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  • Writer's pictureMarco Inniss

Holy Week Timeline

The week of Jesus’ crucifixion is called “Passion Week,” after the Greek verb pascho, meaning “to suffer.” It began with his triumphal, popularly acclaimed entry into Jerusalem, and it culminated in his atoning death on the cross, his burial, and his resurrection. Today, the Church around the world celebrates those crucial days, now called “Holy Week.” Its sequence of observances outlines the events of this central event in the Bible:


Timeline of Passion Week

LOCATION: Bethany, the Mount of Olives and JerusalemThe Roman road climbed steeply to the crest of the Mount of Olives, affording spectacular views of the Desert of Judea to the east and of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley to the west.

 

1. FRIDAY: Arrival in BethanyJohn 12:1

Jesus arrived in Bethany six days before the Passover to spend some time with his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Here Mary anointed his feet with costly perfume as an act of humility. This tender expression indicated Mary’s devotion to Jesus and her willingness to serve him.


2. SATURDAY: Sabbath—Day of Rest

Nothing is mentioned in the Gospels. The Lord likely spent the Sabbath day in traditional fashion with his friends.


3. SUNDAY: The “Triumphal” EntryMatthew 21:1–11; Mark 11:1–11; Luke 19:28–44; John 12:12–19

On the first day of the week Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling an ancient prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). The crowd welcomed him with the words of Psalm 118:25–26, thus ascribing to him a Messianic title as the agent of the Lord, the coming King of Israel.


4. MONDAY: Clearing of the TempleMatthew 21:12–17; Mark 11:15–18; Luke 19:45–48

Jesus returned to the temple and found the court of the Gentiles full of traders and money changers making a large profit. Jesus drove them out and overturned their benches and tables.


5. TUESDAY: Day of Controversy and ParablesMatthew 21:23—24:51; Mark 11:27—13:37; Luke 20:1—21:36

In Jerusalem, Jesus evaded the traps set by the priests.

Tuesday afternoon, on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus taught in parables and warned the people against the Pharisees. He predicted the destruction of Herod’s great temple and told his disciples about future events, including his own return.


6. WEDNESDAY: Day of RestAlthough the Gospels do not mention this day, the counting of the days (Mark 14:1; John 12:1) seems to indicate that there was another day about which the Gospels record nothing.


7. THURSDAY: Passover, Last SupperMatthew 26:17–30; Mark 14:12–26; Luke 22:7–23

In an upper room Jesus prepared both himself and his disciples for his death. He gave the Passover meal a new meaning. The loaf of bread and cup of wine represented his body soon to be sacrificed and his blood soon to be shed. And so he instituted the “Lord’s Supper.” After singing a hymn they went to Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed in agony, knowing what lay ahead for him.


Following betrayal, arrest, desertion, false trials, denial, condemnation, beatings and mockery, Jesus was required to carry his cross to “the place of the skull” (Matthew 27:33), where he was crucified with two other prisoners.


9. SATURDAY: In the tombJesus’ body was placed in the tomb before 6:00 p.m. Friday evening, when the Sabbath began and all work stopped, and it lay in the tomb throughout the Sabbath.


10. SUNDAY: ResurrectionMatthew 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–49; John 20Early in the morning, women went to the tomb and found that the stone closing the tomb’s entrance had been rolled back. An angel told them Jesus was alive and gave them a message. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden, to Peter, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and later that day to all the disciples but Thomas.


Prophesy is Fulfilled

Many of Christ’s Passion Week actions and experiences fulfilled Scripture:• He rode on a young colt in humility (Matthew 21:1–5; Zechariah 9:9)• He cleansed and judged the temple (Matthew 21:12–13; Malachi 3:1–3• He faced accusations with silence (Matthew 26:63; Isaiah 53:7)• He was scorned and mocked in his suffering (Matthew 27:39–44; Psalm 22:6–8) and• He died among the wicked and was buried in the grave of a rich man (Matthew 27:57–60; Isaiah 53:9).

The prophet Isaiah foretold Jesus’ suffering in detail, describing the Lord as a sacrificial lamb (Isaiah 52:13—53:12). Jesus himself explained that his death was his purpose in coming to earth (Matthew 20:28) calling his followers to “take up their own cross daily” in sacrificial service (Luke 9:23). After his death, the apostles echoed this call when they commended the “crucified life” to their hearers (Galatians 2:20).


From the time of his final entry into Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus faced fierce opposition, physical torture and suffering, which led to his death. His choice of this path can only be explained by his love for the Father, his desire to obey his will, and his love for the lost sheep he came to find. He was determined to die a substitutionary death for our deliverance. This is the path he chose as he rode into Jerusalem.


Drawn from study notes in the NIV Study Bible and NIV Storyline Bible.



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