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The Night Before the Cross

Matthew 26


As today starts the beginning of Easter break and we move into Easter weekend, I am looking forward to the rest to come this next few days and next week as we can step away from our busy routines of school, sports and activities that fill our schedules. Yet, in the midst of everything going on in our life, I cannot help but think of my Jesus on this night, as it has me awake in the wee hours of the morning after my household has gone to bed. For tonight marks the last day that Jesus was on earth before the sun rose on the morning of his crucifixion. As we hit the bed tonight, our Savior was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death in the knowledge of what must take place the next day.


In Matthew 26:2-4 Jesus said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away – and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.


In verses 6-13 Scripture tells us of the woman who came to pour an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume on Jesus’ head while he was reclining at the table. The disciples thought this to be a waste as it could have been sold and given to the poor, but Jesus told them what she has done is a beautiful thing and that she did this to prepare him for burial.


Perhaps one of the many gut-wrenching parts of the story comes next. In verses 14-16 the Bible tells us that Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, one of Jesus’ closest friends went to the chief priests to see what they had to offer if he agrees to betray his master. And just like that, he washes away his loyalty to Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.


Scripture tells us in verses 17-30 of the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples. While at the table with his disciples, Jesus tells them that one of them will betray him. Jesus said in verse 24, “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.”


Jesus then took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he told them, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”


In verses 31 – 35 Jesus tells Peter this very night before the rooster crows you will disown me three times. But Peter declared his loyalty saying he would never disown his Lord, and all the disciples said the same.


Verses 36-45 tell of when Jesus went into Gethsemane to pray and asked his disciples to keep watch while he went to pray. Jesus said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”


This next verse is incredibly humbling to see as our Heavenly Father knelt and prayed to His Father, verse 30 –


“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

How humbling to hear that our Savior became so vulnerable to the point of overwhelming sorrow on the eve of his death where he would be handed over to be mocked, ridiculed, spat upon, and crucified to die a criminal’s death on our behalf. Just after this, he returned to his disciples only to find them sleeping as they couldn’t even keep watch for one hour without falling asleep. Jesus said to them in verse 41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Verse 42 tells us Jesus went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping again! So, he went back and prayed the same thing a third time. Jesus went back to find his disciples still sleeping. He woke them as the hour had come and told them his betrayer is coming!


This next series of events you couldn’t make up if you tried. As He was speaking, Judas arrived with a large crowd armed with swords. He had arranged a signal letting them know that the one who he would kiss is the man to arrest. Verse 49 says, “Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Verse 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”


This breaks my heart. Jesus was directly betrayed by a very close friend, confidant, one of his own disciples. I think of the betrayal and hurt we have experienced by friends, spouses, family members, co-workers, bosses, whoever has hurt us – and Jesus was not only betrayed by a close friend like a brother, but his betrayal was literally handing him over to be arrested and killed for a few pieces of silver. Jesus surely knew the physical pain was coming his way very soon, but I imagine the emotional pain that must have struck him in this moment must have been excruciating.


Just after, we read that one of Jesus’ companions comes to his defense and takes out his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Do NOT miss this next piece. This is VITAL. Jesus said in verses 52-54, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Then Jesus addressed the crowd in regard to the manner in which they came out to arrest him. Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.


Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.


Is that you today? Is that me, is this us? Are we deserting Him and fleeing in the face of fear? Or are we standing with him, fighting with him, fighting for him, and remaining faithful despite what people think or what may come?


Verses 57-67 tell us of Jesus being taken before the Sanhedrin to Caiaphas the high priest. Peter had followed at a distance and sat down with the guards to see the outcome. They could not find any false evidence against him to put him to death. Verse 61 says that two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” The high priest charged him to tell if he is the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus said, “You have said so, but I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”


Then the high priest tore his clothes and declared this man has spoken blasphemy. Jesus was then spat upon and hit, struck with their fists, slapped, and mocked.


Next in verses 69-75, Peter disowned Jesus declaring, “I don’t know the man!” three times before the rooster crowed.


In the midst of the pain and trials you experience in your life, I wonder if you have considered what Jesus went through for you.

Jesus was Betrayed.

Jesus was Disappointed.

He was Hurt.

Jesus was Deserted.

Jesus was Alone.

He was Accused.

He was Spat on.

Jesus was Hit.

He was Slapped.

Jesus was Mocked and Disowned.


Let us no longer say, “How can a good God let bad things happen?” No.

In fact, this good God gave us a choice to follow good or evil.

He gave us a choice to follow him or to deny him.

Evil came when sin entered the world. And what, then, is the alternative?

Would He be a good God to us if He was a dictator and forced us to choose Him?

There is no way around it. People chose evil. People chose to betray him, desert him, leave him, accuse and spit on him, beat him, mock him and disown him.

Now it is up to us. Will we join the world and accuse him too? Or will we stand up for him and declare our loyalty to our King who died for us?

Will we accept this free gift of salvation He offered up to us with his life, the ultimate sacrifice, of dying a criminal’s death on a cross – for you – and for me?


Matthew 26 stops at Peter’s denial of Jesus before moving into the crucifixion the next day. What a humbling place it is to be in right now on the eve of Good Friday, remembering my Savior, remembering how on this very night as I write these words, around two-thousand years ago our Savior was praying to His Father, “If it is possible, take this cup from me, but not my will but yours be done.”


It is my prayer that all who don’t know Jesus will come to the table and accept His free gift of love, of salvation for an eternity in Heaven with Him and all who have accepted Him. It is my prayer that all who do know Him and who have accepted Him will come to a commitment in their hearts to choose to loyally serve Him all the days of their lives. Let us not get lost in the distraction the devil crafts before our eyes to waste our time and to rob and steal away our joy from us. Let us not get set off course. Our mission is the Great Commission, to tell the world of the Good News and raise up disciples of all nations for His glory.


Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus.

Amazing grace.

How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now, I see.

Thank you Jesus.

I love you Lord. Your goodness is never failing.


I would love to have you join me at a free training to learn how to share Jesus without fear. We have the greatest news to offer – let us share Him with joy and with urgency! What better way to love our friends than to share the love of Jesus! Come join me for coffee and muffins this Saturday April 7, 2023, to my free event! Click below!


Friends, I urge you, if you know Jesus – What are you doing with Him? Are you in a local church? When was the last time you invited someone to church, or invited someone to Jesus?


If you want more information on sharing the love of Jesus and inviting people to Him, please join me in my Share Jesus Without Fear group to ask questions, attend a discipleship event, and be a part of the Great Commission in Matthew 28 that He has called us all to. Click here to join me! Join Me!


And friends who don’t know my Jesus – Who do you say Jesus is? Do you know where you will spend eternity? If you want more information on who this Jesus is I speak of, join me in discussing who He is and how you can come to know him! I would love to hear your story and get to know you. Join me here! Join Me!



Be blessed my brothers and sisters,


Your beloved sister in Christ,

Mandy


Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.



Have you had a chance to get a copy of my book? "The Devil Messed With the Wrong Girl," is available on my website at MandyRenteria.com/shop, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many major retailers! Click below to get your copy today! Subscribe to my site and I will send you a free download of the first two chapters of my book!



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Thank you so much for sharing this. I googled did Christ Jesus kiss the lady of the night before dying on the cross and your article is what popped up. Exactly 1 year to date you wrote this. God is always blowing my mind. I saw that you have a book and I'm very interested in reading it. Absolutely love the title. Yes ma'am the devil has messed with the wrong girl. My name is Melissa Owens and may God bless you. Much love 🫶

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