Holy Week, also known as Passion Week, was the last week of Jesus' earthly ministry. And a busy week it was for Him!
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey while the crowd put down their cloaks and palm leaves for Him. They sang "Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." (Matthew 21:1-11) As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a new donkey that had never been ridden before, He wept over the devastation of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41).
Jesus cleared the temple in Jerusalem. This was when Jesus overturned the tables and said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you make it a den of robbers” (Matthew: 21:12-17).
Also, Jesus cursed a barren fig tree for having leaves but no figs. (Matthew 21:18-22)
The barren fig tree is a symbol of those who think only of outward goodness which does not come from the heart (Matthew 21:18-22). Jesus was hungry and he went to the fig tree to get something to eat, but when He approached it, He saw that it was barren. It was not the time for figs, but it was understood that once a fig tree had leaves, it should also have figs.
Tuesday (A busy day for Jesus!)
On Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus preached and taught in Jerusalem from early morning till late at night. When the sun went down on Tuesday, His earthly teaching was done.
As dusk approached, Jesus taught the parable of the talents. And in those final moments before His teaching ministry came to an end, He told His listeners, in essence, "You have one life.” That's it. Some of you have all kinds of gifts and abilities; some of you have less. But don't squander the one and only "life" God has given you. Do something noble and great with it. Jesus knew His physical life on earth was almost over, and He was leaving final words for us.
He told the Parable of the Talents to remind to keep watch. Jesus told the Parable of the Ten Virgins to foretell His return. Jesus prophesied about His Second Coming and the Last Judgment. He talked about the Greatest Commandment and the signs of the times. He gave warnings and he gave woes (Matthew 21:28-25:46).
On Tuesday Jesus’ authority was questioned. According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus again returns to Jerusalem where he is confronted by the Temple leadership for what he did the day before. He replied to the wily questions of the Pharisees and scribes who tried to trap Him. Jesus rebuked them for their envy and deceit.
Wednesday (SPY WEDNESDAY)
The tempo of Holy Week increased on Wednesday. The Bible records two important things that happened on Wednesday.
This is the day widely known as "Spy Wednesday.” It is the day when Judas Iscariot, a disciple turned betrayer agreed to show the chief priests where they could easily capture Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver which was the going rate for a slave at that time.
Jesus relaxed that evening in Bethany where a woman anointed Him with expensive perfume from her alabaster box. This was a foreshadow of Jesus’ burial (Matthew 26:6-13).
Jesus continues his daily teaching in the Temple, the chief priests, elders, and scribes plot to kill Jesus, Satan enters Judas, who seeks out to betray Jesus. ...
Not even Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem as King of Israel could dissuade Judas from his course. Judas had convinced himself that Jesus was a false Messiah and that He had to pay for His deception.
Scholars infer that Judas may have been the only Judean among the twelve disciples of Jesus. This alone could have caused him to feel somewhat superior. When Jesus gave him charge of the money box, it may have additionally boosted his ego. Judas is often identified as a Zealot. We know that Judas was probably a Zealot by his surname, Iscariot. Researchers believe this is a form of the title sicarii, meaning "dagger-men," a group of ultra-Zealots who carried a knife with them at all times to be prepared to assassinate traitors and capitulators. Though motivated primarily by socio-economic and political factors, the Zealots also had prophetic ideas driving them. They believed that if they turned Israel back to God and incited war against the Romans, the Messiah would arise to lead them and establish His Kingdom. This "understanding" resulted from misinterpreting many prophecies concerning Christ's teachings. In short, the Zealots ignored many of the prophecies regarding His first coming and completely mis-timed those about the second.
Initially, Christ's message probably aroused great excitement among the Zealots and their sympathizers. Yet at some point, Jesus' message began to change. He frequently told His disciples that He would die—by crucifixion, of all things—and that this was a main reason for His coming. He began to find fault with the things Jesus said and did, and began to steal from the money box. Once, in Bethany, he even complained aloud of his displeasure to Jesus (John 12:3-6).
Thursday of Holy Week: In the evening Jesus washes the disciples' feet, eats the Passover meal with the Twelve, tells them of the coming betrayal, and institutes the Lord’s Supper. They then depart to Gethsemane, where he struggles in prayer and they struggle to stay awake late into the night. Jesus is then betrayed and arrested by dawn.
Maundy Thursday [pronounced môn'dE] is the traditional English name for Thursday of Holy Week, so named because of the institution of the Lord’s Supper by Jesus at the Last Supper (that is, the mandatum novum or “new commandment”).
“A new commandment I give unto you: that you love one another.” (John 13:34)
Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday is the day before Jesus’ crucifixion. On this day Jesus had His Last Supper with His disciples before His death. This day, Jesus took a normal "Passover meal" and changed it forever.
Jesus did several things on Maundy Thursday, according Matthew 26:17-75.
The arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus Christ all took place on Good Friday. Jesus was taken into Roman courts, before Pontius Pilate and Herod Antipas, who sent him back to the Jewish court. Roman soldiers took him to Golgotha, the place of the skull, where he was crucified (Matthew 26:47 - Matthew 27:26).
It is interesting that Jesus was born at night and it became day. Jesus was crucified during the day and it became as dark as night.
The seven last words of Jesus on the cross are usually preached during Good Friday services to commemorate Jesus’ death at 3 p.m. We call this day “good” because of what God was able to do for us through the life and death of Jesus. He gave us new life with Him forever.
One traditional use of Scripture is to base the homily or devotional on the Seven Last Words of Jesus as recorded in the gospels.
The Seven Last Words of Jesus:
“Father, forgive them . . .” (Luke 23:34)
“This day you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
“Woman, behold your son . . .” (John 19:26-27)
“My God, my God why has thy forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)
“I thirst.” (John 19:28)
“It is finished!” (John 19:30)
“Father into your hands . . . “ (Luke 23:46)
On Friday, Jesus voluntarily submitted to be nailed to a cross. "No one takes my life, I lay it down myself” (John 10:18).
The Bible says that at noon, the skies got dark. There was an earthquake. The temple veil was torn from top to bottom to show that man had absolutely "nothing" to do with it. People suddenly realized that when Jesus cried out, "It is finished," and then died, He was no ordinary man.
What happened on the cross was a divine exchange. Jesus was made sin so we could be made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus was taken down from the cross, prepared for burial, and placed in a borrowed tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathaea (Luke 23:50-53).
Saturday (Black Sabbath)
Holy Saturday was the day between the promise and the fulfillment of the promise. Jesus had not only predicted He would be crucified, but also that He would rise from the dead. Our salvation is based on that promise.
On Saturday, the high priests and Pharisees gathered together before Pilate and asked him to have Jesus' tomb sealed until the third day because as those enemies of God said, "We suspect that His disciples will come and steal His buried body by night, and then proclaim to the people that His resurrection is true, as that deceiver Himself foretold while He was yet alive; and then the last deception shall be worse than the first. After they had said these things to Pilate and received his permission, they went and sealed the tomb, and assigned a watch for security, that is, guards from among the soldiers who were appointed to guard the city” (Matthew 27:62-66).
Jesus made His descent with His soul, whereby He destroyed the gates and bars of Hades. Death was put to death, Hades was stripped of all its captives, the forefathers and all the righteous who died from the beginning of time were set free (Ephesians 4:8).
Most Christians now call this "Resurrection Day" while it is commonly known as Easter Sunday. God raised Jesus from the dead early in the morning. That's why we can say, "He is risen!" (Matthew 28:11-15)