What is Holy Week?
What Happened During Holy Week?
What is Holy Week?
- It is the last week of Lent.
- It is the 7 days before Easter Sunday, beginning with Palm Sunday.
- It is the most solemn week of the year, hence the name, "Holy Week."
- We honor the week Jesus died, the final days of his life, and especially his passion and death.
- It is a week in which we show the greatest gratitude and appreciation to God for the great blessings he has given through his son.
- It is the most important time of private devotion and spiritual renewal.
- It is the most important time of public worship services in the church.
In some christian countries in ages past, no school or business was conducted during the entire week.
Here below, I will just outline some of the important events commemorated during Holy Week.
What is Holy Week? - Day 1, Palm Sunday
- Christ entered the city of Jerusalem in triumph.
- The people, especially the children, cried out in praise of Jesus as the Messiah.
- The people cut down palm branches and carried them as a military victory march for Jesus, and put their cloaks and palm branches on the road in front of Jesus.
- This continued to anger some of the leaders in Jerusalem, who were enemies of Jesus, and told Jesus to rebuke his followers. Jesus refuted their accusations and defended his followers. God's voice from heaven was heard.
What is Holy Week? - Days 2, 3, and 4
After his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus went into the temple daily, teaching the people, and refuting all the arguments that the various religious leaders made against him.
Every evening, he went out to Bethany, a small town just outside the city walls.
In some churches, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, there are special readings, prayers and services related to the events of Holy Week.
What is Holy Week? - Day 4, Spy Wednesday
In some traditions, this day is called Spy Wednesday, because of Judas dealing with the religious leaders to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
What is Holy Week? - Day 5, Holy Thursday
This is the first of 3 consecutive days, called the "Sacred Triduum" (Holy 3 Days) to honor the events of Christ the day before, the day of, and the day after his death on the cross. In many christian countries for centuries, there was no regular work, school, or business conducted on these three days.
- The Last Supper. This is the last meal Jesus ate before his death the following day. Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover feast with a meal of sacrificed lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread in the upper room with his apostles, according to the old testament instructions God had given through Moses to the people of Israel at the first Passover, when they were able to escape the bondage and slavery of Egypt, and which God wanted to be observed every year.
- Then Jesus announces a new testament, a new and eternal covenant between God and man based on sacrificing his own body and blood.
- Jesus teaches his followers how to love one another, prays and blesses them that they may be united in the new law of love, and gives the example by washing their feet, which normally a servant or slave would do.
- In the evening, Jesus, knowing what will happen, takes his friends and prays in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and sweats drops of blood. He accepts his father's will to die for our salvation.
- Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss, Jesus is captured, his followers run away.
- Peter denies Jesus 3 times as Jesus foretold, then Peter weeps in repentance.
- Jesus is condemned at illegal night time trials by the Sanhedrin elders, and the Jewish priests Annas and Caiphas. Jesus is spit upon, mocked, slapped, and beaten, and then locked in a dungeon.
What is Holy Week? - Day 6, Good Friday
- Jesus goes through more illegal and unjust trials in the morning, in the courts of Herod, the Jewish ruler, and Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate, who has the authority of execution, finds Jesus innocent.
- Pilate, a very cruel man, orders Jesus brutally scourged for a long time, even though Pilate knows he is innocent, and "intends" to release him. (Many criminals died just by the brutality of a Roman scourging.)
- The Romans soldiers beat a crown of long thorns into Jesus brains. They mock him, spit upon him, blindfold and strike him, and curse and blaspheme him.
- At the direction of the religious leaders, the mobs scream against Jesus, calling for his death. Pilate eventually condemns Jesus to execution by crucifixion.
- Jesus is forced to carry his cross through the mob to a place outside the city. Jesus is nailed to the cross. 2 other thieves are executed with Jesus.
- During the hours Jesus is on the cross, a miraculous darkness covers the earth. Passover was always at full moon, so it is scientifically impossible to have a solar eclipse occur naturally.
- At Jesus' death, there is a great earthquake, that rips the heavy sanctuary curtain in half, and disrupts all animal sacrifices. God proves to all that he will no longer accept the animal sacrifices, and the new covenant sacrifice, Jesus his Son, the Lamb of God, has replaced the old covenant, and this covenant is in full effect from this time forward.
- In the evening, the body of Jesus is taken down from the cross and buried in a rock cave tomb by his mother Mary, the holy women, and John, with the assistance of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
What is Holy Week? - Day 7, Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil
While the people of the world are rushing and buying stuff for their Easter parties, true christians spend this day in mourning the sufferings and death of Jesus.
As we make Easter preparations in our homes and churches, we realize the essential and most important preparation is inside our hearts and souls. We must put most of the focus on preparation on the inside of us - our hearts, minds, and souls.
It is the last day of Lent - a day of special silence and prayer.
Nevertheless, we are filled with hope, knowing that Jesus, before his death, made several predictions of his resurrection on the third day.
Many churches and different denominations will hold services either in the morning, but more often in the evening, or just before midnight, to celebrate these special mysteries.
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