The traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives.
Matthew 26:36-75 (NRSV)
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
36Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane;
This is just east of the temple mount area in Jerusalem, across the ravine of the Brook Kidron, and on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives. Surrounded by ancient olive trees, Gethsemane means “olive press.” There, olives from the neighborhood were crushed for their oil. So too, the Son of God would be crushed here.
and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.”
39And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”
Psalm 40:6-8 (NASB)
Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”
40Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
43Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.
The struggle at the cross was first won in prayer in Gethsemane.
45Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
Hymn: “Go to Dark Gethsemane” (verse 1)
Go to dark Gethsemane,
All who feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see.
Watch with him one bitter hour;
Turn not from his griefs away:
Learn from Jesus Christ to pray.
–James Montgomery (1771-1854)
The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
47While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
There are no more hollow, hypocritical words in the Bible than Judas’ “Greetings, Rabbi!”
50Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.”
Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. 51Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”
At the moment when it seemed Jesus had nothing and no advantage, He knew that He still had a Father in heaven, and access to His Father and all his resources in prayer.
55At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Jesus before the High Priest
57Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end.
59Now the chief priests and the whole council
This nighttime trial was illegal according to the Sanhedrin’s own laws and regulations. According to Jewish law, all criminal trials must begin and end in the daylight. Therefore, though the decision to condemn Jesus was already made, they conducted a second trial in daylight (Luke 22:66-71), because they knew the first one – the real trial – had no legal standing.
This was only one of many illegalities made in the trial of Jesus.
· According to Jewish law, only decisions made in the official meeting place were valid. The first trial was held at the home of Caiaphas, the high priest.
· According to Jewish law, criminal cases could not be tried during the Passover season.
· According to Jewish law, only an acquittal could be issued on the day of the trial. Guilty verdicts had to wait one night to allow for feelings of mercy to rise.
· According to Jewish law, all evidence had to be guaranteed by two witnesses, who were separately examined and could not have contact with each other.
· According to Jewish law, false witness was punishable by death. Nothing was done to the many false witnesses in Jesus’ trial.
· According to Jewish law, a trial always began by bringing forth evidence for the innocence of the accused, before the evidence of guilt was offered. This was not the practice here.
William Barclay wrote, “These were the Sanhedrin’s own rules, and it is abundantly clear that, in their eagerness to get rid of Jesus, they broke their own rules.”
were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, 60but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward.
Psalm 27:12 (NASB)
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
At last two came forward 61and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”
62Then the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 63But Jesus was silent.
Jesus could have mounted a magnificent defense here, calling forth all the various witnesses to His deity, power and character. The people He taught, the people He healed, the dead risen, the blind who see, even the demons themselves testified to His deity. But Jesus opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53:7).
Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66What is your verdict?”
They answered, “He deserves death.”
67Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, 68saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?”
Peter’s Denial of Jesus
69Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.”
71When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.”
73After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!”
At that moment the cock crowed. 75Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Weeping bitterly. This was the beginning of Peter’s repentance.
The St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach, BMV 244, composed in 1727, sets Matthew chapters 26 and 27 to music. HERE is an excerpt, “So my Jesus is now imprisoned,” with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and soloists. The St. Matthew Passion is the longest of Bach’s works — most recordings run between two-and-a-half and three hours. But beautiful beyond words.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.