The events leading up to the crucifixion

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From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 10 – Jesus’s death on the cross

Jesus was very afraid and full of dread on the night before His arrest and trial, as He faced what lay ahead of Him the next day.  But He bravely carried on with it.  Reflect on the passage below and try to imagine the intensity of His emotional anguish on that final lonely night before His crucifixion, as the long awaited time of suffering drew near.  None of the apostles were sensitive enough to realise how alone and afraid He felt.  He wanted them to sit up with Him and keep Him company as He waited for His ordeal to begin.  He was in such turmoil He could not sleep.  In fact His stress was so intense that the Bible says He actually sweat blood.  That would have been due to small blood vessels under His skin bursting due to the pressure and fear He was experiencing:

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground.

Luke 22:44 (RSV)

However, the disciples were insensitive and did not realise how He felt.  Therefore they all just went to sleep. Therefore Jesus had to sit up on His own, waiting for His arrest, with nobody to comfort or encourage Him:

36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Matthew 26:36-41 (NIV)

Jesus felt horrified by what lay ahead of Him, on the cross, and especially at the prospect of having all the sin of the world transferred on to Him. He therefore prayed three times to God the Father.  In fact, He was so desperate He was pleading with God the Father to find some other way to save us, which would not involve Him dying on the cross.  But each time the Father said no and Jesus accepted that answer. He knew that there was no alternative.  Jesus then went ahead with it all for our sake:

42He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”  43When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.   

Matthew 26:42-44 (NIV)

Consider, how it must also have broken God the Father’s heart to have to say no three times when Jesus was praying in such a distraught manner.  We will never fully realise how much it cost God the Father to refuse Jesus’ prayer repeatedly in this way.  God the Father did all of that to Jesus, and to Himself, for our sake.  We need to be truly grateful for the Father’s part in the crucifixion, because what He suffered must have been terrible.

Finally the time came for Jesus to be arrested.  Even in that He had to experience the pain of being betrayed by Judas, one of His own followers:

45Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” 47While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.”

Matthew 26:45-48 (NIV)

On top of that betrayal, Jesus also suffered the pain of having Peter, one of His three closest friends, deny that he even knew Him.  Jesus told Peter in advance that this would happen:

31“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” 33And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34He said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.”

Luke 22:31-34 (RSV)

This was fulfilled within a matter of hours:

54Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance;55and when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light and gazing at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58And a little later some one else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” 60But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. 61And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62And he went out and wept bitterly. 

Luke 22:54-62 (RSV)
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