Friday – the fateful day – began in the very early hours of the morning. Jesus prayed to His Father asking that, if possible, the bitter cup could be removed from Him. Jesus was very deeply distressed and troubled. Three times He asked His disciples to pray for Him. Three times they fell asleep. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.
Sometime during the very early morning Judas arrived with soldiers. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Peter cut off the ear of the servant of the High priest. Jesus healed the man and warned that those who take the sword will die by the sword.
Jesus was arrested and subjected to six trials: three Jewish trials and three Roman trials. False accusations were brought against Him. False witnesses disagreed on their testimony, but the trials proceeded. Jesus was bound, blind-folded, slapped, beaten, spit upon – He was charged with treason, refusing to pay taxes, making Himself a king, and blasphemy.
To most accusations, Jesus said nothing. He had spoken out powerfully against the religious system. He had spoken in defense of persons who were neglected. But, when the accusations were against Him personally, He was silent. Apostle Paul says that Jesus Christ witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate. Most of it was silent.
Twice He stood before Pilate, the puppet procurator hired to keep the peace for Rome. Four times Pilate declared Him to be innocent and wanted to release Him. In spite of this, Pilate succumbed to the will of the people and delivered Jesus up for crucifixion. Before crucifixion, Pilate had Jesus scourged – a terrible whipping capable of causing death. Jesus was unrecognizable – His back torn open to the ribs.
Jesus was mocked. A royal robe placed on Him and a crown of thorns was placed on His head. The Creator was crowned with the curse of creature disobedience.
Those who lauded Him on Sunday now called for His death. The persuasive religious leaders persuaded the common folk to call for Jesus death.
The trials of Jesus were illegal – His death was illegal but it made no matter-
Life may do that to you – if so, God has His reasons.
He did then and He does now.
Barabbas was set free. We are all Barabbas – and Barabbas is us.
We are guilty men made innocent because an innocent man was made guilty.
Physically – slow, painful, bodily death on the cross
Emotionally – rejected by His people, disciples fled and left Him alone
Spiritually – forsaken by God, carrying the sins of the whole world
Even nature grew silent when Jesus suffered and died.
Perhaps even angels hovered over Heaven, wondering when the order would come to rescue their Lord. But, it did not come. Jesus could have called them by asking His Father. They could keep Him in all His ways. He who was their King would die while they watched in awe as salvation was wrought. These are things the angels desire to understand.
Excruciating – from the cross –Jesus carried His cross as far as He could.
Simon was then pressed into the service of the condemned King.
• Jesus was crucified. Between two thieves, Jesus was crucified.
• For you and for me, Jesus was crucified
• The cost of my sin – Jesus crucified.
• All the evil of the world was hung on him as He hung on the cross.
• Satan hurled all his demonic forces and wickedness against Jesus.
• Jesus absorbed all the evil.
• He carried all the evil.
• He defeated all the evil.
• Evil exhausted itself against Jesus and evil was worn out.
• Jesus tasted death for every man and
• Through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Jesus conquered death, hell, and the grave.
Jesus, the mighty Conqueror conquered death by dying.
Jesus gave up His life. No one took life from Him. He was/is the Giver of life.
Jesus laid down His life and then would take it up again.
Before He laid down His life He said,
“Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.”
“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
“It is finished”
Jesus refused the mixture of sour wine that would have deadened some of His pain
He endured the cross, despising the shame – For the joy that was set before Him!
He who was the way, the Truth, and the life – died.
But, Truth killed will rise again. And so He will – as He said.
Thursday – was a day that apparently started out quietly but toward evening the Passover preparations began.
The disciples unfortunately had an argument over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. This was so sad and insensitive given the impending events. Jesus emphasized the need for servants in the Kingdom and that those who would be great must be servants. He also emphasized love as the central facet of His Kingdom. It is by the mutual love of His followers that they would be recognized. John 13:35 immortalizes that concept.
In the upper room they gathered for the evening meal. Jesus washed their feet while they ate. He then gave the “Upper Room” discourse. He emphasized that He was about to leave His disciples. He promised the Holy Spirit of God to come to them and fill the place that He would leave. This Spirit would be the comforter, the Spirit of Truth.
“I am the vine and you are the branches” – He and His followers would be so joined together. He also emphasized that, just as the world hated Him, the world would also hate His followers also.
The account then moves from Jesus speaking to His followers to Jesus speaking to His Father. It is a moving transition – the language changes, the tone changes, eternity is now in view. He and His Father had glory and fellowship since before the world began. He had done what the Father had sent Him to do – only one thing yet remained – His death.
“This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou have sent.” “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is Truth.” His prayer is for all who will follow Him for all time. His prayer is for unity – “I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity…” Unity is the result of being in Christ and Christ is us. Thus we are unified in Him.
After this prayer, Jesus and His disciples went over the Kidron to the garden of Gethsemane.
Wednesday - and much of Thursday of Jesus’ last week were apparently quiet days, at least the Bible says very little about them. By Thursday evening events begin to unfold rapidly. Thursday and Friday are days of intensity and suffering. In anticipation of those days consider the words of this song -
“Tis midnight, and on Olive’s brow
The star is dimmed that lately shone;
‘Tis midnight in the garden now,
The suff’ring Savior prays alone.
‘Tis midnight, and from all removed,
The Savior wrestles lone with fears-
E’en that disciple whom He loved
Heeds not his Master’s grief and tears.
‘Tis midnight, and for other’s guilt
The Man of Sorrows weeps in blood;
Yet He that hath in anguish knelt
Is not forsaken by His God.
‘Tis midnight, and from ether-plains
Is borne the song that angels know
Unheard by mortals are the strains
That sweetly soothe the Savior’s woe.
William Bingham Tappan
Tuesday was a busy day in Jesus’ life. He was faced with challenges from the religious leaders. They attempted to place Jesus on the defensive and force Him into making statements that would be contradictory. He was asked about His authority, about paying taxes, about the resurrection, and about the commandments.
Jesus asked questions also. In fact, He responded to questions with questions. The leaders could not answer His questions without implicating themselves.
Jesus also pronounced “woes” on the leaders. Matthew 23 records His repeated indictments harshly stated by Jesus. He exposed their behaviors and their motives and their underlying sin. He called them: blind guides, fools, blind men, hypocrites, outwardly righteous, inwardly full of lawlessness, sons of those who killed the prophets. He was relentless in His denouncements of their religious system. He realized that their system that was designed to take people to God had, instead, kept people away from God.
He also pleaded over Jerusalem saying how He longed to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks – a moving, matriarchal message. How He loved His people.
Jesus also delivered His Olivet discourse in Matthew 24 and 25. This is New Testament prophecy directly from Jesus Himself. He answered questions about His return and the destruction of Jerusalem. He discussed talents and how God expects them to be used. He used gripping illustrations of the ten virgins and of oil for their lamps.
Even in His last week, Jesus continued preaching and teaching the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Meanwhile, the religious leaders were seeking how to seize Jesus and kill Him. On Tuesday night Judas joined their plot. Satan entered into Judas and he spoke to the chief priests and officers about betraying Jesus to them. They promised to give Judas money if he would betray Jesus. The plot against Jesus thickened.
Monday was a busy day for Jesus. He examined a fig tree devoid of fruit, the tree withered under His judgment. He had come to His own and His own had rejected Him. The fig tree was symbolic of the nation that now rejected Jesus.
The Lord of the temple came to the temple of the Lord. He “cleansed” the temple. The temple was the center of the Jewish religion. All Jews longed to visit the temple at Jerusalem. Devout men made the yearly pilgrimage to the temple at Jerusalem, singing Psalms as they traveled.
They came from many different areas – each with their own coinage and language. The temple provided money-changing and animal sales so these people could worship in Jerusalem. Unfortunately the leaders had made merchandise of the worship experience. Jesus was incensed at this incongruity – this sin. The zeal of God’s house had eaten Him up – and for the second time He “cleansed” the temple.
• Cast out those who were making merchandise in the temple
• Overturned the tables of the moneychangers
• And the seats of those who sold doves
• Would not allow anyone to carry goods through the temple
• Were astonished as His teaching
• Were “hanging on His words”
The religious leaders:
• Began seeking how to destroy Him
• Could not find any fault in Him
Jesus challenged the practices of the religion of His day. It was a religion but it was not worship. Jesus cleansed the temple. No religious system will allow that kind of “disrespectful behavior.” The common folk loved Him – He taught them, He defended their cause. The leaders, however, would not allow any challenge of their intact system. Jesus had to die.
The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, tell the story of Jesus life, death and resurrection. They tell about His birth. They give us a glimpse of His life at twelve years old. The majority of the content of these books, however, is about Jesus’ brief ministry and his death. Fully one third of the chapters of the gospels are about the last week of Jesus’ life.
We say there are four Gospels. There is really only one Gospel. The Bible contains four accounts of the one Gospel. The accounts are from different perspectives as if four different people described any situation. Reading a harmony of the Gospels is a very useful experience to understanding the life of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus’ ministry is typically divided into three years:
1. The year of obscurity – when He is not well known
2. The year of popularity – when He is known and appreciated
3. The year of opposition – when the religious leaders plot to kill him
On Friday of His last week of earthly life He arrived at Bethany, just across the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem. The travels of His ministry had finally taken Him close to Jerusalem. Here He apparently stayed with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He chose the safety of close friends as a place to stay for most of the week.
It was during this time that the religious leaders finalized their plot to kill Jesus. God was working out His plan for the salvation of His people.
Saturday was the Sabbath – He went to eat at the home of Simon the leper. It was here that Mary Magdalene washed and anointed Jesus feet. He was among friends who cared deeply for Him.
Sunday, one week before His resurrection, was His “triumphal” entry, sometimes referred to as Palm Sunday. As He traveled from Bethany to Jerusalem, the common people blessed Him with cries of Hosanna. They had been blessed by His teaching and His care for them. Now was their time to praise Him openly as he rode a donkey to Jerusalem.
As He came into Jerusalem some asked, “Who is this?” The answer, “This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” He was more than that, of course. He was the one true God, the Savior of the world.
This was to fulfill Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. Riding on a donkey or mule was a sign of nobility in Old Testament days. Now, in New Testament days, this animal was humble transportation.
It has been noted that Jesus’ riding on this colt was a miracle – to ride on an unbroken animal. Of course, He was the Creator of all things and this animal was not exception.
Ironically, it will be but a few short days until many, and perhaps some of these same, people, will be crying out for Jesus’ crucifixion.
It is on this day that he healed some who were blind and lame and children cried out, hosanna to the Son of David. The religious leaders were indignant at the blessings heaped on Jesus.