Many know Easter as a religious holiday of Christ being the last sacrifice needed for us to have eternal life. Easter Sunday, however, is the ending of Jesus' stage for mankind's salvation. In fact, most Christians start to celebrate Christ's last week for their salvation the Sunday before calling it the Holy Week. The week leading up to Easter was full of events that were just as important as Easter.
Palm Sunday (The week before Easter Sunday)
There was a prophecy that the Savior would ride into town on a donkey. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, the citizens noticed and were overjoyed that the prophecy had been fulfilled. To show a sign of their excitement, the citizen both laid palm leaves down on the donkey's path and waved palm leaves in the air. The palm leaves were a symbol of triumph. Those who greeted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem also greeted him by shouting Hosanna, meaning savior.
Monday- Cleaning House
The day after Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He went around to open the eyes of those who lost their ways. Jesus passed by a fig tree, cursing it because the tree was not bearing fruit. The cursing of the fig tree was a symbol of those saying they were following God's will but their actions aligned with their statements. The hypocrites and false religious leaders. Once He reached the temple, Jesus noticed they were gambling inside the court walls. Angered, Jesus flipped the tables and said "My Temple will be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves". Christ then left Jerusalem and would stay in the city of Bethany.
Tuesday- Confrontations and Warnings
Traveling back to Jerusalem from Bethany, Christ passed the fig tree he cursed that was now wilted and used this as a teaching moment to his disciples of faith. When he reached Jerusalem they went into the temple. The embarrassed leaders that were called out, became angry at Christ that He established himself as the religious authority (the leaders believed only they had that right). The temple leaders organized an ambush to arrest Jesus for His actions. This is when Christ called them snakes, vipers to be exact, and said they were fake and forwarn them that their actions would send them to hell.
Jesus and His disciples left Jerusalem and headed towards the Mount of Olives. It was here where Jesus would deliver His Olivet Discourse- the prophecy on the destruction of Jerusalem; the end times; His 2nd return; and the Final Judgement. It was also the night that Judas Iscariot negotiated with the Sanhedrin (those who were wanting to arrest Jesus for His actions on Monday) to betray Jesus. The disciples and Jesus returned to Bethany.
Maundy Thursday- Passover (The Last Supper)
Prior to leaving Bethany, Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to prepare the Upper Room in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Meeting back up, Jesus washed all His disciples' feet to show humility and an act of loving one another. Christ broke bread and drank with His disciples telling them this would be the last time He would eat with them. The breaking of bread and drinking of wine was a symbol He used of what would happen to Him and the way we would be saved. In discussions, Christ told Peter that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster would crow in the morning.
After the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples traveled to the Garden of Gethsemane. There Jesus went to pray. He knew He was going to die and He knew about Judas and Peter. Jesus, in His human form, was stressed, felt alone, and in agony cried to His Father: "Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet, not My will but Your will be done." Even in despair, Jesus knew the outcome was more important than His stress and His Father's work would need to finish. In an answer to Jesus' prayer, God sent an angel to comfort Jesus and renew His strength.
After His prayer, Jesus made His way back to his sleeping disciples. Once He woke them up, they were visited by Judas Iscariot. It was at this point that Judas kissed Christ on His cheek, the signal for the Sanhedrin to come and arrest Jesus. Jesus was taken to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the religious counsel gathered to create a case against Jesus. While Christ was taken away from His disciples, the disciples were being questioned if they knew and followed Christ. Peter, scared he would have the same fate as Jesus denied knowing and following Christ three times that same night, before morning, fulfilling Jesus' prophecy.
Good Friday - The Crucifixion of Jesus
Before the trial would start on Jesus, Judas
Iscariot was so guilt-ridden for turning in Christ, found a tree, and hanged himself. It was around 9 am that Christ's trial started and He endured accusations, condemnations, mockery, beatings, and feeling abandoned. After multiple unlawful trials and the crowd of Jews demanded Christ be put to death placing the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, in an uncomfortable position. Pontius Pilate was unable to see any crime Jesus did to convict him yet the citizens' uproar was enough he knew something had to be done. Pontius allowed a vote to take place for what the crowd wanted. Once the crowd demanded Christ to be crucified, the most horrible and disgraceful method of death Pontius washed his hands, symbolizing he was not a part of the conviction, and yelled into the crowd: "I am innocent of the blood of this person."
Before Roman soldiers took him away to Calvery/Golgotha (meaning bald head/skull), the soldiers would spit on Him and mock Jesus by saying a King must have a crown, shoving a crown of thorns on His head down to His brows. The soldiers forced Jesus to carry his own cross, once Jesus stumbled due to being weakened from being beaten, the Roman soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to aid Jesus by carrying His cross. Christ was flogged, stripped, and nailed to the cross. Stephaton, a Roman soldier, would soak a sponge with Posca (sour wine/vinegar) for Jesus to drink.
While hanging on the cross, Jesus only spoke 7 times. Once was to the thief on the cross next to Jesus who acknowledged Christ shouldn't be on the cross and was innocent. Jesus told the thief that he would be with Him in paradise. Jesus also prayed to his Father asking: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." The last words Christ spoke were around 3 pm when He spoke with His dying breath "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." Longinus, another Roman soldier, pierced Christ's side with a spear where both blood and water poured signaling Jesus' death. By 6 pm, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus' body off the cross and buried Him in a tomb.
Saturday- Preparation of Christ's Body
During the day, Roman soldiers stood guarding the tomb, the Jewish Sabbath day. After Sabbath ended, around 6 pm, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea ceremonially treated Jesus' body with Jewish customs. They brought perfume ointments made from Myrrh and aloes, wrapping Jesus' body in spices and long sheets of linen.
Easter Sunday- Resurrection Day
The next morning, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary mother of James would go to anoint Jesus' body. Arriving at the tomb, they quickly noticed the stone that was covering the opening to the tomb was rolled away. When they looked at the open tomb, an Angel appeared to them telling them not to be afraid and that Christ was not in the tomb and He had risen.
Jesus made an appearance multiple times on Resurrection day up to 40 days after. The 1st was to Mary Magdalene. Then to Peter and 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus. Finally, Jesus visited all disciples, except Thomas, while they were praying. Forty days after Resurrection Sunday, Jesus ascended into the Heavens with His promise that 1) He was going to prepare a place for those who would follow Him and 2) The Holy Spirit would be His helper and taking what was Christ and declaring it to us.
So while we celebrate Easter and remember Resurrection, it is just as important to remember the week leading up to Christ rising from the dead. It is from this small timeframe that Christians were guided on cleaning house, remaining faithful and honest, keeping humility to love one another, and being ever vigilant to watch for Christ's return.