Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Fall and Rise of Jesus

Jesus had entered Jerusalem on a colt, and the people had welcomed Him with loud shouts of “Hosanna!” That was now four days ago. It was Thursday evening, and the Passover meal was all set out. Lamb, bitter herbs, vegetables, unleavened bread, wine, and more. When Jesus and His disciples were almost done eating, He broke the bread and passed it around. Then He passed the wine around. He told His disciples that the bread was like His body that was about to be broken, and the wine was like His blood. They were to remember Him as they ate the bread and drank the wine.

At this time, Jesus had some shocking news for His disciples. He said, “One of you is about to betray me!” They couldn’t believe it! Everyone wanted to know who. Jesus said to His friend Judas, “Go and do what you have to do.” Judas left, but the others thought he was just off on an errand.

As the evening went on, Jesus continued to teach His disciples. Peter promised that he would be willing to do anything for Jesus, even die. Jesus replied, “You sure about that? Before the rooster crows, you’re gonna tell people three times that you don’t even know me!” Peter was shocked. He didn’t think he would ever do that!

When they were done with their meal and their lesson, they left the house and went to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Jesus took Peter, James and John and went to another part of the garden. He told them to watch and pray, while he went off to do some praying of His own. He prayed, “Papa, if it’s all the same to You, I’d really love it if You could change what is about to happen. I can’t bear to think about it! But I know that what You want is more important than what I want, so what You say goes.” Jesus prayed some more, and then He got up and went back to the disciples, who were asleep. “What are you doing?!” He asked them. “I told you to watch and pray! You need to pray that you won’t be tempted!”

While He was still talking to them, a crowd arrived with torches and soldiers, led by Judas! So he hadn’t been on an errand! Judas had arranged a signal with the priests and soldiers, and he walked right up to Jesus and gave Him a kiss on the cheek. That was a way friends greeted each other in that culture. “You’ve got to be kidding me, Judas,” Jesus said. “You’re betraying me with a kiss?”

So the crowd led Jesus away, and the rest of the disciples ran away. But Peter doubled back and kept his distance while he followed the crowd. He didn’t want to be caught, but he could tell Jesus was in trouble. So he tracked them to the chief priest’s house. In the chief priest’s courtyard, Peter found a bonfire and sat with the people who were sitting around it keeping warm. A servant girl saw him and said, “Hey, that guy was with Jesus!”

“Who?” Peter said. “Don’t know him.”

A few minutes later, someone else recognized Peter and said, “You’re one of Jesus’ disciples.”

“Nope!” Peter said.

Another hour went by. Someone else commented, “This guy has a Galilean accent. He must have been with Jesus!”

“What are you even talking about?” Peter replied. “That’s ridic—“ And he heard it.  Rr-r-r-r-rrr!!

Jesus looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the rooster crows, you’re gonna tell people three times that you don’t even know me!” Peter ran outside and cried. He was so ashamed that he had lied!

By this time, it was Friday morning, and the trial began. After asking Jesus some questions, the priests dragged Him before Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Pilate couldn’t find anything to charge Jesus with, but the people insisted He was a public nuisance and was making wild claims of being the Son of God. When he found out that Jesus was from Galilee, he said, “Well, that’s Herod’s territory! Take Him to Herod!” But when Herod asked Jesus questions, Jesus wouldn’t answer. The priests were accusing Jesus of claiming to be the King of the Jews, so Herod started making fun of Him. He put a robe on Jesus and sent Him back to Pilate. But Pilate didn’t want to punish someone who had done nothing wrong! But the crowd kept pressing him. He started to get worried that this would become a riot, and that could really get him in trouble with the Roman authorities. Pilate was really torn on what to do. Should he punish an innocent man to make a bunch of people happy, or should he let Him go, and maybe lose his job because he allowed a riot to happen? “What do you want me to do with him?” Pilate asked the crowd. They replied, “CRUCIFY HIM!” So finally, Pilate gave in and let them do it.

The soldiers forced a guy named Simon to carry Jesus’ cross up the hill. Along with two criminals carrying their own crosses, and a whole crowd following them, Jesus and Simon walked to the top of the hill. Jesus had been beaten pretty bad by this point, and the Romans had made a thorny crown for Him to wear. When they reached the top, the soldiers nailed Jesus and the two criminals to their crosses, and they and the priests said some horrible things to make fun of Him. It was the worst kind of bullying. But Jesus prayed. “Papa, forgive them! They have no idea what they’re doing!”

Now it was about noon on Friday, and it got really dark. As 3 PM came along, Jesus cried out, “It’s done!” Then He prayed, “Father, take my spirit.” And He died.

The centurion who was guarding Jesus’ cross commented, “Wow! This was a good man.”

Jesus’ friends and His mom were watching. While he was on the cross, he had told his disciple John to take care of Mary. Now, His friends took Him down from the cross, and a man named Joseph from the town of Arimathea offered to bury Him. By this time, it was light again, but the sunset was coming soon, and Saturday was the Sabbath. They weren’t allowed to work on Saturday, so they had to work quickly to get Jesus buried before sundown. Several women who were followers of Jesus followed Joseph to the tomb, and then they hurried home to prepare the spices to preserve Jesus’ body. But they had to stop work when the sun set because of the Sabbath.

Early Sunday morning, once the Sabbath was over, the women got up and took the spices they had prepared to the tomb. While they were on their way, they were discussing the biggest challenge to this trip. There was a big heavy stone in front of the tomb! How were they going to get it out of the way?

So they got to the tomb and discovered their first shock. Somebody had already rolled it away! They went into the cave and found their second shock. There were some empty grave clothes, but Jesus wasn’t there! Then suddenly, the cave filled with light, and there were two men wearing brilliant clothes standing with them! The women were so stunned and scared that they bowed down and looked at the ground. What happened next shocked them even more. The men said, “What are you doing looking for the living among the dead? Jesus isn’t here! He has risen!”

The women hurried back to the disciples and told them. This was a lot to take in, and neither the women nor the disciples knew what to think about it. Peter and John went back to the tomb with them. John saw the grave clothes and believed, but Peter left wondering what in the world had happened.

So Mary Magdalene was left standing outside the tomb crying. She had a feeling someone must have moved the body, and this must be some kind of cruel prank. She saw the angels again, and they asked her why she was crying. She replied, “They’ve taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they’ve put Him!” Then she turned around and saw another man. She didn’t recognize this guy and decided he must be the gardener. This new man asked her, “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

She replied, “Sir, if you took him, can you tell me where you put him so I can go get him?”

Then he replied, “Mary.”

She had been crying so hard she couldn’t see straight through her tears. She looked at Him again and recognized Jesus! “Teacher!” she cried. She was so excited that she ran and told the disciples what she had seen with her own eyes!

1 comment :

  1. Good job, Steven. I hope that the class enjoyed it and will remember the message of this lesson.