Celebrating Holy Week

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  • Holy Week is an observance of the Christian church that remembers the final week of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ before his crucifixion. It begins with Palm Sunday, which commemorates the Lord Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. During the Triumphal Entry, the crowds rejoiced as Jesus’ entrance into the city stoked the messianic hopes of Israel. In those days, the arrival of a conquering king would be typically celebrated with a royal procession. But in this impromptu triumph procession, they laid out their garments along the path. They also covered the path with palm branches, which symbolized victory and triumph. And they cried out, “Hosanna, to God in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

    The main event of Holy Week is Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the cross as our substitute to atone for our sins. There is a sense in which Good Friday is the darkest day in human history. On that terrible day, the sinless Son of God was condemned to death and executed as a common criminal. He had done nothing wrong, except for being a religious nonconformist to the Jews and a political nuisance to the Romans. Yet our Savior died in a manner that was so painful and shameful that a new word was coined to describe death on a cross: “excruciating.” Yet while man was at his worst, God was at his best. God, in his sovereign grace and predestined will, accepted the death of his Son on the cross as the payment for the sins of all who repent and put the faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

    Holy Week climaxes on Easter Sunday, with the celebration of the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The resurrection is God’s stamp of approval for the redemptive work Jesus accomplished on the cross. The resurrection was of such importance that it caused the first disciples, who were all Jews, to change their day of worship from the Sabbath, which is our Saturday, to Sunday, which the New Testament calls the Lord’s Day. And since then, Christians gather every Sunday – not just once a year – to celebrate the face that Jesus lives!

    I encourage you to spend this week in grateful and prayerful reflection on the inestimable price that was paid to purchase your salvation from the eternal wrath of God against sin and to provide the gracious handout of eternal life. Likewise, pray diligently for those in your sphere of influence and around the world who have not run to the cross and called on the name of the Lord for salvation.

    Following is an outline of the major events of Holy Week and corresponding scripture references for you to read as you savor the goodness of God in Christ this week:

    Sunday: The Triumphal Entry (Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-1; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19)

    Monday: The Cleansing of the Temple (Matt. 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48)

    Tuesday: The Authority of Jesus Challenged (Matt. 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 10:1-8)

    Wednesday: The Plot against Jesus (Matthew 26:1-16; Mark 14:1-11; Luke 22:1-6)

    Thursday: The Last Supper, Gethsemane, & Arrest (Matt. 26:26-56; Mark 14:22-50; Luke 22:14-53; John 13-16)

    Friday: The Crucifixion (Matt. 27:32-54; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-37)

    Saturday: In the Tomb (Matt. 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)

    Sunday: The Resurrection (Matt. 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10)


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.