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|Just as God’s clock showed the time when Jesus was to be born, it was now about to show the time when He would finish His work on earth. Even though He had been healing and teaching for only about 3 years, countless children and grownups had received His special help. Many people believed He was the promised deliverer. Surely someone who could raise the dead would make a wise and powerful king!|
|When Jesus had entered Jerusalem on a colt that day, the people had praised Him like He was a king already. This made the priests and rulers very angry. While the people were hoping Jesus would be crowned king at Passover, the priests and rulers decided to try to get rid of Jesus before the Passover feast ended.
Passover was a yearly celebration when the Jews were to come to Jerusalem and celebrate their deliverance from Egypt at the time of Moses many years before. They were to eat a special meal with their families, and sometimes share with neighbors. The meal included vegetables dipped in a sauce, roasted lamb from their sacrifice, unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
Jesus and His disciples prepared to eat the Passover supper together. When everything was ready, they sat down at the table and Jesus talked with them. Many times He had tried to tell them what was going to happen to Him. They thought Jesus had come to save them from the Romans. They couldn’t understand that He had come to save them from the power of Satan.
As Jesus spoke to them, the disciples were shocked to hear Him say, “One of you will betray me.”
Each disciple quickly asked, “Lord, is it I?”
Finally, Judas Iscariot said, “Rabbi, is it I?”
“You have said it,” Jesus replied. By this Jesus meant that Judas was the betrayer.
After the supper, Jesus led His disciples out of the city toward the Garden of Gethsemane. He was still talking to them, trying to make them understand what was going to happen to Him. “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night,” He said, “but after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
When the group reached the garden, Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray over there. “The time had come when Jesus was to give His life as a sacrifice for the world’s sin. He knew how much He needed special strength. He dreaded being shut away from God. He was afraid it might be forever.
While Jesus prayed, the disciples became so tired they fell asleep. Suddenly there was the sound of shouting, and a crowd of people, led by Judas, came into the garden.
“Whom are you seeking?” asked Jesus.
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered.
“I am He,” Jesus told them.
The mob surrounded Him, took hold of Him, tied His hands and led Him from the garden. The disciples were so frightened they all ran away. But Peter and another disciple turned and followed at a safe distance as the crowd hurried to the high priest’s house where the scribes and elders had gathered.
After some men told lies about Jesus, the council decided He should be put to death. They took Him to Pilate, the governor, to obtain his agreement to their plan. Pilate questioned Jesus, then told the priests that he could find no reason to crucify Him. When Pilate learned that Jesus was from another district, he sent Him to Herod who was in charge of that area. Herod tried unsuccessfully to get Jesus to do a miracle. He and his men put a purple robe on Jesus, made fun of Him, then sent Him back to Pilate.
Pilate tried to talk the people out of their plan, but they wouldn’t listen. Finally Pilate gave in and told them to go ahead and do whatever they wanted. This was what the people had been waiting for. They took Jesus to the hill where crucifixions took place. The Roman soldiers nailed Jesus to a wooden cross as if He had been a thief or murderer. At the same time, two thieves were being crucified and Jesus’ cross was placed between theirs.
Even though Jesus was suffering, He still thought of others. He knew that the men who were treating Him so cruelly were under Satan’s control. He looked toward heaven and said: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Suddenly, although it was the middle of the day, it become dark as midnight. The great crowd that had gathered became strangely quiet. “It is finished,” they heard Jesus say.
An earthquake shook the ground. The terrified people ran to seek shelter.
When the soldiers again looked at Jesus, they discovered He was dead.
“Truly this was the Son of God!” one of the guards declared.
Some of Jesus’ followers came and took His body to a new tomb. The disciples were very sorrowful. Their hope was gone. They went back to where they were staying and prepared for the Sabbath. What a sad Sabbath it would be! If only they could have remembered Jesus’ promise that He would rise again, what a difference it would have made.
How much Jesus loves us! When He died on the cross, He suffered for the bad things we have done. Jesus traded places with us—He died for us and gave us eternal life instead. When we accept Him as Savior, we accept the trade He made for us. We become members of God’s family! God wants you to accept Jesus as your Savior because He loves you. Just think—He sent His Son to die, so He could have you in His family.
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