Friday, April 22, 2011

For Me

     The twisted trunks of the olive trees were eerily illuminated in the moonlight. Jesus and the disciples walked up toward the Mount of Olives.  He turned to Peter, James and John, and asked them to join Him up the hill.  Jesus was clearly nervous and upset.
     He asked his three closest friends to stay awake with Him while He prayed.  He fell near a large rock, nestled among the trees.  Kneeling, Jesus prayed to His Father.  He asked Him to let this cup pass if it was possible, but not His Will, but the Father's be done.
     Looking over, He saw His companions.  They were sound asleep.  How were they ever going to be able to handle what was going to happen to them within the next few hours?  Upset, He went over to them and shook Peter.  "Can't you stay awake with me for even an hour?  Watch and pray, so you don't fall into temptation!"
     He went back to the rock to pray, asking the Father for a second time, to please take this cup from Him.  Once again, He returned to His three friends.  Once again, they were asleep.  He returned to pray. 
Jesus prayed for what was about to happen to Him.  He prayed for His disciples...and He prayed for future believers.  Jesus prayed so hard, drops of blood appeared on His forehead like beads of sweat.
     The time was at hand.  He roused the disciples and moved on into the Garden of Gethsemene.  They heard sounds of footsteps approaching.  Judas appeared with soldiers.  He approached Jesus and placed a kiss of greeting on His cheek.  Immediately, the soldiers grabbed Him and led Him away.
    The disciples ran away in fear.  Were they next?  Some stayed close by, but in the shadows.  They watched as Jesus calmly let them lead Him to the governor, Pontius Pilate.
    The scribes and Pharisees incited the crowd that began to form around Him.  They declared before the people that Jesus was a heretic and a blasphemer against God.  The rabble that so enthusiastically praised Him on Sunday, now became a vehement mob.
     Jesus was taken away, and put on trial before Pilate. He didn't want to have the responsibility of condemning Him, so Pilate sent Him to be tried in front of Herod, who in turn brought Jesus back before Pilate.  The Roman procurator had Him severely scourged.  Jesus was beaten beyond recognition.  Pilate was sure this would appease the people, but they wanted more.  They demanded death.
     Washing his hands of the whole affair, Pilate gave Jesus over to the mob.  They led Him up to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.  There they crucified Him, between two thieves, as if He were one of them. 
     The soldiers hammered nails in His wrists to a crossbeam.  They roughly hoisted the plank and attached it to a vertical beam.  To finalize the execution, they placed Jesus' feet one atop the other, and nailed them together onto a foot rest.  The crucifixion was one of the most barbaric deaths possible.  The accused would basically suffocate to death.  In order to breathe, they would have to raise themselves up by pressing their impaled feet onto the foot rest and get a breath, and then violently being jerked downward as they released it. 
     For three hours He hung there. Beaten. Naked. Humiliated. Unable to breathe.  He did that for me.  He willingly died on that cross because He loved me, and wanted me to be able to be with Him in Heaven.  He verbally forgave those who inflicted that pain on Him...for me.
     Jesus took my punishment...for me.  He, Who never sinned, payed the ultimate price for sin...for me...and for you.

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