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             At Caesarea Philippi Jesus told his apostles that the older Jewish leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law would make him suffer many things. He would be killed. But on the third day, he would be raised from death.

            Jesus' followers could not think about Jesus suffering and dying, even though Isaiah the prophet said this would happen.

            Simon Peter took Jesus aside and said, "God save you from those things, Lord! Those things will never happen to you!"

            Then Jesus said to Peter, "Get away from me, Satan! You are not helping me! You don't care about the things of God. You only care about things that people think are important." 

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             Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John and went up on a high mountain to pray. While Jesus was praying, his face became bright like the sun. His clothes became shining white -- whiter than any person could make them. Then two men appeared and began talking with Jesus. The men were Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah were shining bright too. They were talking with Jesus about his death in Jerusalem.

            Peter said to Jesus, "Teacher, it is good that we are here. We will put three booths here -- one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Peter did not know what to say because he and the other two followers were very afraid. 

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             While Peter was talking, a bright cloud came around them and covered them. A voice came out of the cloud. The voice said, "This is my Son and I love him. I am very pleased with him. Listen to him!"

            Then Peter, James, and John looked, but they saw only Jesus there alone with them.

            As Jesus and his followers were walking down the mountain, Jesus said, "Don't tell anyone about the things you saw on the mountain. Wait until the Son of Man has been raised from death. Then you can tell people what you saw." 

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              Six days before the Passover Festival, Jesus and his followers went to Bethany. (The Passover Festival was an important day each year when the Jews ate special food to remember their ancestors' Exodus from Egypt.) Bethany is the town where Lazarus lived. Many of the Jews heard that Jesus was in Bethany, so they went there to see him. They also went to see Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from death. So the leading priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus.

            The next day, Jesus' followers brought a donkey to him and put their coats on the donkey's back. Then they put Jesus on the donkey. Jesus rode along the road toward Jerusalem. The followers spread their coats on the road before him. 

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            Jesus was coming close to Jerusalem. He was already near the bottom of the Mount of Olives. The whole group of followers were happy and excited and they thanked God for all the powerful things they had seen. They said, "Praise to the Son of David. God bless the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise in heaven and glory to God!"

            Some of the Pharisees said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell your followers not to say these things!"

            But Jesus answered, "I tell you, these things must be said. If my followers don't say these things, then these rocks will cry out and say them."

            This happened to make clear the full meaning of what Zecharia the prophet said, "Tell the city of Zion, `Look! Your King is coming. He is humble and he is riding on a donkey.'"  

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             The leading priests and teachers of the law were trying to find a way to kill Jesus. But they were afraid of the people.

            Then one of the twelve followers went to talk to the leading priests. This was the follower named Judas Iscariot. Judas said, "I will give you Jesus. What will you pay me for doing this?" The priests gave Judas thirty silver coins. After that, Judas waited for the best time to give Jesus to the priests. 

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             On the first day of the Passover Festival, Jesus ate the Passover meal with his followers. While they were eating, Jesus took some special bread made without yeast. Jesus thanked God for the bread, divided it, and gave it to his followers. Jesus said, "Take this bread and eat it. This bread is my body that I am giving for you. Do this to remember me."

            Then Jesus took a cup of wine. Jesus thanked God for it and gave it to his followers. Jesus said, "Every one of you drink this. This cup of wine is my blood. My blood seals the new agreement between God and his people. This blood is given for many people to forgive their sins." Jesus said these things in order to teach his followers about his coming death. 

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             Jesus' followers were troubled by the things he said about his death, so Jesus tried to comfort them. He said, "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. And trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house. I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back. Then I will take you with me, so that you can be where I am." 

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             As a part of his message of comfort, Jesus said to his apostles, "When I am gone, I will ask the Father, and he will send you another Helper to be with you forever. The Helper will teach you everything. The Helper will cause you to remember all the things I told you. This Helper is the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you to all truth."

            After this, they sang a song and went out to a beautiful garden called Gethsemane. 

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             In the garden, Jesus said to his followers, "Sit here while I go there and pray." He told Peter, James, and John to come with him. Then Jesus began to be very troubled and full of sorrow. Jesus said, "My soul is full of sorrow. My heart is breaking with sadness. Wait here and stay awake."

            Then Jesus walked a little farther, fell on the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, don't give me this cup of suffering. But do what you want, not what I want." Then Jesus went back to his followers and found them sleeping. Jesus said to Peter, "Couldn't you men stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not be tempted. Your spirit wants to do what is right, but your body is weak."

            Then Jesus went away a second time and prayed. He said, "My Father, if it is not possible for this painful thing to be taken from me, and if I must do it, then I pray that what you want will be done." 

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            Then Jesus went back to his followers. Again he found them sleeping. So Jesus left them and went away one more time and prayed. This third time he said the same thing. Jesus was full of pain. Sweat dripped from his face like he was bleeding. An angel from heaven appeared and helped Jesus.

            When Jesus finished praying, he went to his followers. They were asleep. Jesus said to them, "The time has come for the Son of Man to be given to sinful people. Stand up! We must go. Here comes the man who is giving me to my enemies." 

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             While Jesus was still speaking, Judas came into the garden of Gethsemane with many people. He led a group of soldiers and some guards from the leading priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, swords, and clubs.

            Judas had said to the people with him, "The man I kiss is Jesus. Arrest him." So Judas went to Jesus and said, "Hello, teacher!" Then he kissed him.

            The men grabbed Jesus and arrested him. Jesus said to them, "Why did you come out here with swords and sticks? Do you think I am a criminal? I was with you every day in the temple. Why didn't you arrest me there? But this is your time--the time when darkness rules." Then all of Jesus' followers left him and ran away. 

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             The men who arrested Jesus led him to the house of Caiaphas the high priest. The teachers of the law and the older Jewish leaders were gathered there. All through the night the leading priests and the Jewish Council tried to find something against Jesus so they could kill him.

            Finally, the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Tell us, are you the Christ, the Son of God?"

            Jesus answered, "Yes, I am. But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God. And you will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven." 

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            When the high priest heard this, he was very angry and shouted, "This man has said things that are against God! We don't need any more witnesses. You all heard him say these things against God. What do you think?"

            The Jews answered, "He is guilty, and he must die."

            Then the people there spat in Jesus' face. And they hit him with their fists. Some of them covered Jesus' eyes and slapped him. Then they said, "Show us that you are a prophet, Christ! Tell us who hit you!" 

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             Early the next morning, all the leading priests and older leaders of the people decided to kill Jesus. They tied Jesus with chains. Then they led him to Pilate the governor. They gave Jesus to Pilate and accused him of many things.

            Jesus stood before Pilate the governor. Pilate asked Jesus questions. He said, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

            Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If it belonged to this world, then my servants would fight so that I would not be given to the Jews. But my kingdom is from another place."

            Pilate said, "So you are a king!"

            Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. That is true. I was born to tell people about the truth. That is why I came into the world. And every person who belongs to the truth listens to me." 

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            Pilate said, "What is truth?" When Pilate said this, he went out to the Jews again. Pilate said to them, "I can find nothing to charge against this man."

            While Pilate was sitting in the place for judging, his wife sent a message to him. The message said, "Don't do anything with that man. He is not guilty. Today I had a dream about him, and it troubled me very much."

            Pilate tried again to set Jesus free. Three times Pilate said, "I find nothing against this man." But the Jews yelled, "Kill him on a cross! Kill him on a cross!"

            Finally Pilate took some water and washed his hands so that all the people could see. Pilate said, "I am not guilty of this man's death. You are the ones who are doing it!"

            Then Pilate told some soldiers to beat Jesus with whips. And Pilate gave Jesus to the soldiers to be killed on a cross. 

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             Pilate's soldiers brought Jesus into the governor's palace. All the soldiers gathered around Jesus. The soldiers took off Jesus' clothes and put a red robe on him. Then the soldiers used thorny branches to make a crown. They put the crown of thorns on Jesus' head, and they put a stick in his right hand. Then the soldiers bowed before Jesus and mocked him. They said, "Hello, king of the Jews!" The soldiers spat on Jesus. Then they took his stick and hit him on the head many times. After they finished mocking Jesus, the soldiers took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led Jesus away to be killed on a cross.

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             There were also two criminals led out with Jesus to be killed. Jesus and the two criminals were led to a place called "The Skull." It was nine o'clock in the morning when they nailed Jesus to his cross. They also nailed the criminals to their crosses. They put one criminal beside Jesus on the right, and they put the other criminal beside Jesus on the left.

            While Jesus was hanging on the cross, he prayed for the people who were killing him. Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people. They don't know what they are doing."

            Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus' clothes. The soldiers sat there and watched Jesus. 

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             The leading priests, the teachers of the law, and the other Jewish leaders were also there. These men laughed at Jesus. They said, "He saved other people, but he can't save himself! If he is the king, then he should come down from the cross. Then we will believe in him. He trusted God. So let God save him now, if God really wants him."

            One of the criminals began to shout bad things at Jesus. He said, "Aren't you the Christ? Then save yourself, and us!"

            But the other criminal stopped him. He said, "You should fear God. You and I are guilty. We should be killed because we did wrong. But this man has done nothing wrong!" Then he said to Jesus, "Jesus, remember me when you begin your kingdom!"

            Jesus said to him, "Today you will be with me in Paradise!"

            Jesus' mother stood near the cross. Jesus saw his mother standing by one of his followers. Jesus said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son." Then Jesus said to his follower, "Here is your mother." 

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             At noon the whole country became dark. This darkness continued for three hours. There was no sunshine.

            At three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, "My God, my God, why have you left me alone?"

            A little later, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." Then he said, "It is finished." After that Jesus cried out with a loud voice and said, "Father, I give you my spirit." Then he bowed his head and died. All these things happened so that everything written about him might be fulfilled. 

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             As Jesus died, the curtain in the temple in Jerusalem was torn into two pieces. This curtain was more than nine meters high. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom.

            When Jesus died, the earth shook and rocks were broken. All the graves nearby were opened, and many of God's people who had died were raised from death. After Jesus was raised from death, those people came out of their graves and were seen in Jerusalem by many people.

            The army officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus saw this earthquake and everything that happened when Jesus died. The officer said, "This man really was the Son of God!" 

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             1. Jesus came to suffer and die for others. Most of us think about ourselves. God thinks about others. Jesus said, "The Son of Man came to find lost people and to save them." He said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served by other people. The Son of Man came to serve others and to give his life to save many people." Jesus was the suffering Servant about whom Isaiah the prophet had written.

            When Jesus told his apostles he was going to die, Peter said, "God save you from those things, Lord! Those things will never happen to you!" Jesus replied, "Get away from me, Satan." In other words, you are the enemy when you talk like that! You are not helping me fulfill my mission. You are hindering me.

            Peter was trying to protect Jesus. He was looking at things from a human point of view and caring about things that people think are important. Jesus wanted Peter, and all of us, to think less about ourselves and more about others. 

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            2. God's new covenant went into effect when Jesus died. As we have noted, God's agreement with the Israelites is called "the Old Covenant." The old covenant was an agreement of law and punishment. God's agreement with his people today is called "the New Covenant." The new covenant is an agreement of grace and mercy.

            When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom by the unseen hand of God. Under the old covenant, this curtain kept people from coming into God's presence. Jesus' death opened the way to God. Now we can live in the presence of God every day. 

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            3. The New Testament is the Word of God. Jesus made one promise to his apostles that he has made to no one else. He promised that the Holy Spirit would lead them to all truth. By the power of the Spirit, they would preach, teach, and write the very words of God. When we open the New Testament today and read the writings of the apostles, we are reading truths that came from God himself. 

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            4. God turns defeat into victory. Jesus said to the people who arrested him in the garden, "This is your time--the time when darkness rules." To Jesus' followers, it seemed that Satan had defeated Jesus. Satan, too, thought he had won a victory.

            But God is full of surprises. God has a way of turning things around. In this case, God used death to bring life. We owed a debt we could not pay. Justice demanded payment. But Jesus paid a debt he did not owe. God accepted his death as a substitute for ours.

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             When Jesus died on the cross, he fulfilled all of Isaiah's prophecies about the Suffering Servant. Jesus took our troubles and made them his own. He suffered pain for the wrong things we did. He was crushed for our guilt. Our punishment was given to him. We were healed because of his pain. He died between two criminals. He was buried in the tomb of a rich man (Joseph of Arimathea). He had done nothing wrong, but these things happened to him. He was raised from death to live forever. He suffered in his soul, but he saw the good things that happened and was satisfied. He was killed like a criminal, but the truth is, he carried away the sins of many, many people. And now he speaks to the Father for his followers who have sinned.  

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            The forces of evil seemed to be winning when Jesus died on the cross. But on the cross, Satan suffered his greatest defeat.

            It often appears that evil is winning and that Satan is ruling the world. Yet God is in control. God is greater than Satan. 

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            5. The Lord's Supper helps us remember. Every Sunday (the day Jesus was raised from death), the followers of Jesus come together to worship God and to celebrate his resurrection by partaking of the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is a simple meal that helps us remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. The bread without yeast reminds us of the sinless body that was nailed to the cross. The grape juice reminds us of the blood Jesus shed.

            Each time we eat the Lord's Supper, we are reminded of the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus took our sins upon himself and died on the cross so that we might live.

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            6. Jesus gives us victory over death. The followers of Jesus were very sad when they learned that Jesus was going to die. They loved him. They needed him. They knew that life would be empty and lonely without him.

            That is how we feel when we learn that a loved one is going to die. We grieve. We weep. We pray. Our hearts are filled with sadness.

            But Jesus spoke words of comfort to his apostles. He promised that he was going to prepare a place for them in heaven, and that he would come again to take them home. These promises were very comforting to the apostles. They are also comforting to followers of Jesus today.

            Jesus became like us and died in order to destroy the one who had the power of death, that is, the devil. Jesus died and rose from death to set us free from the fear of death. Followers of Jesus can now face death with confidence and hope.

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Scripture References: Matthew 16:21-23; 17:1-9; 21:1-11; 22:32; 26:1-68; 27:11-54; Mark 9:2-13; 8:31 to 9:1; 11:1-11; 14:1-72; 15:1-41; Luke 9:22-36; 19:29-44; 22:1-63; 23:1-49; John 12:12-19; 13:1-30; 14:1-31; 15:1-17; 16:4-15; 18:1-40; 19:1-37; Colossians 2:14-15; Hebrews 8:6-8; 9:8-28; 10:19-20; 12:26-29; 2 Peter 3:9-14; I John 4:4. 


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