How did Judas know where to lead the guards on the night he betrayed Jesus? He left the supper early that night, and Jesus had taken His disciples across the Kidron Valley to an olive grove. How did Judas know they would be there? What John tells us offers some insight into the ministry of Jesus with His disciples. He says, “Now Judas, who betrayed Him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with His disciples.” (John 18:2 NIV)
Jesus had often met with His disciples in this beautiful olive grove. It had become one of His favorite places to pray with them. Have you ever wondered why it is that we often best meet God in nature? Maybe it’s because we were made in a garden. Creation is a witness to the glory of God, the power of God and the purpose of God; and man is the crown of His creation. We were created by God and created for God. It’s no wonder we best connect with Him in the beauty of His creation. According to a lead researcher from Italy’s National Research Council, Antonio Cimato of the CNR’s Tree and Timber institute in Florence, visitors to the same olive grove where Jesus took His disciples can see eight ancient olive trees that are said to be children from a single specimen dating back to the time of Christ. “Are these trees linked to the very trees from the olive grove in which Jesus prayed? Despite their age, the 900 year old trees were found in excellent health, unaffected by pollution or bacteria. Amazingly, the garden’s earth appears to block insects and bacterial proliferation. I would call it a small miracle,” says Cimato.
If you find it difficult to pray, you may want to take a prayer walk in a park or find a place outside where you can get alone with the God of creation. Genesis tells us that Adam walked with God in the cool of the day before the fall. When God sent His Son, it’s interesting that He spends time with them in a garden. In addition, this garden, John says, is a place that Jesus often met with His disciples. Prayer was a habit of Jesus we’ve repeatedly found in our 40-Day Journey through the Gospels. In fact, there were many times the disciples would be looking for Jesus, only to find Him in some solitary place praying. After observing this habit in Jesus’ life, they became so interested that they asked Him to teach them to pray.
For Jesus, prayer was not a duty but a delight. It wasn’t like a spiritual exercise He had to do but an opportunity He got to do. He longed to be in undistracted communion with His Father. His prayer life was so attractive people wanted to pray like He did. As we meet with God in prayer, we become more consciously aware of His presence. As we cultivate the presence of God, our lives become a sweet aroma for Christ that attracts others with the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. No greater compliment could be given to you than that others desire the kind of relationship you share with Jesus.
Bible Reading: John 18:1-40 (NIV)
1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)
6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”
9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him
13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.
14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.
15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard,
16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
17 “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.”
18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.
21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”
24 Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.
25 As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?”
27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; 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,” the Jews objected.
32 This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
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. “It was your people and your chief priests who 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 Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews 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’?”
40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.
Bible Reading: John 19:1-42 (NIV)
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.
2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe
3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.
4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.”
5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”
7 The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid,
9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.
10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha).
14 It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.
17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
18 Here they crucified him, and with him two others–one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.
21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”
22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,”
27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.
33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.
36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”
37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
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 Jews. 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.