As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead.
2"Go into the village over there," he said, "and you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them here. 3If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will immediately send them." 4
This was done to fulfill the prophecy,
"Tell the people of Israel, 'Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey -- even on a donkey's colt.'"
The two disciples did as Jesus said.
They brought the animals to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.
Most of the crowd spread their coats on the road ahead of Jesus, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
He was in the center of the procession, and the crowds all around him were shouting, "Praise God for the Son of David! Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!"
The entire city of Jerusalem was stirred as he entered. "Who is this?" they asked.
And the crowds replied, "It's Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."
Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the stalls of those selling doves.
He said, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be called a place of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves!" 14
The blind and the lame came to him, and he healed them there in the Temple.
The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the little children in the Temple shouting, "Praise God for the Son of David." But they were indignant
and asked Jesus, "Do you hear what these children are saying?" "Yes," Jesus replied. "Haven't you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, 'You have taught children and infants to give you praise."'
Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.
In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry,
and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs on it, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" And immediately the fig tree withered up.
The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?"
Then Jesus told them, "I assure you, if you have faith and don't doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, 'May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,' and it will happen. 22If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."23
When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and other leaders came up to him. They demanded, "By whose authority did you drive out the merchants from the Temple? Who gave you such authority?"
24"I'll tell you who gave me the authority to do these things if you answer one question," Jesus replied.
25"Did John's baptism come from heaven or was it merely human?" They talked it over among themselves. "If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn't believe him.
But if we say it was merely human, we'll be mobbed, because the people think he was a prophet."
So they finally replied, "We don't know." And Jesus responded, "Then I won't answer your question either."
28"But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' 29The son answered, 'No, I won't go,' but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30Then the father told the other son, 'You go,' and he said, 'Yes, sir, I will.' But he didn't go. 31Which of the two was obeying his father?" They replied, "The first, of course." Then Jesus explained his meaning: "I assure you, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32For John the Baptist came and showed you the way to life, and you didn't believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to turn from your sins and believe him."
33"Now listen to this story. A certain landowner planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. 34At the time of the grape harvest he sent his servants to collect his share of the crop. 35But the farmers grabbed his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36So the landowner sent a larger group of his servants to collect for him, but the results were the same."
37"Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, 'Surely they will respect my son.'"
38"But when the farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, 'Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let's kill him and get the estate for ourselves!' 39So they grabbed him, took him out of the vineyard, and murdered him."
40"When the owner of the vineyard returns," Jesus asked, "what do you think he will do to those farmers?"41
The religious leaders replied, "He will put the wicked men to a horrible death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop after each harvest."42
Then Jesus asked them, "Didn't you ever read this in the Scriptures? 'The stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous to see.' 43What I mean is that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. 44Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone on whom it falls."45
When the leading priests and Pharisees heard Jesus, they realized he was pointing at them -- that they were the farmers in his story.
They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid to try because the crowds considered Jesus to be a prophet.
Jesus told them several other stories to illustrate the Kingdom. He said,
2"The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3Many guests were invited, and when the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify everyone that it was time to come. But they all refused! 4So he sent other servants to tell them, 'The feast has been prepared, and choice meats have been cooked. Everything is ready. Hurry!' 5But the guests he had invited ignored them and went about their business, one to his farm, another to his store. 6Others seized his messengers and treated them shamefully, even killing some of them."
7"Then the king became furious. He sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their city. 8And he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren't worthy of the honor. 9Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.'"
10"So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. 11But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn't wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12'Friend,' he asked, 'how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?' And the man had no reply. 13Then the king said to his aides, 'Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14For many are called, but few are chosen."15
Then the Pharisees met together to think of a way to trap Jesus into saying something for which they could accuse him.
They decided to send some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to ask him this question: "Teacher, we know how honest you are. You teach about the way of God regardless of the consequences. You are impartial and don't play favorites.
Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not?"
But Jesus knew their evil motives. "You hypocrites!" he said. "Whom are you trying to fool with your trick questions? 19Here, show me the Roman coin used for the tax." When they handed him the coin,
he asked, "Whose picture and title are stamped on it?"21
"Caesar's," they replied. "Well, then," he said, "give to Caesar what belongs to him. But everything that belongs to God must be given to God." 22
His reply amazed them, and they went away.
That same day some Sadducees stepped forward -- a group of Jews who say there is no resurrection after death. They posed this question:
"Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will be the brother's heir.'
Well, there were seven brothers. The oldest married and then died without children, so the second brother married the widow.
This brother also died without children, and the wife was married to the next brother, and so on until she had been the wife of each of them.
And then she also died.
So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For she was the wife of all seven of them!"
Jesus replied, "Your problem is that you don't know the Scriptures, and you don't know the power of God.30For when the dead rise, they won't be married. They will be like the angels in heaven. 31But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead -- haven't you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, 32'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' So he is the God of the living, not the dead."33
When the crowds heard him, they were impressed with his teaching.
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they thought up a fresh question of their own to ask him.
One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question:
"Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?"
Jesus replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."41
Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question:
42"What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They replied, "He is the son of David."
Jesus responded, "Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, call him Lord? For David said,44'The LORD said to my Lord, Sit in honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.' 45Since David called him Lord, how can he be his son at the same time?"46
No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,
2"The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the Scriptures. 3So practice and obey whatever they say to you, but don't follow their example. For they don't practice what they teach. 4They crush you with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to help ease the burden."
5"Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear extra long tassels on their robes.
6And how they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the most prominent seats in the synagogue! 7They enjoy the attention they get on the streets, and they enjoy being called 'Rabbi.'
8Don't ever let anyone call you 'Rabbi,' for you have only one teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters. 9And don't address anyone here on earth as 'Father,' for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. 10And don't let anyone call you 'Master', for there is only one master, the Messiah.
11The greatest among you must be a servant. 12But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
13"How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you won't let others enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and you won't go in yourselves. 1415Yes, how terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn him into twice the son of hell as you yourselves are."
16"Blind guides! How terrible it will be for you! For you say that it means nothing to swear 'by God's Temple' -- you can break that oath. But then you say that it is binding to swear 'by the gold in the Temple.' 17Blind fools! Which is greater, the gold, or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? 18And you say that to take an oath 'by the altar' can be broken, but to swear 'by the gifts on the altar' is binding! 19How blind! For which is greater, the gift on the altar, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
20When you swear 'by the altar,' you are swearing by it and by everything on it. 21And when you swear 'by the Temple,' you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it.
22And when you swear 'by heaven,' you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne."
23"How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law -- justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things. 24Blind guides! You strain your water so you won't accidentally swallow a gnat; then you swallow a camel!"
25"How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy -- full of greed and self-indulgence! 26Blind Pharisees! First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean, too."
27"How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs -- beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people's bones and all sorts of impurity. 28You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness."
29"How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed and decorate the graves of the godly people your ancestors destroyed. 30Then you say, 'We never would have joined them in killing the prophets.'"
31"In saying that, you are accusing yourselves of being the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Go ahead. Finish what they started. 33Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell? 34I will send you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. You will kill some by crucifixion and whip others in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. 35As a result, you will become guilty of murdering all the godly people from righteous Abel to Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered in the Temple between the altar and the sanctuary. 36I assure you, all the accumulated judgment of the centuries will break upon the heads of this very generation."
37"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me. 38And now look, your house is left to you, empty and desolate.
39For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, 'Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings.
But he told them, "Do you see all these buildings? I assure you, they will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another!"3
Later, Jesus sat on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and asked, "When will all this take place? And will there be any sign ahead of time to signal your return and the end of the world?"
Jesus told them, "Don't let anyone mislead you. 5For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Messiah.' They will lead many astray. 6And wars will break out near and far, but don't panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won't follow immediately. 7The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come."
9"Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. 10And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11And many false prophets will appear and will lead many people astray. 12Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13But those who endure to the end will be saved. 14And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come."
15"The time will come when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about: the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place" -- reader, pay attention! 16"Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 17A person outside the house must not go inside to pack. 18A person in the field must not return even to get a coat. 19How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for mothers nursing their babies in those days. 20And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For that will be a time of greater horror than anything the world has ever seen or will ever see again. 22In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, the entire human race will be destroyed. But it will be shortened for the sake of God's chosen ones."
23"Then if anyone tells you, 'Look, here is the Messiah,' or 'There he is,' don't pay any attention. 24For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great miraculous signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God's chosen ones. 25See, I have warned you."
26"So if someone tells you, 'Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,' don't bother to go and look. Or, 'Look, he is hiding here,' don't believe it! 27For as the lightning lights up the entire sky, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. 28Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near. "
29"Immediately after those horrible days end, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. 30And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he will send forth his angels with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven."
32"Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its buds become tender and its leaves begin to sprout, you know without being told that summer is near. 33Just so, when you see the events I've described beginning to happen, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. 34I assure you, this generation will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. 35Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever."
36"However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows."
37"When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day. 38In those days before the Flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39People didn't realize what was going to happen until the Flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes."
40"Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. 42So be prepared, because you don't know what day your Lord is coming."
43"Know this: A homeowner who knew exactly when a burglar was coming would stay alert and not permit the house to be broken into. 44You also must be ready all the time. For the Son of Man will come when least expected."
45"Who is a faithful, sensible servant, to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his household and feeding his family? 46If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 47I assure you, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 48But if the servant is evil and thinks, 'My master won't be back for a while,' 49and begins oppressing the other servants, partying, and getting drunk -- 50well, the master will return unannounced and unexpected. 51He will tear the servant apart and banish him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
1"The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps, 4but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5When the bridegroom was delayed, they all lay down and slept. 6At midnight they were roused by the shout, 'Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him!'7"All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8Then the five foolish ones asked the others, 'Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.' 9But the others replied, 'We don't have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.'10"But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, 'Sir, open the door for us!' 12But he called back, 'I don't know you!'13"So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return.14"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a trip. He called together his servants and gave them money to invest for him while he was gone. 15He gave five bags of gold to one, two bags of gold to another, and one bag of gold to the last -- dividing it in proportion to their abilities -- and then left on his trip. 16The servant who received the five bags of gold began immediately to invest the money and soon doubled it. 17The servant with two bags of gold also went right to work and doubled the money. 18But the servant who received the one bag of gold dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money for safekeeping.19"After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of gold said, 'Sir, you gave me five bags of gold to invest, and I have doubled the amount.' 21The master was full of praise. 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!'22"Next came the servant who had received the two bags of gold, with the report, 'Sir, you gave me two bags of gold to invest, and I have doubled the amount.' 23The master said, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!'24"Then the servant with the one bag of gold came and said, 'Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate. 25I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is.'26"But the master replied, 'You wicked and lazy servant! You think I'm a hard man, do you, harvesting crops I didn't plant and gathering crops I didn't cultivate? 27Well, you should at least have put my money into the bank so I could have some interest. 28Take the money from this servant and give it to the one with the ten bags of gold. 29To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away. 30Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'31"But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. 34Then the King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'37"Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' 40And the King will tell them, 'I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'41"Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons! 42For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me anything to drink. 43I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me no clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'44"Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?' 45And he will answer, 'I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.' 46And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he said to his disciples,
2"As you know, the Passover celebration begins in two days, and I, the Son of Man, will be betrayed and crucified."3
At that same time the leading priests and other leaders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest,
to discuss how to capture Jesus secretly and put him to death.
"But not during the Passover," they agreed, "or there will be a riot."
Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had leprosy.
During supper, a woman came in with a beautiful jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head.
The disciples were indignant when they saw this. "What a waste of money," they said.
"She could have sold it for a fortune and given the money to the poor."
But Jesus replied, "Why berate her for doing such a good thing to me? 11You will always have the poor among you, but I will not be here with you much longer. 12She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. 13I assure you, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman's deed will be talked about in her memory."14
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests
and asked, "How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?" And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.
From that time on, Judas began looking for the right time and place to betray Jesus.
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do you want us to prepare the Passover supper?"
18"As you go into the city," he told them, "you will see a certain man. Tell him, 'The Teacher says, My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.'" 19
So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover supper there.
When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the twelve disciples.
While they were eating, he said, "The truth is, one of you will betray me."22
Greatly distressed, one by one they began to ask him, "I'm not the one, am I, Lord?"
He replied, "One of you who is eating with me now will betray me. 24For I, the Son of Man, must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for my betrayer. Far better for him if he had never been born!"25
Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, "Teacher, I'm not the one, am I?"And Jesus told him, "You have said it yourself."
As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and asked God's blessing on it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "Take it and eat it, for this is my body." 27
And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, "Each of you drink from it, 28for this is my blood, which seals the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out to forgive the sins of many. 29Mark my words -- I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father's Kingdom." 30
Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
31"Tonight all of you will desert me," Jesus told them. "For the Scriptures say, 'God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' 32But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there."33
Peter declared, "Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will."
34"Peter," Jesus replied, "the truth is, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times."35
"No!" Peter insisted. "Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!" And all the other disciples vowed the same.
Then Jesus brought them to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, "Sit here while I go on ahead to pray." 37
He took Peter and Zebedee's two sons, James and John, and he began to be filled with anguish and deep distress.
He told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me."39
He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine." 40
Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, "Couldn't you stay awake and watch with me even one hour? 41Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!"42
Again he left them and prayed, "My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away until I drink it, your will be done." 43
He returned to them again and found them sleeping, for they just couldn't keep their eyes open.
So he went back to pray a third time, saying the same things again.
Then he came to the disciples and said, "Still sleeping? Still resting? Look, the time has come. I, the Son of Man, am betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Up, let's be going. See, my betrayer is here!"47
And even as he said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a mob that was armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent out by the leading priests and other leaders of the people.
Judas had given them a prearranged signal: "You will know which one to arrest when I go over and give him the kiss of greeting."
So Judas came straight to Jesus. "Greetings, Teacher!" he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.
Jesus said, "My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for." Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him.
One of the men with Jesus pulled out a sword and slashed off an ear of the high priest's servant.
52"Put away your sword," Jesus told him. "Those who use the sword will be killed by the sword.53Don't you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?"55
Then Jesus said to the crowd, "Am I some dangerous criminal, that you have come armed with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn't you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. 56But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures." At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Then the people who had arrested Jesus led him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and other leaders had gathered.
Meanwhile, Peter was following far behind and eventually came to the courtyard of the high priest's house. He went in, sat with the guards, and waited to see what was going to happen to Jesus.
Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death.
But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, there was no testimony they could use. Finally, two men were found
who declared, "This man said, 'I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'"
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Well, aren't you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?"
But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, "I demand in the name of the living God that you tell us whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God."
Jesus replied, "Yes, it is as you say. And in the future you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God's right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven." 65
Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror, shouting, "Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy.
What is your verdict?" "Guilty!" they shouted. "He must die!"
Then they spit in Jesus' face and hit him with their fists. And some slapped him,
saying, "Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?"
Meanwhile, as Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, a servant girl came over and said to him, "You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean."
But Peter denied it in front of everyone. "I don't know what you are talking about," he said.
Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth."
Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. "I don't even know the man," he said.
A little later some other bystanders came over to him and said, "You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent."
Peter said, "I swear by God, I don't know the man." And immediately the rooster crowed.
Suddenly, Jesus' words flashed through Peter's mind: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And he went away, crying bitterly.
Very early in the morning, the leading priests and other leaders met again to discuss how to persuade the Roman government to sentence Jesus to death.
Then they bound him and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.
When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and other leaders.
"I have sinned," he declared, "for I have betrayed an innocent man." "What do we care?" they retorted. "That's your problem."
Then Judas threw the money onto the floor of the Temple and went out and hanged himself.
The leading priests picked up the money. "We can't put it in the Temple treasury," they said, "since it's against the law to accept money paid for murder."
After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter's field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners.
That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood.
This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says, "They took the thirty pieces of silver -- the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel --
and purchased the potter's field, as the Lord directed."
Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. "Are you the King of the Jews?" the governor asked him.Jesus replied, "Yes, it is as you say."12
But when the leading priests and other leaders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent.
"Don't you hear their many charges against you?" Pilate demanded.
But Jesus said nothing, much to the governor's great surprise.
Now it was the governor's custom to release one prisoner to the crowd each year during the Passover celebration -- anyone they wanted.
This year there was a notorious criminal in prison, a man named Barabbas.
As the crowds gathered before Pilate's house that morning, he asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you -- Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?"
(He knew very well that the Jewish leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)
Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: "Leave that innocent man alone, because I had a terrible nightmare about him last night."
Meanwhile, the leading priests and other leaders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death.
So when the governor asked again, "Which of these two do you want me to release to you?" the crowd shouted back their reply: "Barabbas!"
"But if I release Barabbas," Pilate asked them, "what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?" And they all shouted, "Crucify him!"
"Why?" Pilate demanded. "What crime has he committed?" But the crowd only roared the louder, "Crucify him!"
Pilate saw that he wasn't getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this man. The responsibility is yours!"
And all the people yelled back, "We will take responsibility for his death -- we and our children!"
So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to crucify him.
Some of the governor's soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire battalion.
They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him.
They made a crown of long, sharp thorns and put it on his head, and they placed a stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery, yelling, "Hail! King of the Jews!"
And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and beat him on the head with it.
When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
As they were on the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and they forced him to carry Jesus' cross.
Then they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Hill).
The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.
After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there.
A signboard was fastened to the cross above Jesus' head, announcing the charge against him. It read: "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews."
Two criminals were crucified with him, their crosses on either side of his.
And the people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery.
"So! You can destroy the Temple and build it again in three days, can you? Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!"
The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders also mocked Jesus.
"He saved others," they scoffed, "but he can't save himself! So he is the king of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him!
He trusted God -- let God show his approval by delivering him! For he said, 'I am the Son of God.'"
And the criminals who were crucified with him also shouted the same insults at him.
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock.
At about three o'clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 47
Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah.
One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a stick so he could drink.
But the rest said, "Leave him alone. Let's see whether Elijah will come and save him."
Then Jesus shouted out again, and he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart,
and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead
after Jesus' resurrection. They left the cemetery, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.
The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, "Truly, this was the Son of God!"
And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance.
Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and Zebedee's wife, the mother of James and John.
As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who was one of Jesus' followers,
went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him.
Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long linen cloth.
He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance as he left.
Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting nearby watching.
The next day -- on the first day of the Passover ceremonies -- the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate.
They told him, "Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: 'After three days I will be raised from the dead.'
So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he came back to life! If that happens, we'll be worse off than we were at first."
Pilate replied, "Take guards and secure it the best you can."
So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)