The Darkest Day

Soon after Jesus and the Apostles finished their Passover meal, they traveled to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Jesus asked his friends to pray. He moved slightly away from his friends and began to pray himself. Luke 22: 42 tell us in this prayer, he says, Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

How many times have your prayers been all about what you want? Gosh, I know some of my prayers have been all about me. I know there are times when the Lord wants to hear from me…talk to me about my day, did you see any miracles today? But when I really need something, at times I am guilty about praying for what I want without thinking about whether or not it would be what God wants. Note, Jesus, even though in his human body may not have wanted to die, He still recognized that if it was his Father’s will, that was the way it should be done. Lately, I am trying to see life in that view. My prayers have added that phrase to them, “not my will, but yours, Lord.” “Lord, if it is your will….” No one can fault Jesus for that. How would you feel if you had never done one thing wrong, you were with God from the beginning of the universe, but you were about to take on and suffer for all the sins of the world and be separated from God….even though for a short time, but how would you feel? After this prayer, an angel appeared and strengthened Him. But dig this…when he was done praying, praying so fervently that he was sweating, he noticed that all of his friends were sound asleep….not praying, but asleep. He woke them up, imploring them to pray not to fall into temptation.

At that moment, a crowd of people arrive with Judas among them. He approached Jesus to kiss him. I love these words from our Lord, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” A kiss. A true sign of love for someone. In this time period, it was customary to greet someone with a kiss. Now a days, we would compare it to shaking someone’s hand or giving them a hug if we are very familiar with this person. The disciples were suddenly aware of what was happening. A sword was pulled, a man’s ear was sliced off, and Jesus cried “ENOUGH!” Jesus was quite aware that these men, the high priests, had ample opportunity to arrest him during the daylight, but they chose the secrecy of nighttime. At night time, it wouldn’t make a scene with all of his followers. The guards took Jesus away. Peter followed closely behind, but stopped by a fire outside of the high priest’s house. Three times, Peter denied knowing Jesus as people recognized him as a man who followed Jesus. Three times, just as Jesus had told him. As the rooster crowed, Peter sat and wept bitterly.

Peter. The Rock. He denied the man whom he told he loved and would die for. Why did he do it? Why did he claim that he did not know Jesus? Fear? Fear of the unknown. Fear of what these people would do to him if they knew he was a Christ follower. In my last study on Tuesday, I told you that I had a confession to make about Peter. Peter will probably be the first person I seek out in Heaven after my Lord and Savior. Why? For so many years, I was very angry at Peter. Why would Jesus’ #1 man deny him? What was he thinking? How could he betray Jesus like that? That’s all I could see … his betrayal. I was Catholic at the time, and the biggest struggle I had was how Catholicism linked itself with Peter. The man who betrayed Christ. It has taken a lot of soul searching, but I have determined one thing….. I would have done it, too. Seriously. If I had just watched Jesus taken away by Roman soldiers, I probably would have denied him, too. Peter was afraid for himself. He was afraid of what would happen to him. He didn’t know at that time that they would crucify Jesus, but he knew something really bad was about to happen to him, and he didn’t want it to happen to himself as well. Would you want to be tortured? Thirty nine lashes. That’s what Jesus received for doing nothing wrong. Crucifixion was a punishment given to the WORST criminal offenders. Death by suffocation. I don’t want that, so if I just deny I know him, I am safe. Yes, I, Spicynutmeg, am Peter. What brought me out of this train of thought? Note in Luke 22: 31 “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.” Jesus knew that this was only a temporary betrayal. He told Peter that when he TURNS BACK, his job will be to strengthen the other apostles, his brothers in Christ. And he did. I will be asking Simon Peter for his forgiveness someday. Like Peter, right now in my life, I find it easy to say “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”, but when I am in a situation where I would be in this place, would I really be ready to sacrifice at that moment? I hope knowing what I know now that I would. I live in a country where Christians are not persecuted right at this moment in time. If it were ever to happen, I am glad to know that the Lord is there with me, praying that MY faith won’t fail.

As chapter 22 comes to an end and chapter 23 begins, Jesus is mocked and beaten by the guards watching over him, sent to Pontius Pilate who found no wrong in him, then sent to Herod who only wanted Jesus to act like a circus performer for him. When Jesus refused to perform miracles in front of him, he mocked him and sent him back to Pilate. Pilate still had nothing on him, but knowing that a large crowd was being incited over him, he told the crowds, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.

CRUCIFY HIM!

Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but the crowds wanted a known murdered Barabbas released.

CRUCIFY HIM!

But he hasn’t done anything wrong to require the death penalty!

CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!

Pilate did as they asked. They led our Lord away. Crucified him on a cross between two known criminals. Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross. Nails through his hands and his feet. He was mocked and jeered at from the centurions. He was mocked and scorned by one of the other criminals on the cross. “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and save us!” At the sixth hour until the ninth hour, darkness fell on the land. The sun stopped shining. The temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. This was the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. God tore this curtain from top to bottom…no longer is man kept from God. God was now available to all. It was at this time that Jesus gave up his spirit and died.

Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. He took his body down off the cross, wrapped it tightly in linens, and laid Him in a tomb cut into a mountainside where no one else had been lain. Since it was time to prepare for the Sabbath, Joseph rolled a huge stone across the entrance and went away.

The chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and asked that the tomb be made secure so that the body would not be stolen by Jesus’ followers. A seal was set on the stone and a guard was placed at the tomb. No one would be getting into that tomb. It was finished.

Lord! I should have been on that cross!  I am the one who deserves that punishment. Why did I do this???   I crucified your Son! How can I ever make this right?


1 Comment

  1. How true these words are. I think we all have some Peter in us.We are just sinners saved by grace, and on our own accord would do the same as Peter or even Judas, but through Christ’s example of love we are able to love unconditionally. Thank you Lord for making this all possible.


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