Chapter 14

A lady annoints Jesus' feet with perfume. A couple days later Jesus celebrates Passover with his disciples. The same night, Judas betrays him and three times I deny that I knew him.

It was now only two days before the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and teachers of religious law were planning to take Jesus by stealth and put him to death, but they knew they shouldn’t try it during the Festival lest it cause a riot.

Jesus was in the town of Bethany at the house of Simon, a man cured of leprosy. A woman carrying an alabaster jar full of very expensive ointment (it was made from pure nard) came in where they were eating. She opened the jar and poured its contents on Jesus’ head. Some of those watching became indignant and sneered, “Why waste all that expensive ointment? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” They were actually angry at her.

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why criticize her for doing such a thoughtful thing? She did what was her’s to do; she anointed my body ahead of time for burial. Wherever the story of my life, especially these last days, is told anywhere in the world, what she has done will be remembered. (1-9)

At this point, one of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, left and went to the chief priests to offer them his help in taking Jesus into custody. Of course they were delighted to hear this, and promised to pay him for his trouble. So Judas kept watching for just the right moment to betray his master.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (that’s when the Passover lamb is sacrificed) we asked Jesus where he wanted us to prepare the Passover meal for him. He sent two of his disciples to Jerusalem with the following instructions: “As you enter the city you will be met by a man carrying a water jar. Follow him. When he enters a house, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher would like to know where the guest room is in which he and his disciples are to eat their Passover meal.’ Then the man will take you to a large upstairs room all ready for the occasion. That’s where you are to prepare our Passover meal.” The two disciples left for the city and found everything just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover meal. (10-16)

When evening came, Jesus and the twelve of us went to the man’s house. As they were eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me — one who is sharing this very meal. We were upset and one after another kept saying, “Surely you don’t mean me, do you?”

Jesus answered, “Yes, it is one of you, one of my own disciples, one who is dipping his bread into the same bowl with me. The Son of Man must die, just as the Scriptures teach, but how terrible for that one who will betray me. It would have been better for him if he’d never been born.

While we were eating, Jesus took a loaf of unleavened bread, gave thanks and broke it in pieces. He gave a piece to each of us, saying “Take it, it is my body.” Then he poured a cup of wine, gave thanks and handed it to us, saying, “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out as a sacrifice for many.” We all drank from the cup. Then Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until that day when I drink the new wine of the kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, we left for the Mount of Olives. (17-26)

On the way, Jesus said, “All of you will desert me, because in Scripture God says, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

Shocked by this, I said to Jesus, “I will never leave you, even though all the others do!”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter, this very night, before the rooster crows a second time, you will have denied three times that you know me.”

“No,” I replied emphatically. “Even if I must die with you, I will not say I’ve never known you!” And the rest of the disciples joined me in the same vow. (27-31)

We came to an olive orchard across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. It was called Gethsemane. Jesus told the other disciples to wait there while he went a bit further to pray, but James, John and I were to go with him. He began to pray and soon became distressed and deeply troubled. He said, “My soul is so crushed with sorrow that I could die. Stay with me and keep watch. Then he went aside and, falling to the ground, prayed that if it were possible he might not have to go through the suffering that lay ahead. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “nothing is impossible for you, so take this cup of suffering from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Then Jesus came back and found the three of us asleep. He said to me, “Simon, are you still sleeping? Couldn’t you have stayed awake for even one hour? Stay awake and pray that you won’t fail in the coming trial. You always want to do the right thing but you don’t have the strength to do it.” Once again Jesus left and prayed as he did before. Then he came back and again we were asleep, our eyes so heavy that we simply couldn’t stay awake. We had no excuse. Later, when he joined us for the third time, he said, “Is it possible that you are still sleeping? Enough of that! The time has come for the Son of Man to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up! Let’s go. Look, my betrayer is already here.” (32-42)

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived with a group of men sent by the religious hierarchy, the ruling priests, teachers of religious law, and elders. They were armed with swords and clubs. According to the plan, the betrayer would identify Jesus with a kiss. So Judas went up to Jesus, greeted him with “Rabbi,” and kissed him. Then the men grabbed Jesus and held him so he couldn’t get away. One man standing there drew his sword and swung it at the servant of the High Priest, cutting off his ear.

“Why have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me,” asked Jesus. “Did you think that I was planning a revolution? If so, why didn’t you arrest me in the temple courts; I was there teaching, day after day? No, all this has happened to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.” At this point we deserted him and ran away. (43-52)

With Jesus in custody, the mob headed for the house of the high priest where all the ruling priests, elders and teachers of the Law had gathered. Following along behind was a young man, wearing nothing but a loose linen sheet. They tried to grab him, but he managed to escape, slipping out of the sheet and running away naked. I had been following some distance behind, but when we arrived I went right into the high priest’s court yard and joined the guards warming themselves around an open fire. The ruling priests and the entire Council had gathered upstairs and were searching for some kind of evidence against Jesus so they could put him to death. They came up with nothing. A number of witnesses spoke against Jesus but their testimonies were contradictory.

Then others stood up and offered false testimony against Jesus. “We heard him say, ‘I’m going to tear down this temple made by man, and in three days build one that man could never build.’” Yet they couldn’t agree even on this. 

At this point, the high priest stood up in their midst and, addressing Jesus, asked, “Are you going to answer the accusations made by these men, or are you not?” Jesus remained silent; he didn’t say a word.

Then the high priest posed this crucial question, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus answered, “I am. What’s more, you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven!” At this the high priest tore his garments and said, “Why do we need any other witnesses? You have all heard him blaspheme. What’s your verdict?”

“Guilty!” they shouted. “Put him to death!” Some of high court began to spit on Jesus. They put a blindfold on him, hit him repeatedly with their fists, and jeered, “Who hit you that time?”

Then they turned him over to the guards who joined in the abuse. (53-65)

Meanwhile, I was down below in the courtyard. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed me there by the fire. She looked at me carefully and said, “You were one of the men with Jesus the Nazarene.”

I denied it, saying, “I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about.” Then I slipped out into the entryway — and a rooster crowed.

The servant girl saw me there and once again said to those standing around, “This man belongs to that group.” I denied it again. 

A short while later some men standing there challenged me, “You must be one of them, for you’re a Galilean just like the others.”

I began to call down damnation. With an oath I swore, “I know nothing of this man you’re talking about!” At that very moment a rooster crowed for the second time and I remembered what Jesus had said to me: “Before the rooster crows twice you will have disowned me three times.” I broke down and wept. (66-72)