The sufferings and death of Jesus coincided with the annual Passover festival. The sinless Lamb of God would quietly take the place prepared for Him at the center of a great divine drama, while “the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Him by stealth and kill Him.”
One woman knew that He would soon die, and she became a model of costly devotion as she “anointed” His body “for burial.” Meanwhile, one of His disciples prepared “to betray Him.”
At this turning point between the Old Testament and the New, Jesus instituted the sacramental meal that would mark the centrality of His death in the worship of the church for centuries to come. The faithful would hear His words as they ate bread and drank the fruit of the vine. “This is My body,” and “This is My blood of the covenant which is poured out for many.”
In “a place called Gethsemane,” the Redeemer earnestly implored His Father to “remove” the “cup” of holy wrath that the Son of God would drink for His people. Though He asked His closest friends to “watch and pray,” it was very evident that their flesh was “weak,” for they would sleep through His hour of turmoil.
Soon Jesus’ “betrayer” would turn Him over to His adversaries with the sign of a “kiss” and Mark would run away “naked.” The “chief priests and the whole Council” of religious authorities would condemn our Savior for His supposed “blasphemy,” soldiers would abuse His body, and the man who had so recently confessed Him as the Christ would “deny” Him “three times.” In the midst of all the horror of human sin, we still clearly hear the words of our Messiah when asked about whether He was “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed.” His answer: “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, the enemies of Your Son were eager to put Him to death. We thank You that You have taught us to love our Savior from the heart. We would pour out our lives in devotion to Him. Still, the Judas impulse of betrayal troubles Your children in every age, for the false friends of Jesus are not only outside the church. Betrayers are among the ministers and disciples of our King. Despite this treachery, our Shepherd gave His body and blood for His sheep. Forgive us, Father, for we think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Like Peter, we imagine that we have the strength to be faithful through any test. Jesus faced the agony of death as our Substitute. There was no other way. Your will was done in the salvation of sinners. Through the sign of a kiss, many would cause trouble in Your household even today. Others believe in the powers of the world, and would attempt to build Your kingdom with carnal weapons, rather than the sword of the Spirit. Many would bring false witness against Christ and His church. How can Your kingdom survive? Through the power that comes from above, You stand against evil and violence. Though brutal men would beat and mock Your Son, He wins His battle without responding to any of the lies of false witnesses. May we not deny You despite the intimidation of those who seem to have great authority. We mourn our unfaithfulness and again commit ourselves to follow in the way of the cross.