Christianity and Holy Week – Here’s Why We Celebrate the Week Before Resurrection (Easter) Sunday:
Many of us have heard of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and it’s rare that at least in America, you’ve never heard of Easter (which many Christians refer to as – Resurrection Sunday). Do you know why these days are marked and what’s so special about them? Well, I’ll lay it all out for you here in this post.
First we have Palm Sunday. This comes exactly one week before Resurrection Sunday where Jesus rose after his death on the cross. What is Palm Sunday? Why is it called that? Look with me in John 12:12-19 in your Bible.
–If you don’t have one, http://www.biblegateway.com is a great resource online. They also have a free bible app for your devices.–
This is the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah. This can be found in Zechariah 9:9.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” King James Version
On Palm Sunday, the crowds were cheering and welcoming their Savior into Jerusalem by laying palm branches on the path his donkey walked
On Holy Monday, we mark the day that Jesus cursed the fig tree that was not producing fruit in Matthew 21:18-22. After cursing the tree, he turns to his disciples and tells them that just as He did that to the tree, if they have faith and do not doubt then they can move mountains.
Holy Tuesday is marked by the cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem in Matthew 21:12-17. He walked into the temple of God and saw people buying and selling doves and overall showing disrespect for God’s house. He overturned the money tables and rebuked the people for using the temple this way.
Wednesday of Holy Week is known as Spy Wednesday or Holy Wednesday. This is because it is the day that Judas accepted a deal from the High Priest to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver as seen in Matthew 26:14-16. Now, this is also the day that Jesus gets anointed with an expensive perfume by an unnamed woman in Bethany. This can be found in Mark 14:3-9. This is an important scripture because this anointing with a terribly valuable and expensive perfume is symbolic of the tradition of the anointing of kings, but Jesus also explains in the scripture that she’s anointed his body with perfumes in preparation of his burial. (He is again predicting his death.)
Maundy Thursday is marked to celebrate the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples before his crucifixion. John 13:1-11 shows that Jesus knew the time of his death was near and Judas had already made the deal to betray him. They eat and then Jesus gets up from the table and proceeds to wash the feet of his disciples. Jesus was our savior, but he came into this world as a humble servant. He was born in a manger and died a sinner’s death. His washing of the disciples feet was the job of a servant, not a king. He came to serve and not to be served. Also, he explains that they do not need to clean anything, but their feet. Once you’ve been cleansed by the Lord, you are clean. It is a one time deal. However, living in this sin filled world requires a cleansing through the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God to ensure you are free of the effects of living in the world.
Good Friday is the day that Christ was crucified on the cross to pay for our sins – 1 Corinthians 15:3. Many wonder why it is called Good Friday. I admit I have myself before, but I think it’s safe to say that it is more than “good” to celebrate the pinnacle of God’s master plan coming together for our salvation and restoration to Him. Jesus went through tremendous suffering this day which you can read further about in Matthew 27 (specifically verses 32-56).
Holy Saturday is also of great importance. Saturday is the Sabbath and this particular Saturday marks the day that “It is finished” as Jesus said and our sins were paid for. (John 19:30) The body of Christ was laid in a tomb and rested there all of Saturday. In Matthew 27:62-66, we see that the Pharisees went to Pontius Pilate and requested guards be placed at the tomb of Christ. They knew of his claims that he would raise from the dead and they wanted to prevent anyone from getting into or out of the tomb to remove the body.
Resurrection Sunday is the most celebrated day of Holy Week all around the world. It is well known for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death. This happened after Passover and during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Leavening agents represented sins. So, they only ate bread without “sin” or leaven. They also sacrificed a pure lamb. Turn to Matthew 28.
You can see that Mary Magdalene and Mary went to the tomb. An angel came down like a flash of lightning to announce that Jesus was not there. This shook the guards into a deathlike state of fear. Once the angel spoke to the women, they ran to spread the news. Here is the thing, guys. Women were NOT respected as credible sources of information in those times. Think about it. Who would believe them? It is significant that these were the ones to find his tomb empty and not the men. Also, the guards ran into the city and told the chief priests there what happened. The priests could not have this getting out or it would damage everything they had taught and claimed up to that point. They paid the men to lie and say that the body was stolen during the night. This did not matter, however, as not only the disciples saw him during the next 40 days but in front of a large group of witnesses. This was yet another prophecy fulfilled – see Psalm 68:18; 110:1.
I hope that this has been a blessing to you and helped you understand a little bit more about the significance of each day during Holy Week. God bless!