The film opens in Gethsemane in 'medias res as' in the dead of night some hours after the last supper. Jesus prays and is tempted by Satan, while his apostles, Peter, James, and John sleep. After receiving thirty pieces of silver from the highly feared Jewish priests of the Temple in Jerusalem, one of Jesus' other apostles, Judas Iscariot, tells them the location where his teacher is and the priests send a contingent of guards to arrest Jesus for heresy.
In the woods outside Gethsemane, Judas approaches with the temple guards and betrays Jesus with a kiss on his cheek. As the guards move in to arrest Jesus, Peter intervenes and attacks them, cutting off the ear of Malchus, one of the guards, but Jesus tells Peter to stop with the violence and magically heals Malchus' ear. The temple guards arrest Jesus and the rest of the apostles flee.
John runs and tells Jesus' mother, Mary, as well as Mary Magdalene of the arrest, and Peter follows Jesus at a distance who is severely beaten by the Temple guards on their way back to Jerusalem. At the Jewish Temple, the head priest, Caiaphas, holds a trial of Jesus over the objection of some of the other priests, who are expelled from the court. When questioned by Caiaphas whether he is the son of God, Jesus replies "I am". Caiaphas is horrified and tears his robes, and Jesus is condemned to death for blasphemy. Upon entering the Temple, Peter is confronted by a mob of Jewish spectators who recognize him being one of Jesus followers and confront him. Three times Peter denies knowing Jesus, but then runs away sobbing at his cowardice.
Meanwhile, the remorseful Judas attempts to return the money in order have Jesus freed, but he is refused by the priests. Tormented by demons and his guilt, he flees the city and hangs himself with a rope from a dead donkey at dawn.
Caiaphas brings Jesus before Pontius Pilate, the local Roman governor of Judea, to be condemned to death. But after questioning Jesus, the Latin-speaking Pilate (who is fluent in Jesus' native Aramaic language) finds no reason to convict him after he is told by his wife, Claudia, about a bad dream she had the night before about condemning a holy man to death. So instead, Pilate sends Jesus to the court of King Herod Antipas, as Jesus is from Herod's ruling town of Nazareth. After Jesus is returned, Pilate offers the crowd that he will chastise Jesus for heresy and then will set him free. Pilate attempts to have Jesus freed by giving the people an option of freeing Jesus or the violent criminal Barabbas. To Pilate's dismay, the hostile and religious crowd demands to have Barabbas freed and Jesus killed. In an attempt to appease the crowd, Pilate has Jesus brutally scourged and mocked with a crown of thorns, yet the crowd continues to demand that Jesus be crucified. Faced with a citywide riot, Pilate is left with no choice but to reluctantly order Jesus' crucifixion.
As Jesus carries the cross along the Via Dolorosa to Calvary, Veronica wipes Jesus' bloodied face with her veil until the Roman guards grab her and shove her on her way. Simon of Cyrene is unwillingly pressed into carrying the cross for Jesus, who by this time is too weak to carry the large wooden cross by himself.
On a hill outside Jerusalem called Golgotha (Aramaic for 'Hill of Skulls'), Jesus is then crucified with his wrists and feet nailed to the cross. One criminal that is crucified next to him mock him for being now helpless and unable to do anything. At mid afternoon, as he hangs from the cross, Jesus prays forgiveness for those who did this to him, and redeems one of the criminals crucified next to him. After Jesus gives up his spirit and dies, a single drop of rain falls from the sky, triggering an earthquake which destroys the Temple and rips the cloth covering the Holy of Holies in two, to the horror of Caiaphas and the other priests. Satan is then shown screaming in defeat. The Roman soldiers then kill the two criminals by breaking their legs, while one of them thrusts a spear into Jesus' chest to make sure that he is dead. Jesus is brought down from the cross as Mary and Mary Magdalene weep for him.
In the final scene, Jesus then rises from the dead as he leaves his tomb where his is buried with the wounds in his hands, feet, and side still visible.