This is what they call holy week. What exactly does that mean? What happened during holy week that made it so holy? Who are the key players during holy week? Let’s begin at the beginning.
For over three years Jesus had many followers and chose 12 men out of them to be his disciples or students. It was his effort during that time to strengthen them spiritually and educated them more in the Scriptures. He wanted to show that currently, and in the near future, prophecy would be fulfilled through him.
According to the Christian Broadcasting Network only Jesus could fulfill the over 300 prophecies ABOUT HIM. Look at their results: “1 person fulfilling 8 prophecies is 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000; 1 person fulfilling 48 prophecies is 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power and 1 person fulfilling 300+ prophecies could only be Jesus!”
On many occasions he spoken parables but heading toward the last week before his crucifixion he spoke plainly. He wanted his disciples to be fully informed and as ready as possible for what would happen Friday.
Jesus spent Saturday night with his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in a village called Bethany, not far outside of Jerusalem. This became his headquarters and where to rest at night during the coming week.
On the first day of the week, Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem with a multitude rejoicing. People threw down palm branches and some tossed their coats in his path.
Jesus went to the temple and found those that sold animals for sacrifices at a profit. This was sanctioned by the leaders of the temple because they got money skimmed from the income. He was angry, overturned their tables, and drove out their animals. He said this was supposed to be a house of prayer and not a den of thieves. In the beginning of his ministry he did the same thing.
For the next several days Jesus went in and out of Jerusalem teaching and preaching in the synagogue. Let it be noted that some of the priests became believers but were secret followers of him. They wanted to be his disciples. However, they did not want to jeopardize their standing with the Sanhedrin Court of which they were members. The court was powerful and prestigious.
Thursday was the observance of the Jewish Passover. They gathered in a large room. Two disciples were selected to arrange for this meal that commemorated the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt’s slavery. They ate a meal specifically instructed by God the night of their Exodus. The menu included such things as bitter herbs. The herbs were to signify the bitterness of their lives they suffered under their slavery for 400 years.
During that meal Judas left to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Later in the darkness of night he brought an entourage of those who were enemies of Christ.
The Gospel of John documents the most detail of the Passover meal and conversations that occurred. Toward the end of the meal Jesus declared a special type of meal in which believers would gather to eat tokens of bread and wine symbolizing his broken body and the blood shed on the cross for the remission of sin and as a new covenant between God and mankind.
John chapter 17 is the single record of his intercessory prayer that Jesus offered on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas betrayed him, and the disciples abandoned him. He would be bound and eventually crucified only to be resurrected on the third day. In that prayer he said some powerful words regarding today’s Christians. John 17:20 says, “neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” It is remarkable that Jesus looked down through the centuries and prayed for us.
Holy week follows the footsteps of Jesus during that time, his entry into Jerusalem, his denunciation of false religious leaders, his preaching and teaching to confirm his identity. He made a point to specify that he was the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies. He prayed for humanity that needed salvation. He instituted what we now know as the Lord’s Supper. One of the most important things we can say about this week is that he was in charge every step of the way. Nothing surprised him and nothing was out of his control including his crucifixion.