Easter is on Sunday, April 16, 2017, and for many, the holiday is time to reflect upon Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection. The Biblical account of the Passion Week or the week of events that began with Jesus’ arrival in Bethany and culminated with Jesus’ crucifixion and death on the cross is told in each of the four Gospels. Passion week is an important aspect of the Easter holiday and Christians celebrate Jesus’s resurrection worldwide. Each Bible account gives a different point of view from those who wrote the Gospels. Easter Sunday is not considered part of Passion Week that begins on Palm Sunday and culminates on Good Friday. You may read the Easter story and the four accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
There were many notable events that took place during Passion Week resulting in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In John 12:1, Jesus arrived in Bethany. Many people are familiar with this story because it is the account of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with tears and wiping them with her hair. The anointing of Jesus’ feet took place after Jesus raised Mary’s and Martha’s brother Lazarus from the dead. It was six days before the Jewish holiday Passover and the anointing of Jesus’ feet is symbolic to many Christians as a prophetic act that Jesus would soon be crucified. It is interesting to note that according to John 12:4, Judas Iscariot, the one who would later betray Jesus was upset and became angry over the anointing. Christians observe the anointing of Jesus’ feet one week before Good Friday, or the Friday before Good Friday.
Following the anointing of Jesus’ feet that took place on a Friday, was the Sabbath. The Bible does not give an account of what Jesus and his disciples did on Saturday, but because it was the Sabbath and they were devout Jews, it is understood that they celebrated the Sabbath.
The Sunday following the Sabbath, and one week before Easter Sunday is a significant day in Passion Week and is known by several names. It is referred to as the Triumphal Entry, Triumphant Entry, and Palm Sunday. You may read about Palm Sunday in each of the four Gospels. The Triumphal Entry may be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11: 1-11; Luke 19: 28-44 and John 12:12-19. During the Triumphal Entry, Jesus rode on a donkey and entered the city of Jerusalem. The people recognized and honored him as the Messiah and Christians today believe that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament writings or the Tanakh. In the Old Testament, Bible books of Zechariah 9:9 and Psalm 118 25-26, it is read that the Messiah will come to Zion riding on a donkey. Psalm 118:25-26 states “Blessed be he that comes in the name of the Lord.” The phrase is translated as Hosanna in the New Testament. When Jesus entered Jerusalem to shouts of Hosanna and people waving palm branches, the early Christian church believed Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies and was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel and the world. Palm Sunday occurs one week before Easter Sunday.
The Monday after the Triumphal entry, Jesus went into the Temple and became furious when he saw it being used as a storehouse selling and trading goods. This is the first Biblical account of Jesus showing or expressing anger and some Bible translations describe it as Jesus cursing. You can read about the clearing of the Temple in Matthew 21:10-17; Mark 11:15-18 and Luke 19:45-48. The New Testament, Bible writer John did not discuss the clearing of the Temple in his account as he wrote about Passion Week and Easter.
The Tuesday following the clearing of the Temple, Jesus escaped plots set by the priests to trick him by his words. The priests wanted to know by what authority or power he claimed to heal the sick, work miracles and raise the dead. Jesus answered them with another question. It was at the Mount of Olives that Jesus then spoke in parables to his disciples and crowds. You may read the parables and account of Jesus’ escape from the priests in Matthew 21:23-24; Mark 11:27-13:37 and Luke 20:1-21:36. Some of the parables Jesus spoke about include the parable of the husbandman, paying tribute to Cesar (where Jesus said to give to Cesar the things that are Cesar’s and give to God the things that are God’s) and parables about the resurrection. He spoke about being the Messiah and talked about the end of the age.
The next day was Wednesday, one day before the Last Supper and two days before Jesus’ crucifixion. The Bible does not give an account of Jesus’ or his disciples’ activities on this day. Because of passages in Mark 14:1 and John 12:1, it is believed that Jesus and his disciples rested during this day.
The Last Supper was held on a Thursday, the day before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was the Jewish holiday Passover and Jesus and his disciples had gathered together. Christians believe that the Passover and other Jewish feasts were types and shadows that would ultimately be fulfilled in Jesus. The Passover meal was no exception as Jesus told his disciples that the bread they ate was his body and the wine they drank was his blood. Jesus was not stating that he was a vampire, but according to the Bible was foretelling his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. The Bible account states that after the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples sang hymns before retreating to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before his arrest. It was during the Last Supper that Jesus announced someone would betray him and Peter announced he would never deny Jesus. You may read about the Last Supper in the Bible books of Matthew 26:1-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-23 and John 13:1-20.
Friday following the Last Supper is referred to as Good Friday. It was the day Jesus was crucified. Between Thursday, the Last Supper and Good Friday, Jesus had been betrayed, arrested, denied and deserted, beat, mocked, put on trial and ultimately sentenced to death. Jesus was told to carry his own cross to Golgotha, or the place of the skull. When Jesus couldn’t carry the cross, another man was ordered to carry his cross in his place. The Bible places Jesus’ time of death at approximately 3 p.m. and it is believed his body was placed in the tomb at 6 p.m. As the Sabbath was to begin, it is estimated Jesus’ body was put in the tomb before sundown. You may read about the crucifixion and Good Friday in the following Bible books: Matthew 27:1-66; Mark 15:1-47; Luke 22:66-23:56 and John 18:28-19:37.
The Gospel accounts do not mention what Jesus was doing on Holy Saturday, the day his body was in the tomb. Christian accounts in the New Testament; however, indicate that Jesus had taken a trip to hell during that time. In 1 Peter 3:18-20 there is an account that many theologians believe means that on Saturday following the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, and before the resurrection on Easter Sunday, Jesus went to hell, defeated the devil and took power away from Satan. It also states that Jesus preached to spirits trapped in Hades. Many theologians believe this answers the question of what happened to people who lived before Jesus was born. There is no Gospel account that states Jesus went to hell or Hades between the crucifixion and resurrection.
Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day is not considered part of the Passion Week because it is the Christian celebration of Jesus’ victory over death, hell and the grave. The entire Christian faith is based upon the belief that Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the dead. It is the belief that Jesus rose from the dead that gives Christians confidence they too will rise from the dead through their faith and belief in Jesus Christ via the repentance and forgiveness of their sins.
According to the New Testament Gospel accounts, women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body but found the stone had been rolled away and Jesus’ body was missing. Interestingly, there are different accounts of what happened on Easter Sunday. Some people feel this is a discrepancy while others say it is because different points of view are being expressed. As each Biblical account of Easter is given throughout the Gospels, a comprehensive view of Passion Week forms.
You may read the four Gospel accounts of Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as written in the Bible in Matthew 28:1-13; Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-49 and John 20:1-31. Though there are some differences in accounts, many Christian theologians express that the differences do not detract from the stated observation that Jesus resurrected.
[Featured Image by leolintang/Shutterstock]