Holy Week – The Agony and the Ecstasy

 

Holy Week is the last week of the 40 day Season of Lent observed by members of the Christian faith.holy_week

Lets have a brief  look at the events of Holy Week as they occurred during the time of Jesus.

What a week of drama this was in the life of Jesus, The Messiah!

The Events on Each Day of Holy Week

Sunday

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday(24 March in 2013) and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Resurrection Sunday.

On Palm Sunday we remember the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, of Jesus, riding on a donkey. The crowds went crazy, shouting, “Hosanna, to the Son of David, the King of Israel”.

 

Hosanna! Blessed is He.....for Palm Sunday

The Triumphal Entry

They welcomed him as their long-expected Messiah, who was going to rescue them from the oppression of the occupying Roman forces.

The Disciple also believed this and argued among themselves about who would be the greatest and what positions they would each hold in the New Kingdom.

Jesus, however, wept as He entered Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), for he knew what was coming.

During His 3 years of ministry, He had constantly told His Disciples and the people to whom He preached that, His mission was to deliver the “Good News”, that God had come to earth in the form of His only Son(Jesus), but that He would suffer and be killed in the process.

Jesus knew that many of those who were welcoming Him today would be part of the crowd calling for His execution by the end of the week.

However, Jesus knew something that they had failed to understand, despite Him telling them; that He would rise again, three days after His death.

Monday

The day after His arrival, He went to the Temple. There He found the money changers and bird sellers at work. In holy indignation He overturned their tables. He caused mayhem!

He quoted words from the Prophet Isaiah; “My Temple is a house of prayer”, but you have turned it into a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13 Living Bible Translation)

During His ministry, Jesus had “fallen foul” of the establishment on many occasions. He had exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders of His day on many occasions. This event added “fuel to the fire”.

344247: Sharing the Easter Faith with Children: Helping Children Observe Lent and Celebrate Easter Sharing the Easter Faith with Children: Helping Children Observe Lent and Celebrate Easter By Carolyn C. Brown / Abingdon PressThis book explores what the Easter message can mean to children as they grow up. The author helps congregations and families share the Easter message with their children and include the children meaningfully in Lent, Holy Week and Easter observances. Included are materials for children from birth (in the church nursery) to age 12. Also included are reproducible pages to create a booklet for parents.

Tuesday / Wednesday

During Holy Week, Jesus continued to visit the Temple and to heal the sick and the lame

He prophesied the destruction of the Temple, which occurred during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It was the decisive event of the  First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army was led by the future Emperor Titus .  The religious leaders were jealous and envious of Jesus’ popularity. They became so angry, that they conspired to kill Him (Mark 14:1-2).

Enter Judas Iscariot, the traitor, “into the camp” !!

Although one of Jesus’ disciples, who had charge of the purse, he was a thief.  He played into the Pharisees hands by offering to betray Jesus. He was paid 30 pieces of silver.

As Passover was due in two days, time was short for them to carry out their plan. They believed that a riot would occur if they did anything with Jesus at Passover, because he was so popular with the people.

You can read about this in the New Testament Gospels:  Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6

Thursday

It was Passover time. Passover is one of the most important and widely observed Jewish holidays. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, when the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Passover begins on the 15th day of the month Nissan in the Jewish calendar, which is in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and is celebrated for seven or eight days. Passover begins at sunset on the Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday.

Blood applied to Lintel and door posts on the first Passover

Jesus instructed His disciple to find a certain man who would give them a room in which to celebrate the Passover Meal.

In the Christian Calendar  the last before Easter is also known by several names, but most commonly as, Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. It commemorates the Last supper that Jesus ate with His Disciple. In the Catholic and Anglican denominations, this is called The Eucharist, while in other Protestant Churches; it is known as the Lord’s Supper or Communion.  I will talk more about the history and observance of this ritual in my article on Maundy Thursday.

After the Last Supper, Jesus went, with His disciples, to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, to pray. Here, He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and arrested by a mob consisting of the Chief Priests and their Temple guards and other religious leaders

Jesus was dragged into the High Priest’s residence before a hastily convened, illegal, “kangaroo court”, consisting of the High Priest, the Chief Priests and the Jewish Supreme Court. Trumped up charges were leveled against Him and lying witness were hired, who could not even agree among themselves.

He was blindfolded, mocked, spat upon and beaten.

When He said “Yes!” to their question,” Are you the Son of God?” they went berserk and tore their clothes! This to them was blasphemy; punishable by death. They did not have the power to do this, as they were under Roman occupation. So they needed Plan B.

Friday & Saturday

Early the next morning they dragged Him off under armed guard to the Roman Governor, Pilate.

I will review the events of “Good Friday” in my article on the Crucifixion of Jesus-The Messiah, when I consider the dramatic finale of Holy Week

30512X: The Scriptures, the Cross & the Power of God:   Reflections for Holy Week The Scriptures, the Cross & the Power of God: Reflections for Holy Week  By Tom Wright / Westminster John Knox PressFocusing on the Holy Week texts from Matthew and John, these nine sermons from New Testament theologian Wright offer a compelling look at the events of Jesus’ last week on Earth—from Palm Sunday’s surge in popular acclaim to Easter’s ultimate triumph over death—and their repercussions for all human history. 96 pages, softcover from Westminster John Knox.

Doctor Bill


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