Have you ever had a week in your life that felt like a month? A week where there was so much going on (either good or bad) that it seemed longer than other weeks? I have been on a couple of week-long mission trips that have felt like that- I walk away feeling like I’ve known my teammates for my entire life even though it’s only been a week because so much has happened!
This is what we see in the gospel narratives when we get to Holy Week, the week leading up to Jesus’ resurrection. After giving us highlights from Jesus’ life, skipping over months and years at a time, all of the sudden time slows down and the gospel writers give us a detailed play-by-play of Jesus, the disciples, and the religious leaders. For one week, we’re almost able to walk alongside Jesus in real time.
Can you believe that 29 chapters of the gospels are devoted solely to the events of this week?
And the gospel writers don’t just give us a cold report about events, we get some incredibly intimate glimpses of Jesus’ emotions and prayer life during that time:
- Jesus weeps for Jerusalem
- Jesus angrily cleanses the temple
- Jesus offers prayers of distress and sorrow in the garden
- Jesus prays for forgiveness for soldiers
- Jesus offers a prayer of forsaken-ness on the cross
And of course, we get to watch Jesus’ (sometimes) faithful disciples along the way, too:
- Judas offers to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver
- All the disciples fall asleep when Jesus asks them to pray
- Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss
- Peter lops off a guy’s ear
- All the disciples flee and abandon him after he’s arrested
- Peter insists three times that he doesn’t even know Jesus
Not a super inspiring showing from these guys. But, John does show up at the crucifixion and agrees to take care of Jesus’ Mom, so that’s nice at least.
Perhaps the most fascinating and bewildering parts of the story involve the Jewish religious leaders. First of all, let’s back up and remember that even before Holy Week begins, the religious leaders are trying to arrest and kill Jesus because of the fact that He raised Lazarus from the dead and they’re afraid everyone will believe in Him because of it (Hmm…).
Here are some of their Holy Week highlights:
- They give Judas money from the temple treasury to betray Jesus
- They decide not to put the money back into the treasury when Judas returns it because they don’t want to be “unlawful”
- They incite a mob demanding that Jesus be crucified (after Pilate declares him innocent)
- The soldiers they hire to guard Jesus’ tomb tell them that an angel came, rolled away the stone, and said Jesus was risen. They bribe the soldiers to lie about what happened
Sinister stuff for sure (I guess that’s why Jesus called these guys “vipers” a few times). But two of them, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, get the guts to come forward after Jesus’ death and provide a tomb for his body. So… partial credit, I guess.
See what I mean? There’s so much that happened during Holy Week and that’s what I love about it. It’s so action-packed that, as we remember it each year (and throughout the year), we’ll never be done gleaning all that it reveals to us about Jesus and his plan of redemption. I can’t wait to dive into it with you again this year and see what the Holy Spirit will reveal to us through it.
Will you join me in worship on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday and see what God will do?