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After the Last Supper, Jesus entered the final temptation he had to face, Gethsemane.

Death was ahead, and Jesus had to pass through it. It was the necessary way to establish a new relationship between God and man.

The trial that the Lord passed through in the face of death is definitely not the test of death that we usually imagine. Countless people have died in this world, and many have even shown fearlessness in the face of death. But that is all superficial. The truth is that all deaths in the past have been testimonies to one thing: man ultimately falls under the power of death, and no one has ever triumphed over death. Those who have died have merely succumbed to the power of death, not even reaching the point of encountering death face to face, much less fighting the full power of death.

What man knows as death is only a phenomenon, but the power behind it is the death itself.

The trial Jesus went through was a total attack of all the powers of death, for the devil knew that the result of this trial was absolute and final in terms of the power of death over man. The devil had tempted Jesus in the wilderness, and having failed, left Him for a time (Luke 4:13). Now the devil returns, for the last time.

Where does the power of death come from? From sin. Sin is the poisonous hook of death (1 Corinthians 15:56).

Jesus did not sin, but he bore all the sins of the children of Adam. Therefore, all the poisonous hooks that could hook all the children of Adam are now united in one to hook Jesus.

This was the summation and convergence of the suffering of death in its full sense, full scale, full strength, which Jesus passed through alone.

Facing death, Jesus did not rash to leap into it, as Peter did. He knew the weight of everything inside. He was like the king who went out to meet the enemy, sitting down first to determine the strength he would need to overcome the enemy who came against him (Luke 14:31).

But all this discretion of the Lord is in the presence and will of God the Father, not by himself, nor for himself. It is the will of the Father that Christ should suffer death and overcome it to receive honor and glory and the crown, and that in him all slaves and prisoners of sin and death should be released.

“By the grace of God he tasted death for all men; and by this suffering Christ was made perfect,. and to free those who have been slaves all their lives for fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:9-10, 15).

The Lord then came to Gethsemane, where he did not prepare for meeting the enemy alone, but entered into the deepest communion with the Father. This fellowship between the Father and the Son is the beginning and the end of everything. He came to earth to fulfill the will of God the Father, and now he placed himself completely in the will of God the Father.

In Gethsemane, the suffering of death, which has sin as its root, was set before his eyes in its entirety. He brought it all before the mind of his Father, asking and praying.

“Abba! O Father! In all things Thou art able; remove this cup, I pray Thee. However, not from my will, but from Your will.” (Mark 14:36).

He begged the Father, if possible, to remove this bitter cup, but not for his sake, but according to the Father’s will. If not, he would rather see the bitter cup handed to him by the Father’s own hand. The Son loves the Father, and he is willing to bear everything according to the Father’s will.

The whole universe and its eternal end depended on this complete obedience of the Lord Jesus.

As far as the Son of God is concerned, this fellowship is unique between him and the Father, and no one else has any part in it. But in Gethsemane, the Lord Jesus fell to the ground and prayed to God in the full capacity of the Son of Man. He wanted His disciples to be partakers with him in this suffering; He wanted them to see him in the form of a “man of prayer”, in a position of total dependence on God and total helplessness apart from him!

He asked his disciples to be vigilant in prayer with him, and to watch for that moment. The Lord was willing to see his disciples watching with him in the midst of his most critical troubles. The Lord’s posture was almost as if he felt that, if he needed a little additional strength to get him through the trial, it would be his beloved disciples who were with him in prayer and watchfulness. The earth and its people did not know him, and had chosen to oppose him, and what he had created with his own hands had rejected him, but he had gained disciples, who were the only ones he had as kin on earth. He did not ask the Father to send angels to help him (although they did come to serve him), but only his disciples.

This is the most critical moment in the universe since the creation of the heavens and the earth, the most critical hour of watch. But even the disciples, who were closest to Jesus, could not watch with him. Jesus rose up three times to remind them, and they were unable to do so.

At that moment, Peter, who had said he was willing to die for the Lord, could not even stay awake, much less watch with him! The same was true of the other disciples. They all could not withstand the temptation, and their flesh weakened, and they fell asleep.

There was only one exception. It was Judas, who betrayed Jesus. He was the only one who was not asleep at this time. He was on his way, on his way to betray Jesus.

Oh, let us rather sleep in weakness in good things than run awake in evil things.

The Lord passed through all this alone. But strictly speaking, that moment was spent by the Son and the Father together, communing and watching together.

Finally, the Lord gave everything to the Father in obedience, allowing the Father’s will to be done.

The time has come

The time had come, what was to happen was about to happen, but the Lord had emerged from the greatest trial of his life as a complete victor. So he could tell the disciples, “Now you may sleep and rest, for it is enough” (Mark 14:41). Although the disciples were all asleep, what the Son of Man Himself had experienced and held in his watch was not lacking in the end, it was enough.

“It is enough.” It is enough in the ultimate and eternal sense, and Jesus knew that he had won. Jesus was about to be arrested and crucified the next day. In the eyes of men it was Jesus who was humiliated in the flesh, but in reality the Lord was about to crush the serpent’s head on the cross: “Having taken captive all principalities and authorities, he made a show of them publicly, leading them in a triumph procession by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15).

From that moment on, the whole history on earth and in time enters into a different scene. A new action is to begin.

Arise, let us go

The betrayer of the Lord had come near. The Lord says, “Arise, let us go.” (Matthew 26:46; Mark 14:42; John 14:31). All gospels except Luke recorded this moving scene. Mark’s gospel is characterized by its haste and rapidity, moving from one scene to another, generally without detailed description or transition. But in the midst of this haste, Mark recorded the same detail as the other Gospel writers.

The Lord himself “rose up” to face the betrayer and go to the cross.

The disciples “arose” to leave the Lord and flee (Mark 14:50).

But this was permitted by the Lord. It was the Lord’s will, as it was the Lord himself who wanted them to scatter in all directions, fulfilling what the Scripture says, that He would strike the shepherd and scatter the flock.

There was a young man (many of those who read the Scriptures think that this young man was Mark himself, who later wrote the Gospel of Mark) who seemed to want to follow Jesus a little longer. But they seized him, and he threw away the sackcloth he was wearing and fled naked. This was a time of trouble and humiliation for the Lord, and the longer anyone tries to walk with him, the greater the humiliation he suffers when he flees.

But Peter seems to have returned after his flight. He followed Jesus from a distance.

He had sworn by his own sincerity to follow Jesus, even to die with him. God permitted him to come to his end, according to all that was in him. He was in the courtyard of the high priest, and witnessed with his own eyes what was happening there, and what was happening to him. The humiliation he was about to suffer was his inner humiliation, where all his fleshly pride and self-confidence were destroyed, and where he was humiliated far more than the young man had suffered in public.

The first to condemn Jesus were the chief priests and the whole council. They represented the Jewish religion. This was the first court, the religious court, that Jesus had to go through (the other two being the court of humanity and the court of politics, they all condemned him). They condemned him first, and then looked for reasons for condemnation. Their witnesses, according to the rules of witnesses, did not match each other and could not be established. Therefore they had to use false witnesses.

The characteristic of false testimonies is not that they are completely false on the surface, but that they are a bending of the facts (truth). They quoted the words of Jesus, but in reality they distorted them by changing the subject. And since the words they quoted are somewhat factual on the surface, one cannot distinguish between right and wrong merely by whether they actually heard him speaking those words or not, but must judge on the basis of whether they understood the meaning of the Lord’s words. Jesus did say, “Destroy this temple, and I will build it again in three days.” (John 2:19). But the Lord made his body the temple (John 2:21).

The question is, do you understand what he said? You may read the Bible and read the words in it that are spoken by God through the Holy Spirit. You will be called as a witness one day. The question is, do you understand what God said?

So do not think that because you have heard it you must have understood it, and that you can be a legitimate witness. There is only one criterion for whether you understand the Lord’s words or not: if you confess him as Christ the Lord, you prove that you understand (even if you once fled in fear, you are still one of his people and will not side with his accusers), and your testimony is then a true testimony; but if you do not confess him as Christ and as the Savior, you prove that you do not understand, and your testimony is a false testimony, even if your testimony is based on superficial facts and you feel you are honest and true to yourself. It is a terrible thing to give a false testimony, especially on something of such unique and universal importance.

The high priest condemned Jesus for blasphemy on the basis of the words that came out of Jesus’ mouth. Since their purpose was to put Jesus to death, and in Judaism the most clear-cut death sentence was for blasphemy, this was their set and stated goal.

However, based on what he believed or not believed, even if the high priest had meant to be just, he would still have condemned Jesus for blasphemy. Jesus would not have denied the truth, so he would have confessed that he was “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed” (Mark 14:61-62) regardless. But the high priest did not know nor believe that this Jesus before him was, in fact, the Christ, the Son of God. The high priest’s unbelief preemptively determines how he was going to decide. This was an inescapable trap with the high priest. It was not a trap of logic, it was a trap of the reality of life that was in him. And for the high priest, his reality is his unbelief.

The high priest’s unbelief condemned him.

To know or not to know Christ is not a matter of logical reasoning, but a matter of the fundamental premise and the source in the flow of life. The decisions made in secret places of heart reflect the reality of the inner life of the man.

At the same time as the high priest condemned Jesus, Peter personally experienced the abyss of his soul. Peter, who had denied the Lord three times, remembered his words after the rooster crowed twice, and wept bitterly.

How disappointed he was in himself! And, what he had lost in disappointment, he could never recover in his own life, for nothing in him was what he had thought he had. Even his hope in the Lord was to be crushed, because Jesus was to be crucified the next day.

However, Peter was about to discover that, although his own self was immeasurably worse and weaker than he had imagined, his Lord was infinitely better and stronger than he had imagined.

Next: Crucifixion