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"The Passion of Jesus Christ According to Saint Luke"
Luke 22:14-23:49

When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "Youíve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. Itís the last one Iíll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God."

Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, "Take this and pass it among you. As for me, Iíll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives."

Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory."

He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.

"Do you realize that the hand of the one who is betraying me is at this moment on this table? Itís true that the Son of Man is going down a path already marked out--no surprises there. But for the one who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man, this is doomsday."

They immediately became suspicious of each other and began quizzing one another, wondering who might be about to do this.

Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: "Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. Itís not going to be that way with you.

"Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.

"Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? Youíd rather eat and be served, right? But Iíve taken my place among you as the one who serves. And youíve stuck with me through thick and thin.

"Now I confer on you the royal authority my Father conferred on me so you can eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and be strengthened as you take up responsibilities among the congregations of Godís people.

"Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, Iíve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out.

"When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and given them a fresh start."

Peter said, "Master, Iím ready for anything with you. Iíd go to jail for you. Iíd die for you!"

Jesus said, "Iím sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me."

Then Jesus said, "When I sent you out and told you to travel light, to take only the bare necessities, did you get along all right?"

"Certainly," they said, "we got along just fine."

He said, "This is different. Get ready for trouble. Look to what youíll need; there are difficult times ahead. Pawn your coat and get a sword. What was written in Scripture, ĎHe was lumped in with the criminals,í gets its final meaning in me.

"Everything written about me is now coming to a conclusion."

They said, "Look, Master, two swords!"

But he said, "Enough of that; no more sword talk!"

Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, "Pray that you donít give in to temptation."

He pulled away from them about a stoneís throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder.

Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.

He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, "What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you wonít give in to temptation."

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, "Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"

When those with him saw what was happening, they said, "Master, shall we fight?" One of them took a swing at the Chief Priestís servant and cut off his right ear.

Jesus said, "Let them be. Even in this." Then, touching the servantís ear, he healed him.

Jesus spoke to those who had come--high priests, Temple police, religion leaders: "What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day Iíve been with you in the Temple and youíve not so much as lifted a hand against me.

"But do it your way--itís a dark night, a dark hour."

Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed, but at a safe distance. In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm.

One of the serving maids sitting at the fire noticed him, then took a second look and said, "This man was with him!"

He denied it, "Woman, I donít even know him."

A short time later, someone else noticed him and said "Youíre one of them."

But Peter denied it: "Man, I am not."

About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: "Heís got to have been with him! Heís got ĎGalileaní written all over him."

Peter said, "Man, I donít know what youíre taking about." At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter.

Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried.

The men in charge of Jesus began poking fun at him, slapping him around. They put a blindfold on him and taunted, "Who hit you that time?" They were having a grand time with him.

When it was morning, the religious leaders of the people and the high priests and scholars all got together and brought him before their High Council. They said, "Are you the Messiah?"

He answered, "If I said yes, you wouldnít believe me. If I asked what you meant by your question, you wouldnít answer me. So hereís what I have to say: From here on the Son of Man takes his place at Godís right hand, the place of power."

They all said, "So you admit your claim to be the Son of God?"

"Youíre the ones who keep saying it," he said.

But they had made up their minds, "Why do we need any more evidence? Weíve all heard him as good as say it himself."

Then they all took Jesus to Pilate and began to bring up charges against him. They said, "We found this man undermining our law and order, forbidding taxes to be paid to Caesar, setting himself up as Messiah-King."

Pilate asked him, "Is this true that youíre ĎKing of the Jewsí?"

"Those are your words, not mine," Jesus replied.

Pilate told the high priests and the accompanying crowd, "I find nothing wrong here. He seems harmless enough to me."

But they were vehement. "Heís stirring up unrest among the people with his teaching, disturbing the peace everywhere, starting in Galilee and now all through Judea. Heís a dangerous man, endangering the peace."

When Pilate heard that, he asked, "So, heís a Galilean?" Realizing that he properly came under Herodís jurisdiction, he passed the buck to Herod, who just happened to be in Jerusalem for a few days.

Herod was delighted when Jesus showed up. He had wanted for a long time to see him, heíd heard so much about him. He hoped to see him do something spectacular. He peppered him with questions. Jesus didnít answer--not one word.

But the high priests and religion scholars were right there, saying their piece, strident and shrill in their accusations.

Mightily offended, Herod turned on Jesus. His soldiers joined in, taunting the jeering. Then they dressed him up in an elaborate king costume and sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became thick as thieves. Always before they had kept their distance.

Then Pilate called in the high priests, rulers, and the others and said, "You brought this man to me as a disturber of the peace. I examined him in front of all of you and found there was nothing to your charge. And neither did Herod, for he has sent him back here with a clean bill of health. Itís clear that heís done nothing wrong, let alone anything deserving death. Iím going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."

At that, the crowd went wild: "Kill him! Give us Barabbas!" (Barabbas had been thrown in prison for starting a riot in the city and for murder.) Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go, and so spoke out again.

But they kept shouting back, "Crucify! Crucify him!"

He tried a third time. "But for what crime? Iíve found nothing in him deserving death. Iím going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."

But they kept at it, a shouting mob, demanding that he be crucified. And finally they shouted him down. Pilate caved in and gave them what they wanted. He released the man thrown in prison for rioting and murder, and gave them Jesus to do whatever they wanted.

As they led him off, they made Simon, a man from Cyrene who happened to be coming in from the countryside, carry the cross behind Jesus. A huge crowd of people followed, along with women weeping and carrying on.

At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, donít cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. the time is coming when theyíll say, ĎLucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth!

"Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!í Then theyíll start calling to the mountains, ĎFall down on us!í calling to the hills, ĎCover us up!í If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what theyíll do with deadwood?"

Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.

When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.

Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; they donít know what theyíre doing."

Dividing up his clothes, they threw dice for them. The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, "He saved others. Letís see him save himself! The Messiah of God--ha! the Chosen--ha!"

The soldiers also came up and poked fun at him, making a game of it. They toasted him with sour wine: "So youíre King of the Jews! Save yourself!"

Printed over him was a sign: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: "Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!"

But the other one made him shut up: "Have you no fear of God? Youíre getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him--he did nothing to deserve this."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom."

He said, "Donít worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise."

By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours--a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called out loudly, "Father, I place my life in your hands!" Then he breathed his last.

When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: "This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!"

All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home.

Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.

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