Jesus Christ Our Passover
THE THIRTEENTH OF NISAN:
SUNSET TO SUNRISE
[*** Be sure to read Part Two before continuing.]
After all this, the apostles and Jesus Christ arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane. This is recorded in every Gospel.
Matthew 26: 36 -- Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
Mark 14: 32 -- And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
Luke 22: 40 -- And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
John 18: 1 -- When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over [beyond] the brook Cedron [Kidron], where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
John 18: 1 has caused many to assume that Jesus Christís last supper was eaten in Jerusalem, because the Brook Kidron** runs between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, where the traditional site of the garden is placed. But there are several things which the Biblical student must realize in handling this statement about the disciples' moving from the place of the last supper to the garden beyond the Brook Kidron.
[** Kidron is also spelled "Kedron" or "Cedron" in the Bible and other sources. The Kidron is actually a ravine which, in Biblical times, would flow with water at the end of winter. In fact, the word "brook" is "winter-flowing" in the Greek.]
First, there is no reason why Jesus could not have eaten his last supper at Bethany, then walked around the Mount of Olives to the southern and eastern sides of Jerusalem for a final look with his apostles before the arrest. Being below the city, they would then start up that beautiful valley and finally walk across the Kidron to the garden. They could even have entered the city via any of its southern or eastern gates, walked past the Temple area together one last time, and then left by the east gate to cross the Kidron. God's Word does not record all of the events occurring as they walked from the place of the last supper to the garden. However, it does record much teaching, prayer, and conversation during this time. Certainly there was time for many actions that simply were not recorded.
In the second place, the present-day site of Gethsemane is only a traditional site. Eminent scholars have challenged its authenticity. In Bible times such gardens were scattered on the Mount of Olives and its surrounding area. Since the actual site of Gethsemane is not known, its exact position in relationship to the Brook Kidron and Jerusalem in Jesus Christ' time is not known. Further, the statement in John that they went beyond the Brook Kidron to the garden does not necessitate that they crossed over the brook from the west side to the east. All of this information casts doubt on the arguments endeavoring to prove from John 18: 1 that the last supper was in Jerusalem in the upper room.
It is the erroneous teaching that the last supper was the Passover meal that has caused the confusion, because the Passover would have been eaten in Jerusalem. Since the last supper was clearly not the Passover meal, however, there is no reason for assuming that the last supper was eaten in Jerusalem. It is more logical that it was eaten in Bethany, where Jesus had gone on prior evenings to fellowship and eat with friends and disciples.
Upon entering the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ and his disciples were about to spend their last minutes together. This was a time of intense prayer in the face of immense pressure.
Matthew 26: 36 to 44 -- Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee [James and John], and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, 0 my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
[Biblically, the word "cup" is often used figuratively to indicate that one will partake of whatever the cup contains. Sometimes the cup is (figuratively) full of iniquity or the judgment and just retribution for iniquity ( see Psalms 11: 6, Isaiah 51: 17, Jeremiah 25: 15 to 18, Ezekiel 23: 33, Revelation 16: 19, 17: 4, 18: 6 ). Here in Matthew 26: 39, as in John 18: 11, the cup represents the agonizing responsibility set before Jesus Christ of taking the judgment for man's sins upon himself.]
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch [keep vigilant] with me one hour?
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is† willing, but the flesh is† weak.
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, 0 my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy .
And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
The Master had come to his most crucial hour before giving himself over to his enemies and yet his closest associates could not stay awake to watch with him. Peter, James, and John had been asked to stay awake and pray, yet the heaviness and anxiety of the situation had built up to the point of almost being unbearable. According to Luke 22: 45, "He found them sleeping for sorrow." The time of suffering was near, and Jesus was facing that time alone.
Three times Jesus went to God in prayer to establish God's revelation. Why did he ask God three times, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me"? Jesus was not afraid. He was not doubtful of God's promises. He simply began to fully recognize the excruciating suffering that was before him. There are many ways to die, and the type of death Jesus would endure was most agonizing. If there were any other way for God's plan of redemption to be carried out, Jesus asked that it be done.
Luke 22: 43 -- And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
In the midst of prayer, God provided His Son with an angel to strengthen him. What a relationship Jesus Christ had with his Father. While God could not relieve Jesus of the responsibility of enduring the suffering and death of the cross, He could give him tremendous support.
Luke 22: 44 -- And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
This does not say that Jesus sweat blood. It simply describes his sweat as being like great drops of blood. Some believe that Jesus literally sweat blood.
[Medically, it is possible to literally sweat blood under certain conditions, although it is extremely rare. However, this verse is clearly a figurative expression, not literal. It is interesting that some Greek and Aramaic sources omit Luke 22: 43 and 44.]
The use of the word "as" makes it clear that a figurative usage is intended, the figure of speech being simile. The word "blood" represents the life Jesus poured into this prayer. Hence this figure emphasizes the intensity with which Jesus prayed. Jesus prayed three times for another way to accomplish his task; but these three times God's answer was established and complete. There was no other way than the course set before Jesus. So with the greatest denial of self and the greatest act of loving obedience in human history, Jesus Christ submitted his own will to the will and purposes of God. After these moments of agony and decision, Jesus returned to find his three disciples sleeping again.
Matthew 26: 45 -- Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your† rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
But shortly after he told his disciples to rest here in verse 45, Jesus sensed a drastic change in the situation and roused them to action.
Matthew 26: 46 and 47 -- Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
The Gospel of Matthew says that the group that came for Jesus was an armed multitude. Further details are in the Gospel of John.
John 18: 2 and 3 -- And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place [he was well aware that they would be in that garden]: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
Judas then, having received a band [speira† is the Greek word used of a cohort, which is a military term for a group of soldiers] of men† and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
During crowded feast times, the Temple was normally guarded by an armed guard, a cohort consisting of four hundred to six hundred Roman soldiers! Their basic purpose was to maintain order among the multitudes at the Feast. There was also the regular Judean Temple guard composed of Levites. In addition, according to Luke 22: 52, some chief priests and elders accompanied the group making the arrest. At this Feast the religious leaders were so intent on capturing Jesus that they solicited these Roman soldiers along with their own officers of the Temple guard to arrest Jesus. In order to get Roman help, the chief priest and other religious leaders needed only to depict Jesus as a dangerous leader of rebels. Imagine hundreds of soldiers carrying torches and weapons out of Jerusalem to the Garden of Gethsemane. Then, under the light of the full moon of the Passover season,* these hundreds of soldiers and Temple guards are confronted by the object of their mission: one solitary man.
[* Since Nisan always began at the new moon, the moon would be full at mid-month.]
John 18: 4 to 6 -- Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he.† And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he,† they went backward, and fell to the ground.
Can you imagine one man courageously stepping out to meet hundreds of soldiers searching to arrest him? That is what Jesus did. Then, with complete presence of mind, already knowing the answer to his question, he simply asked, "Whom seek ye?" Next he admitted his identity with such calm straightforwardness that his questioners were totally overcome. Even though hundreds of soldiers were with them, their shock from Jesus' action was so great that they stepped back and dropped to the ground.
John 18: 7 to 9 -- Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he:† if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
Jesus was master of the situation. He literally handed himself over to the soldiers. But he took care to protect his disciples from arrest, because without Jesus' intervention the soldiers most certainly would have taken them into custody as well.
Up to this point Judas remained merged within the ranks of the soldiers. In order to save face with the other apostles, Judas did not want to appear to be participating in the capture of their master. So by staying in the background and then greeting Jesus with a seemingly innocent kiss, Judas could feign that he had merely followed the captors when he realized the Master was in danger. While appearing to lovingly greet Jesus, Judas stepped forward and delivered a planned signal for the soldiers and leaders -- this proved to be the kiss of death.
Matthew 26: 48 -- Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.
Luke 22: 47 and 48 -- And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
Matthew 26: 49 and 50 - And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? . . .
The juxtaposition of a kiss with betrayal is ironic, as a kiss is the usual greeting of an intimate friend. "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" This does not mean Jesus was ignorant of Judas' intentions. The Aramaic reads, "My friend, for this [meaning, this greeting of a kiss] are you come to me?" Jesus Christ's words expressed the irony of Judas' action.
Luke 22: 49 and 50 -- When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off [cut; his ear was not completely severed so that it fell off] his right ear.
John 18: 10 -- Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant [one of the Levitical Temple guard], and cut off [cut, not completely severed] his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
Matthew 26: 50 to 54 -- And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his† hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off [cut, not completely severed] his ear.
Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
Impetuous Peter, so often impulsive in his actions, jumped to the defense of his master by partially cutting off the ear of Malchus, a servant of† the high priest. That could have potentially set off† an explosive and violent fray; however, Jesus Christ remained unflustered and in complete control of the situation. He made it unmistakably clear that the soldiers were going to take him away only because he chose to let them do so.
John 10: 15b and 18a -- ". . . and I lay down my life for the sheep". . . "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. . . ."
He could have had twelve legions of angels to defend him if he chose, many more than there were soldiers in that band. But Jesus' desire was to fulfill the Scriptures so he gave himself over to these men.
Luke 22: 51 -- And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far [just hold it for a moment]. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
Jesus touched and healed the man's ear which Peter had cut. Can you imagine what thoughts the soldiers and the religious leaders must have had when Jesus restored Malchus' ear. They had surely never before arrested anyone like this. After this miracle in the midst of such tumult, Jesus wanted to know why the chief priests, the Temple captains, and the elders chose to arrest him as though he were a common criminal in hiding.
Luke 22: 52 and 53 -- Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?
When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
Jesus said that this hour was not his, but rather his captors' hour and† the hour of the power of darkness. The Adversary was having his time of command. After this statement, the soldiers arrested Jesus and began to take him away.
Matthew 26: 56 -- But this was done, that [with the result that] the scriptures of the prophets might be [were] fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
As Jesus had predicted, the disciples scattered from him, and "all the disciples forsook him." There were two individuals at the scene of the arrest whom we should specifically note as recorded in Mark 14.
Mark 14 : 51, 52, and 54 -- And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his† naked body;† and the young men [guards and soldiers] laid hold on him:
And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
And Peter followed him [Jesus] afar off. . . .
The young man who escaped the soldiers is not named in God's Word, although the possibility of his being Lazarus certainly merits consideration. The Biblical usage of "naked" means that he had on only his tunic and girdle. The linen cloth indicates that the young man may have been wealthy, which could apply to Lazarus. As John 12: 10 noted, the religious leaders wanted to arrest Lazarus as well as Jesus, and there is no indication that they pursued any of the other disciples present. The presence of this young man is another indication that others besides the twelve were present. While this young person was fleeing, Peter was following Jesus and his captors at a distance.
Before taking Jesus to Caiaphas, the guards and soldiers first took him to Annas, a former high priest.
John 18: 12 to 14 -- Then the band and the captain [a tribune; a top-level Roman commander] and officers [officers of the Levitical Temple guard] of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,
And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
Annas himself had been the only high priest at one time. In the minds of most Judeans who knew the Scriptures, he would be the high priest as long as he lived. However, by this point in time, the Romans had deposed Annas and appointed Caiaphas as high priest. Thus while Caiaphas was the official high priest in the eyes of the Romans, Annas remained the high priest in the eyes of Judaism. That is how the Judeans had the unique situation of having two high priests at this time. Caiaphas had the most legal power, but Annas for many reasons actually carried the most influence in the religious community. Annas and Caiaphas, because of position and being father and son-in-law, probably lived in the same palace.
[This is especially true in the East where relatives often live together. Also, the first denial by Peter was while Jesus was before Annas and Peter was at a fire in the courtyard. In some of the other denials the situation was the same except that Jesus was before Caiaphas. There is no indication that Peter went to a different courtyard. Annas and Caiaphas probably lived in separate parts of the same palace. That is why they would share a common courtyard.]
Annas, besides once having been the sole high priest, had also influenced the decisions as to who was to be chosen to succeed him in that position. No fewer than five of his sons, a son-in-law, and one of his grandsons filled the office of high priest at various times. Presently, at this time of Jesus' trial, Annas' son-in-law Caiaphas was the high priest. That is clearly stated here in John 18: 13.
Annas was obviously as resolute as his son-in-law in seeking the death of Jesus. And with his experience in handling difficult situations, he would be valuable both in dealing with Jesus and in formulating the charges against him.
1. Arrested in garden late Monday night (Matthew 26: 47 to 6, Mark 14: 43 to 52, Luke 22: 47 to 53, John 18: 2 to 12)
3. Appeared before Caiaphas and Sanhedrin in a "night trial" late Monday night and very early Tuesday morning (Matthew 26: 57 to 75, Mark 14: 53 to 72, Luke 22: 54 to 65, John 18: 24 to 27)
12. Died about 3 P.M. on Wednesday (Matthew 27: 50 to 54, Mark 15: 37 to 39, Luke 23: 45 to 48, John 19: 30 to 37)
From Jesus' arrest until his death was a period of approximately forty hours. During this time he was utterly humiliated, illegally "tried," savagely tortured, and relentlessly mocked.
Having studied the arrest of Jesus Christ, I want to go again to his appearance before Annas and events associated with that appearance. The record in John now focuses on Peter, who had followed the group to the palace of the high priest.
John 18: 15 to 18 -- And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did† another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one† of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.
And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
This was Peter's first denial. It was the only denial that occurred while Jesus was before Annas. It happened as Peter entered the courtyard of the palace. The "other disciple which was known unto the high priest" is not named here. It may have been Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea.
The word "palace" in John 18: 15 is the Greek word aule† and the Aramaic word drtha,† both of which are used of an open courtyard around which a house is built. Peter had been standing outside the door which was the gate leading from the street to the courtyard. When the disciple known to the high priest spoke to the female porter keeping the door to the courtyard, she allowed Peter to enter the courtyard area where the fire was. There he warmed himself with servants and officers of the Temple. The Roman soldiers, having carried out the arrest, were gone by this time.
John 18: 19 to 23 -- The high priest [here referring to Annas] then asked Jesus of [about] his disciples, and of [about] his doctrine.
Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers [of the Temple guard] which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand [rhapisma], saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
End Of Part Three