How Much Do You Know About the Death and Resurrection of Jesus?

Torrance Grey

Image: Mormon Channel

About This Quiz

Many things are disputed about Jesus Christ and the Bible's accounts of his life, but one thing historians and religious scholars agree on: It's virtually certain that a man called Jesus of Nazareth, a nomadic religious teacher, was crucified in Jerusalem around 33 A.D. The execution was carried out by the Romans, who had conquered Judea and ruled it at that time. But they appeared to be acting at the behest of the Jewish religious authorities. Jesus and his teachings may have threatened both structures -- the Romans' political rule and the established order of Jewish religious life. Jesus was attracting many followers, if the story of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem is to be believed. Some believed him to be the Messiah -- the hero who would win Israel's independence once again. This was obviously of concern to the Romans. But his controversial statements about fulfilling -- or supplanting -- the Jewish law and being the key to God's kingdom would have been of concern to the religious leaders, as well.

We're not here to sort out the actual historical facts of the crucifixion and death of Jesus of Nazareth. Rather, our quiz is based on the accounts found in the four gospels -- which actually conflict with each other on many minor points, like who really went to the tomb on the third morning and found it empty. Which account you believe -- or whether you believe any of it at all -- is up to you. And, y'know, the Man Upstairs!

What is the name of the meal Jesus shared with his disciples on the night of his arrest?

"The Last Supper" is also the name of a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci. It portrays Jesus and all the disciples on one side of a table, with the disciples in a state of agitation. They are apparently responding to Jesus's statement that one of them will betray him that very night.

In which city was Jesus arrested?

Jesus had entered Jerusalem six days earlier, to cheering crowds. His popularity among the people was what made the chief priests and elders nervous, and cemented their resolve to be rid of him.

The supper they ate that night was a traditional meal marking which Jewish holiday?

Jesus's last meal was a seder. It recalls the meals of unleavened bread that the Hebrews ate in Egypt on the night that the angel of Death passed over their houses, killing only the firstborn of the Egyptians. Passover, in general, commemorates the beginning of the Jews' exodus from Egypt.

Which disciple did Jesus say would deny him three times?

Peter often spoke and acted rashly in the gospels (he is a more mature figure in Acts of the Apostles). Peter swore he would stick by Jesus's side to the death, at which point Jesus made his prediction. That prediction did come true.

Jesus said Peter would deny him three times before what happened?

This is a poetic way of saying "morning." When the rooster did crow, Peter remembered Jesus's words and wept bitterly, the gospel of Matthew says.

"Golgotha," the name of the hill on which Jesus was crucified, means what?

The hill is also known as "Calvary" in Christian tradition (from "skull" in Latin). Its exact location is unknown, though some suggest a hill north of present-day Jerusalem's Damascus Gate.

How many final utterances did Jesus make while on the cross?

This is the basis of some afternoon-long Good Friday services. Seven separate homilies or sermons take up the significance of each of the seven statements.

Which of these was NOT one of Jesus's dying statements?

As you might guess from the language, "Oh, I am slain!" is from Shakespeare. Usually rendered, "O, I am slain," this is Polonius's last statement in "Hamlet."

To whom did Jesus say, "Today you will be with me in paradise"?

Jesus rewards the thief for the man's newfound faith (the thief defends Jesus against the other man's mockery). However, this verse presents theological difficulties for those who believe that Jesus did not ascend to paradise until after his resurrection and his final instructions to the disciples.

What was the name of the council of Jewish elders that wanted Jesus arrested?

This brings up a difficult point in Christian-Jewish relations. A lot of anti-Semitism, particularly in early Christian Europe, has been rooted in the idea that the Jews killed Jesus. Some anti-Semites cite the verse where the people demand his death, saying, "His blood be on us and our children!" But classic Christian theology holds that humanity overall, universally sinful, is to blame for Jesus's death.

What did the chief priests give Judas for his betrayal?

The phrase "30 pieces of silver" has become synonymous with betrayal. It has been quoted, among many other places, on "House M.D.," when Dr. Wilson turns in the drug-addicted House to a cop.

How did Judas identify Jesus to the priests?

A kiss was an acceptable greeting between men in Jesus's era. This is where we get the phrase "Judas kiss" for an act of treachery that might appear friendly on the surface.

Which disciple struck off a soldier's ear?

Peter has a reputation for behaving rashly (as we've noted elsewhere in this quiz). That's probably why the common belief is that it was he who took up the sword to defend Jesus against arrest.

What was written on the sign over Jesus's head?

This sign reflects the extent to which Jesus was a political threat to the Romans. They were the ultimate rulers of Judea at the time (Herod was a regional, figurehead king, while the Sanhedrin were in charge of religious life). But the threat Jesus posed to Rome was that he would lead an insurrection.

Where did Jesus pray just before his arrest?

This is known as the Garden of Gethsemane. The significance of the garden, in part, is that it was a quiet place where the chief priests and their soldiers could find Jesus away from the crowds, and his arrest would not cause a public disturbance.

The garden of Gethsemane was at the foot of which mountain?

Fittingly, "Gethsemane" means "oil press." It seems likely that the garden was part of a larger tract of olive trees.

In the garden, Jesus rebukes the disciples for doing what?

Jesus asks them, "Could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not come into the time of trial, for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." The last part of that statement is often quoted, in contexts other than Biblical ones.

Who was the Roman governor of Judea at that time?

Pilate's reluctance at being drawn into the religious politics of Judea is palpable in the gospel of Luke. He asks what Jesus has done that is so offensive as to deserve execution, then suggests Jesus get off with a flogging. Unfortunately, the religious authorities and their supporters among the citizens won't hear of this.

Who was pardoned so that Jesus could be crucified?

A few interesting notes here: Barabbas's first name was also Jesus, and he wasn't a common thief (as is sometimes said). He was the leader of a political insurrection -- which was probably why Pontius Pilate thought he would be a better candidate for execution that a nomadic, if popular, religious teacher.

What is the route that Jesus took to the crucifixion site commonly called?

You can translate this from the Latin variously as "the way of suffering," or "the road of pain." Christians go to Jerusalem to walk a road that approximates the Via Dolorosa there.

What did Simon of Cyrene do for Jesus on the day of his crucifixion?

The three synoptic gospels say that Simon of Cyrene was pressed into service by the Romans to do this after Jesus could not. The gospel of John, though, suggests that Jesus carried his own cross.

Whom did Jesus charge with responsibility for his mother?

John's gospel refers to him as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." He's identified in this way in the crucifixion story, in which he tells John, "Behold your mother," and then tells Mary, "Woman, behold your son."

What was torn in half at the moment of Jesus's death?

Other things which happened at the moment of Christ's death were that "the sun's light failed" and the dead came forth from their tombs. One movie about the death of Christ actually filmed on the day of a solar eclipse to get the effect, as CGI was not sufficiently advanced yet.

Could the darkness at noon have been caused by a solar eclipse?

The answer to this lies in astronomy. Passover always falls at the full moon, and solar eclipses can only happen at the time of a new moon.

In whose tomb was Jesus buried?

Joseph of Arimathea is described as a "good and righteous man, who, though part of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action." He had Jesus's body laid in a tomb that was in his possession, probably bought in preparation for his own death.

What type of people went to Jesus's grave and found it empty?

The four gospels are not in total agreement on who was there. Variously, they say that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome, and/or Joanna went to the tomb with spices to anoint Jesus's body.

Who greeted the women at the tomb?

The women (in John, just one woman, Mary Magdalen) were greeted by an angel or angels. It is possible that one of these accounts refers to Jesus himself -- a theme in the resurrection story is that people who knew Jesus did not recognize him immediately.

Do all four gospels depict Jesus's ascension into heaven?

Only Mark and Luke contain this account. The other two gospels conclude after Jesus is resurrected and appears to the disciples with final words of wisdom.

Which disciple asks to see and touch Jesus's wounds?

This is why he's called "Doubting Thomas." If he were alive today, he'd definitely work in one of the STEM disciplines!

In Luke, Jesus appears to the disciples while they are doing what?

This foreshadows Jesus's appearance to Saul (later Paul) on the road to Damascus, which will be similarly life-changing. The disciples do not recognize Jesus at first, but later say that their hearts "were burning" when he spoke to them about the scriptures and their fulfillment in Christ's death.

In which other book of the New Testament are Jesus's post-resurrection days recounted?

Acts of the Apostles (the full name) is ascribed to Luke. This is unusual, because the book backtracks to talk about Jesus's final teachings on earth and ascension into heaven, when the gospel of Luke had already covered these things. It would seem to make more sense if Matthew or Mark -- whose accounts end fairly abruptly after Jesus's resurrection -- had written Acts.

What is the name of the chief priest who negotiated with Judas for Jesus's betrayal?

Several figures are important in Jesus's path to crucifixion: Caiaphas, the Judean king Herod and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Caiaphas comes first in the story.

What Christian tradition is rooted in the Last Supper?

The Eucharist, also called Communion, is a sacrament in most Christian denominations. The service quotes almost directly from the gospels: "This is my body, broken for you/This is my blood, shed for you."

How did Judas die?

There are two answers given in the Bible: One, that he hanged himself; two, that he bought a field with the money the chief priests gave him, and died there. Either way, a field is bought for or converted to a cemetery for the penniless, commonly called a "potter's field," after its prior owner.

Which of these movies does NOT deal with the crucifixion of Jesus?

As the title implies, "The Young Messiah" is about Jesus's childhood years. The other three films depict the crucifixion, with varying degrees of detail and Biblical accuracy.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes