As early as the fourth century, historical documents identify the designation of Palm Sunday through Easter as a sacred time, a holy week. The focus is on the Passion, the suffering of Jesus Christ and the days until Resurrection. While the terminology may not be part of your upbringing or church, learning about the life of Jesus allows Christians to reflect upon significant events, and better grasp why his passion was carried out for his followers. During a week of holiness, the opportunity to follow in his footsteps is possible.
Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. “They took palm branches and went out to meet him shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel’” (John 12:12-13). Ironically, the very people who shouted in praise will later condemn him by screaming words of execution.
Palm Sunday allows Christians to reflect upon their commitment to their faith.
Although an uncommonly used name for Holy Wednesday, it is the day Judas agrees to betray Jesus. “Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him over to you?’ So, they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on, Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”(Matthew 26:14-16)
Christians often connect Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday to the Last Supper, a Passover meal during which time Jesus broke bread, offered his disciples wine and said, “This is my body, given up for you,” also stating, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”After supper, He took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” (Luke 22:14-20). Jesus created his first priests to live as an example and spread the word.
During that night, two additional events occurred: Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, and Judas would leave to betray Christ. Without Judas present, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you.”(John 13:34). Jesus leaves and waits in the garden of Gethsemane, praying and preparing. Roman soldiers arrive and arrest him.
Maundy Thursday leads to the celebration of the mass and Holy Communion. In taking the body and blood, we pause for a moment of reflection and prayer to accept the wafer and wine in remembrance. In keeping with tradition, the altar of the church is stripped bare and the bells silenced until Holy Saturday.
A dark day of sacrifice, of crucifixion, and death. Forced to carry his cross through the streets of Jerusalem, endure public mockery and beatings, Jesus’ path fulfills a prophecy:“So, it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead”(Luke 24:46).
Good Friday reveals the cross veiled in black and parishioners visiting the Stations of the Cross to witness and reflect upon Christ’s final hours.
A day which acknowledges a 40-hour vigil that his followers held outside of the tomb, awaiting His resurrection. “So, Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary saw where he was laid”(Mark 15:46-47).
The Covenant, a promise God established with his people, the Israelites, long before the birth of Jesus, was celebrated through sacrificing an unblemished lamb, the blood of a perfect creature. This was the sacrifice used as a confession of sin and an offering of forgiveness.
Easter is a day of celebration of victory over death, symbolizing the promise of eternal life for all who believe in Him. 1 Corinthians 15:3–8: “…Then, he appeared to James, then to all of his apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me [Paul].”