9th December 2016

Passion Week (Holy Week)

“What is Passion Week ( Holy Week)?”Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Also included within Passion Week are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Passion Week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of His people. Passion Week is described in Matthew chapters 21-27; Mark chapters 11-15; Luke chapters 19-23; and John chapters 12-19. Passion Week begins with the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday on the back of a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.Passion Week contained several memorable events. Jesus cleansed the Temple for the second time (Luke 19:45-46), then disputed with the Pharisees regarding His authority. Then He gave His Olivet Discourse on the end times and taught many things, including the signs of His second coming. Jesus ate His Last Supper with His disciples in the upper room (Luke 22:7-38), then went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray as He waited for His hour to come. It was here that Jesus, having been betrayed by Judas, was arrested and taken to several sham trials before the chief priests, Pontius Pilate, and Herod (Luke 22:54-23:25).Following the trials, Jesus was scourged at the hands of the Roman soldiers, then was forced to carry His own instrument of execution (the Cross) through the streets of Jerusalem along what is known as the Via Dolorosa (way of sorrows). Jesus was then crucified at Golgotha on the day before the Sabbath, was buried and remained in the tomb until Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, and then gloriously resurrected.It is referred to as Passion Week because in that time, Jesus Christ truly revealed His passion for us in the suffering He willingly went through on our behalf. What should our attitude be during Passion Week? We should be passionate in our worship of Jesus and in our proclamation of His Gospel! As He suffered for us, so should we be willing to suffer for the cause of following Him and proclaiming the message of His death and resurrection.

“What is Palm Sunday?”Palm Sunday is the day we remember the “triumphal entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem, exactly one week before His resurrection (Matthew 21:1-11)

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to rthe Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." 4 This took place tto fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5"Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble,and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.' " 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David!Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?" 11 And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee."

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey"()

The Coming King of Zion Some 450-500 years earlier, the Prophet Zechariah had prophesied, Zechariah 9:9

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he,

humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Matthew 21:7-9 records the fulfillment of that prophecy: “They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' Hosanna in the highest!'" This event took place on the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion.In remembrance of this event, we celebrate Palm Sunday. It is referred to as Palm Sunday because of the palm branches that were laid on the road as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday was the fulfillment of the Prophet Daniel’s “seventy sevens” prophecy: (Daniel 9:25)

25Know therefore and understand thatfrom the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an ranointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.John 1:11 tells us, “He (Jesus) came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” The same crowds that were crying out “Hosanna” were crying out “crucify Him” five days later Matthew 27:22-2322 Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?"They all said, "Let him be crucified!" 23 And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified!"

Palm Sunday Calendar:2011 = April 172012 = April 12013 = March 242014 = April 132015 = March 29

“What is Maundy Thursday?”Maundy Thursday, also known as "Holy Thursday" is the Thursday of Passion week, one day before Good Friday (the Thursday before Easter). Maundy Thursday is the name given to the day on which Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, known as the Last Supper. Two important events are the focus of Maundy Thursday.First, Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples and thereby instituted the Lord's Supper, also called CommunionLuke 22:19-20

19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Some Christian churches observe a special Communion service on Maundy Thursday in memory of Jesus' Last Supper with His disciples. Second, Jesus washed the disciples' feet as an act of humility and service, thereby setting an example that we should love and serve one another in humility John 13:3-173 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, doyou wash my feet?" 7 Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand." 8 Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me." 9 Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" 10 Jesus said to him, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you." 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "Not all of you are clean." 12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Some Christian churches observe a foot-washing ceremony on Maundy Thursday to commemorate Jesus' washing the feet of the disciples.The word "Maundy" is derived from the Latin word for "command." The "Maundy" in Maundy Thursday refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another. Should we observe Maundy Thursday? The Bible neither commands nor forbids it. It is a good thing to remember the Last Supper and Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf. It is a good thing to remember the Lord's example of humility. However, at the same time, we should avoid ritualistic observances of holidays unless they are truly focused on God and our relationship with Him.Maundy Thursday Calendar:2011 = April 212012 = April 52013 = March 282014 = April 172015 = April 2“What is Good Friday?”Good Friday is the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday.

It is celebrated traditionally as the day on which Jesus was crucified. (See below “On what day was Jesus crucified?”) Assuming that Jesus was crucified and died on a Friday, should Christians remember Jesus’ death by celebrating Good Friday?The Bible does not instruct Christians to remember Christ's death by honoring a certain day. The Bible does give us freedom in these matters, however.

Rom. 14:5 tells us, "One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." Rather than remembering Christ’s death on a certain day, once a year, the Bible instructs us to remember Christ's death by observing the Lord's Supper. 1 Cor. 11:24-26 declares, "…do this in remembrance of me…for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes." (See "The Lord’s supper / Christian Communion?”below)Why is Good Friday referred to as "good"? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ's death are very good! Rom.5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 1Pet. 3:18 tells us, "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit."Many Christian churches celebrate Good Friday with a subdued service, usually in the evening, in which Christ's death is remembered with solemn hymns, prayers of thanksgiving, a message centered on Christ suffering for our sakes, and observance of the Lord’s Supper. Whether or not Christians choose to "celebrate" Good Friday, the events of that day should be ever on our minds because the death of Christ on the cross is the paramount event of the Christian faith.Good Friday Calendar:2011 = April 222012 = April 62013 = March 292014 = April 182015 = April 3

“What is Holy Saturday?”Holy Saturday is the name given to the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Some Christians recognize this day as the seventh day of Holy Week, the day on which Jesus "rested" from His work of providing salvation for the world. Holy Saturday is the day Jesus remained in the tomb where He had been buried following His crucifixion (Matthew 27:59-60Mark 15:46Luke 23:53-54John 19:39-42). If a church body celebrates Holy Saturday, it is traditionally done by observing a day of somber reflection, contemplating the world of darkness that would exist without the hope of Christ's resurrection. The only biblical reference to what happened on the Saturday in between Jesus' death and resurrection is found in Matthew 27:62-66. After sundown on Saturday-the end of the Sabbath-the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pontius Pilate and asked that a guard be placed at Jesus' tomb to prevent His disciples from removing the body. They remembered Jesus saying that He would rise again in three days (John 2:19-21) and wanted to do everything they could to prevent that. We know from the succeeding accounts that the Roman guards were inadequate to prevent the resurrection and those who returned to the tomb Sunday morning found it empty. The Lord had risen.Holy Saturday Calendar:2011 = April 232012 = April 72013 = March 302014 = April 192015 = April 4

“What is Easter Sunday?”There is a lot of confusion regarding what Easter Sunday is all about. For some, Easter Sunday is about the Easter Bunny, colorfully decorated Easter eggs, and Easter egg hunts. Most people understand that Easter Sunday has something to do with the resurrection of Jesus, but are confused as to how the resurrection is related to the Easter eggs and the Easter bunny.Biblically speaking, there is absolutely no connection between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the common modern traditions related to Easter Sunday. As a background, please read our article on the origins of Easter. Essentially, what occurred is that in order to make Christianity more attractive to non-Christians, the ancient Roman Catholic Church mixed the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection with celebrations that involved spring fertility rituals. These spring fertility rituals are the source of the egg and bunny traditions.The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, Sunday (Matthew 28:1Mark 16:2,9Luke 24:1John 20:1,19). Jesus’ resurrection is most worthy of being celebrated (see 1 Corinthians 15). While it is appropriate for Jesus’ resurrection to be celebrated on a Sunday, the day on which Jesus’ resurrection is celebrated should not be referred to as Easter. Easter has nothing to do with Jesus’ resurrection on a Sunday.As a result, many Christians feel strongly that the day on which we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection should not be referred to as “Easter Sunday.” Rather, something like “Resurrection Sunday” would be far more appropriate and biblical. For the Christian, it is unthinkable that we would allow the silliness of Easter eggs and the Easter bunny to be the focus of the day instead of Jesus’ resurrection.By all means, celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. Christ’s resurrection is something that should be celebrated every day, not just once a year. At the same time, if we choose to celebrate Easter Sunday, we should not allow the fun and games to distract our attention from what the day should truly be all about-the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and that His resurrection demonstrates that we can indeed be promised an eternal home in Heaven by receiving Jesus as our Savior.Easter Sunday Calendar:2011 = April 242012 = April 82013 = March 312014 = April 202015 = April 5

“On what day was Jesus crucified?”The Bible does not explicitly state on which day of the week Jesus was crucified. The two most widely held views are Friday and Wednesday. Some, however, using a synthesis of both the Friday and Wednesday arguments, argue for Thursday as the day.Jesus said in Matthew 12:40, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Those who argue for a Friday crucifixion say that there is still a valid way in which He could have been considered in the grave for three days. In the Jewish mind of the first century, a part of day was considered as a full day. Since Jesus was in the grave for part of Friday, all of Saturday, and part of Sunday-He could be considered to have been in the grave for three days. One of the principal arguments for Friday is found in Mark 15:42, which notes that Jesus was crucified "the day before the Sabbath." If that was the weekly Sabbath, i.e. Saturday, then that fact leads to a Friday crucifixion. Another argument for Friday says that verses such as Matthew 16:21 and Luke 9:22 teach that Jesus would rise on the third day; therefore, He would not need to be in the grave a full three days and nights. But while some translations use "on the third day" for these verses, not all do, and not everyone agrees that "on the third day" is the best way to translate these verses. Furthermore, Mark 8:31 says that Jesus will be raised "after" three days.The Thursday argument expands on the Friday view and argues mainly that there are too many events (some count as many as twenty) happening between Christ’s burial and Sunday morning to occur from Friday evening to Sunday morning. Proponents of the Thursday view point out that this is especially a problem when the only full day between Friday and Sunday was Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. An extra day or two eliminates that problem. The Thursday advocates could reason thus: suppose you haven’t seen a friend since Monday evening. The next time you see him it is Thursday morning and you say, "I haven't seen you in three days" even though it had technically only been 60 hours (2.5 days). If Jesus was crucified on Thursday, this example shows how it could be considered three days.The Wednesday opinion states that there were two Sabbaths that week. After the first one (the one that occurred on the evening of the crucifixion Mark 15:42says,It was Preparation Day) that is, the day before the Sabbath.Luke 23:52-54 say52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. the women purchased spices-note that they made their purchase after the Sabbath (Mark 16:1). The Wednesday view holds that this "Sabbath" was the Passover (see Leviticus 16:29-31, 23:24-32, 39, where high holy days that are not necessarily the seventh day of the week are referred to as the Sabbath). The second Sabbath that week was the normal weekly Sabbath. Note that in Luke 23:56, the women who had purchased spices after the first Sabbath returned and prepared the spices, then "rested on the Sabbath" (Luke 23:56). The argument states that they could not purchase the spices after the Sabbath, yet prepare those spices before the Sabbath-unless there were two Sabbaths. With the two-Sabbath view, if Christ was crucified on Thursday, then the high holy Sabbath (the Passover) would have begun Thursday at sundown and ended at Friday sundown-at the beginning of the weekly Sabbath or Saturday. Purchasing the spices after the first Sabbath (Passover) would have meant they purchased them on Saturday and were breaking the Sabbath.Therefore, according to the Wednesday viewpoint, the only explanation that does not violate the biblical account of the women and the spices and holds to a literal understanding of Matthew 12:40, is that Christ was crucified on Wednesday. The Sabbath that was a high holy day (Passover) occurred on Thursday, the women purchased spices (after that) on Friday and returned and prepared the spices on the same day, they rested on Saturday which was the weekly Sabbath, then brought the spices to the tomb early Sunday. Jesus was buried near sundown on Wednesday, which began Thursday in the Jewish calendar. Using a Jewish calendar, you have Thursday night (night one), Thursday day (day one), Friday night (night two), Friday day (day two), Saturday night (night three), Saturday day (day three). We do not know exactly when He rose, but we do know that it was before sunrise on Sunday (John 20:1, Mary Magdalene came "while it was still dark"), so He could have risen as early as just after sunset Saturday evening, which began the first day of the week to the Jews.A possible problem with the Wednesday view is that the disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus did so on "the same day" of His resurrection (Luke 24:13). The disciples, who do not recognize Jesus, tell Him of Jesus’ crucifixion (24:21) and say that "today is the third day since these things happened" (24:22). Wednesday to Sunday is four days. A possible explanation is that they may have been counting since Wednesday evening at Christ’s burial, which begins the Jewish Thursday, and Thursday to Sunday could be counted as three days.In the grand scheme of things, it is not all that important to know what day of the week Christ was crucified. If it were very important, then God’s Word would have clearly communicated the day and timeframe. What is important is that He did die and that He physically, bodily rose from the dead. What is equally important is the reason He died-to take the punishment that all sinners deserve. John 3:16 and 3:36 both proclaim that putting your trust in Him results in eternal life! This is equally true whether He was crucified on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.

"The Lord’s supper / Christian Communion?”A study of the Lord's Supper is a soul-stirring experience because of the depth of meaning it contains. It was during the age-old celebration of the Passover on the eve of His death that Jesus instituted a significant new fellowship meal that we observe to this day. It is an integral part of Christian worship. It causes us to remember our Lord's death and resurrection and to look for His glorious return in the future.The Passover was the most sacred feast of the Jewish religious year. It commemorated the final plague on Egypt when the firstborn of the Egyptians died and the Israelites were spared because of the blood of a lamb that was sprinkled on their doorposts. The lamb was then roasted and eaten with unleavened bread. God's command was that throughout the generations to come the feast would be celebrated. The story is recorded in Exodus 12.During the Last Supper-a Passover celebration-Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God. As He broke it and gave it to His disciples, He said, "'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you'" (Luke 22:19-21). He concluded the feast by singing a hymn (Matthew 26:30), and they went out into the night to the Mount of Olives. It was there that Jesus was betrayed, as predicted, by Judas. The following day He was crucified.The accounts of the Lord's Supper are found in the Gospels (Matthew 26:26-29Mark 14:17-25Luke 22:7-22; and John 13:21-30). The apostle Paul wrote concerning the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. Paul includes a statement not found in the Gospels: "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). We may ask what it means to partake of the bread and the cup "in an unworthy manner." It may mean to disregard the true meaning of the bread and cup and to forget the tremendous price our Savior paid for our salvation. Or it may mean to allow the ceremony to become a dead and formal ritual or to come to the Lord's Supper with unconfessed sin. In keeping with Paul's instruction, we should examine ourselves before eating the bread and drinking the cup.Another statement Paul made that is not included in the gospel accounts is "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). This places a time limit on the ceremony-until our Lord's return. From these brief accounts we learn how Jesus used two of the frailest of elements as symbols of His body and blood and initiated them to be a monument to His death. It was not a monument of carved marble or molded brass, but of bread and wine.He declared that the bread spoke of His body which would be broken. There was not a broken bone, but His body was so badly tortured that it was hardly recognizable (Psalm 22:12-17Isaiah 53:4-7). The wine spoke of His blood, indicating the terrible death He would soon experience. He, the perfect Son of God, became the fulfillment of the countless Old Testament prophecies concerning a Redeemer (Genesis 3:15; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53). When He said, "Do this in remembrance of me," He indicated this was a ceremony that must be continued in the future. It indicated also that the Passover, which required the death of a lamb and looked forward to the coming of the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world, was fulfilled in the Lord's Supper. The New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant when Christ, the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), was sacrificed (Hebrews 8:8-13). The sacrificial system was no longer needed (Hebrews 9:25-28). The Lord's Supper/Christian Communion is a remembrance of what Christ did for us and a celebration of what we receive as a result of His sacrifice.

“What is the Via Dolorosa?”The Via Dolorosa, literally "the sorrowful way," is the traditional route in Jerusalem which our Lord traveled on the day of His crucifixion from the judgment seat of Pilate, also called the Praetorium (Matthew 27:2-26), to the place of His crucifixion on Mount Calvary. After his judgment by Pontius Pilate, the Lord Jesus was beaten, mocked and spit upon by the Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:26-31). Then he was forced to carry His own cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha, where He was crucified (Matthew 27:32-50). The Via Dolorosa is now marked with fourteen stations commemorating fourteen incidents that took place along the way. At least five of these incidents are not recorded in the Bible, springing instead from Roman Catholic tradition. Of the ones that are mentioned in Scripture, the actual place of the events along the way, such as the scourging (John 19:1-3) and the carrying of the cross by Simon of Cyrene (Matthew 27:32), are not known.The Bible does not specifically mention the Via Dolorosa. All we know from Scripture is that Jesus carried His cross from the Praetorium to the site on Mount Calvary where He was crucified. The locations of these two sites are not known for certain, but wherever they were, the route between them was truly a sorrowful way. The scourging and physical pain the Lord Jesus suffered was minor in comparison to the pain caused by the real burden He was bearing-the burden of the sins of all believers. He bore our sins to the cross where He paid the penalty for them all.As Easter approaches and Christians contemplate this holiest of seasons, we are reminded what a precious gift our salvation is and the price paid for it by the Lord Jesus. "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). As we think about the pain and humiliation He suffered for us, paying a price that we could never pay ourselves, we can't help but praise and thank Him and commit ourselves to a life of obedience to Him.

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