Holy Week Breakdown
Seven days forever changed the world. These seven days have been the topic of a million publications, countless debates, and thousands of films. These seven days have inspired the greatest painters, the most skilled architects, and the most gifted musicians. To try and calculate the cultural impact of these seven days is impossible. But harder still would be an attempt to account for the lives of men and women who have been transformed by them. And yet these seven days as they played out in Jerusalem were of little significance to anyone but a few people involved. Let’s summarize:
1. On Sunday the first of the seven days, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to the shouts of Hosanna, fulfilling an old prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.
2. On Monday he walked into the Jerusalem Temple overturning tables where money exchange occurred, Roman drachmas were being exchanged for Jewish shekels. Roman coins were not allowed. The image of Caesar was a violation of the second commandment. But the Temple authorities were using the Commandment as means to cheat the people and making the Temple a place of profit rather than a place of prayer.
3. On Tuesday Jesus taught in parables, warned the people against the Pharisees, and predicted the destruction of the Temple.
4. On Wednesday, the fourth day, we know nothing. The Gospel writers are silent. Perhaps it was a day of rest for him and his weary and worried disciples.
5. On Thursday, in an upper room, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. But he gave it a new meaning. No longer would his followers remember the Exodus from Egypt in the breaking of bread. They would remember his broken body and shed blood. Later that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane he agonized in prayer at what lay ahead for him.
6. On Friday, the fifth day, following betrayal, arrest, imprisonment, desertion, false trials, denial, condemnation, beatings and sentencing, Jesus carried his own cross to “The Place of the Skull,” where he was crucified with two other prisoners.
7. On Saturday, Jesus lay dead in a tomb bought by a rich man named Joseph.
8. On Sunday, his Passion was over, the stone had been rolled away. Jesus was alive. He appeared to Mary, to Peter, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and to the 11 disciples gathered in a locked room. His resurrection was established as a fact.
Back then these seven days were called Passover, as it is still called today by the Jews. Christians around the world know these seven days as Holy Week, the Passion of the Christ.