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Matthew 26 (The Message)

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1 When Jesus finished saying these things, he told his disciples, 2 "You know that Passover comes in two days. That's when the Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over for crucifixion." 3 At that very moment, the party of high priests and religious leaders was meeting in the chambers of the Chief Priest named Caiaphas, 4 conspiring to seize Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 They agreed that it should not be done during Passover Week. "We don't want a riot on our hands," they said. 6 When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. 8 When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. "That's criminal! 9 This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor." 10 When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. "Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. 11 You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. 13 You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired." 14 That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests 15 and said, "What will you give me if I hand him over to you?" They settled on thirty silver pieces. 16 He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over. 17 On the first of the Days of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Where do you want us to prepare your Passover meal?" 18 He said, "Enter the city. Go up to a certain man and say, 'The Teacher says, My time is near. I and my disciples plan to celebrate the Passover meal at your house.'" 19 The disciples followed Jesus' instructions to the letter, and prepared the Passover meal. 20 After sunset, he and the Twelve were sitting around the table. 21 During the meal, he said, "I have something hard but important to say to you: One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators." 22 They were stunned, and then began to ask, one after another, "It isn't me, is it, Master?" 23 Jesus answered, "The one who hands me over is someone I eat with daily, one who passes me food at the table. 24 In one sense the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures - no surprises here. In another sense that man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man - better never to have been born than do this!" 25 Then Judas, already turned traitor, said, "It isn't me, is it, Rabbi?" Jesus said, "Don't play games with me, Judas." 26 During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples: Take, eat. This is my body. 27 Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them: Drink this, all of you. 28 This is my blood, God's new covenant poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins. 29 "I'll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day when I'll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father." 30 They sang a hymn and went directly to Mount Olives. 31 Then Jesus told them, "Before the night's over, you're going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me. There is a Scripture that says, I'll strike the shepherd; helter-skelter the sheep will be scattered. 32 But after I am raised up, I, your Shepherd, will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee." 33 Peter broke in, "Even if everyone else falls to pieces on account of you, I won't." 34 "Don't be so sure," Jesus said. "This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times." 35 Peter protested, "Even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you." All the others said the same thing. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, "Stay here while I go over there and pray." 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. 38 Then he said, "This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me." 39 Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, "My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?" 40 When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, "Can't you stick it out with me a single hour? 41 Stay alert; be in prayer so you don't wander into temptation without even knowing you're in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there's another part that's as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire." 42 He then left them a second time. Again he prayed, "My Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I'm ready. Do it your way." 43 When he came back, he again found them sound asleep. They simply couldn't keep their eyes open. 44 This time he let them sleep on, and went back a third time to pray, going over the same ground one last time. 45 When he came back the next time, he said, "Are you going to sleep on and make a night of it? My time is up, the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the hands of sinners. 46 Get up! Let's get going! My betrayer is here." 47 The words were barely out of his mouth when Judas (the one from the Twelve) showed up, and with him a gang from the high priests and religious leaders brandishing swords and clubs. 48 The betrayer had worked out a sign with them: "The one I kiss, that's the one - seize him." 49 He went straight to Jesus, greeted him, "How are you, Rabbi?" and kissed him. 50 Jesus said, "Friend, why this charade?" 51 One of those with Jesus pulled his sword and, taking a swing at the Chief Priest's servant, cut off his ear. 52 Jesus said, "Put your sword back where it belongs. All who use swords are destroyed by swords. 53 Don't you realize that I am able right now to call to my Father, and twelve companies - more, if I want them - of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready? 54 But if I did that, how would the Scriptures come true that say this is the way it has to be?" 55 Then Jesus addressed the mob: "What is this - coming out after me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I have been sitting in the Temple teaching, and you never so much as lifted a hand against me. 56 You've done it this way to confirm and fulfill the prophetic writings." Then all the disciples cut and ran. 57 The gang that had seized Jesus led him before Caiaphas the Chief Priest, where the religion scholars and leaders had assembled. 58 Peter followed at a safe distance until they got to the Chief Priest's courtyard. Then he slipped in and mingled with the servants, watching to see how things would turn out. 59 The high priests, conspiring with the Jewish Council, tried to cook up charges against Jesus in order to sentence him to death. 60 But even though many stepped up, making up one false accusation after another, nothing was believable. 61 with this: "He said, 'I can tear down this Temple of God and after three days rebuild it.'" 62 The Chief Priest stood up and said, "What do you have to say to the accusation?" 63 Jesus kept silent. Then the Chief Priest said, "I command you by the authority of the living God to say if you are the Messiah, the Son of God." 64 Jesus was curt: "You yourself said it. And that's not all. Soon you'll see it for yourself: The Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Mighty One, Arriving on the clouds of heaven." 65 At that, the Chief Priest lost his temper, ripping his robes, yelling, "He blasphemed! Why do we need witnesses to accuse him? You all heard him blaspheme! 66 Are you going to stand for such blasphemy?" They all said, "Death! That seals his death sentence." 67 Then they were spitting in his face and banging him around. They jeered as they slapped him: 68 "Prophesy, Messiah: Who hit you that time?" Denial in the Courtyard 69 All this time, Peter was sitting out in the courtyard. One servant girl came up to him and said, "You were with Jesus the Galilean." 70 In front of everybody there, he denied it. "I don't know what you're talking about." 71 As he moved over toward the gate, someone else said to the people there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazarene." 72 Again he denied it, salting his denial with an oath: "I swear, I never laid eyes on the man." 73 Shortly after that, some bystanders approached Peter. "You've got to be one of them. Your accent gives you away." 74 Then he got really nervous and swore. "I don't know the man!" 75 Peter remembered what Jesus had said: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried.
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