By morning, a crowd of people have gathered around the Praetorium, which is where Hefty and his group of Smurfs have found Tapper and his group of Smurfs. "Thank Smurfness you're safe and smurf, Tapper, because we've been smurfing all night just trying to find you and the others," Hefty said.
"You shouldn't need to worry about me, Hefty, because the Lord has protected me and the others while we were following the Messiah from the time of the Passover meal up until now," Tapper said.
"We had smurfed into Judas Iscariot and his cat when we were smurfing for you, and he would have smurfed us if it weren't for Puppy chasing him off a cliff to his own death," Tuffy said.
"That was supposed to happen to Judas, right, Tapper?" Jokey asked.
"Unfortunately yes, my fellow Jokey, but the Almighty will forgive you for what had happened, because that wasn't what you intended to have happen," Tapper said.
"Oh dear, what's with this crowd of people around this time of day?" Vanity asked.
"They've brought the Messiah here so that they could have Him crucified, Vanity," Smurfette said.
"Gosh, I can't even understand what that Man did to deserve this," Clumsy said.
"Frankly, I don't understand a single thing that's smurfing on here myself, Clumsy," Brainy said. "It's like certain groups of people just don't like Him for some unknown reason."
"Grandpa Smurf sent us to find you in order to tell you that you need to return to camp with your fellow Smurfs, Tapper," Handy said.
"I won't leave here until I see for myself what happens to the Messiah, Handy," Tapper said.
"Here smurfs that man that you call Pontius Pilate," Duncan said as he saw a dressed in Roman clothes emerge from within the Praetorium to address the crowd. The other Smurfs joined Duncan at the place where they could see over the crowd at the scene taking place.
Pilate looked rather uneasy as he stepped out to greet the crowd, with his wife telling him, "Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things in a dream because of Him." Pilate just shook his head, knowing that he has a job to do.
“What accusation do you bring against this Man?” Pilate asked as he saw the Messiah brought before him by the high priests.
The high priests answered, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”
“You take Him and judge Him according to your law,” Pilate said dismissively.
“It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” the high priest said. So Pontius Pilate brought the Messiah in for questioning, which none of the Smurfs could ever see or hear, but Tapper knew exactly what questions were being asked, if He was the King of the Jews. Tapper knew that the Lord would answer in a manner that suggested that He had no fear of what's going to happen to Him, that it was all going according to His Father's plan.
Pilate then emerged with the Messiah, saying, "I find no fault in Him at all."
"He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place," some of the more fierce within the crowd shouted.
"Is this true that You are a Galilean?" Pilate asked the Messiah. "Then I send You off to Herod to be judged by him for whatever crimes You are being charged with."
"We must follow Him to Herod's to see the trial for ourselves, my fellow Smurfs," Tapper said.
"You go and smurf this trial if you want to, Tapper," Hefty said. "This doesn't have anything to smurf with me."
"I hate going to smurf the Messiah's trial with Herod," Grouchy said.
So only Tapper, Duncan, and Smurfette followed the Messiah as He was taken to the man known as King Herod Antipas, who was in Jerusalem at the time. There, in the place where Herod was staying, they saw a man who looked like he was in the middle of having fun with his female servants when he was called forth to be a judge upon the Messiah's arrival.
"So here You are, the Christ, or so I have heard," Herod said as soon as he saw Him. "I have been so eager to meet with You since I heard so much news about You from the people, particularly that You are a miracle worker. Is that true?"
The Messiah just stood there and not said a word.
"Not much of a talker, eh?" Herod said. "Well, let's get down to business, shall we? Why not show us a miracle or two? Say, You turn this pot of water into wine, like You did at the wedding in Cana. How about it, huh? Or just speak the word and fill my household with enough food that will satisfy me and my servants, as You have fed the multitude. Care to give it a try?"
But the Messiah just stood there and did nothing.
"Not even one single miracle from You? I'm truly disappointed," Herod said. "I guess You really aren't the Man that I was expecting to see, are You? John the Baptist said that You would be something great before he died. I guess that I should have known better than to believe his word at anything."
"This Man claims that He is a King, your Majesty," one of the chief priests said.
"A King?" Herod said, laughing as he saw the Messiah just standing there. "This person from Galilee is supposed to be a King? Well, by all means, we should honor Him with all the honor that goes with being a King."
Herod called forth his guards, who then brought a gorgeous robe to put on the Messiah.
"Well, there you have it...the Man from Galilee is our King," Herod said as he saw the Messiah with his robe. "Come, let us worship the King in all His glory." The rest of the court just laughed at the sight and mocked Him with their salutes while the Messiah continued to stand there and do nothing.
Herod sighed, seeing that he was getting bored. "Take him back to Pilate and let him do the judging. This so-called King is nothing to me but a mere pretender."
Tapper, Duncan, and Smurfette followed the Messiah as He was returned back to Pontius Pilate, where they rejoined with the other Smurfs waiting for them.
"You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him," Pilate said. "No, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him"
"Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas" the crowd shouted.
Pilate then ordered Barabbas to be brought out of chains and released at once. The Smurfs saw him and realized that he looked every sort like the unrepentant criminal that he was as he emerged from the Praetorium, seemingly pleased with the idea of being released. He looked at the Messiah briefly and sneered in His face before he walked away.
Then at the crowd's insistence, the Messiah was taken into the inner court of the Praetorium where He was stripped of His clothes and given thirty-nine stripes with scourges by the Roman soldiers. Tapper, Duncan, and Smurfette bravely made their way through the crowd and entered to see this event taking place...not that Smurfette wanted to see it for herself, but she felt that she needed to be there with Tapper as he saw the beating in every excruciating detail.
"Michty me, the laddie's surely a brave one for how He's enduring the beating," Duncan said. "I can hardly hear Him crying out at all."
"I don't know how you can stand watching your own Messiah being smurfed to death, Tapper," Smurfette said, covering her eyes so that she wouldn't see it.
"I sincerely do not enjoy being a witness to this myself, Smurfette, but it is according to the Scriptures that foretold of His fate: 'But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed'," Tapper said.
Some blood splashed on the three Smurfs as they continued to stand as witnesses to the horrific beating, but after it was done, the Roman soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on the Messiah's head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and they struck Him with their hands.
Pontius Pilate brought Jesus back out before the crowd, where they saw Him with the crown of thorns and the purple robe. "Behold the Man," he announced as he showed the Messiah.
"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" the crowd shouted back.
"Then you take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault at all in Him," Pontius said.
“We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God,” the crowd shouted.
Pontius became more afraid when he heard this, so he took the Messiah back into the Praetorium again, speaking in a demanding tone. "Where are You from?” But the Messiah didn't say anything. “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”
The Messiah said in a calm voice, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
Pilate again sought to release the Messiah, but the crowd said, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, which is called in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It was now the sixth hour of the day, and as the Smurfs continued to watch, Pilate then said, "Behold your King!"
“Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” the crowd shouted.
"Shall I crucify your King?" Pilate asked.
"We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests said.
Pilate realized that he had no choice but to give the crowd what they wanted in order to keep the scene from turning into a complete riot. He took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it."
"His blood be on us and on our children," the crowd said together. So Pilate ordered for the Messiah to be crucified as soon as possible.
The Smurfs continued to bravely watch as the Messiah joined two other prisoners who were made to bear heavy crosses on their backs as they were now forced on their way out of the city. The crowd stood back and many of them were spitting on the Messiah and hurling all kinds of insults at Him as He used all His strength to carry the wooden cross with Him to His destination.
"Now where they are going with this Messiah and those other two men?" Hefty asked as soon as Tapper, Duncan, and Smurfette rejoined him and the other Smurfs.
"They're going to smurf Him to the hill known as Golgotha and Calvary, which is where He will be crucified and smurfed on display for the people to watch until He dies," Tapper said.
"Oh dear, I really wish I wasn't here to smurf this happening," Vanity said.
Back at the Smurfs camp, Papa Smurf was still busy with trying to find the right arrangement for the chronosyte crystals when Grandpa Smurf got his attention. "Papa Smurf, the other Smurfs seem to be smurfing a bit too smurfed up over all the excitement that's smurfing on in Jerusalem, with the people gathering to watch the execution of the Almighty's Son."
"Huh?" Papa Smurf responded, sounding he like was too preoccupied with the crystal arranging that he just now noticed it for himself as he walked out of his hut. He was seeing the Smurfs all leaving the camp and heading straight for a certain location outside the city. "Where are all the Smurfs headed to?"
"I think it's that place that Tapper referred to as Calvary, Papa Smurf," Grandpa Smurf said, showing the village leader the hill where the execution was to take place.
He tried to get his little Smurfs' attention. "Hold it right there," he commanded, which stopped them in their tracks. "What's smurfed into you that you would smurf this terrible event that the humans are engaging in?"
"We don't know, Papa Smurf," one of the Smurfs said. "It was like something in us said that we had to be there as witnesses. That's all we really know, honestly."
"Hmmm, could this be the Almighty at work within our little Smurfs, Papa Smurf?" Grandpa Smurf asked.
"I wouldn't rule out the possibility that it might, Grandpa Smurf, but I must say that this isn't the type of thing that I would want to expose my little Smurfs to," Papa Smurf said.
"Then we might as well be there with the others to make sure that they are safe and that they understand the nature of this event, if that's possible," Grandpa Smurf said.
"I would have to agree with you on that, Grandpa Smurf," Papa Smurf said. "I may not fully understand everything that Tapper believes in with his Almighty, but I want to make it clear to my little Smurfs that this is what we as Smurfs must avoid becoming."
The rest of the Smurfs soon caught up with Tapper and the others as they were following behind the Messiah and the two other criminals that were made to bear crosses on their backs. Along the way, the Messiah stumbled and fell because He was losing His strength. The Roman soldiers then picked a man out of the crowd, Simon the Cyrenian, so that he would help bear the cross along with the Messiah.
"Tapper, you shouldn't be out like this in public, exposing yourself and the other Smurfs to the crowd," Papa Smurf said.
"Papa Smurf, the crowd is just too focused on the Messiah right now, either to berate Him or to mourn for Him," Tapper said.
"You seem to be right on that, Tapper," Grandpa Smurf said as he looked at all the faces in the crowd. "It's surprising how nobody seems to notice us anyway."
"Still, we must be careful, lest we get ourselves smurfed underfoot by the humans," Papa Smurf said as they continued to follow the Messiah on the road to Calvary.
It was a long and slow journey up to the hill, with the Messiah stumbling a few more times as He was carrying the cross, and the people who were heckling Him and the Roman soldiers who were beating Him not helping matters any. By the time they reached the hill, they joined the rest of the crowd that had gathered to see the three men being crucified. The Messiah was stripped of His garments, which were then handed off to the soldiers so that they could cast lots for them, as Tapper remembered from his reading of Scripture.
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing," the Messiah said with some difficulty, as the nails were driven through His hands and His feet one by one, and then He and the other two men were hoisted up on their crosses until all three of them were upright. On the placard above the Messiah's head, written in Latin, Greek, and Aramaic, were the words JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS.
One of the high priests said to Pontius Pilate, "It should not have said, 'The King Of The Jews', but rather, 'He said I am the King of the Jews.'"
"What I have written, I have written," Pilate said.
Those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross."
The chief priests were also mocking with the scribes and elders, saying, "He saved others, but He cannot save Himself. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'"
"I don't get it, Tapper," Brainy said. "Why doesn't He smurf down from the cross to prove that He is the Son of God?"
"Because the hearts of the people who don't believe in Him are so hard, they wouldn't accept the truth even if He were to come down from the cross," Tapper said. "Besides, He needs to accomplish this in order to redeem all of mankind as well as all of creation."
"He seems so helpless, smurfing up on that cross when He hasn't smurfed anything," Smurfette said.
"Well, He surely smurfed quite a beating without fighting back," Hefty said. "It's like He doesn't even look human anymore. It makes me wonder if Empath ever deserved anything like this from me."
"It's hard to look at this Man and not think about Empath," Handy said.
"Oh, Pappy, this is just too awful to watch," Sassette cried out as she held onto Papa Smurf.
"There, there, my little Sassette, it's all right," Papa Smurf said, trying to comfort her. "I know what we're watching is terrible, but there's nothing here that could harm us."
"I wish you could smurf your magic powers to save Him, Pappy," Sassette said.
"I'm afraid that we have to let this part of history smurf on without any interference from us, Sassette, as much as we don't like being here to witness it," Papa Smurf said.
"So we're just here to watch a Man die?" Snappy asked. "What is this supposed to be...some form of entertainment?"
"Some of the people around us seem to think that it is, Snappy," Nat said. "Smurf at them...it's like seeing three helpless men on the cross is supposed to be enjoyment for them."
"But this Jesus is supposed to be a miracle worker, according to Tapper," Snappy said. "He's not even smurfing anything to prove Himself to the people mocking Him."
"I only wonder why humans enjoy watching people die so much," Slouchy said.
"Who knows, and quite frankly, who cares?" Snappy said. "They'll probably enjoy watching this thing even years from now."
"There's nothing about death that's meant to be enjoyed, my little grandsmurflings," Grandpa Smurf said. "This is just the cruelty of mankind at work here, something that we as Smurfs should never emulate."
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and John the disciple standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!"
John gently took the mother of Jesus away as she wept, unable to look anymore at the scene before her.
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us."
But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to the Messiah, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
The Messiah said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. As the Smurfs continued to stand there fearfully watching, Tapper had a feeling that the Messiah was looking down upon them to see those who were brought to witness this moment, and on the scarred and torn face there seemed to be a faint glimmer of a smile, as if He knew who was there with Him and wanted so very much to show that what He was doing was for their sake. It felt like a very personal moment for Tapper, as if all the beatings and bruisings the Messiah received were all for him.
Tapper fell to his knees before the sight of his Messiah. "Oh, Lord God Almighty, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word, and I shall be healed."
And about the ninth hour the Messiah cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"
"What did He say, Tapper?" Brainy asked.
"He was saying, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'" Tapper answered. "This is the only moment in the Messiah's life where He felt like the Almighty, His own Father, has smurfed His back on Him."
Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, "This Man is calling for Elijah!"
In a voice that sounded like it was getting raspy, the Messiah said, "I thirst!" The soliders who heard Him filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and hoisted it up to put it to His mouth. When the Messiah had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!"
"Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him," the crowd said together.
Then finally with the last of His strength, the Messiah cried out, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." And after He said that, He breathed His last.
At the same moment, there was an earthquake that shook the ground where everybody stood. Tapper knew at in the Temple, the curtain that would separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place would be torn in two, meaning that people everywhere would now have access to God instead of just the high priests.
The centurion who saw what had happened glorified God, saying, "Truly this was a righteous Man!"
Then as the crowd drifted away, the centurion who was ordered to make sure that the men on the cross died broke the legs of the other two men, but when he got to the Messiah, he saw that He was already dead, and so he pierced a spear into His side, which caused water and blood to come out.
The Smurfs wept together as the bodies of the dead men were lowered from the crosses, and the disciples received Jesus' body so that it could be buried.
By the time the Smurfs returned to camp so they could rest, Tapper noticed Papa Smurf looking like the whole event affected him deeply. He waited until Papa Smurf was alone in his house so he could talk with him.
"I smurfed at that Man on the cross and all I could keep thinking of was Empath, of what I smurfed to him when he was too young to be smurfed away from me, and I thought that he was gone forever from me," Papa Smurf finally said. "Oh, Tapper, what have I done?"
"You sacrificed an only begotten son that you loved dearly and smurfed a much greater family, Papa Smurf," Tapper said. "That's what God did with Jesus. He smurfed us His best from heaven so that we too could become part of His family through the blood of His only begotten Son."
"Empath didn't deserve what I smurfed to him back then," Papa Smurf said. "He didn't deserve what I smurfed to him now, having been smurfed behind with Polaris Psyche."
"None of us deserve anything but a fair judgment for our own lives, Papa Smurf," Tapper said. "You at least have smurfed us hope for a future when we were just young Smurflings without our parents. You continue to smurf us hope even now that we all might return home."
"Home," Papa Smurf said as he turned his attention toward the crystals he was arranging. "I could only wonder if Empath will forgive me for smurfing this to him one more time in his life."
"If he truly loves you, Papa Smurf, then I don't see how he could not forgive you," Tapper said. "You're the only one in his life who has taught him what love truly is. And if you could give the Almighty a chance, He will also forgive you of what you have smurfed to Empath, even unto now."