- Religion and Philosophy
The Events of Holy Week
Holy Week is the name given to the week before Easter. There are several Holy Days within Holy Week and they mark significant events that took place during the last days in the life of Jeses Christ. Here is a brief explanation of these events and how they tie in to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Palm Sunday is the Sunday preceding Easter. This day commemorates the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. He was hailed by the crowds who laid palm branches on the ground in front of him as he entered the Holy City. At this time, Jesus had been teaching publicly for three years and had a very large group of followers and a reputation as a teacher, healer, and miracle worker. He was at the height of His popularity. He had also gotten a reputation for speaking out against the Roman government as well as the leadership of the Jewish Temple know as the Sanhedrin
This event took place right before the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Passover commemorates the Jewish Exodus from slavery in Egypt. God sent a number of plagues to Egypt to get Pharoah to release the Jews, the last of which was the death of the first-born child of every house of Egypt. The Jews were instructed to mark their houses with lamb's blood so the Angel of Death would "Pass Over" their homes and spare their children, This is the biggest holiday of the Jewish year and many Jews in the time of Jesus went to Jerusalem, the holiest city of Judaism, to celebrate the holiday.
Another thing to keep in mind is that as thousands of Jews descended on Jerusalem for Passover, the Roman government became very nervous about those who spoke out against them possibly stirring crowds into a frenzy, potentially leading to rioting or an attempt to overthrow Roman rule. They had heard of Jesus speaking out against the Romans and were watching him for signs of trouble.
Jesus spent the next few days in Jerusalem teaching and preparing for Passover with his disciples.
Holy Thursday is the night that comemmorates the Last Supper of Jesus wuth his disciples. This "Last Supper" was actually a traditional Passover Seder which is a ceremonial dinner commemorating the Jewish Exodus from Egypt.
A couple significant things took place at the Last Supper. The first one was that Jesus declared that one of his disciples was about to betray him. He was, of course, referring to Judas who betrayed him to the Romans for thirty pieces of silver. After Jesus made this declaration, the disciples each started asking him, "Is it me?" When Judas asked if it was he who would be the betrayer, Jesus told him to go and do what he had to do. Judas then left the group and went to meet with the Roman soldiers.
The other significant event of the Last Supper is that Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. As he and the disciples shared bread and wine, he told them that they were, in fact, his body and blood. He told the apostles to "Do this in memeory of Me."
Following the Last Supper, Jesus takes a few of his disciples with him to a garden called Gethsemene to keep watch while he prays. The disciples repeatedly fall asleep while Jesus is praying to God not to have to go through with the Crucifiction. Finally, Judas shows us with the Roman soldiers. Judas approaches Jesus and kisses his on the cheek. Judas had told the soldiers that he would identify Jesus to him by kissing him. Jesus is them arrested and taken away by the soldiers.
Good Friday is the day that Jesus was crucified. After being mocked and beaten by the Romans, Jesus was forced to carry his cross to calvary where he was nailed to the cross and hung before the crowds until he died.
According to Jewish tradition, dead bodies were prepared for burial by being covered with various spices and wrapped in shrouds. This ritual is usually performed by the deceased's family. After Jesus's death, his mother Mary and Mary Magdeline were the ones who would have prepared his body for burial. However, because it was almost sunset, they did not have time to do so. The Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday, and Jews were not permitted to perform any work on the Sabbath, from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. Therefore, Jesus's body was hastily buried in a tomb that was donated by a man named Joseph of Aramethia.
The Romans, knowing that Jesus had predicted his own resurrection, placed guards at the tomb to prevent the apostles from tampering with the tomb or stealing the body.
The following day is know as Holy Saturday. This the day that Jesus's body lay in the tomb before the Resurrection
On Sunday morning, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdeline went to annoint the body of Jesus as per Jewish tradition. When they arrived at the tomb, they found the stone blocking the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away and Jesus was not in the tomb. Later, the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples confirming his prediction that he would rise from the dead.
This is just a brief overview of the events of the week of Easter for those who may not be familiar with the traditions associated with this Christian holiday.