The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which begins with the Passover celebration, was drawing near.
The leading priests and teachers of religious law were actively plotting Jesus' murder. But they wanted to kill him without starting a riot, a possibility they greatly feared.
Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples,
and he went over to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them.
They were delighted that he was ready to help them, and they promised him a reward.
So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus so they could arrest him quietly when the crowds weren't around.
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lambs were sacrificed.
Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, "Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together."
"Where do you want us to go?" they asked him.
He replied, "As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters,
say to the owner, 'The Teacher asks, Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?'
He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is the place. Go ahead and prepare our supper there."
They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover supper there.
Then at the proper time Jesus and the twelve apostles sat down together at the table.
Jesus said, "I have looked forward to this hour with deep longing, anxious to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins.
For I tell you now that I won't eat it again until it comes to fulfillment in the Kingdom of God."
Then he took a cup of wine, and when he had given thanks for it, he said, "Take this and share it among yourselves.
For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come."
Then he took a loaf of bread; and when he had thanked God for it, he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
After supper he took another cup of wine and said, "This wine is the token of God's new covenant to save you -- an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you. "
"But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me.
For I, the Son of Man, must die since it is part of God's plan. But how terrible it will be for my betrayer!"
Then the disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.
And they began to argue among themselves as to who would be the greatest in the coming Kingdom.
Jesus told them, "In this world the kings and great men order their people around, and yet they are called 'friends of the people.'
But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.
Normally the master sits at the table and is served by his servants. But not here! For I am your servant.
You have remained true to me in my time of trial.
And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right
to eat and drink at my table in that Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat.
But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers."
Peter said, "Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you."
But Jesus said, "Peter, let me tell you something. The rooster will not crow tomorrow morning until you have denied three times that you even know me."
Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler's bag, or extra clothing, did you lack anything?" "No," they replied.
"But now," he said, "take your money and a traveler's bag. And if you don't have a sword, sell your clothes and buy one!
For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: 'He was counted among those who were rebels.' Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true."
"Lord," they replied, "we have two swords among us." "That's enough," he said.
Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives.
There he told them, "Pray that you will not be overcome by temptation."
He walked away, about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed,
"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine."
Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.
He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.
At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief.
"Why are you sleeping?" he asked. "Get up and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you."
But even as he said this, a mob approached, led by Judas, one of his twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus and greeted him with a kiss.
But Jesus said, "Judas, how can you betray me, the Son of Man, with a kiss?"
When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, "Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!"
And one of them slashed at the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear.
But Jesus said, "Don't resist anymore." And he touched the place where the man's ear had been and healed him.
Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard and the other leaders who headed the mob. "Am I some dangerous criminal," he asked, "that you have come armed with swords and clubs to arrest me?
Why didn't you arrest me in the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness reigns."
So they arrested him and led him to the high priest's residence, and Peter was following far behind.
The guards lit a fire in the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there.
A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, "This man was one of Jesus' followers!"
Peter denied it. "Woman," he said, "I don't even know the man!"
After a while someone else looked at him and said, "You must be one of them!" "No, man, I'm not!" Peter replied.
About an hour later someone else insisted, "This must be one of Jesus' disciples because he is a Galilean, too."
But Peter said, "Man, I don't know what you are talking about." And as soon as he said these words, the rooster crowed.
At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered that the Lord had said, "Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny me three times."
And Peter left the courtyard, crying bitterly.
Now the guards in charge of Jesus began mocking and beating him.
They blindfolded him; then they hit him and asked, "Who hit you that time, you prophet?"
And they threw all sorts of terrible insults at him.
At daybreak all the leaders of the people assembled, including the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. Jesus was led before this high council,
and they said, "Tell us if you are the Messiah." But he replied, "If I tell you, you won't believe me.
And if I ask you a question, you won't answer.
But the time is soon coming when I, the Son of Man, will be sitting at God's right hand in the place of power."
They all shouted, "Then you claim you are the Son of God?" And he replied, "You are right in saying that I am."
"What need do we have for other witnesses?" they shouted. "We ourselves heard him say it."