The purpose of this week’s lesson is to try and better understand how Jesus lived the last week of His ministry and final days on this Earth.
I’d like us to walk together with Him through this week and try and experience what it was He must have felt as He endured the most grueling part of His journey after His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
As we walk through each day, try and imagine what our Lord and Savior was feeling as He endured His most difficult, and also most glorious, week.
- By Matthew – a former tax collector who was called by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles.
- By Mark – a follower of Peter
- By Luke – a doctor who wrote what is now the book of Luke to Theophilus (lover of God) and Paul’s traveling companion
- By John – a disciple of Jesus and possibly the youngest of His twelve apostles
I will be using all four Gospels today as we walk with Our Savior through the week. I will not, as I normally do, read the entire verse but paraphrase each one a little so you might be able to better understand. I apologize if this offends anyone. If you read them yourselves, which I hope you do especially this week, you can see the obvious fact on how the Bible speaks the truth as all accounts are far too similar in content not to believe what took place in Jesus’ time.
As I read through them, aside from very slight differences, the only thing I can personally find is that Mark and John give no detailed account on the virgin birth. It isn’t mentioned but, then again, it isn’t denied.
As He and His Disciples approached Jerusalem on Sunday morning… a two mile trip from where they were staying in Bethany, Jesus charged two of His Disciples…
Matthew 21:1-3 – “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.’”
Just to give you an idea of how the Old Testament foretold of Jesus’ coming, I’d like to read the following verse from Zechariah.
Zechariah 9:9 – “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The Disciples did just as Jesus had asked and placed their cloaks upon them for Him to sit on as He rode into the city.
Matthew 21:8-9 – “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna (save) to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”
Can you imagine the glory of that day? How the people must have felt… seeing He, who they believed, was their Savior riding into the city after hearing of all His good works. The gift of site to the blind; the gift of hearing to the deaf; the cleansing of the lepers; the healing of the sick; and the raising of the dead! Now, here He was before them in all His glory.
I can only imagine the excitement, the laughter and smiles on their faces as Jesus made His way through the crowds. I can even feel His glory as I wrote these words. Don’t you, as you hear them?
After a long day in Jerusalem, greeting people and providing blessings on them all… Jesus stayed with His disciples that night in Bethany.
Early Monday morning, Jesus and His Disciples once again left for Jerusalem. Jesus was hungry. Along their way, He came across a fig tree bearing no fruit as it was not the season for figs. Jesus cursed the tree.
Mark 11:14 – “Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.”
I guess Our Lord can be a little irritable when He gets hungry too? (A little Bible humor for you 😉
As they approached Jerusalem Jesus wept…
Luke 19:41-44 – “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.’”
He and His Disciples continued into the city of Jerusalem, and when they arrived, He found merchants filling the temple courts with all their goods. This, as you can imagine, made Him very angry…
Matthew 21:12-13 – “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.’”
At the temple, and after He had purged the merchants, He once again healed many people. The chief priests and teachers of the law saw this and heard children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” and they became indignant.
Matthew 21:16 – “’Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked him.
…to which He replied
‘Yes, have you never read, From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’”
Jesus then left them and went back to Bethany where He, again, spent the night.
Jesus and His Disciples began their journey again early the next morning. As they went along, they saw the fig tree that Jesus had cursed withered from the roots and Peter remembered and said, “Rabbi, look! The tree your cursed has withered.!”
At that point, Jesus reminded them about their faith.
Mark 11:22-24 – “’Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, Go, throw yourself into the sea, and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’”
Another important part of this day was that this is the day Judas Iscariot went to the high priests in the city and bargained with them to betray Jesus which he agreed to do for a mere 30 silver coins.
Again, He spends the night in Bethany.
It has been said that this was the day Jesus warns against religious leaders, calling them hypocrites and snakes.
Matthew 23:1-4 – “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.’”
There is no real Biblical record of this day (Wednesday), only rumor of how He may have spent the day with Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha.
If you may remember, Lazarus was whom He had raised from the dead and He was very good friends with him and his family. This is probably the reasoning behind why Jesus spent His night there.
Maundy (Holy) Thursday
This day is the start of what is known as “The Sacred Triduum.” It begins on sundown of this day and ends on sundown Easter Sunday. The Sacred Triduum is one great festival recounting the last three days of Jesus’ life on earth, the events of his Passion and Resurrection, when the Lamb of God laid down His life in atonement for our sins.
Early in the day, Peter and John were sent by Jesus to prepare for the Passover meal and, after sunset that night, He sat with the twelve to give thanks. This was later to be called “The Last Supper.”
Jesus, knowing this was to be His last meal, blessed the food and told His Disciples how they should remember Him.
Luke 22:19 – “Then he took bread, and after giving 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 in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’”
As the meal was in progress, Jesus had another lesson for His Disciples…
John 13:27 – “The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
He went on to tell them, as in John, I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. No servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
After the meal was over, Jesus went up to The Garden of Gethsemane to pray.
Luke 22:39-46 – “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’”
Shortly thereafter, Judas came with an angry crowd… betrayed his Lord with a kiss and Jesus was shackled and taken away to the High Priests’ house for interrogation.
While under questioning by the High Priests, Peter betrays Him as well… just as Jesus had foretold.
Mark 14:30 – “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
- First Trial (still during the early morning hours when it was still dark) – Annas is looking for an accusation, biding time until Sanhedrin is gathered at the High Priestly Villa.
- Second Trial – Before Sanhedrin. Jesus is condemned, beaten and abused.
- Third Trial (immediately at dawn) – Peter denies Him once again and our Lord looks at him… with reminder.
- Fourth Trial – Before Pilate
- Fifth Trial – Before Herod, looking for a miracle.
- Sixth Trial – Back before Pilate
When Pilate had asked Him, “Are you The King, King of the Jews?” Jesus responded…
John 18:36 – “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.’”
Pilate said, “I have found no wrong in this man!” But the crowds, encouraged by the Pharisees, cried out to him in anger and in rage. Pilate even offered to release Him as this was the custom at that time but, instead, the crowd cried out for Barabbas… a rebel and murderer. So, he scourged Jesus.
- Jesus is scourged; the city cries, “Crucify Him or we will tell Rome!”
Before being led to the crucifixion site, Pilate flogged Jesus. This was a HORRIFIC ordeal! In fact, it was so bad that Roman law would not allow Roman citizens to undergo it. The victim was first stripped of all clothing, then tied to a post with his hands above his head (to stretch the skin making the wounds worse).
He was then flogged by one or two people with a whip (or flagellum). This whip (often called a cat-o-nine tails) consisted of a handle (about 18″ long) with 9 leather straps about 6 or 7 feet long, and at the end of each strap was small lead balls mixed with pieces of animal bone or metal. These would tear into the body more and more with each successive lashing, with the leather balls ripping into the skin and the jagged pieces of bone or metal tearing it out. As the flogging progressed, muscles, vital organs, and even the spine could often be seen openly. Huge strips of skin would be hanging from the body.
- Jesus is finally turned over to be crucified
- Jesus mocked (Roman soldiers); crown of thorns
- Judas hangs himself
Why did they abandon Jesus?
What happened to change their minds? One reason was disappointment; many expected Jesus would declare Himself to be their king, and would lead a revolt against the Romans who were occupying the Jewish nation. In other words, they hoped Jesus would become a political leader.
But Jesus didn’t come to set up a new political system. He came instead to change our hearts and save us from our sins by His death and resurrection. He declared during that earlier, “My kingdom is not of this world.” This deeply disappointed those who hoped He would throw out the hated Roman occupiers.
But the main reason the crowds turned against Jesus was because their hearts had grown spiritually cold. Jesus had been with them three years, performing miracles and teaching them the truth about God. What more evidence did they need that He was the Savior? And yet they rejected Him. Don’t let this be true of you, but during this holy season turn your life over to Him.
How much pain did our Savior endure for us?
Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation.
Jesus was made to “bear his cross” even after the excruciating pain He was now in. The soldiers seized Simon, from Cyrene on his way in from the country to help Jesus and he carried the cross behind Him.
As Jesus continued to stumble and fall from the great burden He was bearing, He saw the women crying for Him.
Luke 23:28 – “Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.’”
Even through His pain, Jesus showed compassion.
It was now about 9 AM and as they reached Calvary, Jesus was again stripped of His garments and laid on the cross. They then nailed iron spikes through His hands and feet, set the cross upright and dropped the base into the ground for all those in attendance to see… their way of bringing shame to our Lord.
Jesus cries out from the cross, 7 times…
On the cross, Jesus looked out upon the crowd, and had compassion still…
Luke 23:34 – “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”
Those crucified with Him…
Luke 23:39-42 – “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’
But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’
Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’”
Luke 23:43 – “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
Again, Jesus looked out upon the crowd…
John 19:26-27 – “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
Mark 15:14 – “And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’)”
And He again, bowed His head.
John 19:28 – “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’”
They gave him a sponge, soaked with sour wine…
John 19:30 – “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
While He spoke His last words…
Luke 23:46 – “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
It was about 3 PM when Jesus gave up His spirit to God. 6 hours of agony on the cross to bear our sins. The skies darkened; thunder roared in the Heavens; the veil of the temple was torn in two; the earth trembled; graves were opened-up and people rose and went into the city.
A Centurion witnessed these great things…
Matthew 27:54 – “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’”
Not a Bone Will be Broken
The Sabbath was nearing and the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies displayed during that Holy Day. It was then ordered that those that had been crucified have their legs broken so they could not flee and bodies taken down. They did so with the other two men. When they came to Jesus, however, they saw that He was already dead. A Roman soldier then pierced His side with a spear to be certain… and blood and water poured out.
John 19:36 – “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’”
Jesus is buried by sundown. At the request of the Jewish authorities, guards are placed at the tomb and it is sealed.
This was the Sabbath. Jesus remained in the tomb. At the end of the Sabbath at 6 PM, His body was anointed with burial spices purchased by Nicodemus, one of the priests that secretly followed Jesus and had assisted with removing His body from the cross. The tomb was provided to Our Lord by Joseph of Arimathea… he also aided Nicodemus in anointing Jesus.
The Pharaoh of Egypt in Moses’ days, by his own words, called the Angel of Death into the city. The Jewish people were saved as the blood from sacrificial lambs was painted over the doorways of every Jewish household causing the Angel to pass them by.
For us, Jesus was the sacrificial blood that was spilled to save us. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how important that fact is to all of us. It is one lesson that should never be forgotten.
Jesus suffered so much in His last days. Hostile criticism; intense and unfair interrogation; He was spat on and beaten; scourged with a flagellum that ripped His flesh; forced to wear a crown of thorns; and nailed to a wooden cross!
His burdens were many… now, how bad are yours?
To be continued, our story is not over…
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless!