them up in an English dictionary, or click here to look them up online.

arrest               comfort               condemn

criminal            crucifixion          determination

disciple           earthquake           execution

grief                 grim                      heretic

preacher          sobs                      traitor


Sentence Completion I

Use the vocabulary words to complete the sentences below.
  1. The Jewish religious leaders claimed that the preacher was a _______________ and a _______________.
  2. The preacher was sentenced to death by ______________________.
  3. Most of his _______________ left him and hid when he was arrested.
  4. His mother _______________ as she watches her son die.
  5. An ___________________ shook the ground.

Sentence Completion II

Use the vocabulary words to complete the sentences below.
  1. The ____________________ was sent to prison for stealing cars.
  2. The mother _________________ her crying baby.
  3. Crucifixion was an ancient means of _____________________.
  4. The boy's ____________________ helped him complete the difficult assignment.
  5. We cheered when our soccer team won the __________________ in the championship.

Reading Comprehension

  1. Who was to be executed?
  2. Who wanted him to be executed? Why?
  3. Where were his disciples?
  4. How would he be put to death?
  5. What happened after he was crucified?
  6. What were his "last words"?
  7. When did he die?

Discussion Questions

  1. Who is the central person in this account?
  2. Who else is involved?
  3. What role does each person play?
  4. What is happening?
  5. When is it happening?
  6. Why is it happening?
  7. How is it happening?

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