Journey to the Cross
Use this as a tool to pause and reflect on those last days of Jesus leading up to and including His death and resurrection. We encourage you to take time to meditate on the scripture and enter into a conversation with God.
In the Garden - Mark 14:32-42 (NIV)
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Also read: Matthew 26: 36-46; Luke 22: 39-46; Psalm 116: 1-4,8-10,14-16; Psalm 118:17-18
Jesus’ struggle in the Garden can be understood in light of what was going to happen to him on the cross, he would be made sin for us and bear the curse of the law. The contemplation of being forsaken and separated from his father overwhelmed him. We see how Jesus prayed and how he overcame his distress through prayer.
How do you take your distress to the Father?
Forgive me for betraying the name of Jesus as I sin. Show me the way of righteousness. Father in Heaven, it was Your will for Jesus to die on my behalf. Help me to accept Your will, even when it’s hard.
Betrayal and Arrest - Matthew 26:47-56 (NIV)
47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Also read: John 18: 1-9; Mark 14: 43-52; Luke 22: 47-53; Psalm 51
Judas has sold out for a bag of silver and brought the Roman soldiers to Jesus. Then he betrays him in a public manner when he kisses him on the cheek. Jesus is prepared, surrenders willingly knowing this is part of ministry. Before Judas and the soldiers arrived though Jesus was on his knees in prayer, in deep conversation with the Father asking for strength to do what he knew he was to do.
Are you a person of integrity? How do you know this? How do you show integrity as a Christian? What does it mean to submit your life into the Father’s hands, do you pray first, surrender and listen?
Trial and Denial - Luke 22:54-71 (NIV)
Peter Disowns Jesus
54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
The Guards Mock Jesus
63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him.
Jesus Before Pilate and Herod
66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You say that I am.”
71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
Also read: Mark 14: 53-72, Matthew 26: 57-75; John 18: 12-27
Peter was one of Jesus’ closest disciples and thought he was ready to stand up for him, but he did not. He is not ready for the battle like he thought he was. The pressure Peter must have faced in that moment cannot be under estimated either. Jesus is rejected, Peter betrays and Jesus forgives. Later we read how Jesus not only forgave Peter but restored him and commissioned him into ministry.
The greatest single cause of atheism in the world is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, and walk out the door and deny him with their lifestyles… that is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable. (Brennan Manning)
Give me strength to speak truth, and use me to show others who Jesus truly is.
Father, forgive me when my faith falters and my courage wanes. Give me strength to speak Your name publicly with joy and gratitude.
Pilate and Barabbas - John 18:28-40 NIV
Jesus Before Pilate
28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.
33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
Also read: Mark 15: 1-15; Matthew 27: 11-26
The Jewish leaders went to Pilate and stayed outside in order to keep themselves clean for Passover all while harboring murder in their heart for Jesus. They entered into a political debate with Pilate over the innocence of Jesus. In the conversation between Pilate and Jesus, Jesus declares why he was born, who he is and what he has come to do. He is the King over the Kingdom of Heaven and his authority comes from God alone, not Rome.
How do you submit to King Jesus on a daily basis? Where does your truth come from? Reflect on a time in your life that you were following the law but harbored sin in your heart. Spend time talking to God about this.
Mocking and Golgotha - Mark 15:16-21 (NIV)
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. 21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
Also read: Matthew 27:27-32; Luke 23:26-32; John 19:17; Psalm 69
Pilate has handed Jesus over to be crucified. Scourging was the preliminary step. The mockery of Jesus as King of the Jews was brutal. A robe of purple cloth tied over him and a crown of penetrating thorns placed on his head. Then they stripped of the robe and began the journey to Golgotha.
When have you experienced mockery because of your faith? How did you handle it? Reflect and pray. “Give me grace, O most meek and loving Lamb of God, to follow your patience; quietly to bear the slanderous words of my adversaries; patiently to suffer the cruel deeds of my enemies; to forgive them, to pray for them, yes to do good to them, and by no means to go about once to avenge myself, but rather give place for your wrath, seeing that vengeance is yours and you will reward; seeing also that you help them to their right that suffer wrong; that I thus patiently suffering all evils may afterwards reign in your glory.” (Thomas Becon)
Thank you, Jesus, for suffering in my place. Teach me to love even those who hate.
Crucifixion - Matthew 27:33-56 (NIV)
33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
The Death of Jesus
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
Also read: Mark 15: 22-41; Luke 23: 33-49; John 19: 17-37; Isaiah 53: 5-6, 9; Psalm 22:1, Exodus 10:21-23
Crucifixion was the most shameful and painful way to die, Jewish leaders were in a hurry to be finished with the execution so they could get on with celebrating Passover. The mockery continued as He hung on the cross and then darkness covered him. Jesus ministered to the thieves next to him, begged forgiveness for his captors and accusers and exercised magnificent power when he died. The earth responded with groaning, the temple veil was torn and there was no more need for temples because Jesus had just finished the work of salvation.
What adjustments do you need to make in your life to pause at the magnitude of the death of Jesus? Are you quick to rush pass this part of the story? The pause is not to keep Jesus on the cross because we know he is no longer dead but that he is alive, seated at the right hand of God! We pause in order to grasp what it is we celebrate in the resurrection.
“You, Lord, are patient, and pity, and sweetness, and love; therefore, we are not consumed. You have exalted your mercy above all things, and have made our salvation, not our punishment, your glory; so that there, where sin abounded, not death, but grace super abounded. Then the Lord of life, unable to of himself to die took flesh, he wept, he died; for his enemies he died; even those that derided him then, and still despise him. Blessed Savior!” (George Herbert)
Jesus' Burial - John 19:38-42 (NIV)
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Also read: Mark 15: 42-47; Matthew 27: 57-61; Luke 23: 50-56
Two high-ranking men attended to the burial of Jesus but they were secret followers of Jesus. They came under the cover of night. While Joseph of Arimathea asks for permission to take Jesus’ body, Nicodemus stands guard over his body hanging on the cross. Then the two men prepared Jesus’ body for burial, placing him in the tomb. The messianic prophecies were fulfilled.
Confess your sins that led Jesus to the cross. Forgive others, no matter what they have done to you, praise God for all he has done for you on the cross and live in expectation of the kingdom.
Today is Good Friday, take the next three days and put yourself in the shoes of the disciples as they mourned the death of Jesus. They did not know he would rise up even though he had prophesised that he would. How would you feel sitting outside that tomb? We know the rest of the story though and a celebration is waiting just around the corner!
Father, I commit my life into your hands. Save me and forgive me. Prepare a place for me in your kingdom. Make me a faithful witness to what you have done because I want to you to be glorified over all the world.