I have to laugh because it’s hard to decipher from the Gospel accounts the exact chronological order of this final week of Jesus’ ministry. And the resources and commentaries seem to differ on the order as well. But I must tell you that I’ve tried to piece it all together for a “somewhat” accurate account of the chronological order.
On Tuesday, after the famous Olivet Discourse, Jesus and the disciples go back to Bethany. Jesus is thinking ahead. I wonder if He’s been able to get much sleep these past few nights. I wonder what they talked about. I wonder if Mary had been positioned at Jesus’ feet like she had been earlier (Luke 10:38-42). Were the paparazzi camped outside waiting for a glimpse of this famous prophet? (Couldn’t resist)
Jesus has been busy, not just the last few days, but for three years. He has created quite a stir in this little country of Israel. People are drawn to Him. Crowds have grown to multitudes with every step He takes.
Controversy surrounds Him. The religious leaders hate Him. But many can’t get enough of Him.
Remember that Jesus needed rest just like we do. His body was human. He hungered, He thirsted, and He got tired. So, it’s no wonder that He needed to take a day of rest. And that’s what scholars believe He did on Wednesday of His final week.
While Jesus rested in Bethany, there was a lot of activity in Jerusalem, less than two miles away. People were arriving from all over for the Passover celebration. The Inns were filling up. The market place was bustling with shoppers. The stench was strong with all the animals in town for the sacrifice.
And the religious leaders were busy behind closed doors. Matthew tells us exactly what was going on: “When Jesus had finished saying all these things (the teachings on the Mt. of Olives), he said to his disciples, ‘As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.’ At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. But not during the Passover celebration, they agreed, or the people may riot” (Matthew 26:1-5).
With hundreds of thousands of pilgrims descending upon Jerusalem for this holy feast, rioting was not unheard of. Such admiration for Jesus by so many would surely cause a riot if they harmed Him. But the religious leaders would be unsuccessful in following their plan because things were escalating fast and they couldn’t wait much longer to arrest Jesus. In the end, it was God’s time frame. Jesus would be handed over when God said so, not when the religious fanatics planned it.
Let me take a short little breather here. As turmoil was brewing in Jerusalem, there is one Jesus’ event recorded on this Wednesday. Back in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper, a woman poured oil on Jesus’ head while He ate dinner (Matthew 26:6-13). The disciples criticized her, but Jesus praised her actions. Scripture doesn’t tell us who this woman is, but obviously she loved Jesus bunches. In fact, she gave up something very valuable for Him. And Jesus honored her sacrifice.
Are you willing to give Him your most prized possession? Think about it and then do as this woman did.
Now, let’s quickly return to Jerusalem. While the religious leaders met at Caiaphas’ house wondering how they could seize Jesus, their questions were answered by one very strange visitor. Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ very own disciple, showed up with a surprising question: “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you” (Matthew 26:14-15)?
And they paid him 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).
You’ve got to be kidding! 30 pieces of silver was equivalent to five weeks of work for the Jewish man in that day.
30 pieces of silver! Let me say it again – 30 pieces of silver! Oh Judas, was it worth it? We’ll find out later that no amount of money would offer Judas what he was looking for.
Listen to what it says next, “From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus” (Matthew 26:16).
So the plan has been hatched. Judas would be on the lookout. He would wait for the perfect opportunity, and then he would hand Him over.
Some believe that Judas was a true believer, but had turned his back on Jesus. But Jesus says otherwise. He calls Judas “the one headed for destruction” (John 17:12).
Of course, Jesus knew exactly what would happen. But out of His great love for you and me – to set us free from the wrath of sin – He went through with it.
The time prepared long before the world was created, and the time the prophets spoke about, is nearing quickly. Let’s keep our eyes wide open as we continue to follow Jesus on the pathway that led to the cross.