Holy Week

The Biblical Events of Holy Week

Every year, as Resurrection Sunday approaches, I find value in being reminded of the events that took place during Holy Week. This post provides a brief walk-through of Holy Week with accompanying Scripture references. I hope this post can be used as a guide for family worship during Holy Week or as a tool for personal study. I pray it is a blessing to you.
Based on the reverse engineering of the Jewish calendar system and the assumption that Jesus was crucified in AD 33, not AD 30, we know Holy Week began on Sunday, March 29, AD 33, and culminated with the resurrection on Sunday, April 5, AD 33. The events of Holy Week surround the Jewish observation of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12 – 13).

During Jesus’ day, the observation of Passover would have caused a significant stir in Jerusalem. The city would have swelled to 60,000 (or more) devout Jews, coming to the temple to worship and remember God’s provision in bringing His people out of Egyptian slavery. There would have been excitement and energy in the city, which was not usually there. At the same time, the Romans needed to keep the peace. They needed to ensure worship did not lead to an uprising. So, while there was excitement, there was also the recognition that as the Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, they did so under the occupying forces of Rome.

Sunday (March 29)

Jesus enters Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. He receives a Messianic welcome as the people welcome him with shouts of "Hosanna!!!" All four gospel evangelists provide this account (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-18). During his entrance into the city, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). Additionally, John provides additional information on Sunday’s events throughout John 12. Jesus returned to Bethany about 2 miles from the city at the end of the day.

Monday (March 30)

Jesus clears out the temple of the money changers. This dramatic event is accounted for by the synoptic gospels (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; and Luke 19:45-46). Here, Jesus gives his powerful quote: “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.” With the hustle and bustle of a busy celebration week, Temple Mount was filled with opportunists seeking to capitalize on the Jewish pilgrims who had come to worship.

Tuesday (March 31)

Jesus returns to the temple and is engaged in controversies surrounding his authority. First, the Pharisees question Jesus’ authority. Jesus responds with his own question, asking them if John’s baptism was from God or man (Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33); Luke 20:1-8). Jesus’ response shut the mouths of the Pharisees because their answer would have threatened an uproar among the people who believed John was a prophet of God. Second, the Sadducees (who denied the possibility of a resurrection) question Jesus about the resurrection. They pose the question to Jesus: if a man dies and his brother takes his wife as his own, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? Jesus responds by saying in the resurrection; you are neither married nor given in marriage (Matthew 22:23-033; Mark 12:18-27). Finally, the Herodians (those who were faithful to Rome) asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus responds famously by saying render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s but to God the things that are God’s. In his response, Jesus is demonstrating that even though Caesar is the earthly authority, he is still created in the image of God, and while he may be due taxes from the people, God is still owed worship from Caesar (Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:19-26).

During this time, we find some unique allies that have begun to form between the various opponents of Jesus. The Pharisees were the religious legalists of the day who took exception to the teachings of Jesus. The Sadducees were opportunists who got rich off the Romans, and they were intent on not letting the zealous teaching of Jesus ruin their good thing. The Herodians were the Roman loyalists who saw Jesus as a revolutionary threat that needed to be contained.

Wednesday (April 1)

With the various groups threatened by Jesus, the Sanhedrin plot to kill Jesus (Matthew 26:3-5; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:1-2).

Thursday (April 2)

Jesus observes the Passover meal with his disciples (Matthew 26:20-35; Mark 14:17-26; Luke 22:14-30). During this time, Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper, washes his disciple’s feet, dismisses Judas (who would betray him), predicts Peter's betrayal, and delivers his upper room discourse (John 13:1-17:26)

After they ate the Passover meal, they sang a hymn, which probably came from Psalm 113-118, and they made their way to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would pray (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46).

Friday (April 3)

After midnight, Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. Jesus is arrested and placed on trial. Jesus is taken before the high priest, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin during this time. False accusations are made up, and Jesus is beaten and then sent to stand before Pilate. Luke points out that Jesus even stood before Herod (Luke 23:6-16). Eventually, Jesus is handed over to be crucified based on the accusations of the Jews. Jesus dies at the hands of the Romans by hanging on a Roman cross and is buried that evening in a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 26:57-27:61; Mark 14:43-15:47; Luke 22:47-23:56; John 18:1-19:42).

Saturday (April 4)

The Sabbath day of rest is observed. At the same time, Jewish leaders posted guards at Jesus’ tomb to ensure his body was not stolen (Matthew 27:62-66; Luke 23:56).

Sunday (April 5)

In the ultimate fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, the seed of the woman crushes the head of the serpent as Jesus defeats death and rises from the grave. The first witnesses were the women who had tended to his body. The angels ask, “why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, for he has risen, as he said!” The women's testimony caused Peter and John to run to the empty tomb to see for themselves that Jesus was, in fact, not there (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18).
This is not an exhaustive list of the events that took place during Holy Week, but I trust it will help you better understand the days leading up to our Lord’s death and victorious resurrection. For a more detailed chart, click here. For further reading, I recommend The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived.

I pray this causes you to think deeply about Christ’s passion and atoning sacrifice, which allows us to be redeemed and reconciled to our Heavenly Father. We are the beneficiaries of this great act of love by grace and through faith. 

Soli Deo Gloria
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