Christmas to Calvary — December 22


The Chief Priests and Scribes Plot to Kill Jesus

Now the feast of Unleavened Bread (which is called Passover) was drawing near. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they could destroy him, because they were afraid of the people.

Judas Arranges to Betray Jesus

And Satan entered into Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers of the temple guard how he could betray him to them. And they were delighted, and came to an agreement with him to give him money. And he agreed, and began looking for a favorable opportunity to betray him to them apart from the crowd.

Jesus’ Final Passover with the Disciples

And the day of the feast of Unleavened Bread came, on which it was necessary for the Passover lamb to be sacrificed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.” So they said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare it?” And he said to them, “Behold, when you have entered into the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house which he enters. And you will say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ And he will show you a large furnished upstairs room. Make preparations there.” So they went and found everything just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

The Lord’s Supper

And when the hour came, he reclined at the table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you that I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took in hand a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the product of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

And he took bread, and after giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And in the same way the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you.

“But behold, the hand of the one who is betraying me is with me on the table! For the Son of Man is going according to what has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to debate with one another who then of them it could be who was going to do this.

A Dispute About Who Is Greatest

And a dispute also occurred among them as to which of them was recognized as being greatest. So he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are called benefactors. But you are not to be like this! But the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the one who leads like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am in your midst as the one who serves.

“And you are the ones who have remained with me in my trials, and I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. And you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death!” And he said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know me!”

The Two Swords

And he said to them, “When I sent you out without a money bag and a traveler’s bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” And they said, “Nothing.” And he said to them, “But now the one who has a money bag must take it, and likewise a traveler’s bag. And the one who does not have a sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this that is written must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was counted with the criminals.’ For indeed, what is written about me is being fulfilled.” So they said, “Lord, behold, here are two swords!” And he said to them, “It is adequate.”

The Prayer in Gethsemane

And he went away and proceeded, according to his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples also followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw and knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take away this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” And an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. And being in anguish, he began praying more fervently and his sweat became like drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he got up from the prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping from sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you will not enter into temptation!”

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

While he was still speaking, behold, there came a crowd, and the one named Judas, one of the twelve, leading them. And he approached Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those around him saw what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” And a certain one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. And Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come out against him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as against a robber? Every day when I was with you in the temple courts, you did not stretch out your hands against me! But this is your hour and the domain of darkness!”

Peter’s Denial of Jesus

And they arrested him and led him away and brought him into the house of the high priest. But Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. And a certain female slave, seeing him sitting in the light and looking intently at him, said, “This man also was with him!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him!” And after a short time another person saw him and said, “You also are one of them!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” And after about one hour had passed, someone else was insisting, saying, “In truth this man also was with him, because he is also a Galilean!” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” And immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. And the Lord turned around and looked intently at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

And the men who were guarding him began to mock him while they beat him, and after blindfolding him they repeatedly asked him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck you?” And they were saying many other things against him, reviling him.

Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

And when day came, the council of elders of the people gathered, both chief priests and scribes, and they led him away to their Sanhedrin, saying, “If you are the Christ, tell us!” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will never believe, and if I ask you, you will never answer! But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you then the Son of God?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” And they said, “Why do we have need of further testimony? For we ourselves have heard it from his mouth!”

Questions for Reflection:

  • How does the Father’s “no” to Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane ultimately lead to our salvation and Jesus’ glory?

  • What is it about God that enables Him to receive those, like Peter (and us), who once rejected Him? What aspects of His character does the forgiveness of rebels, backsliders, and blasphemers reveal?

  • Why must Christians be committed to the truth? What happens if a Christian keeps a slippery grip on truth?

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