36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” 47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Jesus is alone.
The disciples said they wouldn’t leave Jesus alone. Peter said, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you…Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all the disciples said the same. But those were false words. Jesus knew that his time to die had come. It was his time of need. And in the Garden, he made a simple request of his disciples, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here and stay awake with me.” But they couldn’t. Jesus went off to pray, and when he came back, they were asleep. And even though Jesus asked them again, they could not stay awake with him for one hour.
Jesus is alone. And betrayed.
Suddenly a crowd with swords and clubs from the chief priests show up. And Judas, one of Jesus’ own disciples, steps forward and pretends to be a friend. But his friendliness is only a cover. And what he does is sinister. “Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.’ And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ And he kissed him.” And they immediately laid hands on him.
Jesus is alone. He’s betrayed. He’s deserted.
When they laid hands on Jesus to arrest him, one of the disciples drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. But Jesus is not a criminal. He does not return evil for evil. And he said to his disciple, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” It was not time to fight. It was time to die. And that’s what his disciples said they would do: “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.” But when the time came to die with Jesus? “Then all the disciples left him and fled.”
Jesus is alone, betrayed, and deserted. But Jesus embraces it. Despite his anguish, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And when they came to arrest him, Jesus welcomed their arrest. “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
This is why he came. As he said before, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick…I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Or again, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Yes, Jesus came to give his life, even for those who did him wrong; even for sinners like you and me.
57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” 69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Jesus tells the truth and he is condemned.
They brought him in before the council and put him on trial. And they brought many false witnesses against him. And the High Priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the High Priest asked the only question that mattered: “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” And Jesus could not remain silent. He told the truth. “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
And their verdict: “He has uttered blasphemy.” “He deserves death.”
Jesus tells the truth and he is condemned. Peter lies, and he is set free.
Peter followed at a distance as far as the courtyard. And when a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean,” he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” Another servant girl came and said the same. And again Peter denied it. Then the bystanders began to catch on, and they said, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” And Peter did not just lie; he invoked a curse on himself and swore, “I do not know the man.”
Jesus tells the truth and he is condemned. Peter lies, and he is set free. And Peter knows how horrible it all is. Immediately the rooster crowed. “And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.” Peter thought he would be the righteous one, who would stand up for Jesus when the time came. Peter thought he would be the savior who stood up for Jesus. But no, Peter is a sinner.
But that means Peter too is someone Jesus came to save. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2 And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor. 3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” 11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
There’s some ambiguity here. Something’s not clear. Is having Jesus’ blood on your hands good or bad?
On the one hand, it seems bad to have Jesus’ blood on your hands. Judas’s thirty pieces of silver are blood money: guilty and sordid and untouchable. Judas didn’t want it. He brought it back to the chief priests and elders, “I have sinned against innocent blood.” But they didn’t want it either. “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury since it is blood money.” So they used it to buy a field to bury foreigners, those who are already unclean.
On the other hand, though, Jesus said his blood was the blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
But there’s more. Pilate doesn’t want to have anything to do with this righteous man’s blood. When the chief priests brought Jesus to Pilate, Pilate found no charge against him. And when they insisted all the more, Pilate began to work a deal to release Barabbas instead. But his wife interrupted: “Have nothing to do with this righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” And when the crowd insisted all the more to crucify him, Pilate washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”
And the people? Well, Jesus’ blood is all over them. First they insist on setting free a notorious criminal in exchange for the death of this righteous man. Then, when Pilate is ready to release Jesus—“Why, what evil has he done?” they shout all the more, “Let him be crucified!” And then when Pilate washes his hands of Jesus’ blood, they insist: “Let his blood be on us and on our children.”
Jesus’ blood is all over the people. But is that a good thing or a bad thing? Clearly they are guilty of his blood. On the other hand, though, Jesus’ blood is the blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
“Let his blood be on me and on my children.”
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
If the people tried to make one thing clear, it’s that Jesus is no king.
The soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters and gathered the whole battalion before him—1000 men. And before them all, they stripped him, put a scarlet robe on him, twisted a crown of thorns together and put it on his head, and gave him a reed in his right hand. And they knelt before him and mocked him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And spit on him and took his own humble scepter and struck him on the head with it. Some king!
Then they crucified this so-called king. And so everyone could see exactly what he was not, they put a sign over his head: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Some king, nailed to a cross, stripped bare, and dying before everyone!
And the people who passed by made the obvious conclusions. “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” And the chief priests and elders chimed in: “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the king of Israel; let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him.” Even the robbers who were crucified with him derided him. Some king!
But don’t be fooled. This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. The very Son of God who came to rule and reign over God’s creation. What the people don’t realize is that his suffering, his humiliation, his pain, this is Jesus having his royal way with this world. As Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”
This is Jesus having his way with the world and ruling in all his glory. Isaiah says, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed”(Isaiah 53.3-5)
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
The centurion and those with him, when they see the way Jesus died, they’re terrified! As Jesus neared his death, darkness came over the land in the middle of the day. After Jesus breathed his last, the temple curtain was torn in two, there was an earthquake and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the tombs. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with fear and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” They’re afraid because suddenly they realize that this was in fact the Son of God. But now he’s dead. And they did it!
Why are they terrified? This man they tortured and they mocked and they betrayed and they abandoned and they crucified was the Son of God!
Jesus’ death makes one thing crystal clear: No one is righteous–no, not one!
But it also makes something else crystal clear: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”(Romans 5.6-8).
Sinners, one and all, behold your Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.