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Matthew  ◦   Chapter 26

1 After Jesus finished explaining these things to the disciples, he looked at them and said, 2 "Know that in two days, during the Passover, the Son of Man will be turned over to be crucified."

3 The theologians, senior pastors, priests and local politicians met at the offices of Caiaphas the high priest.4 Together they plotted how they could arrest and kill Jesus without the people finding out.5 They said, "We can't do it during the Passover or the people might riot against us."

6 When Jesus was in Bethany, he attended a feast at the home of Simon the Leper.7 During the feast, a woman approached him with an extremely expensive bottle of perfume and anointed his head while he was lounging at the table.

8 Immediately the smell permeated the room and drew the disciples' attention. When they realized what she had done, they expressed outrage: "What a waste of resources!9 This woman is an opportunist, trying to make herself look good with such an extravagant gift. If she cared about others, she would have sold the perfume and donated the money to our 'homeless' fund!"

10 Jesus intervened: "Why do you criticize this woman? She has beautifully expressed her love for me.11 When I am gone, the poor will still be here for you to help, but I will not be here much longer.12 She knows this, and has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial.13 The truth is, wherever the Remedy is taken throughout the world, what she has done will be told in honor of her love for me."

14 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, snuck off to the church leaders-those plotting against Jesus-15 and asked, "What will you pay me if I betray him to you?" They eagerly paid him thirty silver coins.16 From that moment on, Judas looked for the best opportunity to hand Jesus over to them.

17 It was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread when the disciples asked Jesus where he wanted them to prepare to eat the Passover.

18 He instructed them to go into the city, find a specific man, and say to him: "The Teacher says, 'The time appointed for me to complete my mission is here. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'"19 The disciples did as Jesus instructed, and made ready for the Passover.

20 That evening, while reclining at the Passover table with the Twelve,21 Jesus said, "The sad truth is, one of you will betray me and turn me over to the church leaders who plan to kill me."

22 The disciples were stunned and very sad, and began to ask him, one after the other, "It isn't me, is it, Lord?"

23 Jesus said, "It is the one who puts his hand into the bowl when I do. He will betray me.24 The Son of Man will go quietly, just as the Scriptures foretold, but horrible will it be for the one of you who betrays the Son of Man! It really would have been better for him had he never been born."

25 Then Judas, the one who already accepted money to betray him, asked, "Surely, it isn't me, Master?"

Jesus looked him in the eye and said,
"Yes, Judas, it is you."

26 While they were eating the meal, Jesus took some of the unleavened bread and thanked his Father, then broke it and gave it to his disciples, telling them, "Eat this, for it is symbolic of my body."

27 Then Jesus took the cup of unfermented wine and thanked his Father, then passed it to them, telling them, "Drink from it, all of you.28 This is symbolic of the Remedy of which you must partake: my perfect life which is poured out for many, so that sin — fear and selfishness — in the character of human beings might remit.29 And know this: I will not drink this wine again until the day we all drink it together in my Father's kingdom."

30 Then, after they sang a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

31 Trying to prepare them for the coming ordeal, Jesus said, "Tonight, every one of you will be ashamed of me and run away, for the Scripture says, 'Attack the shepherd, and the flock will scatter.'

32 "But after I have risen from the dead, I will go to Galilee before you."

33 Peter protested, "Master, rest assured that even if all the others run and hide pretending they don't know you, I never will!"

34 With a sad smile, Jesus answered, "Peter, the sad truth is that tonight, before sunrise, before the rooster crows, you will deny knowing me — three times."

35 But Peter persisted, "No way! I would rather die than deny knowing you!" And then the other disciples mumbled their agreement.

36 Jesus led his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and told them, "Stay here while I go over there and talk with my Father."37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John. His heart became overwhelmed with sadness and pain.38 He told them, "I'm dying. The pain is overwhelming. I have never hurt so badly. My heart is breaking. Please, stay close by and watch with me."

39 Then Jesus went a little farther into the garden and fell down with his face on the ground, and cried out, "Papa, it hurts. Please, Papa, if there is any other way, take this cup from me. Yet, Father, not as my feelings desire, but let your will be done. Your will is what I choose."

40 When he returned to his disciples, he found them all asleep. Looking at Peter, he said, "Were you not able to stay alert and watch with me for one hour?41 Please, stay alert and guard your mind with prayer, so you won't fall when tempted. Your heart desires to do right, but your body is frail and weak."

42 Then Jesus went to pray a second time: "Papa, if there is no other way to achieve the Remedy except I drink this bitter cup, I accept. Your perfect will be done."

43 When he came back to his disciples, he again found them asleep, for they were very tired.44 He let them sleep and returned to talk with his Father a third time, and again committed himself to achieve the Remedy.

45 When he returned to his disciples, he found them still asleep, and said to them, "Are you still napping? Wake up, it is time: The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of the selfish.

46 "Get up, let's get going! Here comes my betrayer!"

47 Before Jesus finished what he was saying, Judas, one of the Twelve, walked up. A large crowd sent by the church leaders and local politicians was with him, and they were armed with clubs and swords.48 The betrayer had arranged a signal for the mob: "The person I kiss is the one; arrest him."49 Judas went to Jesus and said, "Teacher, how good to see you!" and kissed him on a cheek.

50 With compassion, Jesus said, "Friend, do what you came to do." Then they grabbed Jesus and arrested him.51 But one of Jesus' disciples pulled his sword and attacked, cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest.

52 But Jesus quickly intervened, saying, "Stop! Put your sword away. Everyone who uses weapons on others will be destroyed by the use of weapons.53 Think about it: Don't you realize that I could call upon my Father and have more than twelve divisions of angels here to fight on my behalf?54 But if I did that, then how would the Scripture-which foretells that all of this must happen in order to achieve the Remedy-be fulfilled?"

55 Jesus looked to the mob and said, "Do you think I am some terrorist trying to evade the authorities that you come here at night with clubs and swords to capture me? Day after day I sat openly in the temple courts teaching, and you didn't arrest me.56 But this is happening exactly as the writings of God's spokespersons foretold." Then all his disciples ran away.

57 After they arrested Jesus, they took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the lawyers, local politicians, theologians and church leaders had gathered.58 Peter stayed back, following discretely at a safe distance, but eased right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He quietly snuck in and sat down near the guards to watch what was happening.

59 The senior pastors, church board and religious lawyers were scrambling to fabricate false evidence against Jesus in order to justify executing him.60 But they couldn't find anything against him, even though many paid informants and false witnesses were interviewed. Finally, two witnesses came forward61 and proclaimed, "This man said, 'I can destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'"

62 Frustrated, Caiaphas then stood up and confronted Jesus, saying, "Aren't you going to say anything? Don't you have an answer to the testimony these men have brought against you?"63 But Jesus didn't say a word. The high priest, not knowing what else to do, said to Jesus, "I place you under an oath by the living God: Tell us plainly, are you the Messiah, the Son of God?"

64 Jesus, with calm nobility, said clearly, "Yes, it is exactly as you have said. But I tell all of you now, that in the future, you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the Almighty God and coming in the clouds of heaven."

65 Instantly, in a feigned display of horror, the high priest tore his clothes and said, "He has spoken sacrilege and profaned the name of God! What need is there for any more witnesses when you have heard blasphemy from his own mouth?66 What is your verdict?"

"He deserves to die!" they shouted.

67 Then they pounced upon him: they spat on him, punched him, slapped him, and abused him.68 They mocked him, saying, "Tell us, O Messiah, who hit you?"

69 As Peter was sitting in the courtyard watching, a servant girl saw him and said, "I recognize you. You're one of the followers of Jesus of Galilee."

70 But he turned to them all and instantly denied it: "I don't know what you're talking about."

71 He quickly moved away to the gate, but another girl saw him and said to the crowd, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth. He's one of his followers."

72 This time Peter gave an oath in his denial: "I swear I don't know the man!"

73 A short while later, the people standing nearby went up to Peter and said, "Don't fool with us; you are one of his followers. You speak just like he does."

74 Then Peter began to speak street slang with vulgar curses, and swore again: "I don't know the man!" At that very moment, a rooster crowed.75 Peter remembered what Jesus had said: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." Horrified by what he had done, he ran away and cried so hard he wanted to die.