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|The next day was the day before Passover. Jesus had pre-arranged to have an early seder at the priest, John Mark's house in Jerusalem. The twelve disciples were kept in the dark about the location until the last minute so that Judas could not betray Jesus' whereabouts to the authorities until Jesus was ready. He wanted to be able to complete this last, symbolic meal with the twelve. The timing of his arrest and execution were absolutely crucial to his success and survival.
When Peter and John Zebedee asked where to prepare the paschal feast, Jesus again made good use of drama and intrigue. He instructed them to go to the gate near the pool and look for a man carrying a water pot, which would be
|easy to spot since drawing water was women's work. They were to follow this man to a house where again they would recite a password phrase to the owner and then be shown to the dining room, where they would set up the seder. Jesus as M*A*S*H's Colonel Flagg!
During dinner, Jesus again made reference to the foot oiling incident to re-inflame Judas' ire, and to divulge that it had in fact been the anointing of his body for burial, as he was going to die soon. The disciples lamented, protested, and generally whined about the announcement, but Jesus assured them it was necessary for the Messiah to die for the sins of the people in order to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth. He would take God's required punishment for the sins of the world upon himself, so that others could live.
"But how, Master? How can this be?" they wailed.
"One of you will betray me," he stated matter-of-factly.
The disciples rent their clothes, gnashed their teeth and denied that it could happen. Peter asked who the traitor was, but Jesus equivocated, allowing the tension and suspense to mount. Peter persisted.
|Finally, while Judas was dipping his bread in the common platter, Jesus reached over and scooped some lamb from the plate onto his bread, and said, "It is the one dipping in the dish with me." Jesus locked Judas in a glare and said, "Do what you have to do. Get it over with." And Judas left.
Jesus passed around bread and wine and then made a speech about their eating his body and drinking his blood, thereby inventing the barbaric convention of "communion". And we wonder where Jeffrey Dahmer got his ideas. Jesus was quite the Drama Queen.
|Then, when he had managed to thoroughly depress them all to the point of utter desolation, he threw them this crumb of hope, which no one really believed, because while they were apparently gullible as hell, they were mostly sane. He told them he would be raised up three days after his death as per Hosea 6:1-2, and would meet them back in Galilee. Hanging out with this guy was a major emotional roller coaster.
Jesus timed his arrest precisely to utilize certain Jewish laws and customs to allow his survival. He had to be arrested in the evening after the Passover meal, the day before Passover. That way, he would have to be tried the very next day, early so that his trial would not interfere with observance of the Sabbath. The Romans would not wait until after the Sabbath because the charges against him, treason, were too serious. Also they would not want to give Jesus' supporters time enough to rally and demonstrate. Jerusalem was swelled beyond capacity with Passover pilgrims, and the Romans did not want to give an already resentful population any additional cause to get whipped up into a frenzy of protest against them. Even reinforced, local Roman "peacekeepers" tried to avoid having to deal with riots. So, as Jesus calculated, the Romans would want to deal with him quickly, as quietly as possible, and efficiently.
The Romans did just as he had counted on. Jesus was a very shrewd planner. He even helped them out by confessing at his hearing, thus speeding the proceedings along, and allowing them to pass sentence immediately. His crucifixion was set for early that afternoon.
He was flogged first, as was customary, and having nails driven through his extremities wasn't exactly an energizing experience, so Jesus was quite weak by the time he was hung on the cross as he knew he would be. He was sort of the G. Gordon Liddy of his day- a masochist on a fanatical mission.
Speaking of that, imagine the agony his ludicrous scheme cost his mother, his wife, friends and family, as they stood watching his suffering and ostensible death on the cross. Oh, well, no matter the emotional "frailties" of womenfolk- he had important political ends to accomplish!
This is where Nicodemus entered the plot (if you don't count Jesus' surreptitious use of Nicodemus' purloined poison to heal the sick). Jesus even had his crucifixion perfectly scripted. Jesus began reciting the Psalms, starting with the first.
|When he got to the 22nd Psalm, he began in Hebrew, "Eli, Eli (God, God), Why hast thou forsaken me?" This was a signal to Nicodemus to begin mocking Jesus by addressing the mostly Aramaic speaking spectators, using a play on the Hebrew word for God (Eli).
"Let us see if Elijah will come rescue him!" Nicodemus shouted sarcastically, instigating a session of derision of Jesus from the crowd, which lasted the rest of the recitation of the 22nd Psalm. This established that Nicodemus was no ally of Jesus.
|After completion of the Psalm, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." Still in the spirit of making sport of Jesus, Nicodemus dipped a sponge into a bucket of vinegar and used a spear to hold it up to Jesus' lips. This appeared to be an act of cruelty to further establish Nicodemus' credential as an enemy of Jesus, and it also had the effect of fulfilling prophecy. Jesus sucked the drugged gall from the sponge, and then he quoted Psalm 69:21: "They gave me gall for my food and in my thirst gave me vinegar to drink." After this, Jesus went limp and appeared to die. It was the same drug he had used on his fellow Galileans, the pilgrims in Bethany, and Lazarus to perform "miracles".
Now, timing was of the essence. Jewish law had it that bodies could not remain on the cross past sundown on the Sabbath, so Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate, who was a friend of his according to one of the Christian Apocrypha (The Gospel of Peter). Joseph requested the body (in Greek, soma) of Jesus. Pilate asked astonished, "Is he dead already?" Crucifixion usually took days of torture to kill its victims; Jesus had been on the cross only a matter of hours. Pilate sent a centurion to verify the death, and the Roman jabbed him in the side with a spear just for good measure, and then sent confirmation. Pilate then released the corpse (in Greek, ptoma) of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea, who hurried to retrieve Jesus and meet Nicodemus to revive him.
The two shmoes on crosses on either side of Jesus, who had listened to endless Bible recitals in their agonies, were not so devious, nor thus so lucky as he. Not having the resources nor fortune to feign a timely death, they were most hideously and brutally murdered by the authorities to hasten the removal of their bodies by sundown to adhere to law. Hey, thanks, Jesus, just save yourself.
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