It’s that time of the year when we again celebrate and remember the wonder of Passover. Today I am just going to tell the story as best I can and hope you enjoy it. 😊
It was Friday, April 23rd, 0028, when Jesus began His walk to Bethany. He knew the end was near, yet the end was also the beginning – the beginning of a new era, a new age, a new creation. Even the stars in the heavens were changing, signalling the beginning of something new. What joy there was in the Master’s heart, yet there was a deep and reflective air about Him too.
It was six days before Passover.
Jesus called two of His disciples aside and they left our company to do His bidding. In town they found the donkey, just as Jesus had said, tied up and waiting patiently to be led out to be of service to his Creator the following morning. Tomorrow Jesus would be coming into Jerusalem riding on the colt, which had never been ridden, fulfilling Zacharias prophecy, “Your King comes to you! He is just, and having salvation, lowly and riding upon a donkey.”
As evening approached we all went to Simon’s house, where we had been invited to dinner. Simon was a leper that Jesus had healed. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were with us, and true to form, Martha was serving. She found so much joy in serving Jesus and those who were with Him. Even here is Simon’s house, Martha was in the kitchen! And Jesus loved her! He loved the way she served Him. It was just how she expressed her love for Him.
On the other hand, Mary, true to what she loved, was at His feet. She took one of her prized perfumes and massaged Jesus’ feet, kissing and adoring Him as she wiped them with her hair. The smell, Oh the smell! It was so heavenly and filled the whole room with its divine fragrance.
Judas, however, became incensed against Mary. He was livid! “Why is she wasting this expensive perfume!? Is she so stupid that she cannot even comprehend how many poor people we could have fed with that money!?” He was out again today. In town feeding the poor. He was always busy, but Jesus seemed to trust him. After all, he took care of all the finance and was in charge of feeding the poor. Jesus was always feeding some poor person. But Judas had a temper. He so often seemed upset by the things that Jesus did. Strange!
Jesus rebuked him sharply! “What Mary has done for me will be remembered forever! She has prepared Me for burial!” Burial? There He goes again! Why is He always talking about dying!? None of us want Him to die! We know the chief priests and rulers want to kill Him, but why is He so agreeable!? Makes no sense.
Judas stormed out.
In the morning, on the Sabbath, April 24th, we encountered many excited festival makers that came out to see Jesus. The air was filled with joy and excitement. Shouting, singing and dancing, they took palm branches and laid them on the path where Jesus came riding on His donkey! The atmosphere was electric! We did not understand all these things until after Jesus had risen. But, for now we were having the time of our lives! And the kids, I don’t think they had ever shouted, screamed and run around singing, “Hosanna to the King!” like they did today.
But not everyone was happy. Our religious rulers were enraged. To them the whole world was now following Jesus. They would lose everything, especially control over the people! But they could not get to Jesus because of the multitude of people gathered around Him while He taught them in the temple about the coming kingdom of heaven.
There were some Greeks that wanted to speak to Jesus, so they asked someone to call Him, as they were not allowed in the temple courts. Here again Jesus spoke about death. He told them that a seed first has to go into the ground and die before it can come to life and that any one who loves Him would have to do the same. Weird! He also spoke to us about hating our lives in this world and developing a love for the life that only comes from Him and His kingdom. Clueless! We just did not comprehend what He was talking about.
When Jesus had finished speaking He spoke to His Father. He did that a lot. It did not matter where we were or what we were doing, Jesus would always stop and say something to His Father. This relationship was way beyond anything I could imagine at that time. When He finished praying the heavens thundered. Gosh, we got a fright! We were not accustomed to the heavens talking back! The Father spoke to Jesus and told Him that He has glorified His name and would now glorify Jesus again in His presence. The rest of us did not know whether an angel had spoken, or if it just thundered. All we knew is that there was a mighty, powerful, heavenly response to Jesus. And we trembled!
None of us were prepared for the events that would follow that encounter!
In the morning, April 25th, Sunday, we went back to Jerusalem. It wasn’t far from Bethany.
This morning though, Jesus was hungry and when He saw a fig tree He got excited – He loved figs! But there were no figs on the tree because the season for figs had not yet come. So, He cursed the tree. Another one of those, “What is He doing?” moments. We went on our way and paid it no further attention. How could we, the events that were about to transpire made the fig tree irrelevant!
As we entered the temple that morning, Jesus lost it! He absolutely lost His temper. We were shocked. He grabbed a whip and went wild. He kicked the table over, whipping as He went. People, animals and money scrambled. That whip was whipping mad! He yelled that the temple was His Father’s house, yet His people had reduced it to nothing more than a den of thieves. We got out of His way too! We stood on the side lines, breathless and wide eyed!
Boy, was the Chief Priest and others mad at Him. There was so much shouting, hate and anger. The atmosphere was terrifying. Some people cried, others were confused, some were enraged, others froze or ran for their lives. What, in heaven’s name was going on? Jesus stood at the entrance and refused to let anyone in that was carrying some kind of vessel. No one dared to push Him either! Only the lame, the blind, the sick, and those who wanted to pray were allowed in, and He healed them all.
What a day, we were exhausted after all that.
We went back to Bethany that evening and spent the night there.
The next morning, Monday April 26th, when we were again on the path, that fig tree was dead! Dead as dead can be! Never had we seen a tree die so quickly. We were taken aback. Then He spoke to us about the power of our voice and what the things we say can produce. Powerful stuff! He also spoke to us about forgiveness and to believe that we receive the things we pray for.
Little did we know that this would be the last day Jesus would ever speak in the Temple.
Once again, He was confronted by the local religious rulers. Man, they used to harass Him! They were again questioning His authority and once again He confounded them. He then preached and warned us about the difference between the kingdom of heaven and the teachings of the religious leaders and warned us to be wary of their teachings. Naturally, they did not like what Jesus was saying. He never turned them away, He just spoke it like it is! He drove them nuts!
He taught us a lot in the Temple today. Then …
He challenged the religious leaders about who He is and that He is the Son of God! As you can imagine, this went down really well! They did not dare ask Him anymore questions. They were frothing at the mouth and ready to kill Him!
But we, and the “common folk” adored Him. We could listen to Him for hours on end and never get enough. He blessed a widow woman that surprised Him with her offering, gave His famous sermon on the Mount, told us about the last days, and that He would tear down the temple and rebuild it in three days. That made no sense to us either! It was a long, happy day.
That night we stayed on the Mount of Olives and not in Bethany. Over dinner He began telling us about Passover and His upcoming death in two days’ time. Oh, how we wished He would stop talking about dying! His death did not fit anyone’s plans!
Unbeknown to us, in the darkness, the religious rulers were conspiring together as to how they could kill Jesus. He was now a serious threat to them and their hatred seemed to just intensify. However, they did not want to do this during the Feast of Passover, it would have to wait till after that.
But their plan was not the Lord’s plan. His death would happen when, how, and where He determined!
There was a strange stillness in the air on Tuesday morning. Judas Iscariot took money and went to feed the poor – or so we thought! He went to make arrangements with the religious rulers that day on how to bring Jesus to them. He wanted to be paid though. So, quietly and unobserved, the plan had been set in motion. They could kill Jesus BEFORE the Passover Feast – just as the Father had planned!
The rest of us went about the day getting ready to celebrate Passover which was starting the next day. We had rented an upstairs room where we could all meet and spend the night, for tomorrow the Passover festivities would begin. We had to be ready. Tomorrow would be busy as the lambs for Passover were to be prepared. We already had our lamb ready, not realising THE LAMB OF GOD had been with us all the time. We were all full of joy and expectation.
Judas returned and was with us for dinner.
This was to be Jesus’ last meal. We were ignorant and blissfully unaware of what this night would hold. It would be a cold, chilling and fearful night, but for now we were all happy. Tomorrow we would be eating our Passover meals and the Feast of Unleavened Bread would be a great and merry time of holidays, eating, drinking and being merry.
Jesus took bread while we were eating, broke it and gave it to us, telling us to eat it as this is His body that would be broken for us. He also took the wine and told us to drink it, because it was His blood that He would pour out for the sins of the world.
Then He turned and said one of us would betray Him. Whoosh! Joy departed, and sorrow marched in! Why would any of us want to betray Him? There was an air of dread and disbelief in the room. Judas left. We assumed he couldn’t handle it and went to feed the poor.
After dinner Jesus washed our feet. The emotions we felt are to deep to try and convey. We sang a hymn and then went to the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus wanted to pray. We were tired, but we went. Jesus separated Himself from us but asked that we keep watch and pray. He was greatly troubled. We fell asleep.
We were awoken with wild shouts and people marching up the hill with torches and swords. Peter got ready to defend! Jesus arose from His place of prayer and asked them who they were looking for? “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. Jesus said, “I am He,” and the whole army fell over. I would have run for my life after that!
When Judas got up he came up to Jesus and kissed Him. Then we realised Judas was the betrayer. We were incensed against him! Peter cut off a servant’s ear, Jesus put it back. This night was becoming really ominous. They took Jesus and tied Him up. He did not resist! Why? Why? He spoke and they all fell down! Just speak, make them fall, and walk over them and out of the Garden. Don’t just let them take you away!
Jesus had warned us that we would be offended and scattered but that He would see us again in Galilee after His resurrection. Peter strongly disagreed with the Lord. I felt like Peter. But the Lord told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the night was over. I just held my tongue.
The first person they brought Jesus to was Annas, who was the High Priest’s father-in-law. Once he was finished with Jesus he sent Him to the High Priest. It was now the early hours of Wednesday morning, April 28th. Caiaphas interrogated Jesus. The men that held Jesus mocked and cursed Him. They blindfolded His face, beat Him, and then told Him to prophecy who beat Him. They slapped Him, spit on Him, and pulled out His beard.
All Jesus said was that when it was all over the would see Him sitting at the Father’s right hand in heaven, because
HE IS THE SON OF ELOHIM!
Enough! That was enough. Caiaphas tore his robe and prophesied that it was better for one man to die for the people than the whole nation perish. Enraged he called for a meeting to be held so that they could hand Jesus over for execution. Once agreed upon they marched Him off to Pilot.
They did not enter into Pilot’s court because they did not want to defile themselves and not be able to eat the Passover. Pilot found no reason to kill Jesus and wanted to rescue Him, but the people persisted. They screamed out for Him to be crucified! Pilot found Him to be without fault but found an excuse and sent Him to Herod.
Herod was so glad as he had wanted to see Jesus for a long time. However, Jesus refused to utter a single word to him. This made him so angry! He mocked Jesus, had Him clothe in a royal robe and marched Him back to Pilot. Pilot again found no fault with Jesus. More and more people accused Jesus of evil, but He did not open His mouth to respond.
In a final attempt to save Jesus, Pilot offered them a choice. Does he release Barabbas or Jesus? They cried out for the criminal! The cried for Jesus to be crucified. Pilot relented. He ordered Jesus to be crucified!
He had Jesus whipped and handed Him over to the Roman soldiers. They put a crown of thorns on His head and continued with their vicious abuse. It was now midday. Jesus, beaten and bruised, was to weak to carry His cross. The soldiers, not wanting to carry it themselves compelled a man named Simon to carry it. Jesus looked awful. Bloody and dirty, swollen and disfigured, from all the beatings. He hardly looked like a human being!
At the foot of the cross the soldiers cast lots for His clothes and crucified two other criminals with him, one on either side. We just watched from afar. Horrified! Bewildered! Lost! Forlorn!
We were outside the city but could hear the noise of the lambs being slaughtered within it as the people got ready for Passover. Blissfully unaware of THE LAMB that was being slaughtered for them outside.
Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” and died.
Darkness covered the earth. The earth quaked and trembled. The veil in the temple tore in two. Screaming! Fear! What is happening! Why is the darkness not passing? Terror! The smell of death was in the air!
By the time 6pm came around and the Passover began, Jesus had already been buried.
We all went our separate ways having nothing to say and nowhere to go. This Passover was anything but joyful. Our Lord was dead. What were we supposed to do now? No one knew. So much had happened since last night. Everything had changed.
Thursday, the 29th April, was a High Sabbath. Our first night without the Lord. No work was done on this day, no shops were open. People stayed with their families to celebrate. But the strange darkness of yesterday still posed many questions. What happened? What does it mean? No one could answer.
The rulers though were troubled. Their thoughts plagued them. Jesus said He would rise on the third day. They had to make sure no one could get to His body. Secretly they went to Pilot and asked for soldiers to be posted at the tomb. Fear of the “Disciples” stealing the body stalked their hearts. “Sure.” Pilot agreed and posted the guard.
It was a long day. Tomorrow, being Friday and the day before the Sabbath, we would go into town and buy spices and oils so that we could prepare Jesus’ body for burial. We were not aware that Joseph and Nicodemus had already done so. At least there would be something to do. Our emotions were all mixed up. On one hand we would get to see Him again, on the other we would be dealing with His dead body.
He had been dead for twenty-four hours now. Twenty-four long hours. I went to bed, but sleep was not there. All I did was think. Then I’d cry and think some more.
In the morning I met the other women and we went to town. None of us were joyful but we did have a lot of time to talk to each other about all the things that had happened. Most of the merchants had closed for the festivities and we ended up hunting for oils and spices most of the day. Where were the guys? What were they doing? We didn’t really care. Our thoughts were on Jesus. And what did He mean by “rising again on the third day”?
We passed by the tomb on our way back, but it had been secured by an enormous rock and guarded by a whole legion of soldiers. What? Did they think we were going to “steal” Him away? Just crazy! We went home and prepared the oils and spices we had bought and were encouraged to go out to the tomb tomorrow, once the Sabbath was over. We had no idea who would role the stone away, but that was tomorrows problem.
We made ready for the Sabbath that would begin in about an hour. We would eat and celebrate with our brothers and do our best to remember the things the Lord had taught us. Two full days and nights had now passed.
As I awoke in the morning, I decided to stay in bed a while. It was still the Sabbath and we were forbidden to go to the tomb. Three nights had passed since they had crucified the Lord. By the time evening came He would have been dead for three nights and three days. I thought about what He could have meant by rising form the dead.
I had seen Him raise Lazarus, who had been dead for four days. Even thought he was all embalmed Jesus called him out of the tomb! We freaked out! Firstly, we all felt like Martha and he would be reeking! And then, here he comes – floating on air, out of the tomb. Yes, you can imagine the chaos! Jesus was operating in some strange stuff here! Some people just fled in absolute terror. Who can blame them!
But that was Jesus, He could do that kind of stuff. Who was going to call Jesus out of the tomb? Peter? I don’t know. John? Maybe. I could not imagine who would be that brave or have that kind of faith. Anyway, thinking about Jesus floating out of the tomb was exciting and I would have loved to see the look on Caiaphas’s face!
Evening came, it was cold and getting dark. The Sabbath was ending and the first day of the week was upon us. No one would help us now, so we waited for the morning to come. The ground shook violently during the night. It was frightening!
The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb fled in terror as the angel of the Lord descended and rolled back the stone. When they first saw him, they passed out. His face was like lightening and his garments shone. Never had they been so terrified. These big, strong, brave men ran for their lives. But Jesus had already risen! The angel was preparing for our coming in the morning!
In the City strange and frightful things were also taking place. Not only had Jesus come out of the grave, but so did a whole lot of others. All over town dead people came out of their graves and walked around the City appearing to many people. Try and work that one out! People were freaked out and terrified. They never appeared to us or the disciples but the saints of old were there. Alive and well. Resurrected and going up into glory with their Messiah! What a wonderful day this was for them.
Mary Magdalene had gone before us. She had her own encounter with the Lord.
We got to the tomb early that morning and found the stone had been rolled away. Mary went in first and saw the angel there. He told us not to be afraid – easy for him to say, we were terrified! He knew we were looking for Jesus and invited us in to see the place where they had laid Him. “He is not here. He has risen. Just like He said.” The angel instructed us to go and tell our brethren and that Jesus would meet us in Galilee! We were like little kids, excited and yet so afraid we could not speak, as we ran from the tomb.
Suddenly Jesus appeared before us. We fell at His feet and just worshipped Him. I have never experienced such joy and elation. As we ran to tell Peter, James and the others we found them running to the tomb as Mary had already gone to tell them.
He is risen! We have seen Him! The Resurrection from the Dead has taken place! Oh, what a day! What a glorious day! A New Creation has been born! It was the first day of the New Era! A New Age has come, a New Beginning has begun. Heaven has come. Man is redeemed. Our sins are forgiven. Oh, what a day! What a wonderful day!
The story goes on ….
As you celebrate and remember THIS Passover, I pray that your heart be filled with the light and revelation of all that happened in these eventful days. May they come alive and may the life of the Risen Saviour flood you with His unfailing love and joy.
Happy Passover! 😊
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