+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)
O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning Reading – Luke 22:7-23:25 (NLT)
The Last Supper
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is 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 prepare it?” 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 where you should prepare our meal.” They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”
Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.”
He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.
“But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays him.” The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.
Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.
“You have stayed with 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 my Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of 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 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. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny 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 an extra pair of sandals, did you need 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 cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’ Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.”
“Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us.”
“That’s enough,” he said.
Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives
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 give in to 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 to be done, 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 them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”
Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray 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 struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear.
But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked, “that you come 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.”
Peter Denies Jesus
So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. The guards lit a fire in the middle of 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!”
But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!”
After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!”
“No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted.
About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.”
But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.
The guards in charge of Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and said, “Prophesy to us! Who hit you that time?” And they hurled all sorts of terrible insults at him.
Jesus before the Council
At daybreak all the elders 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, are you 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 from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.”
They all shouted, “So, are you claiming to be the Son of God?”
And he replied, “You say that I am.”
“Why do we need other witnesses?” they said. “We ourselves heard him say it.”
Jesus’ Trial before Pilate
Then the entire council took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor. They began to state their case: “This man has been leading our people astray by telling them not to pay their taxes to the Roman government and by claiming he is the Messiah, a king.”
So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
Pilate turned to the leading priests and to the crowd and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man!”
Then they became insistent. “But he is causing riots by his teaching wherever he goes—all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!”
“Oh, is he a Galilean?” Pilate asked. When they said that he was, Pilate sent him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and Herod happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.
Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle. He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer. Meanwhile, the leading priests and the teachers of religious law stood there shouting their accusations. Then Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus. Finally, they put a royal robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. (Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day.)
Then Pilate called together the leading priests and other religious leaders, along with the people, and he announced his verdict. “You brought this man to me, accusing him of leading a revolt. I have examined him thoroughly on this point in your presence and find him innocent. Herod came to the same conclusion and sent him back to us. Nothing this man has done calls for the death penalty. So I will have him flogged, and then I will release him.”
Then a mighty roar rose from the crowd, and with one voice they shouted, “Kill him, and release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas was in prison for taking part in an insurrection in Jerusalem against the government, and for murder.) Pilate argued with them, because he wanted to release Jesus. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
For the third time he demanded, “Why? What crime has he committed? I have found no reason to sentence him to death. So I will have him flogged, and then I will release him.”
But the mob shouted louder and louder, demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their voices prevailed. So Pilate sentenced Jesus to die as they demanded. As they had requested, he released Barabbas, the man in prison for insurrection and murder. But he turned Jesus over to them to do as they wished.
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me.
Yet I want your will to be done, 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.
– Luke 22:42-44 –
It’s impossible for us to comprehend Jesus’ “agony of spirit” in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke tells us that during this ordeal “Jesus’ sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.”
Our reading today does put Jesus’ agony in context, bracketing Jesus’ suffering in between “The Last Supper” and Pilate’s acquiescence to mob rule.
- Jesus celebrated the Passover meal and instituted a new covenant sacrament with people He knew would abandon Him, one of whom would betray Him.
- Jesus celebrated the Passover meal while listening to His companions argue over who would be greatest among them.
- Jesus celebrated the Passover meal offering a way of repentance and restoration for Peter’s impending denials, despite his protests to the contrary.
- In Gethsemane Jesus asked His followers to watch and pray with Him, anticipating their succumbing to the temptation to sleep.
- In Gethsemane Jesus anticipated the horrific suffering He was about to experience, asking God to take it away, yet submitting to God’s will.
- In Gethsemane Jesus met His betrayer and those who would arrest and abuse Him with equanimity and resolve.
- In the High Priest’s home, Jesus watched Peter’s denial and remorse, as He was left alone to face His accusers.
- In the High Priest’s home, Jesus acknowledged that He was “the Son of God,” thereby guaranteeing the jury’s verdict.
- In Pilate’s palace, Jesus acknowledged He was the Messiah, the King of the Jews and watched as Pilate declared Him innocent of all charges.
- In Herod’s palace, Jesus remained silent as Herod urged Him to perform a miracle, and His accusers ridiculed and degraded Him.
- In Pilate’s palace, Jesus watched silently as Pilate yielded to the mob’s outcry – instigated and inflamed by His accusers.
Is it any wonder that Jesus was in great “agony of spirit” in Gethsemane as He pondered His future?
Questions for consideration:
We can’t actually know what Jesus was thinking or feeling during His ordeal. All we have to go on is Luke’s account of what Jesus said or did. Nevertheless, we can try to put ourselves in His place and imagine how He felt and what He thought.
- What do you find most disturbing about the events described in today’s reading? Please explain.
- How would you describe Jesus’ feelings during The Last Supper?” Please explain.
- How would you describe Jesus’ feelings in Gethsemane when He discovered His followers sleeping? Please explain.
- Knowing Himself to be “the Son of God,” the “Messiah,” the “King of the Jews,” what do you think was going through Jesus’ mind when He was being accused and abused in the High Priest’s home, Pilate’s palace, and Herod’s palace? How do you think being moved from one trial to another affected Him? Please explain.
- How do you think Jesus felt when Pilate, knowing He was innocent, gave Him up to the mob? Please explain.
- What did submitting to the will of God cost Jesus? What has it cost you? Please explain.
Morning Prayer: For Submission to God’s Will (Joseph Mercier)
O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that you desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know your will. Amen.
“Your Will Be Done”– Feast Worship
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen