Nearly 2000 years ago on the other side of the world, a gentle, innocent rabbi was beaten, tortured, humiliated, and finally executed. His crime? Many then said blasphemy. Many others said it was simply because he taught the truth about God--a truth that the religious leaders of that day did not want to hear.-John 8:37-41
The reasons that Jesus of Nazareth died are not what is important. The important reason is that he died. Why is this? Simply put, it is because of what his death did for all of mankind.
Jesus died 1,976 years ago on Nisan 14, 33 C.E. by the reckoning of the Jewish calendar. That day falls on a different day each year when converted to the Gregorian Calendar. This year, the day falls on April 9, 2009.
Jehovah's Witnesses gather each year on that day after sunset to follow a command laid down by Jesus the Messiah on the night of his death. Let us go back to the night that Jesus instituted the Lord's Evening Meal.
Jesus was weighed down in the days before his death. However, he did not let his anxiety get in the way of what he was sent to do--preach the Good News of the Kingdom. (Luke 4:43) Of course, he did not neglect his good friends, taking the last days (and hours) of his life spending time with and teaching them. He even said hours before he was to be killed, "I have greatly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer."-Luke 22:15
After the passover celebration, Jesus replaced it with something different. He took some leftover unleavened bread and burgundy wine and instituted the Lord's Even Meal.
Luke reports this: "Also, he took a loaf, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them, saying: 'This means my body which is to be given in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.' Also, the cup in the same way after they had the evening meal, he saying: 'This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.'" (Luke 22:19-20) Mark goes on to say that after instituting the Lord's Evening Meal that "after singing praises*, they went out to the Mount of Olives."-Mark 14:26
Over the course of the next few days and/or weeks, we are going to focus primarily on Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and his life and death and what that did for mankind. Also, check back regularly for recommended Bible readings applicable to the last days of Jesus life so that you too can see exactly what Jesus went through as his sad and yet important death was approaching.
*On the night of the Passover it was customary for the Jews to sing Psalms 113-118.