Psalm 31:9-16 The Voice (VOICE)
9 Show me Your grace, Eternal One, for I am in a tight spot.
11 To all my enemies I am an object of scorn.
14 But I pour my trust into You, Eternal One.
Isaiah 50:4-9 The Voice (VOICE)
4 The Lord, the Eternal, equipped me for this job—
The prophet speaks, but his words are those of the Servant of God. The Servant is in tune with God, the Master Teacher. He teaches as he has been taught, and—for the first time it seems—He understands that suffering is an integral part of the work God has for him. The reality for God’s Servant and any who follow him is this: to be close with God means to be at odds with people.
7 Because the Lord, the Eternal, helps me I will not be disgraced;
Philippians 2:5-11 The Voice (VOICE)
5 In other words, adopt the mind-set of Jesus the Anointed. Live with His attitude in your hearts. Remember:
6 Though He was in the form of God,
Luke 22:14-23:56 The Voice (VOICE)
14 When the meal was prepared, Jesus sat at the table, joined by His emissaries.[a]
The meal that Jesus and His disciples shared is still celebrated today among followers of Jesus. We surround it with varied rituals and music, but the original meal took place in the midst of great drama and tension. The disciples were arguing, and Jesus was teaching them yet another lesson about life in the kingdom of God. Jesus even spoke of His own suffering and their betrayal and denial. Yet through it all, Jesus’ focus remained on the central theme of His life and mission: the coming of the kingdom of God.
Jesus: 15 It has been My deep desire to eat this Passover meal with you before My suffering begins. 16 Know this: I will not eat another Passover meal until its meaning is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17 He took a cup of wine and gave thanks for it.
Jesus: Take this; share it among yourselves. 18 Know this: I will not drink another sip of wine until the kingdom of God has arrived in fullness.
19 Then He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and shared it with them.
Jesus: This is My body, My body given for you. Do this to remember Me.
20 And similarly, after the meal had been eaten, He took the cup.
Jesus: This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant, made in My blood. 21 But even now, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on this table. 22 As it has been determined, the Son of Man, that firstfruit of a new generation of humanity, must be betrayed, but how pitiful it will be for the person who betrays Him.
23 They immediately began questioning each other.
Disciples: Which one of us could do such a horrible thing?
24 Soon they found themselves arguing about the opposite question.
Disciples: Which one of us is the most faithful, the most important?
Jesus (interrupting): 25 The authority figures of the outsiders play this game, flexing their muscles in competition for power over one another, masking their quest for domination behind words like “benefactor” or “public servant.” 26 But you must not indulge in this charade. Instead, among you, the greatest must become like the youngest and the leader must become a true servant. 27 Who is greater right here as we eat this meal—those of us who sit at the table, or those who serve us? Doesn’t everyone normally assume those who are served are greater than those who serve? But consider My role among you. I have been with you as a servant.
28 You have stood beside Me faithfully through My trials. 29 I give you a kingdom, just as the Father has given Me a kingdom. 30 You will eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will have authority over the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 Simon, Simon, how Satan has pursued you, that he might make you part of his harvest. 32 But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will hold firm and that you will recover from your failure and become a source of strength for your brothers here.
Peter: 33 Lord, what are You talking about? I’m going all the way to the end with You—to prison, to execution—I’m prepared to do anything for You.
Jesus: 34 No, Peter, the truth is that before the rooster crows at dawn, you will have denied that you even know Me, not just once, but three times. 35 Remember when I sent you out with no money, no pack, not even sandals? Did you lack anything?
Disciples: Not a thing.
Jesus: 36 It’s different now. If you have some savings, take them with you. If you have a pack, fill it and bring it. If you don’t have a sword, sell your coat and buy one. 37 Here’s the truth: what the Hebrew Scriptures said, “And He was taken as one of the criminals,”[b] must come to fruition in Me. These words must come true.
Disciples: 38 Look, Lord, we have two swords here.
Jesus: That’s enough.
There is powerful consistency in Jesus’ life. Again and again, He withdraws from the crowds to pray in solitude. Now, at this dramatic moment, Jesus again withdraws to pray—in a solitude made more intense by the fact that He has asked His disciples to pray, too, but they have fallen asleep. And in this moment of anguished emotion, Jesus mouths a prayer that resonates with His consistent message of the Kingdom. He has taught His disciples to pray, “May Your kingdom come,” which is a request for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Now, drenched in sweat, Jesus Himself prays simply for God’s will to be done, even if it means He must drink the cup of suffering that awaits Him in the hours ahead.
We often speak of having faith in Jesus; but we seldom speak of the faith of Jesus, a faith He demonstrated consistently throughout His life and especially at its end. In a moment of agony, Jesus still trusted God, still yielded His will to God, and still approached God as “Father,” placing Himself in the position of a child, in trust—profound, tested, sincere.
39 Once again He left the city as He had been doing during recent days, returning to Mount Olivet along with His disciples. 40 And He came to a certain place.
Jesus: Pray for yourselves, that you will not sink into temptation.
41 He distanced Himself from them about a stone’s throw and knelt there, 42 praying.
Jesus: Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me. Yet not My will, but Your will, be done.
[43 Then a messenger from heaven appeared to strengthen Him. 44 And in His anguish, He prayed even more intensely, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.][c] 45 When He rose from prayer and returned to the disciples, He found them asleep, weighed down with sorrow. 46 He roused them.
Jesus: Why are you sleeping? Wake up and pray that you will not sink into temptation.
47 Even as He said these words, the sound of a crowd could be heard in the distance, and as the crowd came into view, it was clear that Judas was leading them. He came close to Jesus and gave Jesus the traditional greeting of a kiss.
Jesus: 48 Ah, Judas, is this how you betray the Son of Man—with a kiss?
Disciples (realizing what was going on): 49 Lord, is this why You told us to bring the swords? Should we attack?
50 Before Jesus could answer, one of them had swung his sword at the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear.
Jesus: 51 Stop! No more of this!
Then He reached out to touch—and heal—the man’s ear. 52 Jesus turned to the chief priests, the captains of the temple, and the elders and spoke.
Jesus: Do you think I’m some sort of violent criminal? Is that why you came with swords and clubs? 53 I haven’t been hard to find—each day I’ve been in the temple in broad daylight, and you never tried to seize Me there. But this is your time—night—and this is your power—the power of darkness.
54 They grabbed Him at this point and took Him away to the high priest’s home. Peter followed—at a distance. 55 He watched from the shadows as those who had seized Jesus made a fire in the center of the courtyard and sat down around it. Then Peter slipped in quietly and sat with them. 56 But a young servant girl saw his face in the firelight. She stared for a while and then spoke.
Servant Girl: This fellow here was with Jesus. I recognize him.
Peter (denying it): 57 Woman, I don’t even know the man.
58 A little later, a man also recognized him.
Man: I recognize you. You’re one of Jesus’ followers.
Peter: Man, you’re wrong. I’m not.
59 An hour or so passed, and then another person pointed to Peter.
Another Person: This fellow is obviously Galilean. He must be a member of Jesus’ group.
Peter: 60 Look, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
And he hadn’t even finished the sentence when a nearby rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned toward Peter, and their eyes met. Peter remembered Jesus’ words about his triple denial before the rooster would crow, 62 so he left the courtyard and wept bitter tears.
63 At this point, the men who were holding Jesus began to mock Him and beat Him. 64 They put a blindfold on Him.
Men Holding Jesus: Hey, Prophet! Use Your prophetic powers to tell us who just whacked You!
65 They kept on with this sort of insulting, degrading treatment for quite some time. 66 When dawn had given way to full day, the Sanhedrin council assembled, consisting of religious leaders of the Sadducean party, along with the chief priests and religious scholars. They took Him to their headquarters for interrogation.
Sanhedrin: 67 If you are the Anointed One whom God promised us, tell us plainly.
Jesus: If I give you an answer, you won’t believe it. 68 And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer it. 69 But this I will say to you: from now on, the Son of Man will take His seat at the right hand of the power of God.
Sanhedrin: 70 So You are the Son of God, then?
Jesus: It’s as you say.
Sanhedrin: 71 What more evidence do we need? We’ve heard it with our own ears from His own lips.
23 So the whole council got up and took Jesus to Pilate. 2 They brought accusations against Him.
Sanhedrin: We have observed this man leading our nation astray. He even forbade us to pay our taxes to Caesar. He claims to be the Anointed One and a King Himself.
Pilate: 3 Are You the King of the Jews?
Jesus: It’s as you say.
Pilate (to the chief priest and crowd): 4 I find this man guilty of no crime.
Sanhedrin (growing more intense): 5 He has been stirring up discontent among the people all over Judea. He started up in Galilee, and now He’s brought His brand of trouble all the way to Jerusalem!
Pilate: 6 Just a minute. Is this man a Galilean?
7 When Pilate learned that Jesus was indeed Galilean—which meant He was officially under Herod’s jurisdiction—Pilate sent Him over to Herod, who was currently in Jerusalem. 8 Herod was fascinated to meet Jesus for he had heard about Him for a long time. He was hoping he might be treated to a miracle or two. 9 He interrogated Jesus for quite a while, but Jesus remained silent, refusing to answer his questions. 10 Meanwhile the chief priests and religious scholars had plenty to say—angrily hurling accusations at Jesus.
11 Eventually Herod and his soldiers began to insult Jesus, mocking and degrading Him. They put expensive clothing on Him and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 This ended a long-standing rift between Herod and Pilate; they became friends from that day forward.
13 Pilate assembled the chief priests and other Jewish authorities.
Pilate: 14 You presented this man to me as a rabble-rouser, but I examined Him in your presence and found Him not guilty of the charges you have leveled against Him. 15 Herod also examined Him and released Him to my custody. So He hasn’t done anything deserving the death penalty. 16 I’ll see to it that He is properly whipped and then let Him go.
[17 It was the custom for Pilate to set one prisoner free during the holiday festivities.][d]
Crowd (all shouting at once): 18 Away with this man! Free Barabbas instead!
Crucifixion is a favorite Roman punishment for insurrectionists, slaves, and prisoners of war. Anyone daring to defy the power and authority of Caesar is executed in this public and humiliating way. Jesus indeed is a revolutionary. He doesn’t come to proclaim a new religion, but a new kingdom—a new way of life. He is indeed a threat to Caesar’s way of doing things, a way that co-opts the religious leaders.
Jesus’ revolution is a peaceful revolution. He doesn’t advocate the use of violence—in fact, when one of His disciples uses the sword to try to protect Jesus from arrest, Jesus heals the “enemy” and rebukes His disciple. So Jesus doesn’t support the regime of Caesar or follow the usual violent path of revolution: He leads a revolutionary revolution—in a path of love, healing, justice, and reconciliation.
Jesus appropriates and transforms the symbol of their power into a symbol of His greater power. He makes the cross not the icon of violent domination, but the reverse. By hanging on the cross and speaking of forgiveness, Jesus shows that there is a greater power at work in the world than the power of domination: it’s the power of God’s saving and reconciling love.
19 Barabbas had been imprisoned after being convicted of an insurrection he had led in Jerusalem. He had also committed murder. 20 Pilate argued with them, wishing he could release Jesus, 21 but they wouldn’t be silenced.
Crowd (shouting): Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
Pilate (countering a third time): 22 Why? What has He done that is so evil? I have found in Him no offense worthy of capital punishment. As I said, I will punish Him and then release Him.
23 But they would not relent. They shouted louder and louder that He should be crucified, and eventually Pilate capitulated. 24 So he pronounced the punishment they demanded.
25 He released the rebel and murderer Barabbas—the insurrectionist they had pleaded for in His place—and he handed Jesus over to them to do with as they desired.
26 On the way to the place of crucifixion, they pulled a man from the crowd—his name was Simon of Cyrene, a person from the countryside who happened to be entering the city at that moment. They put Jesus’ cross on Simon’s shoulders, and he followed behind Jesus. 27 Along with Him was a huge crowd of common people, including many women shrieking and wailing in grief.
Jesus (to the people in the crowd): 28 Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me. Weep instead for yourselves and weep for your children. 29 Days are coming when people will say, “Blessed are the infertile; blessed are the wombs that never bore a child; blessed are the breasts that never nursed an infant.” 30 People will beg the mountains, “Surround us!” They’ll plead with the hills, “Cover us!”[e] 31 For if they treat Me like this when I’m like green unseasoned wood, what will they do to a nation that’s ready to burn like seasoned firewood?
32 Jesus wasn’t the only one being crucified that day. There were two others, criminals, who were also being led to their execution. 33 When they came to the place known as “The Skull,” they crucified Jesus there, in the company of criminals, one to the right of Jesus and the other to His left.
Jesus: 34 [Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.][f]
Meanwhile they were drawing lots to see who would win Jesus’ clothing. 35 The crowd of people stood, watching.
Authorities (mocking Jesus): So He was supposed to rescue others, was He? He was supposed to be God’s Anointed, the Liberating King? Let’s see Him start by liberating Himself!
36 The soldiers joined in the mockery. First, they pretended to offer Him a soothing drink—but it was sour wine.
Soldiers: 37 Hey, if You’re the King of the Jews, why don’t You free Yourself!
38 Even the inscription they placed over Him was intended to mock Him—“This is the King of the Jews!” [This was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.][g]
39 One of the criminals joined in the cruel talk.
Cynical Criminal: You’re supposed to be the Anointed One, right? Well—do it! Rescue Yourself and us!
40 But the other criminal told him to be quiet.
Believing Criminal: Don’t you have any fear of God at all? You’re getting the same death sentence He is! 41 We’re getting what we deserve since we’ve committed crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong at all! 42 (turning to Jesus) Jesus, when You come into Your kingdom, please remember me.
Jesus: 43 I promise you that this very day you will be with Me in paradise.
44 At this point, it was about noon, and a darkness fell over the whole region. The darkness persisted until about three in the afternoon, 45 and at some point during this darkness, the curtain in the temple was torn in two.
The tearing of this heavy curtain in the temple is highly symbolic. Because this curtain separated the holiest place in the temple from the rest of the temple, some see in this act a symbol of God opening the way for unholy humans to enter into His holy presence: Jesus’ death brought forgiveness and opened the way for all to come to God. Others see in the curtain’s being torn the opposite meaning: God’s presence can no longer be confined to any single geographical place. The suffering and death of Jesus ended one age of human history, and now a new era has begun. Now God is on the move, at large, invading the whole world. Or perhaps this graphic image means both.
Jesus (shouting out loudly): 46 Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands![h]
And with those words, He exhaled—and breathed no more.
47 The Centurion[i]—one of the soldiers who performed the execution—saw all this, and he praised God.
Centurion: No doubt, this man must have been innocent.
48 The crowds of common people who had gathered and watched the whole ordeal through to its conclusion left for their homes, pounding on their own chests in profound grief. 49 And all who knew Jesus personally, including the group of women who had been with Him from the beginning in Galilee, stood at a distance, watching all of these things unfold.
50 Meanwhile a man named Joseph had been at work. He was a member of the council, a good and fair man, 51 from a Judean town called Arimathea. He had objected to the plans and actions of the council; he was seeking the kingdom of God. 52 He had gone to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 He removed the body from the cross and wrapped it in a shroud made of fine linen. He then laid the body in a cavelike tomb cut from solid rock, a tomb that never had been used before. 54 It was Preparation Day—the day before the holy Sabbath—and it was about to begin at sundown. 55 The women who had accompanied Jesus from the beginning in Galilee now came, took note of where the tomb was and how His body had been prepared, 56 then left to prepare spices and ointments for His proper burial. They ceased their work on the Sabbath so they could rest as the Hebrew Scriptures required.
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