Wow, it has been an incredible night. I don't even know how we got to the point where we are now, but I am standing at the foot of a cross. My rabbi, my Lord Jesus is hanging there.
It all started so great. Jesus and all His friends, including me, were gathered here in Jerusalem for the Passover. We were having such a good time, plenty of food and drink. Then Jesus got really strange, talking about leaving us, about how people would hate us. At one point, He said the bread was his body and the wine was His blood. What was that all about?
Jesus always did talk really deep. He knew so much about God, but most of what He said went right over my head. And He did such amazing things. He healed sick people and cast out demons. He even raised Lazarus from the dead just a few days ago. He fed people and made them feel safe. He even forgave people of their sins. We desperately wanted a king, someone to deliver us from the Romans, but He spent so much time talking about another world.
Suddenly during the dinner, Judas left. I can't say I ever really liked Judas. He was always a bit high-strung and I did not trust him. We didn't understand why he would go away at that moment. Jesus gave him some bread and whispered in his ear, then Judas got up and walked out, right in the middle of dinner!
After the supper, we went to a garden. Jesus wanted to pray and we often went to this garden because it was quiet and away from the crowds. Jesus spent so much time in prayer, talking to God just like a child would talk with a parent. He asked us to keep watch while he prayed. I watched Him for a little while. He knelt there, so still, so intense. But it was getting late and you know what kind of effect a big meal has on a body. I just shut my eyes for a moment. I wasn't the only one; we all fell asleep. Jesus got so upset that we couldn't stay awake for Him. We were exhausted after all that we had been doing and the air was so cool and calm. We often slept outside since we were always traveling to new towns to tell people about God. Besides, it was just another night, right?
But then Judas came back as suddenly as he left. He walked right up to Jesus and kissed Him. Judas was followed by a company of Roman soldiers and a bunch of those religious folk from Jerusalem. Jesus talked about them a lot. He even got into a discussion with them on Tuesday, when they tried to trick Him. He beat them at their own game, and now they are mad. But why the Romans, why the weapons? Had we really done something wrong? I have to admit that I was getting pretty scared.
We were not going down without a fight, so someone drew a sword. In the struggle, a Roman guard was hurt - his ear was cut. Jesus stopped the fighting and told us to put away the sword. And then Jesus healed the man. Can you believe that He would do that? They wanted to take Him away, perhaps even to His death, but Jesus showed him mercy by healing his ear and then went willingly with the soldiers. We followed as best we could and tried to stay near Jesus, but there was such a great crowd that it was hard to see what was happening. We heard that Jesus was taken before some sort of court and that He just stood there. People were lying about Him and saying all sorts of bad things, but He did not even try to defend Himself.
They took Jesus before Pontius Pilate. When Pilate questioned Him, Jesus talked about another world again. Doesn't He know what's at stake?
Jesus looked so sad, so hurt. He was always such a strong, healthy guy, but He looked beaten and dirty.
Pilate didn't want to deal with this case. He couldn't convict Jesus of anything according to the law and he saw no reason to crucify Him. But the crowd was getting out of control and there was talk of wanting Him dead. DEAD! Pilate gave us a choice of a prisoner to be freed for Passover - Jesus or Barabbas. I don't know how it happened, but the crowd chose Barabbas. He was a murderer! Jesus did nothing but talk about love and making things right. I just don't understand all this.
I don't know where the other disciples were; we had gotten separated in the confusion. We were all so afraid. We wanted to be with Jesus, but we hid in the crowd, afraid to be recognized as one of His disciples. I heard that Peter even said that he didn't know Jesus three times. You know, at the supper last night, Jesus said that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed, but we couldn't believe it. Peter loved Jesus so much.
When Pilate asked the crowd what he should do about Jesus, people started to yell, "Crucify Him." Crucify Him? What in the world did He do to deserve that? And what will happen to the rest of us? I wanted to go hide, but I couldn't leave my Lord. What will we do? How will we go on? We gave up everything to be with Jesus, and now… and now it is all over.
Now I stand at the base of a cross, seeing Jesus hanging there hurt and suffering. I can't believe we've gotten to this point. What went wrong? What could we have done different? They've made Him look like such a fool. They took His clothes, and divided them among themselves. They put a crown of thorns on His head, and a sign at the top of the cross that says, "This is the King of the Jews."
The crowd is taunting Jesus. "Hey, King of the Jews, save yourself and we'll believe in you." Even the other prisoners are yelling things at Him. Jesus is saying something but it is so hard to hear. He must be thirsty; someone is giving him some sour wine.
What was that? Can you believe this is happening? Jesus just asked God to forgive them, as if they did not know what they were doing.
"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" Where have I heard that before? Oh, I remember, it is from one of King David's Psalms... My God, Why have you forsaken Jesus?
Look, the sky is so dark. The earth is quaking. Jesus just said, "It is finished." Does He know it is His time to die? Listen, He says, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." It is almost as if He has control over His very life.
With a loud cry, my Lord breathed His last breath. A centurion nearby saw what happened and he is terrified, "Surely this was the Son of God!" But now it is too late. It is finished.
Of course, we know that this is not the end. But we will have to wait for Easter to hear the rest of the story.
A WORD FOR TODAY
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