Jesus’ Last Days

This past Sunday, we celebrated Palm Sunday. The story of the joy and celebration of the people as Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem always made me wonder…how could things have gone so wrong just a couple days later? How could these people who shouted “HOSANNA!” one day be the same voices screaming “CRUCIFY HIM!” just days later? I have my theory, but first let me give you the background. I’ll begin in Luke 19: 28-44

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.‘ ” Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.

Such a wonderful and cheerful way to praise the King of Kings, Lord of Lords. These people had seen and heard of the miracles that he had performed. These people believed in him. He was their Savior, their Messiah. What happened then after the Passover?

Satan.

He started with one of the Twelve. Yes, one of Jesus’ own closest friends, Judas, was the first to betray him. Luke 22:1-6 tells us Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

Judas was the treasurer of the group. He was the keeper of the group’s money bag.  Why in the world would Judas want to betray Jesus? Had he not seen all the miracles he performed? Did he not believe that Jesus was the Messiah? If so, why would he follow the group for so long? Verse 3 tells us…“Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. “ Satan chose him. The Sanhedrin was looking for a way to arrest Jesus without a crowd, and Judas provided the way. For that, he was paid 30 silver pieces. Maybe Judas was tired of going from town to town without any money, depending on others for food and shelter. I dont’ know, I’ll have to ask him someday what was going through his mind. I don’t condemn Judas like I used to….I feel for him. I realize now that he didn’t crucify Jesus, we all did.

The Passover was a huge deal to the Jewish, and it still is today. It celebrates the day that God sent the angel of death over Egypt and saved them from Pharoah. That tenth plague brought on such grief in Egypt that Pharoah had no choice but to let the Israelites go. It was the time of celebration, and Jesus and the Twelve were looking for a place to celebrate with a Passover meal. Luke 22:7- 38 continues, “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.” They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

I want to pause here for a moment to reflect on a few things. In these verses is where we get our Lord’s Supper, also called Communion or Eucharist. God used the lamb’s blood to save the Israelites in Egypt. His people sacrificed animals to the Lord to atone for their sins, but that was not good enough. We needed a Lamb to be sacrificed in order for all of our sins to be forgiven. This Lamb was God’s son. The purpose in breaking the bread and drinking from the cup was to symbolize the ultimate sacrifice that was made for us all. As the hymn goes, “Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.” We needed that. Jesus knew that he was that Lamb. He taught the Apostles this at this supper so that they would always remember what he did for them. We do that same thing to this day. Some churches do it weekly. Others do it once a month. The most important thing to remember is not how often you do it, but the remembrance. Humbling yourself to realize that without God’s sacrifice, we would be eternally separated from Him. Abraham nearly sacrificed his only son, Isaac, but God stopped him and provided an animal fit for sacrifice. Isaac’s blood wouldn’t have saved us. Jesus’ blood saves us.

Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

This is one thing that Jesus taught that we still struggle with today. It has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. In our society today, we are so used to being first. My children struggle with this. The children I work with on a daily basis struggle with this (“I WANT TO BE THE LINE LEADER!”). We adults have this struggle, too. We have to keep up with the Joneses. We need more money…. he who has the most money wins, right? We need more things. I heard Jim Caviezel speak and one thing that I remember about this subject is for us to think of the rich man compared to the poor man. When each dies, who loses the most? You can’t take it with you. We are all important to God whether we have a lot or a little. First of all, he wants us to believe in His son. Secondly, he wants us to remember that Jesus came here to serve, not to lead. We are to model Jesus. WWJD was such a fad for awhile. Jesus wants us to give to others. Jesus wants us to put others before us, just as he did.

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me. Some day when I am in Heaven, I have to find Peter and apologize to him. For so many years, I literally spent being mad that Peter actually did this. I will go into this more when this part of the story actually happens, but I will admit this…. In those days and times, I would have been a Peter, too. I am pretty sure of it.

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That is enough,” he replied. Everything was always provided for the Apostles while they were with Jesus. They all depended on the hospitality of others, so they all traveled light. Once Jesus is gone, they were going to have to provide for themselves and protect themselves. Jesus knew that once everything was complete, the Apostles and other Christ followers would not be safe. They would need protection.

I’m going to end this part for the day, so look for part 2 on Friday. I want to close this part of the study by saying that Jesus could return at any time. He has a free gift for you. The gift of salvation and eternal life. If you have not taken this free gift from Him, please prayerfully consider that God loves you so much. It grieves him to see us so blinded by our pride, trying to wade through life saving ourselves. In this time of recession, we are depending on the government to bail us out, but this is the time when the Lord is saying to us all, “I am all you need. I can provide all you need.” God will never give up on you, no matter what we say or do. Will you allow him to provide for you? He provided for the Israelites a way out of Egypt to the Promised Land. He will provide for you, too.

4 Comments

  1. Spiceynutmeg,

    Great Reminder for this week. Really appreciate your personal insights. Deep inside, I always figured I would been at least a Peter, afraid that I would have been or could be a Judas.

  2. Thank you, Spicynutmeg,
    I will reread your article every day this week to refresh my commitment and the awe I have always felt towards my God because of all He has done for me.
    My little ones will hear me read ‘The Easter Story’ from the Word of God about our amazingly awesome Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
    Without Him I was a sorry mess but with Him, my life has been so very wonderfully dear. It is wonderful to still feel like a babe in Christ after serving Him for half of my life.
    God bless His truths to you as you digest and present them on this site.

  3. The death of Jesus for our sin, and His call for us to “take up (our) cross(es) and follow (him) directly applies to Christian marriage. Paul called for husbands to die to self-interest in their relationships with their wives: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved (his bride) the church and gave himself (by dying) for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

  4. Thank you for your mention of the “free gift” of salvation. It is my prayer that everyone who comes to this site will not only read about, but will accept this free gift!


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