The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for a clever way to arrest Jesus. They wanted to kill him.
"But not during the Feast," they said. "The people may stir up trouble."
Jesus was in Bethany. He was at the table in the home of a man named Simon, who had a skin disease. A woman came with a special sealed jar of very expensive perfume. It was made out of pure nard. She broke the jar open and poured the perfume on Jesus' head.
Some of the people there became angry. They said to one another, "Why waste this perfume?
It could have been sold for more than a year's pay. The money could have been given to poor people." So they found fault with the woman.
"Leave her alone," Jesus said. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
You will always have poor people with you. You can help them any time you want to. But you will not always have me.
She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body to prepare me to be buried.
What I'm about to tell you is true. What she has done will be told anywhere the good news is preached all over the world. It will be told in memory of her."
Judas Iscariot was one of the Twelve. He went to the chief priests to hand Jesus over to them.
They were delighted to hear that he would do this. They promised to give Judas money. So he watched for the right time to hand Jesus over to them.
It was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That was the time to sacrifice the Passover lamb. Jesus' disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?"
So he sent out two of his disciples. He told them, "Go into the city. A man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him.
He will enter a house. Say to its owner, 'The Teacher asks, "Where is my guest room? Where can I eat the Passover meal with my disciples?" '
He will show you a large upstairs room. It will have furniture and will be ready. Prepare for us to eat there."
The disciples left and went into the city. They found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover meal.
When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve.
While they were at the table eating, Jesus said, "What I'm about to tell you is true. One of you who is eating with me will hand me over to my enemies."
The disciples became sad. One by one they said to him, "It's not I, is it?"
"It is one of the Twelve," Jesus replied. "It is the one who dips bread into the bowl with me.
The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But how terrible it will be for the one who hands over the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."
While they were eating, Jesus took bread. He gave thanks and broke it. He handed it to his disciples and said, "Take it. This is my body."
Then he took the cup. He gave thanks and handed it to them. All of them drank from it.
"This is my blood of the new covenant," he said to them. "It is poured out for many.
What I'm about to tell you is true. I won't drink wine with you again until the day I drink it in God's kingdom."
Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
"You will all turn away," Jesus told the disciples. "It is written, " 'I will strike the shepherd down. Then the sheep will be scattered.' (Zechariah 13:7)
But after I rise from the dead, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
Peter said, "All the others may turn away. But I will not."
"What I'm about to tell you is true," Jesus answered. "It will happen today, this very night. Before the rooster crows twice, you yourself will say three times that you don't know me."
But Peter would not give in. He said, "I may have to die with you. But I will never say I don't know you." And all the others said the same thing.
Jesus and his disciples went to a place called Gethsemane. Jesus said to them, "Sit here while I pray."
He took Peter, James and John along with him. He began to be very upset and troubled.
"My soul is very sad. I feel close to death," he said to them. "Stay here. Keep watch."
He went a little farther. Then he fell to the ground. He prayed that, if possible, the hour might pass by him.
"Abba"," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want." "Abba" means Father.
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Couldn't you keep watch for one hour?
Watch and pray. Then you won't fall into sin when you are tempted. The spirit is willing. But the body is weak."
Once more Jesus went away and prayed the same thing.
Then he came back. Again he found them sleeping. They couldn't keep their eyes open. They did not know what to say to him.
Jesus returned the third time. He said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look! The Son of Man is about to be handed over to sinners.
Get up! Let us go! Here comes the one who is handing me over to them!"
Just as Jesus was speaking, Judas appeared. He was one of the Twelve. A crowd was with him. They were carrying swords and clubs. The chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders had sent them.
Judas, who was going to hand Jesus over, had arranged a signal with them. "The one I kiss is the man," he said. "Arrest him and have the guards lead him away."
So Judas went to Jesus at once. He said, "Rabbi!" And he kissed him.
The men grabbed Jesus and arrested him.
Then one of those standing nearby pulled his sword out. He struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
"Am I leading a band of armed men against you?" asked Jesus. "Do you have to come out with swords and clubs to capture me?
Every day I was with you. I taught in the temple courtyard, and you didn't arrest me. But the Scriptures must come true."
Then everyone left him and ran away.
A young man was following Jesus. The man was wearing nothing but a piece of linen cloth. When the crowd grabbed him,
he ran away naked. He left his clothing behind.
The crowd took Jesus to the high priest. All of the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the law came together.
Not too far away, Peter followed Jesus. He went right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards. He warmed himself at the fire.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for something to use against Jesus. They wanted to put him to death. But they did not find any proof.
Many witnesses lied about him. But their stories did not agree.
Then some stood up. They gave false witness about him.
"We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple made by human hands. In three days I will build another temple, not made by human hands.' "
But what they said did not agree.
Then the high priest stood up in front of them. He asked Jesus, "Aren't you going to answer? What are these charges these men are bringing against you?"
But Jesus remained silent. He gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ? Are you the Son of the Blessed One?"
"I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One. You will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven."
The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked.
"You have heard him say a very evil thing against God. What do you think?" They all found him guilty and said he must die.
Then some began to spit at him. They blindfolded him. They hit him with their fists. They said, "Prophesy!" And the guards took him and beat him.
Peter was below in the courtyard. One of the high priest's female servants came by.
When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. "You also were with Jesus, that Nazarene," she said.
But Peter said he had not been with him. "I don't know or understand what you're talking about," he said. He went out to the entrance to the courtyard.
The servant saw him there. She said again to those standing around, "This fellow is one of them."
Again he said he was not. After a little while, those standing nearby said to Peter, "You must be one of them. You are from Galilee."
He began to call down curses on himself. He took an oath and said to them, "I don't know this man you're talking about!"
Right away the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had spoken to him. "The rooster will crow twice," he had said. "Before it does, you will say three times that you don't know me." Peter broke down and sobbed.