It is often referred to as the “Holy Week,” the last week upon earth of Jesus’ life amongst men as the God-man, culminating in the cruel cross crucifixion. It serves us well to be reminded often of the unspeakable Calvary event, unspeakable because of the rejection of Jesus by His own whom He came to redeem; yet, precious because of the atonement that His dying secured for all men, specially for those who believe. (I Tim.4:10) The following is an outline of the events of His last week:
On the Sunday before He was nailed to the cross, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt, fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy that Messiah would come as King “riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” (Zech. 9:9). On that day multitudes cried “Hosanna to the son of David,” (Matt. 21:9) yet just a few days hence the crowds would be crying “crucify Him, crucify Him!”
Luke notes that “when he was come near, he beheld the city and wept over it.” (Luke 19:41)
On Monday, approaching the city, Jesus curses a fig tree that appeared to be at the stage of fruit bearing but was instead barren. Arriving in Jerusalem at the Temple site, Jesus surveys the merchandizing taking place in His “Father’s House,” and responds by turning upside down the moneychangers’ tables, driving them out as He proclaimed that “…it is written, my house shall be called a House of Prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matt. 21:13) He had similarly done this temple cleansing at the beginning of His ministry as John records in his gospel, chapter 2.
Tuesday was an extended teaching day for Jesus, beginning in the Temple teaching His disciples in parables and continuing just outside the Temple where the disciples asked Jesus about the end of the age issues. Those questions (Matt. 24:3) initiated a lengthy discourse of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 24,25 called the Olivet Discourse in which Jesus gave signs that would precede His 2nd coming and the great tribulation that would take place just prior to that coming and the judgment of the nations that would immediately follow His return in power and great glory. (Matt. 25)
On Wednesday of “Holy Week” Jesus, at dinner in the home of Simon the leper, had his head anointed by a woman who poured over him a box of very precious ointment. The disciples rebuked the woman, but Jesus rebuked the disciples and commended the woman while Judas Iscariot slipped out of the room to seek out Pharisees with whom he could conspire to betray His Master.
On Thursday afternoon, the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus instructed Peter and John to secure an Upper room where He and the disciples could share in the Passover Supper together. It was after this meal that Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, then revealed that Judas would betray Him while He also warned His followers of their pending denial of Him. Our Lord instituted the Memorial of the Last Supper (Luke 22:17-20) and then launched into a farewell discourse (John 14-16) climaxing with His great Intercessory Prayer (John 17) followed by a short walk to the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives where Jesus uttered the agonizing petition, “Let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” It was under the cover of an early morning blanket of darkness that Judas then led his cohorts in crime to the garden where he knew Jesus was wont to pray, betraying Him to Roman soldiers with a kiss feigning love and loyalty, resulting in the arrest of Jesus and his hearing before Annas, former High Priest and father of Caiaphas, the then current High Priest before whom Jesus would next stand to be interrogated along with being accused, mocked, charged with blasphemy, beaten, blindfolded and reviled.
Friday morning, early, Jesus was formally condemned by the Sanhedrin, about the time, interestingly, that Judas, beginning to feel the awful consequences of his betrayal of the Son of God, went out and hanged himself. Jesus was led to Pilate where the Roman governor asked Him point blank “Art thou the king of the Jews?” In keeping with the custom of releasing a prisoner on such festive feast days, the blood-thirsty crowd demanded that the seditionist-murderer Barabbas be released and that Jesus, King of the Jews, be crucified. Pilate, learning that Jesus was from Galilee, sent Him to Herod Antipas to be judged and it was before Herod that Christ was mocked, dressed for a few moments in a gorgeous robe and then sent back to Pilate where he was chastised and crowned in mockery with a crown of thorns.
Friday morning, between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. Jesus continues to be mocked by soldiers and then, with reservations, released by Pilate to the frenzied crowd. He is led to Golgotha just a little before 9:00 a.m. and nailed to the cross where He would hang between two thieves from 9 until noon during which time Jesus would utter “Father, forgive them,” and to the repentant thief “This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise” and to His mother, “Woman, behold thy son,” and to the beloved John, “Son, behold thy mother.” His garments were parted, and soldiers cast lots to see who would get what; and a superscription was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Jesus would suffer hanging upon the hill called Golgotha for another three hours from noon until 3:00 p.m. crying out four more times: “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and “I thirst,” “It is finished,” and finally, under a darkened sky where neither sun nor moon shone and where the earth was about to quake, Jesus cried “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Immediately Matthew tells us that the veil of the Temple was rent from the top to the bottom, the earth did quake, some tombs of Old Testament believers were opened, and Old Testament saints were observed walking the streets of Jerusalem (Matt. 27:52) and the Centurion Soldier at the cross was overheard saying, “Truly this was the Son of God.” Jesus had died for the sins of the world then He was carefully anointed for burial before being placed into the never before used tomb of a wealthy man from Arimathaea, Joseph, who was also a follower of Jesus.
After three days and three nights (by Jewish reckoning any part of a day is a day, night is a night) Jesus rose victorious over death, hell and the grave whereupon He appeared to many of his followers before ascending back into the heavens in a visible display of His power and great glory, the full display of which is being reserved for His 2nd coming at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation. (Matthew 24,25)
“Behold He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)