For most of the Christian denominations, the week leading up to Easter is called “Passion Week.” Passion means “suffering”, so Passion week is the week leading to the suffering, including the crucifixion of Jesus.
The Holy Bible, includes the events, works and teachings of Jesus’ ministry leading up to His death and resurrection. The events are well documented in the four Gospels of the New Testament. Most Bibles will identify the Gospels as, “The Gospel of Saint Matthew, The Gospel of Saint Mark, The Gospel of Saint Luke and The Gospel of Saint John.” Some translations or publishing houses may make a slight change such as, The Gospel According to Saint Matthew.
The first three Gospels; Matthew, Mark and Luke contain approximately 80% of the same events in the life of Christ (Matthew and Luke give us the birth record of Jesus, while Mark and John are silent concerning those events). These are referred to as “synoptic” Gospels, meaning that each of them contain many of the same events and chronology. There is a strong parallelism among them, and yet they are not just “carbon copies” of each other. However, the Gospel of John only reveals about 20% of the events covered in the Synoptic Gospels. That means that most of the Gospel of John includes material not mentioned in the other Gospels.
Think of the Gospel writers as standing on a different corner of a busy street and they all see the same accident in the intersection. When the police officers interview them as witnesses, they each tell the same story, but with different visual points, education levels, life events, and preferences.
The four Gospel writers were so different. Two of them were Apostles; Matthew (Levi) and John (Brother to James the Apostle). Mark and Luke were not selected as Apostles but were disciples and followers of Jesus. Matthew was a tax collector. Luke was a physician. Mark was a follower and John wrote five books of the New Testament; The Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and the Book of the Revelation.
My point is each of these four writers gave us great detail of the life and teachings of Jesus the Christ. However, their work is more topical than chronological. For the writers, the “content” was far more important to each of them and chronology was general in nature. The accounts are slightly different, from each of their perspectives.
Each of the Gospels included the events of passion week, but they do not focus on the timeline of those events. For example, we are not told which events took place on Monday or Tuesday. And that would follow for the remaining days of the week as well. It is as if God instructed each writer to focus on Jesus message and teaching.
To complicate matters further, many traditions have been accepted and treated as common knowledge, outside of the written word. For example, the Bible does not call the Friday the week before His crucifixion as “Good Friday.” Another tradition explains that Jesus was crucified on Friday and rose on Sunday, but that would be hard to support using just the Scriptures. That position has some weaknesses as that timeframe is clearly not “three days and three nights.”
It is my purpose to then to present the critical events taking place during Passion week, following the ministry of Jesus during His last days. (I have not included every incident, just those in my opinion were the major ones.)
- Jesus, the Apostles and many disciples are making their way to Jerusalem to participate in the Passover.
- The triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The crowds are chanting Hosanna, casting palm branches or their own cloaks on the ground as Jesus enters riding on a colt of an ass.
- Jesus clears the Temple mount of money changers and sellers of doves.
- Jesus teaches in the Temple mount each day and answers questions of the people and the religious leaders. He predicts that Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed.
- The plot by the Jewish leaders draws closer as Judas agrees to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
- Jesus teaches His followers about the “end times” including persecutions, the desolation in the Temple, false Christ’s and false prophets, and a warning to be always look toward the coming of the Son of Man.
- Jesus has a final meal and teaching to His closest disciples. He washes their feet, speaks of His betrayal, and gives them a new commandment of love. Jesus predicts and warns Peter of his denial of Christ. He tells all the disciples that they will flee from His presence.
- Jesus promises that He would send a “Comforter” to them in His place.
- Jesus and the disciples go to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prays for strength to endure the events of the next few hours.
- Jesus is arrested when Judas identifies him to the Jewish Temple guards.
- Jesus is tried by Annas the High Priest, Caiaphas High Priest, and the Sanhedrin. During these trials, Peter denies Jesus three times before the rooster crows.
- Jesus is taken before Pilate in order to get the death penalty. As the Jews were under the rule of Rome, they could not take a life.
- Jesus is taken before Herod and then back to Pilate. Pilate declares Jesus is innocent of all charges.
- Barabbas is released instead of Jesus
- Pilate, under pressure of the people and the religious rulers, condemns Jesus and sentences Him to crucifixion.
- Jesus is mocked and beaten by the Roman guard.
- Jesus carries His cross towards Golgotha. However, He is beaten so badly that a man from the crowd, Simon of Cyrene carries the cross the rest of the way.
- Jesus is crucified between two others. One ridicules Jesus while the other accepts Jesus as the Messiah.
- Jesus makes seven statements from the cross.
- Father forgive them
- Tells the repentant criminal that he would be in Paradise that day
- Gives His mother into the care of John
- Cry’s out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
- I thirst
- Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit
- It is finished
- The crowd jeers Him during the final hours.
- The world becomes dark from noon to 3 PM.
- Upon His death, there is a great earthquake
- The inner curtain of the Temple is torn in two, from top to bottom
- Jesus body is claimed by Joseph of Arimathea and placed into a tomb
- Pilate grants a Roman guard to be placed at the tomb by the High Priest and the tomb is sealed.
- Jesus is resurrected and seen by many: the women who came to finish preparing His body. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus. To the Apostles and to hundreds
- Jesus appears to the disciples at the Sea of Galilee
- Jesus gives His last words of encouragement and command.
For those of the Christian faith, Easter is the most important event each year. It is on Easter, that we focus on what Jesus the Christ accomplished. For Christians, He is the Savior of the world and this is the day we celebrate the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah coming to earth, dying and rising again.
For the Christian, we look forward to His return. “Maranatha!” is Aramaic for “Our Lord is coming.”