As Easter Sunday approaches, I was reflecting this morning on the events on the days leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, also referred to as “Passion Week” or “Holy Week.”
You may be wondering why it is called “Passion Week” so here is the answer. The English word “passion” has its roots in the Latin passio, which means, simply, “suffering.” Its first recorded use is in early Latin translations of the Bible that appeared in the 2nd century A.D. and that describe the death of Jesus. Historically, then, the Passion of Christ refers to the suffering that Jesus the Messiah (Christ) endured for us.
Consider the importance of these events:
Teaching at the temple – to the very end of His earthly ministry, Jesus was teaching the Word of God. Some people accepted His teaching and followed Him, some were infuriated by what He said. Especially infuriating to some people were His words where He clearly claimed to be God-in-the-flesh.
Anointing for burial – while Jesus was at a house in Bethany, a jar of expensive fragrance was broken and poured on Him. The woman who did this was anointing Him for burial. This event took place at the home of Simon the leper, a person suffering from a terrible skin disease. This event at this place involving these people shows God’s amazing love for all people, even the outcasts of society.
Eating with His disciples – in the upper room, Jesus shared a meal with His disciples. At this meal, He gave the Passover meal new meaning: the bread represents His body, broken for our sins; the cup represents His blood, poured out to offer us salvation.
Praying in the garden – His praying was so intense that He was sweating drops of blood. The hour was so late that the disciples slept while He prayed. The location at the Garden of Gethsemane is on a small hill called the Mount of Olives, and overlooks the city of Jerusalem, which includes the hill called Golgotha.
The Arrest – when Judas Iscariot led a delegation to arrest Jesus, there was no doubt who was in charge: Jesus, the great “I AM.” Jesus submitted to the arrest because He came to give His life for our sins. He knew that His arrest would lead to the cross.
Remaining silent during the trials – as Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin, and Pilate, and Herod, His composure and careful choice of words – sometimes remaining absolutely silent – demonstrated a strength being human ability.
Enduring beatings, verbal abuse & agonizing pain – the soldiers took their most painful weapons of torture – leather straps laced with broken pottery, glass and rock – and whipped Jesus until His skin was ripped to shreds. They formed a crown of thorns – huge thorns – and shoved it onto His head. The soldiers and the crowd hurled insults at Him as He carried His cross to the place of crucifixion.
Filled with grace & mercy – as He suffered on the cross, He was focused on the forgiveness He was providing, on the salvation His death would offer to the thief on the cross and to all those in the crowd (that day and throughout the centuries) who would put their trust in Him. You hear His words so powerfully, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Suffering & dying – Jesus could have called down legions of angels to take Him down from the cross. But He willingly died. He was the only person in history who did not deserve to die, yet He chose to give His life to atone for our sins. His death satisfied the holy wrath of God. He died to pay the ransom for our sins. His death was an atoning sacrifice for our sins – for all those who will trust in Him. Just before He died, He cried out, “It is finished.”
Buried in a tomb – hundreds of years before He lived, it was prophesied that the Messiah would be buried with the rich at His death. Jesus of Nazareth was born into a humble family, yet at His death a wealthy man named Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body and placed it into a new tomb. Then, Roman guards were placed in front of the tomb to guard it, to make sure no one stole Jesus’ body to claim a resurrection.
Sorrow on Saturday – Jesus died on Friday (day 1). He was in the tomb all day on Saturday (day 2). At 6:00 PM on Saturday night, the Jews considered that was when Sunday began (day 3). For those 3 days, there was sorrow beyond belief for Jesus’ followers. They had heard Him prophecy His resurrection, but on Saturday the situation looked hopeless.
Alive! – Miraculously, Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday morning. God brought Him from the grave, the victorious Lord. He proved that He was victorious over death, sin, hell, Satan, and the grave. He is Lord over all. His resurrection proves that He can offer eternal life.