Simon Peter answered, “You are the Anointed, the son of the living God.” then he ordered his students to tell nobody that he himself was the Anointed. After that Jesus began to show his students how he had to go off to Jerusalem, and have many things done to him by the elders and chief priests and canon-lawyers, and be killed, and rise up the third day.—Matthew 16:16, 20, 21.
By Leonard Griehs
Nisan 14 Thursday, April 2 sundown to Friday, April 3 sundown
Jesus sat down at the table. “I wanted with all my heart to eat the seder with you before my suffering begins, because I’m telling you, I’ll never eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Jesus spoke to them of brotherhood and service. Judas was getting restless. Jesus looked at him. “Do what you’re doing and be quick about it,” he said. Judas picked up a piece of bread and made his way to the door. Despite their protests, Jesus washed their feet and sat back down. After sharing bread and wine with them and asking them to remember him by doing this, Jesus took his disciples out to Mount Olive.
“All of you will let me down tonight—just like the scripture says, `I will strike at the shepherd, and the sheep in his herd will scatter.’ But after rising up I will go on ahead of you into Galilee.”
Peter protested, “Even if everyone lets you down, I will never let you down.”
Jesus gazed into Peter’s eyes, .”I promise you, in the night ahead, from now till cockcrow, you will say you don’t know me three times.”
Again Peter protested, “Even if I had to die with you, I would never say I didn’t know you.” All echoed Peter’s response.
Jesus led them across the side of the mountain to Gethsemane.
“Sit here till I’ve finished praying,” he told them.
Twice Jesus came back to find them sleeping and rebuked them. Finally, he heard a commotion in the garden. “Up now!” he said. “Come on! Here he comes, my betrayer!” The disciples couldn’t believe it! There was Judas with a group of soldiers. He stepped up to Jesus.
“Good evening, master,” he said as he kissed Jesus.
“Judas, are you going to betray the son of humanity with a kiss?” Jesus stepped around to confront the group behind Judas. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
“Jesus of Nazareth.”
“Here I am.”
The men drew back so quickly that some tripped and fell. Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?”
“Jesus of Nazareth.”
“I told you, here I am, so if you’re looking for me, let these people go.” The group came slowly forward.
Peter jumped in front of Jesus. He drew his sword and cut off the ear of the fellow about to grab Jesus.
Jesus stopped him, “Let’s stop short of that.” He picked up the ear and healed the man. “Put your sword back where it belongs,” he told Peter, “those who fight swords with swords are lost. You think I can’t call on my Father and have him supply me even now with more than twelve legions of his messengers? But how will scriptures be fulfilled that say this must happen?” Jesus turned back to the mob surrounding him.
“As if in pursuit of a robber you came out to get me with swords and clubs? I used to sit in the daytime in the temple when I was teaching and you didn’t take me then. This has happened to fulfill all the prophet’s writings.” As the mob descended on Jesus, the disciples turned and fled. They tried to grab a young boy who was in the garden with them but he got away.
The mob took Jesus to the house of Annas. Peter followed at a distance behind and lingered outside as the priest questioned Jesus. A maid at the door spotted him. “You aren’t one of that fellow’s students too, are you?” Peter replied quickly, “No, I’m not.”
Inside Jesus responded to the inquiries of the former high priest. “I have publicly spoken to the world. I constantly taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews gather, and I said nothing in secret. What are you asking me? Ask the ones who heard me what I said to them. See these people? They know what I said.”
One of the servants slapped Jesus, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”
Jesus showed no fear. “If I said something bad, testify about the evil. If I spoke well, why are you beating me up?”
Eager now to punish Jesus, they rustled him about and took him to the house of Caiaphas. There the priests tried to find some who would talk against Jesus, but no two could give the same testimony. Jesus refused to answer the false accusations. Caiaphas was frustrated and finally decided he had had enough. He would take matters into his own hands Caiaphas moved face to face with Jesus. “Are you the Anointed, the Son of the most blessed?” he asked Jesus.
Jesus’ eyes did not move from Caiaphas’ eyes. “Yes I am, and you will see the son of humanity sitting on the right hand of power and trailing the clouds of the sky.”
“What do we need witnesses for any more?” shouted Caiaphas as he turned to the others. “You heard that blasphemy! How does it look to you?” They all judged that he should be killed.
They began spitting on Jesus, and covering his face while they punched him and said, “Prophesy! Who just hit you?” They hit him again and again.
Peter stood outside in the courtyard, warm now from the fire. “You were with the Nazarene too —you know: Jesus,” those around him said.
“I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about.” Peter ran the other way. The girl at the door saw him again.
“This guy is one of them.” she said. Others said “Of course you’re one of them. After all, you are a Galilean.”
“Fellow, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Peter shouted. Suddenly, he heard a rooster crow. Peter looked inside the house and saw Jesus, bound and bleeding from the beating, turn and look at him. Peter ran away and wept more bitterly than he had wept in his whole life. Caiaphas ordered his men to put Jesus in the cellar for the night.
Early Friday morning, they took Jesus to Pilate’s mansion. Meanwhile Judas went back to the elders at the temple.
“I was wrong to betray innocent blood,” he protested.
“What’s that to us? That’s your problem.” They were happy now.
Judas threw down the silver at their feet, turned and ran outside. Later they found him hanging from a tree outside the temple.
“What charge are you bringing against this person?” asked Pilate.
“If he wasn’t doing something wrong, we wouldn’t have handed him over to you,” they protested.
Pilate hated dealing with these Jews. “Take him yourself and try him by your own law.”
“We’re not allowed to kill anybody. We caught this guy undermining our society and keeping people from paying taxes to Caesar and saying he had been anointed the king.” Pilate summoned Jesus in front of him. “You’re the king of the Jews?” he asked.
Jesus looked at him. “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”
“Do I look like a Jew?” Pilate was annoyed. “Your people and your high priests handed you over to me. What did you do?”
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom was of this world, my servants would fight to the death for me not to be handed over to the Jews; but in fact, my kingdom isn’t here.”
Pilate kept up the inquiry. “So you are a king?”
“You say I am a king. What I was born for and what I came into the world for was to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth responds to my voice.”
“What is truth?” asked Pilate, without expecting a reply. He went back out to the Jews. “I don’t see any charge against him.”
The priests protested, “He’s inciting the populace, teaching all through Judea, starting with Galilee and ending here.”
Pilate saw his opportunity to get rid of this once and for all. He sent Jesus, a Galilean, to Herod, the governor of that region, who happened to be in Jerusalem during the festival. Herod was excited. He had heard about Jesus but had never seen him. Jesus refused to talk. As Herod listened to the accusations he grew disappointed that Jesus wouldn’t do or say anything. Finally Herod ended it. He put Jesus in a robe and sent him back to Pilate. Pilate smiled at Herod’s joke.but Pilate was done dealing with the Jews’ stupidity.
“You brought me this person on the grounds that he was undermining society and you see how I examined him in front of you and found no charge against the fellow of the kind you accused him of. Nor could Herod. That’s why he sent him back to us. He just hasn’t done anything worthy of death. So we’ll whip him to teach him a lesson and let him go.”
The crowd would have none of it. “Keep him and release Barabbas,” they shouted. “Crucify him, crucify him.”
Pilate couldn’t understand it. “But what did he do wrong? I couldn’t find any capital charge against him. So I’ll whip him soundly and let him go.” But the Jews still protested for Pilate to order Jesus’ execution.
Pilate’s wife sent word to him. “Have nothing to do with that innocent man,” she said. “I dreamt last night that I suffered horribly because of him.” Finally, Pilate tried one last gesture. He washed his hands in front of the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood, see to it yourselves.”
The crowd cried in unison, “Let his blood be on us and our children.” Pilate’s soldiers dressed Jesus in a crown of thorns and cloak of purple. They spit on him and hit him over the head with a cane. Pilate led Jesus out on the arch that stood above the city.
“See, I’m bringing him out here to let you know that I see no charge whatever against him. Here’s the fellow.”
“Crucify, crucify,” the crowd shouted.
Pilate was at the end of his wits. “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I don’t see any charge against him.”
“We have our law and by that law he deserves to die because he made himself out to be the son of God.”
Pilate’s face showed a blush of sudden fear. He knew stories of Roman gods visiting the earth to test human compassion. He took Jesus back inside.
“Where are you from?” he asked. Jesus did not answer.
“You won’t talk to me? Don’t you know I have the power to let you go and also the power to crucify you?”
Finally Jesus spoke,.”You would have no power at all over me if it wasn’t given you from above. So that the one who handed me over to you has the greater fault.”
That was it. Pilate told the Jews he had made a judgment to let Jesus go.
“If you let this guy go you’re no friend of Caesar’s. Anyone who makes himself out to be a king is speaking against Caesar.”
Pilate was shattered. He could not let Caesar think he was disloyal. After all, this man was just another Jew. He gave orders for the execution. The crowd cheered.
As Jesus was led through the streets, they grabbed a man named Simon to carry his cross. Women wept as they watched Jesus pass by. He turned to them, “Daughters of jerusalem, don’t cry for me, cry for yourselves and your children, because watch, there will come days when they will say, ‘Lucky for those who were sterile, for the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ Than they will start saying to the mountains, ‘fall upon us’ and to the hills, ‘cover us up’ and if they do that when the wood is still green, what will they do by the time it dries?”
They reached Golgotha outside the city, nailed Jesus to the cross and hung him between two criminals. The crowds passed by on their way into the city and mocked Jesus as he hung there. One of the criminals hanging with him joined in the jeering, “Aren’t you the Anointed? Save yourself and us.” The other interrupted, “Do you have no fear of God, just because your sentence is the same? We’re rightly getting what’s coming to us for what we did, but he did nothing unlawful.” He turned his eyes toward Jesus. “Jesus, remember me when you get to your kingdom.”
Jesus looked at him.”I promise you today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Jesus looked down at his mother standing by John. “Madam, here is your son.” He looked at John. “Here is your mother.”
As the afternoon wore on, the light began to dim. By three o’clock came it was dark all over the land. Jesus looked up and cried out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”
Those around wondered why he was calling Elijah.. Finally, Jesus cried out again. “It is finished. Father, I put my spirit in your hands”. As Jesus dropped his head, the Jews all over Israel killed their lamb for the Passover feast which would start at sundown.
All quotes are as translated by The Unvarnished New Testament, translated by Andy Gaus. The order of scriptures is designated by comparative studies of the four gospels, and citations are available on request