Video from Concordia Publishing House
Holy Week 2021 begins Sunday March 28th - ends Saturday April 3rd.
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and ends with Easter Sunday. During this one week, many biblical prophesies were fulfilled. Jesus came to earth to save humanity by dying on the cross on Good Friday and resurrecting on Easter Sunday. By enduring and defeating death sacrificially for us.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday. Palm branches, which symbolize triumph/ victory, were laid in Jesus’ path, as He rode into the city. He rode into Jerusalem on a humble donkey, fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your kings comes to you, righteous and victorious, low and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The people (at that time) welcomed Him, echoing the words of Psalm 118:25-26: “Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!”more popularly recognizes as “Hosanna! Hosanna!”
On the way back from Bethany, where Jesus and the twelve would spend the night, Jesus became hungry. Jesus spoke a curse on a fig tree that was bearing no fruit. Jesus then went to the temple on Monday and drove out those making a profit off of the people coming to worship there.
“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said the them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of robbers.’” -Matthew 21:12-13
Jesus became known for his miraculous healings so the people sang praises to Him, which incited authorities to begin looking for a way to kill him. The Gospel of Luke says that “they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.” -Luke 19:48
On Tuesday Peter noticed the withered fig tree Jesus had cursed, to which Jesus taught a lesson to have faith and the power of forgiveness:
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. "Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not count in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” -Mark 11:22-26
Holy Tuesday was a day in which Jesus of avoided the traps of the religious authorities and was teaching. Four traps were set for Jesus, the first questioning His authority, to which He answered with a question and then taught three parables: The Parable of the Two Sons, The Parable of the Tenants, and The Parable of the Wedding Banquet. The second trap challenged Jesus’ allegiance, the third trap attempted to discredit Jesus’ belief in resurrection, and the fourth Jesus answered by claiming God’s greatest command to be “Love.”
Holy Wednesday was a day of rest for Jesus. While in Bethany, a woman anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume. Also known in the church as “Spy Wednesday as Jesus rests in Bethany at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, the plot by the authorities to kill Jesus is underway.
Weakened by the sin of greed Satan entered Judas. Judas then went to the chief priests and authorities, “and from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.” He would very soon betray Jesus for the price of a slave, and the twelve would be scattered. None of the twelve will be left at the foot of the cross as Jesus dies but John.
On Holy, or Maundy, Thursday, in the upper room, Jesus and His disciples shared their Last Supper. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, and broke break with them for the last time. Still celebrated today as communion or the Eucharist, as part of many congregational traditions, the bread broken and the wine shared represented the body and blood of Christ, to be broken and shed for the disciples, and all of us. It was during the meal, Jesus predicted His betrayal by one of them, and Peter’s denial.
After the meal, the disciples went with Jesus to the Garden at Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed in agony. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel came to strengthen and support Jesus in the garden. He taught His disciples, and us, what to do when we come to the end of our own strength and need we God to help us press on.
Good Friday was the last day of Jesus’ life on earth before His resurrection. He was betrayed by Judas and denied by Peter, as also predicted. His disciples scattered as he was arrested and was placed on trial. He was falsely condemned, beaten, mocked, and then required to carry His own cross to the place where He would be crucified and die. The soldiers made a crown of thorns and put it on his head.” Though he was offered something to help the physical pain, Jesus refused. He chose to face the pain of death without aid. They stripped Him of His clothes and cast lots for them, fulfilling another prophecy.
Two prisoners, convicted criminals were crucified alongside Jesus. One mocked Him, but the other said, “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:39-43). Amidst the most cruel, unfair, unjust, and painful death a human body could endure, Jesus chose to respond in grace to the criminal beside Him and care for His mother and best friend. “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother’” (John 19:25-27). At noon, Jesus cried out “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” and died.
“It was at about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” -Luke 23:44-46
Jesus was taken down from the cross, wrapped in linens, and placed in a tomb.
Jesus’ body was still in the tomb on Holy Saturday; it was a rich man’s tomb, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9. Preparations were made by family and friends for Jesus’ body and placement in the tomb until about 6 pm that day, when preparations for the Sabbath were to began.
“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.” -Luke 23:55-56
There remains much debate as to where Jesus was during his three days in the tomb. The line in the Apostles Creed has been abandoned by many churches citing lack of evidence in scripture and widespread objection to the use of the word Hell. My personal judgement after much research is that "The Harrowing of Hell" was a actual event (that can be supported by Biblical evidence), part of Christ's exaltation as he touched every part of creation.
On Easter Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling the prophecy. Early in that morning, the women who had prepared the spices for interment before the Sabbath returned to Jesus’ tomb to find it empty.
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” -John 20:1
Two men who were actually angels, appear to the women to tell them Jesus has risen (Matthew 28:2-7; Mark 16:4-7; Luke 24:2-7). The women, at the same time afraid and joyful, remained silent, and then quickly went to find the eleven disciples. Mary ran ahead to tell Peter and John, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:2). Jesus met the other women on their way!
“And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him.” -Matthew 28:9-10
After all eleven have been informed, they go to the empty tomb. Jesus appeared to Cleopus and another on the road to Emmaus, and to Peter. Jesus appeared to many people at various times. That evening, He entered a room with locked doors to greet the other ten disciples. (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23).
The Resurrection of Christ was the pivot point in History. Although most of humanity at that time was ignorant or chose to be ignorant as we do today, Christ changed everything and inaugurated his Kingdom. today we can speak to him in prayer, and to the Person of the Holy Spirit. We can have a personal relationship with the assurance we will be with him in eternity.