Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 17 of Lent :: The Procession

But they shouted, “Take Him away!
Take Him away! Crucify Him!

(John 19:15)

Prior to being murdered by crucifixion, Jesus spent the last few hours of His life in several places around Jerusalem.  His evening began in the southwestern part of Jerusalem in the Upper Room.  Here at the Last Supper, He told the disciples that His body and His blood were to be given for them. The intensity of His emotional experience at that table is unfathomable.  In contrast, the disciples seemed to be more occupied with who would sit in the seat of greatness once Jesus was gone. 

Next, Jesus went outside the city to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked the disciples to pray with Him as He poured out His heart in agony to the Father.  The Bible says He was in “anguish” and “agony,” which could be translated “engaged in combat.”  The Gospel writer, Luke, who was also a Physician, adds a significant detail, “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)  While the phenomenon of sweating blood is rare, it is actually a medical condition known as hematidrosis.  When an individual experiences extreme stress or seismic shock to his system, the tiny capillaries around the sweat pores become fragile and begin to leak blood into the sweat.  As difficult as the prayer time was for Jesus, it was only the beginning of what was going to be a long night, then a day of walking, intense pressure, abuse, and mockery—all without food or water.

When the angry mob entered the garden, they arrested Jesus and took Him to the palace of the High Priest.  Annas, a former High Priest, and Caiaphas, Annas’ son in law, questioned Him.  Jesus was then tried by the Sanhedrin, accused of blasphemy because He proclaimed Himself the Son of God.  He was sentenced to death.  Since only the Romans were allowed to execute criminals, Jesus was sent to Pontius Pilate.  When Pilate found nothing criminal in His actions, he sent Jesus on to King Herod, who sent Him back to Pilate.  Submitting to the pressure of the crowd, Pilate ordered Jesus to be flogged, then crucified outside the city walls.

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium
and gathered the whole company of soldiers around Him.  They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again.  After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him.
(Matthew 27:27,30-31)

Reflection: The events of the evening seemed so brutal, almost out of control. Political and religious powers seemed to be slapping Jesus around like a helpless rag doll.  But things are never as they seem. Considering the events that have transpired since we first began journeying with Jesus from the Upper Room, reflect on the following statement by Jesus.

“No one takes it (My life) from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. 
This command I received from My Father.”

(John 10:18)

Prayer: “Jesus, no one forced You to take up the cross, nor lay down Your life.  You willingly surrendered to the will of the Father and laid down Your heavenly rights as sin-stained evildoers mocked You, tortured You, and laid the cross beam on Your bloody back.  You willingly laid down Your life for me.  So often, I pack my bags when the going gets tough, throw in the towel when the heat gets turned up, and simply quit when I become tired and discouraged.  Help me to see that following You, is about You.  It is not about me.”

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