“Mission” begins in Galilee. The Pharisee are seen instructing the people in the ways of the old statutes, but the people flock to Jesus when he comes into town. Jesus is teaching when a paralyzed man is brought before him. He states that the man’s sins are forgiven. A Pharisee claims that to say such a thing is blasphemy. Jesus then heals the man and tells the Pharisee that the Son of Man has the authority to forgive sin.
Jesus moves from town-to-town teaching and performing miracles, including the healing of a leper. Meanwhile, Pontius Pilate is introduced as a ruthless politician who puts down rebellions among the Jewish people. He also continues to tax the people.
This is where Jesus recruits Matthew, a tax collector, as a disciple while denouncing the ways of the Pharisees. Thomas expresses doubt over Matthew’s recruitment, but the rest of the disciples back Jesus.
Later, he preaches on the mount and teaches the people how to pray. The Pharisees then bring a harlot before Jesus and claim that they are commanded to stone such a woman. He picks up a stone and offers it to the first man who tells him that he has never sinned. The Pharisees drop their stones and walk away. Jesus tells the harlot that she is forgiven.
The scorned Pharisees plot against Jesus. In Jerusalem, Nicodemus questions the rest of Sanhedrin about Jesus, but the Pharisees tell him nothing good comes from Galilee, so there’s no need to worry about it.
Jesus is greeted on the Sea of Galilee by his followers, who are hungry. The disciples claim they don’t have enough food, but Jesus blesses what they do have and feeds the large crowd. The people then call him the Messiah and King. They want him to take Israel back by force, which upsets Jesus. He walks away from the crowd.
Meanwhile, news gets back to the Sanhedrin that the people are calling Jesus the Messiah.
That night, the disciples ask Jesus about being the Messiah. He asks them who they think he is. Peter replies that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus says God has revealed that to Peter. He notes that Peter is the rock, and the Lord will build his church upon the rock. He then tells the disciples that he will meet them on the other side of the lake and leaves.
The disciples soon cast sail but get stuck in a storm. They soon see Jesus walking on water to greet him. Peter hears Jesus’ call and gets out of the boat to greet him. He walks on water until he takes his eyes off Jesus. Peter then sinks in the water. Jesus saves Peter and asks why he doubted him.
In Nazareth, Mary learns that Jesus has arrived. She goes to see him teach in the synagogue. Jesus’ preaching upsets the Pharisees, who state that his work is of the devil and that John the Baptist has been killed. The people of Nazareth jeer him as he leaves the city.
Later, Jesus and the disciples grieve over John the Baptist’s death. They then decide to make the trip to Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Pilate is called to a Jewish protest, which he violently puts down. The Pharisees soon find the protesters dead.
In Bethany, Jesus arrives to find that Lazarus has been buried. Jesus goes to see him in the tomb and raises him back to life. Jesus proclaims that if the people believe in him, they will have eternal life.
That evening, word of Lazarus’ resurrection reaches the Sanhedrin. High Priest Caiaphas states that they must not allow Jesus to disrupt the Passover.
Jesus reaches Jerusalem on Palm Sunday riding a donkey. Caiaphas mocks Jesus’ entrance and again states that he must not be allowed to disrupt Passover. He sends Nicodemus to the temple to watch Jesus.
Upon entering the temple, Jesus is upset to find people making a profit in the temple courts. He overturns the tables of the people who have made it a “den of thieves.” Nicodemus steps in and questions Jesus, but he’s called a hypocrite and told that they can’t serve both God and money. Nicodemus notes that there is something different about Jesus to Caiaphas, but the High Priest dismisses his concerns.
The following day, Nicodemus tries to bait Jesus by asking him about taxes. Jesus asks Nicodemus whose face is on the coin. Nicodemus replies that it’s Caesar’s face. Jesus then states that the people should give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.
Jesus’ teaching continues to impact the people of Jerusalem, including Nicodemus. However, Jesus upsets the people when he prophesies that the temple will be destroyed. Caiaphas takes this as a threat and plots against Jesus.
Meanwhile, Pilate is also informed of Jesus’ actions, but he distances himself from the problem.
Nicodemus goes to visit Jesus and tells him that he comes of his own accord. The disciples are confused by his visit. Jesus spends time speaking with Nicodemus, who is touched by his words. At the same time, Caiaphas meets with Judas and manipulates him into betraying Jesus in exchange for 30 silver coins.
At the Last Supper, Jesus is overwhelmed with thoughts of his coming death and tells the disciples that this is their last meal together. Jesus explains that he is going to be betrayed and condemned to death. He tells his disciples that the bread is his body and the wine is his blood. He tells them to remember him by doing this (taking communion). Jesus then states that he will be betrayed by the man he gives a piece of bread to. He gives it to Judas, who runs away after saying he will not betray Jesus.
Jesus tells his disciples that they will all fall away and leaves. Peter follows him out and promises that he will not fall away. Jesus hugs him and tells him that Peter will deny him three times.
In the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus questions Caiaphas over the High Priest’s belief that Jesus is a fraud. Caiaphas announces his intention to have Jesus killed. Later, Judas arrives and leads the guards to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.
Meanwhile, Jesus tells his followers to pray for him. He then pleads with God to take this cup from him. Jesus tells God that if He wills it, then His “will is mine.” At the same time, Caiaphas also prays to the Lord.
Judas arrives and betrays Jesus. Peter cuts off a guard’s ear while trying to help Jesus escape, but Jesus heals him. Jesus is then arrested while the disciples run away.
In the temple, Nicodemus observes that Jesus’ trial is supposed to be held in daylight, but Caiaphas has scheduled it for that night. Nicodemus confronts Caiaphas over the illegal trial, but the High Priest threatens him instead.
Mary and Mary Magdalene meet at the temple wall. Mary Magdalene explains that Jesus has been arrested.
Jesus is brought before the High Council, and Caiaphas explains the charges against him. Caiaphas then invites Jesus to speak, but he remains silent. Caiaphas then asks Jesus if he is indeed the Son of God. Jesus replies that he is. He prophesies that they will see him one day standing at the right hand of God. Another priest expresses his disgust at the council’s determination to kill Jesus, but Caiaphas sentences him to death anyways.
There’s a reason why this is a History Channel special. The series’ producers did an excellent job using historical references such as Jewish writer Josephus to show how much tyrant Pilate was. “Mission” also paid special attention to the political and diplomatic problems that existed between the Romans and the Jewish people during this era. The Bible only hints at these issues, so it’s good that the producers fleshed out that part of the background story.
This episode did an outstanding job following Jesus’ ministry. “The Bible” retold many of the most dramatic stories about Jesus, and it was done with style. If there is a problem with the episode, it’s the way some of stories were paraphrased or edited. The perfect example for this is the story of the Harlot who was brought before Jesus. It’s one of the most powerful stories in the Gospel, during which Jesus gives his iconic statement concerning sin. Yet the script simplified the Bible’s actual words, and it didn’t work.
However, that’s the only real issue that I have with the episode. Jesus Christ was accurately portrayed as the Son of God, and that’s what really matters in the end. If you’re going to do a mini-series based on the Bible, then it needs to reflect what the Bible says. “Mission” did that.