Pray: Man of Sorrows, you grieved to the point of death. You fell face down on the ground and called out to your Father. Take me to your dark night. Jesus, I want to experience more fully what your journey to the cross means for me. Your love is beyond understanding. I want to give you my heart in gratitude. I am awake. I am watching. I am praying. Strengthen me according to your word. Amen.
The following reflection on Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ leading up to his death and resurrection, is from the website www.jewsforjesus.org
Wednesday On the way to Jerusalem, the disciples saw the withered fig tree, and Jesus taught them the importance of their faith (Matthew 21:21)—an especially timely lesson, as he was going to leave them. Upon arriving at the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus’ authority was questioned by the religious leaders. Still, that afternoon, Jesus went up to the Mount of Olives. He taught in parables and spoke about the signs of the end of the age. He told of destruction, wars, and persecution to come, but also shared the hope of his return (Matthew 24:6). His disciples probably had little idea what he was speaking of, but he instructed them to be on their guard. Also on that day, Jesus predicted that in two days he would be crucified at the time of the Passover. Accordingly, Judas planned the betrayal of Jesus with the religious leaders (Matthew 26:1-16). The tension was rising, and Jesus knew, yet he continued to teach and serve.
Thursday Jesus and his disciples prepared the Passover lamb and had their seder meal together. Jesus shared heartfelt words with them and interceded on their behalf. After the meal, they arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus suffered in agony awaiting what was to come, but his closest disciples kept falling asleep! Even in the midst of his agony, hurt, and betrayal, Jesus knew that what he would accomplish on the cross would far outweigh his present suffering. Later that night, Jesus was betrayed and arrested. He was tried by Annas, then Caiaphas, and then other religious leaders. Jesus was humiliated, degraded, and made into a laughing stock just before he experienced the worst pain imaginable on the cross—separation from God.
Friday Early in the morning, Jesus was tried by the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod Antipas, and then Pilate again. He was tortured and beaten. He was led to the cross at 9:00 a.m, died at 3:00 p.m., and was buried later that day. The sky went dark, and the Temple curtain was torn in two (Mark 15:38). Jesus died at the time when the Passover lambs were being sacrificed, fulfilling the Hebrew Scriptures. He endured the weight of all of humanity’s sin, the weight of cruelty, and the weight of separation from God.
Saturday Jesus’ body was in the tomb during the Sabbath, and the Pharisees employed Roman guards to keep watch over the tomb (Matthew 28:57-66).
Sunday On Sunday, Jesus was resurrected from the dead! Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb only to find that Jesus was not there. An angel told them that he had risen (Matthew 28; also Mark 16; Luke 24:1-12; John 20)! His was the first of many resurrections to come, in which it was a type of firstfruits offering, which were made the day after the Sabbath.
Conclusion Jesus knew what awaited him as the Passover neared, yet he approached and endured the cross with confidence and grace. The last week of his life simultaneously shows his humanity and his divinity. Jesus’ last days led to the climax of God’s plan of redemption for humanity. From his entry into Jerusalem to his resurrection, every day of Jesus’ last week was filled with meaning, intention, and purpose. A chronological look at Jesus’ last days gives us a glance into the deep suffering yet incredible mercy of our God.
I’m praying for you, Pastor Deb