This week we remember the most significant event in human history, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All four Gospels tell a detail-rich story of the final week of Jesus' life. From the moment Christ rode into Jerusalem through a river of palm leaves to the first glimpse of an empty tomb, the writers of the New Testament take great pains to share with us in detail about the events of that week.
In the midst of this busy week for you and your staff, you're no doubt mindful that some of those attending have never heard the Gospel. It’s equally likely that others have heard it and simply ignored it. What an opportunity you have before you in sharing the events surrounding the final week of God’s only beloved Son. Give them hope as you lead them through the sufferings, death, and earth-shaking resurrection of the only One who has conquered over sin and death.
Day 1: The Triumphal Entry
On the Sunday before His death, Jesus sat upon a young donkey and humbly made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, fulfilling that which had been spoken about him in Zechariah 9:9. The crowds welcomed Him by waving palm branches in the air and shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (John 12:12-15)
Day 2: Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
On Monday, traveling from Bethany to Jerusalem, Jesus curses a fig tree. Some scholars have understood this cursing to be representative of those who are spiritually dead and cut off from Christ. This scene fits well with what Jesus taught in John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
Day 3: The Olivet Discourse
Jesus, while standing with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, launches into a detailed narrative of the coming destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Speaking in parables, Jesus tells his followers and those nearby about the events, which will take place at the end of the age. Again, the fig tree is spoken of here concerning ripe fruit and an understanding of the times.
Day 4: The Silent Wednesday
While the Bible doesn't explicitly lay out for us what happened mid-week in Jerusalem, It's quite likely that Jesus was tired. Traveling from Bethany to Jerusalem and back must have taken its toll on Jesus and His disciples. Where Scripture is silent we can only speculate how Jesus spent His final silent day with His friends before facing the events that lay before Him.
Day 5: The Last Supper
While sitting in the upper room, the disciples reclining against Him, Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. "And when the hour came, he reclined at table and the apostles with him. And he said to them, 'I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.' And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, 'Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.' 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.' And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying, 'This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.'" (Luke 22:14-21)
From here they would move to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would be given over to the authorities.
Day 6: Good Friday
The prophet Isaiah foretells of this bloody day:
"It was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:10-12)
Jesus is wrongfully tried in the dead of night, beaten, mocked, spit-upon, and crucified. At the end of that terrible day, the body of Christ was taken from the cross and prepared for burial.
Day 7: The Empty Tomb
The King of Kings lay slain by darkness in a tomb surrounded by Roman guards. The disciples are utterly crushed and distraught at the loss of the one they thought would be the Messiah, the man would liberate them from the bondage of Rome.
For three years Jesus labored with His 12 disciples, healing the lame and blind, feeding droves of people with meager rations. Now, in the span of seven short days, Jesus was gone. The ransom paid, the spotless Lamb slaughtered, and sin atoned for all with one sacrificial act on the part of Christ. The disciples were on the verge of a glorious day that would change the course of all of history.
Day 8: Resurrection Sunday
Early that morning Mary Magdalene went to the tomb only to discover that the stone had been rolled away, and sitting upon it was an angel.
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7)
That day Jesus would appear to His disciples proving the fact of his resurrection and not only to them but to others who saw him and witnessed these events firsthand.
Joy had returned to the disciples after a week full of grief. Nearly 2000 years later we still celebrate Jesus triumph over the grave through His resurrection from the dead. Through His Holy Spirit, the power that raised the Son of God to life still lives and operates in the lives of believers today. Praise God for the glorious events that took place in Jerusalem so long ago so that we also could be raised with Christ and led in triumphant procession with Him!