Holy Week is the last week of Lent. It starts with Palm Sunday, reminding us of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Many churches celebrate Palm Sunday with a procession and palm crosses for the congregation.
Jesus was hailed as a great prophet of God by the people of Jerusalem. Word had spread of His teaching and many people believed what He taught, and that He spoke with the authority of God.
Jesus continued to preach while in Jerusalem. However, the religious leaders were not pleased with many of His actions and teachings. He threw the money changers and vendors out of the temple courtyard, saying that His father’s house was to be a house of prayer.
The chief priests and elders became increasingly angry with Jesus’ teaching. They worked together to come up with a plan to destroy Jesus. What they didn’t understand was that God was in control and they were playing a major role in the salvation of the world.
Jesus, understanding what was being asked of Him, prayed. He knew that His death on the cross was the only way for our salvation. He did not try to run from God. This may have been His greatest temptation. However, His final prayer was “…your will be done.” MT 26:43
Jesus was betrayed by one of His disciples. He rebuked another disciple who cut off the ear of one of the temple guards, and healed the guard, showing His great compassion.
At the time of His death, He was laughed at and mocked. People yelled at Him that if He was the Son of God, He should take Himself off the cross. If He had done that, though, He would not have followed the plan that God had.
It took about three hours for Jesus to die. At His death, there was a great earthquake. The temple curtain was ripped in two, from top to bottom. Tombs were opened and bodies were resurrected, according to the Gospel of Matthew.
Jesus’ body was removed from the cross prior to sundown, the beginning of the Sabbath. The women who were to prepare the body for burial were not able to complete those preparations, and would have to finish them on Sunday, the first day of the week.
Jesus had no tomb of His own. A man named Joseph, of Arimathea, provided a tomb, and rolled a stone in front of the opening. There was great sadness at the death of Jesus.
The disciples were afraid of the people of Jerusalem, including the religious leaders. They had been with Jesus for the entirety of His ministry. They were concerned that they would suffer the same fate as Jesus. They hid during the Sabbath, waiting for the first day of the week, Sunday, so that the final burial rites could be conducted.
Pontius Pilate, the government ruler for the area, ordered that a guard should be set around the tomb. Since Jesus had taught that He would be raised on the “third day”, Pilate and the religious leaders did not want the disciples to steal the body and claim a resurrection.
And so, we wait…