Eerily silent Paris CDG marks Easter without air travel rush

By Tim Hepher and Christian Hartmann

PARIS (Reuters) – Easter at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport typically starts two weeks early as extra staff are trained to cope with one of the busiest weekends of the year. On Friday, an eerie calm pervaded Europe’s largest airport as France slides back into lockdown.

Instead of crowded check-ins and relentless take-offs and landings, rows of unused trolleys and redundant queuing barriers greeted visitors to one of the world’s busiest transport hubs.

“It’s nothing like what you would normally see,” said Amor, who has worked at the airport for 20 years, organizing check-in zones and passenger assistance for an airport sub-contractor.

“The airport would be full of people going to Turkey, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt for the spring holidays. We handled a Tunisia flight yesterday and there were 80 people,” he said. Air France typically serves Tunis with 150-seat jets.

Charles de Gaulle on Thursday handled 18.1% of the number of passengers seen on the same day in 2019, Aeroports de Paris said.

Adjusting for different dates for Easter, throughput on the few open concourses is closer to 20-25% of a usual Easter.

The enforced lull is more striking given that the airport’s 11 terminals have been condensed into two during the pandemic, though some were already closed for maintenance.

Terminal 2E, usually used by Air France and partners for U.S. flights, is handling all long-range traffic, throwing competing carriers from across the globe into a shared space.

A dedicated check-in zone for business class – worst hit by the coronavirus travel crisis – has been suspended and a large COVID-19 testing area takes up one end of the vast hall.

Europe’s border-free Schengen area is served opposite at 2F.

JOBS AT RISK

Charles de Gaulle airport, built in wheat fields northeast of Paris, has seen explosive growth since the first jumbo touched down from New York in 1974.

Terminal 2 opened in 1982 as a hub for Air France, with its undulating modular design shortening the time from gate to curb.

The original 2B was closed for repairs before the crisis but much of the rest of the Terminal 2 complex has been transformed from a snarl of traffic jams to a bowl of deserted concrete.

The global travel slump has cast a shadow over the local economy where 100,000 people work at Charles de Gaulle, a major employer in the capital’s depressed northern suburbs.

Airport staff say less than half of those people are actively working this Easter, with the rest on furlough or finding that the usual temporary jobs have not materialized.

Up to 30,000 jobs could disappear for good, the deputy head of Paris CDG Alliance, which groups the airport’s largest employers and regional government agencies, told Le Monde newspaper.

That contrasts with crowded scenes observed this week in China and the United States, two fast-recovering markets.

On Thursday, the U.S. screened 1.56 million air travelers, 65% of the comparable 2019 level, official data showed.

In Europe, progress in pushing back a third wave of coronavirus infections has been widely described as patchy. On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron ordered France into its third national lockdown.

With Easter already a wash-out, the airline industry is fretting over bookings for summer. Experts say a second lost summer would threaten more bankruptcies..

The drop in passenger numbers means fewer staff from security to cleaners and wheel-chair attendants. Check-in for one Gulf airline now uses 4 agents per flight rather than 7.

Inconsistent border rules for dealing with the pandemic further complicate the planning.

“For Denmark and Sweden we have to have 5-6 agents to check the paperwork rather than the normal two,” one employee said.

On the airport’s most southerly runway, the morning wave of long-haul jets continued to arrive on Friday from as far away as Buenos Aires, Taipei or Douala. But industry statistics show such international flights are much emptier than usual.

International travel is expected to lag short-haul trips in any eventual recovery, hobbled by a video-conferencing craze.

“Zoom is doing well,” said an airline employee who specializes in looking after premium customers.

Still, some export-dependent companies are beginning to test the water, fearing Russian, Chinese or U.S. competition.

“We have to start moving again and keep doing business,” said Marc Vacher, a production executive at French energy services company Idex, arriving early for a flight to Ukraine.

“You can’t go without face-to-face contact with customers; otherwise, it is harder to catch up later,” he added.

(Additional reporting by Laurence Frost, Tracy Rucinski, David Shepardson; editing by Barbara Lewis)

Ontario ‘pulling the emergency brake’ with third COVID-19 lockdown as cases rise, ICU beds fill

By Allison Martell and Moira Warburton

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian province of Ontario will enter a limited lockdown for 28 days on Saturday, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise and more dangerous virus variants take hold, the premier said on Thursday.

The lockdown for Canada’s most populous province will fall short of enacting a stay-at-home order, which new government modeling released earlier on Thursday suggested would be necessary to avoid a doubling to some 6,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by late April.

Ontario’s third lockdown since the pandemic began will shutter all indoor and outdoor dining, although retailers will remain open with capacity limits, Premier Doug Ford said, calling the measures “pulling the emergency brake” on the entire province.

“We’re now fighting a new enemy,” Ford said. “The new variants are far more dangerous than before. They spread faster and they do more harm than the virus we were fighting last year… That means we need to take action now.”

Schools would remain open, Ontario’s education minister said on Twitter.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) panned the lockdown measures, calling it “unconscionable” for the government to “continue to rely almost exclusively on blanket lockdowns” for controlling cases. It said the new measures were making small businesses “a scapegoat for the Ontario government’s lack of planning or foresight.”

Earlier on Thursday, new modeling released by an expert panel advising the provincial government predicted that new cases of COVID-19 would double unless the government imposes a stay at home order.

The report suggested a two- or four-week stay at home order imposed on April 5 could reverse the rise in new infections.

The new model came as more than 150 critical care doctors published a letter urging Ontario to act to halt a wave of infections there.

“We are seeing younger patients on ventilators – many are parents of school-aged children,” the letter said. “We are seeing entire families end up in our ICUs. We are caring for people who have contracted COVID-19 at work, or who have followed all the rules and only gone out for groceries.”

As new, more contagious and deadly coronavirus variants spread across the province, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units has reached 464, higher than at the peak of the last wave, said Ontario Chief Medical Officer David Williams at a media briefing.

Data confirms that current seriously ill patients are younger with 46% of ICU admissions between March 15 and March 21 under age 60, up from 30% during a December surge, according to the expert panel.

And vaccination rates are lower in neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID-19. In areas with the highest incidence of infection, about 8% of residents have received the vaccine, compared with 13% in areas with the lowest incidence.

Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief medical officer, said he was particularly concerned about the potential for COVID-19 to spread as people gather for Easter this weekend.

“We have seen in the past a spike in cases following a long weekend,” he told a briefing in Ottawa on Thursday. “We’re very worried and really I would implore all Canadians … to stay home.”

(Reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto and Moira Warburton in Vancouver; additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Franklin Paul and Bill Berkrot)

Merkel appeals to Germans to stay home for Easter to stem pandemic third wave

By Emma Thomasson

BERLIN (Reuters) -Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to Germans on Thursday to stay at home over Easter and meet fewer people to help curb a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, as the capital Berlin announced a nighttime ban on gatherings from Friday.

“It should be a quiet Easter, with those closest to you, with very reduced contact. I urge you to refrain from all non-essential travel,” Merkel said in a video message, adding this was the only way to help doctors and nurses fight the virus.

Merkel was accused of losing her grip on the COVID-19 crisis last week after she ditched plans for an extended Easter holiday agreed two days earlier with governors of Germany’s 16 states.

She has since tried to shift the blame for the third wave of the pandemic onto state premiers, accusing them of failing to stick to earlier agreements to reimpose restrictions if infections rose.

On Thursday, the city government of Berlin said it will impose a nighttime ban on gatherings from Friday and only allow children of essential workers to attend nursery from next week.

As the weather has turned warm in recent days, Berliners have been flocking to public spaces. About a hundred youngsters threw bottles and stones at police in one park on Wednesday when they tried to break up the party, the Berliner Zeitung reported.

Merkel said it was no longer the elderly who were fighting for their lives in the pandemic, but the middle-aged and even younger patients who were ending up on ventilators in hospital.

She held out hope, however, that the sluggish distribution of vaccinations would speed up after Easter, when family doctors will start giving shots.

Christian Karagiannidis, the scientific head of the DIVI association for intensive and emergency medicine, said Germany needs a two-week lockdown, faster vaccinations and compulsory tests at schools if hospitals are not to be overwhelmed.

“If this rate continues, we will reach the regular capacity limit in less than four weeks,” he told the Rheinische Post daily. “We are not over-exaggerating. Our warnings are driven by the figures.”

The Berlin city government said people would only be allowed to be outside on their own or with one other person from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m., though children under 14 are exempted.

This will be the first limited curfew imposed in Berlin since the pandemic began a year ago. The city of Hamburg already announced on Wednesday it will restrict nighttime outings from Friday, with supermarkets and takeaways shut from 9 p.m.

Unlike Britain and France, Germany’s 16 states, which run their own healthcare and security affairs, have been reluctant to impose drastic limits on movement out of fear of further damaging the economy, as well as an aversion to far-reaching restrictions on freedoms in a country wary of its Nazi past.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, Europe’s most populous country and largest economy, rose 24,300 to 2.833 million on Thursday, the biggest daily increase since Jan. 14. The reported death toll rose by 201 to 76,543.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, editing by William Maclean and Mark Heinrich)

Hungary to reopen only once past 25% vaccination milestone

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – A record rise in coronavirus infections and deaths keeps Hungary from loosening lockdown measures, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday before his government discussed plans to reopen the economy.

Partial reopening may begin after Easter, once a quarter of the population is vaccinated, the government decided, a senior Orban aide said.

Hospitals are under “extraordinary” pressure in Hungary, a hot spot as the pandemic hits Central Europe especially hard.

Orban, who faces elections in 2022, is balancing the world’s highest daily per-capita coronavirus death rates, according to Johns Hopkins University, with a need to open the economy to avoid a second year of deep recession.

“The next 1-2 weeks will be hard,” Orban told state radio.

Hungary reported a record high daily tally of 275 COVID-19 deaths and 11,265 new infections on Friday. Hospitalizations and people on ventilators are also at an all-time high with doctors comparing the situation to the global pandemic’s worst days.

The premier’s chief of staff said in a televised statement that the government considered business groups’ proposals and decided to wait until first vaccinations reach at least 2.5 million of the country’s 10 million people.

That should come a few days after Easter Monday, Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, said.

“We need one last big effort to make it through the peak of the pandemic’s third wave,” Gulyas said.

Once the milestone is passed shops can remain open until 9:30 p.m. and a nighttime curfew will start at 10 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. now, Gulyas said. The number of people allowed at one time will be limited in shops.

Services can reopen partially. Teachers and school staff will be inoculated to allow schools to reopen on April 19.

Two-thirds of those elderly people who registered, and a total of 1.8 million people, had received a first shot already, Orban said.

The Hungarian Medical Chamber warned people earlier this week to observe strict social distancing.

(Reporting by Budapest bureau; Editing by Toby Chopra and Steve Orlofsky)

Canada needs stricter health measures to counter rapid spread of COVID-19 variants – officials

By Steve Scherer and Julie Gordon

OTTAWA (Reuters) – COVID-19 variant cases are increasing rapidly in several parts of Canada and longer-range forecasts show that stronger public health restrictions will be required to counter the spread of the disease, health officials said on Friday.

Canada is expecting enough coronavirus vaccine doses to double its supply by the end of next week as it ramps up its vaccination program. But more transmissible variants now account for a high proportion of new cases, health officials said.

“Increasing case counts, shifting severity trends and a rising proportion of cases involving variants of concern is a reminder that we are in a very tight race between vaccines versus variants,” Canada’s chief medical officer, Theresa Tam, told reporters.

While Canada has handed out first shots to many of the most vulnerable and very elderly, recent data shows that young adults between 20 and 39 years of age are driving new cases now, health officials said.

Many parts of the country have begun to relax some health restrictions put in place to beat back a second wave, but Tam said Canadians should buckle down now to avoid a sharp rise in cases and a third wave.

“We are closer now than ever, but it is still too soon to relax measures and too soon to gather in areas where COVID-19 is still circulating in Canada,” Tam said.

“So as Passover, Easter and Ramadan approach, make plans to celebrate safely, including having virtual celebrations to protect each other as we make this the last big push to keep the path clear for vaccines,” she said.

As of Thursday, Canada had reported 22,790 deaths and 951,562 total coronavirus cases. On Friday, the officials told reporters that new modeling showed the domestic death toll could rise to between 22,875 and 23,315 by April 4, with total cases rising to between 973,080 and 1,005,020.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Julie Gordon; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Italy to impose nationwide coronavirus lockdown over Easter weekend – draft decree

By Angelo Amante

ROME (Reuters) – Italy will be placed under a nationwide lockdown over the Easter weekend for the second year running, a draft decree law seen by Reuters said on Friday, underlining the struggle to stem a fresh surge in coronavirus cases.

Non-essential shops will be shuttered nationwide from April 3-5. On those days, Italians will only be allowed to leave their homes for work, health or emergency reasons.

However, a number of regions including wealthy Lombardy, which is centered on Italy’s financial capital Milan, look certain to be placed under full lockdown from Monday because of the recent jump in infections and hospitalizations.

“I hope that this will be the last sacrifice asked of our citizens,” said Lombardy President Attilio Fontana.

Italy, the first Western country hit hard by the pandemic, saw infections rise by 10% this week compared with the week before, and officials have warned that the situation is deteriorating as new, highly contagious variants gain ground.

The country was placed under its first nationwide lockdown a year ago, which lasted 10 weeks. A second lockdown was imposed at Christmas. In recent months, the government has introduced restrictions at a regional level, depending on case numbers.

It was not immediately clear how the decree would affect churchgoers in the Catholic country. However, it was expected to be similar to provisions last Christmas when people were allowed to go to churches in their neighborhoods.

A Vatican source said Pope Francis’ Easter Eve Mass likely would be held a few hours earlier so that faithful could get home in time for Italy’s 10 p.m. curfew and that the pontiff’s Holy Week activities before Easter would be held in the Vatican with a limited number of participants.

Unlike last year, the new decree, which was expected to be approved by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet later on Friday, allows for limited visits to friends and relatives over the Easter holiday – for example to see elderly parents.

But the decree also imposes tougher curbs for the country’s low-risk “yellow” regions as of Monday, severely limiting movement between towns and closing restaurants and bars.

“The spread of the virus is accelerating due to the impact of variants. We agree with the government’s choices,” Stefano Bonaccini, president of Italy’s conference of regions, said in a statement after meeting ministers.

Alongside some nationwide measures, Italy calibrates restrictions in its 20 regions according to a four-tier, color-coded system (white, yellow, orange and red) based on infection levels and revised every week.

Italy has reported more than 100,000 deaths from the disease since discovering its first cases 13 months ago, the seventh highest toll worldwide.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Crispian Balmer/Mark Heinrich)

Switzerland plans cautious easing of pandemic lockdown from March

By John Revill and John Miller

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland plans to make its first “cautious steps” towards ending its coronavirus lockdown next month, the government said on Wednesday, contrasting with neighbors that are sticking with many restrictions.

In the first step, shops, museums and libraries are due to reopen from March 1. Zoos, gardens and sports facilities will also be reopened, with a final decision to come on Feb. 24.

Ministers have been caught being caught between health experts supporting stricter limits and struggling businesses calling for a reopening, but an easing in the number of infections has allowed the government to change course.

“The efforts of the last few months are now paying off, the population has been very disciplined,” said Health Minister Alain Berset.

“New infections have halved within a month, so the situation is not so bad. We would all like to do more activities again, such as sports.”

With the initial reopening, private events with up to 15 people would also be allowed, said the government, up from the current limit of five.

Switzerland’s reopening contrasts with neighboring Austria which will decide on March 1 on a potential loosening of pandemic restrictions that happen around Easter, at the earliest.

“We’re taking a risk, but we think that’s acceptable as long as everybody plays along,” Berset told a press conference in Bern.

Additional easing from April 1 could follow if infections remain low, he added.

Measures to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic will push Switzerland into a 15.8 billion Swiss franc ($17.59 billion) deficit for 2020, due mainly to higher spending and lower tax receipts.

Still, the government said it would expand its spending to deal with the pandemic, which has so far claimed 9,128 lives.

It has decided to expand support package for large companies hit hard by the crisis, ramping up a compensation scheme to 10 billion francs, from 5 billion francs previously.

($1 = 0.8981 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by John Revill and John Miller, editing by Mihcael Shields)

HE IS RISEN! With Joy and Hope, we worship together in our hearts! Happy Easter!

By Kami Klein~~

HE has RISEN! We Worship with JOY and HOPE today from our homes, our cars or even in our backyards! It does not matter where you are for it is in our hearts that we find Him! Whether we are with family, sheltered together or alone we have New Life through Jesus! No matter what happens here in the world, God gave us His promise through the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross. His message is clearer today than ever! YOU are special, YOU are a child of God, you are forgiven and He LOVES YOU!

This Easter, may you truly understand that the Church is not a building or tradition, the Church is not the creeds or statements of belief found in your faith or denomination. The Church is the bride of Jesus. We are a family built from the greatest Love that has ever been known on Earth. No building can hold us, no statement can ever be bigger than the one made on the cross.

Sing with Joy today! Leave your troubles in God’s hands and Celebrate our new lives! Let today bring you strength as we trust HIM and HIS purpose!

Matthew 28 (MEV)

The Resurrection
28 At the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

2 And then there was a great earthquake. For the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his garments white as snow. 4 The soldiers shook for fear of him and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid. For I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here. For He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and indeed, He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him. Listen, I have told you.”

8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. 9 As they went to tell His disciples, suddenly Jesus met them, saying, “Greetings!” They came and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell My brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

The Report of the Guard
11 While they were going, indeed, some of the soldiers went into the city and described to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests were assembled with the elders and had taken counsel, they gave much money to the soldiers, 13 saying, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were sleeping.’ 14 If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you secure.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this saying has been commonly reported among the Jews to this day.

The Commissioning of the Disciples
16 Then the eleven disciples went away to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshipped Him. But some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

HE is ALWAYS with us!

Happy Easter!

With 20,500 coronavirus deaths, U.S. spends Easter Sunday on lockdown

(Reuters) – Americans spent Sunday on lockdown as the U.S. toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic surpassed 20,500 deaths and more than half a million confirmed cases over the Easter weekend.

With most of the country under stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the disease, many turned to online church services to mark the holiest day in the Christian calendar.

“Future generations will look back on this as the long Lent of 2020, a time when disease and death suddenly darkened the whole earth,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles wrote to priests and parishioners nationwide, urging them to hold steadfast. “Our churches may be closed but Christ is not quarantined and his Gospel is not in chains.”

A few people take to the plaza at the Lincoln Memorial during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, where normally thousands of Christians would gather for worship at Easter sunrise, in Washington, U.S. April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The United States has seen its highest death tolls to date from the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus, with roughly 2,000 deaths a day reported for the last four days in a row, the largest number in and around New York City. Even that is viewed as understated, as New York is still figuring out how best to include a surge in deaths at home in its official statistics.

As the death toll has mounted, President Donald Trump mulled over when the country might begin to see a return to normality.

His administration sees May 1 as a target date for relaxing the stay-at-home restrictions, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said on Sunday. But he cautioned that it was still too early to say that target would be met.

“We see light at the end of the tunnel,” Hahn told ABC’s “This Week,” adding, “Public safety and the welfare of the American people has to come first. That has to ultimately drive these decisions”

The top U.S. infectious disease expert said he was cautiously optimistic that some of the country is starting to see a turnaround in the fight against the outbreak.

Dr. Anthony Fauci pointed to the New York metropolitan area, which had its highest daily death toll last week alongside a decrease in hospitalizations, intensive care admissions and the need to intubate critically ill patients.

“Not only is it flat, it’s starting to turn the corner,” Fauci said on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Once you turn that corner, hopefully you’ll see a very sharp decline and then you can start thinking about how we can keep it that way and prevent it from resurging,” he said.

The Trump administration renewed talk of quickly reopening the economy after an influential university research model cut its U.S. mortality forecasts to 60,000 deaths by Aug. 4, down from at least 100,000, assuming social-distancing measures stay.

However, new government data shows a summer surge in infections if stay-at-home orders are lifted after only 30 days, according to projections first reported by the New York Times and confirmed by a Department of Homeland Security official.

https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-USA/0100B5K8423/index.html

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg, Doina Chiacu, Ross Colvin and Christopher Bing; Writing by Daniel Wallis; editing by Diane Craft)

For God SO LOVED the World! Good Friday from God’s Word

Three Crosses

By Kami Klein~

This Easter season we can no longer focus on our holiday traditions. This year will not be one of creating memories by gathering in our churches, Easter egg hunts and meals with all of our family and friends. We are on pause. The world is holding its breath for salvation and we are living in a time that is unprecedented. We wake each morning to lives that have been altered, no longer ‘normal’. There is fear, exhaustion, and uncertainty in every country, and in every nation. No souls have been left untouched by this worldwide emergency.

This is the time when the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, when the miracles of His life, His teachings, should mean more to us than ever before. His message of the unsurmountable love that God has for us was shown by Christ’s suffering on the cross. He died so we may live.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Today on this Holy Good Friday, reflect on that love and find hope. Let us sit silently with the Lord, look within His Word and walk with Jesus in His agony for us. Today we fall to our knees and Thank you God for the hope that is in your son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

THE GOOD FRIDAY MESSAGE FROM GOD’S WORD

Matthew 27:11-65 (MEV)

Jesus Questioned by Pilate
11 Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”

Jesus said to him, “You have said so.”

12 When He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 But He never answered him a word, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Jesus Sentenced to Die
15 Now at the feast, the governor was accustomed to releasing to the people a prisoner whom they chose. 16 They had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that they had handed Him over out of envy.

19 When he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man, for I have suffered much today in a dream on account of Him.”

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and kill Jesus.

21 The governor answered, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”

They said, “Barabbas.”

22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”

23 The governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”

But they cried out all the more, “Let Him be crucified!”

24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail, but rather that unrest was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this righteous Man. See to it yourselves.”

25 Then all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But when he had scourged Jesus, he handed Him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium, and gathered the whole detachment of soldiers before Him. 28 They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, 29 and when they wove a crown of thorns, they put it on His head and put a staff in His right hand. They knelt before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They spit on Him, and took the staff and hit Him on the head. 31 After they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own garments on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

The Crucifixion
32 As they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. This man they compelled to bear His cross. 33 When they came to a place called Golgotha, which means The Place of the Skull, 34 they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He tasted it, He would not drink it. 35 When they crucified Him, they divided His garments by casting lots to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, “They divided My garments among themselves and for My clothing they cast lots.”[a] 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. 37 They put His accusation over His head, which read:

THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

38 Then two thieves were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. 39 Those who passed by insulted Him, wagging their heads, 40 saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 Likewise, the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Him, saying, 42 “He saved others. He cannot save Himself. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God. Let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him. For He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 Even the thieves who were crucified with Him insulted Him in the same way.

The Death of Jesus
45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

47 Some of those who stood there heard it and said, “This Man is calling for Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran, took a sponge, filled it with wine, and put it on a stick, and gave it to Him to drink. 49 The rest said, “Leave Him alone. Let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.”

50 And Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, released His spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom. And the ground shook, and the rocks split apart. 52 The graves also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had died were raised, 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the Holy City and appeared to many.

54 When the centurion and those with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they feared greatly and said, “Truly He was the Son of God!”

55 Many women who were there watching from afar followed Jesus from Galilee, serving Him, 56 among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

The Burial of Jesus
57 When the evening came, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut out of the rock. And he rolled a large stone to the door of the tomb and departed. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The Guard at the Tomb
62 The next day, following the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered before Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember that deceiver saying while He was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ The last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard. Go your way. Make it as secure as you can.”

In three days the rock will have been rolled away and Jesus will have risen! God’s promises are true! Hold on to each other, pray for one another and lift your hearts to Him with Joy!

Never forget, God loves you, He really does!