For a long time I have struggled with the way we approach Holy Week. We tend to rush from the Hosannas of Palm Sunday to the Hallelujahs of Resurrection Sunday. In our haste to celebrate the Resurrection, we glide past the significant events that led up to Jesus’ ultimate triumph.
Holy Week should be a time of serious reflection. There were many significant things that happened during that week. It began on a high note, as Jesus entered Jerusalem, on Sunday, to the praise of the people. It seemed to climax on Friday, with the cries of crucify him. Saturday was a day of grief and soul searching, which was dispelled on Sunday by the news that Jesus has risen from the grave.
As you walk through this week, reflect upon all that happened as Jesus intentionally made His way to the cross.
Luke tells us that every day Jesus held court in the Temple, teaching the people. Matthew gives us a glimpse at some of the things that Jesus taught during that time. (Matthew 21:12-25:46)
- The parable of the two sons who were both told to work in the father’s vineyard.
- The parable of the wicked tenants who refused to honor the owner of the vineyard.
- The parable of the wedding banquet where the invited guests refuse to come.
- Jesus answered challenges about paying taxes to Caesar and about the resurrection.
- Jesus offered the Great Commandment.
- Jesus issued His seven woes to the Scribes and the Pharisees.
- Jesus taught about the signs of the end times.
- Jesus told the parables of the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats.
It was on Wednesday of that week that the religious leaders solidified their plan to get rid of Jesus. They enlisted Judas to betray Jesus, for a price. ( Matt. 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6)
On Thursday, Jesus gathered with His disciples in the upper room to celebrate the Passover. It was during that meal that Jesus revealed that one of the disciples would betray Him and that all of the disciples would abandon Him. ((Matt. 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-25, Luke 22:7-20, John 13:1-38)
Later that night, Jesus led His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray about His impending death. Sometime during the night, Judas led a cohort of soldiers and religious leaders to the garden to arrest Jesus. (Matt. 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-52, Luke 22:40-53, John 18:2-11)
Early Friday morning, Jesus was put on trial before the Sanhedrin. He was condemned by them, then forcefully taken to Pontius Pilate. There Jesus was ridiculed and put on display. Pilate tried to free Jesus, but ultimately gave in to the demands of the crowd, as the cries of “crucify him” rang in his ears. During that time Peter denied Jesus three times and Judas, overcome with remorse, hung himself. (Matt. 26:57-27:31, Mark 14:53-15:15, Luke 22:54-23:25, John 18:12-19:16)
Friday morning Jesus was led to Golgotha to be crucified with two criminals. At noon, the sun went dark and a pall of fear descended over Jerusalem. Later in the afternoon, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and then died. At that moment, the curtain in the Temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn in two from top to bottom. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus came to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. They wrapped Jesus in linens and laid Him in Joseph’s new tomb. A massive stone was rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb. The religious leaders arranged to have a guard posted at the tomb, so that no one could take the body and claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. (Matt. 27:32-66, Mark 15:16-47, Luke 23:26-56, John 19:17-42)
The disciples spent Saturday, the Sabbath, gathered in the upper room, hiding from the religious leaders. Their hearts were rung with grief, guilt and confusion. It was the darkest Sabbath of their lives.
We can never fully appreciate the resurrection of Jesus, until we honestly examine the path that He took to get there. It was indeed a path of sorrow and grief, but it was a price Jesus willingly paid for us.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.