For the Disciples, the last week of Christ’s life was a whirlwind of excitement and activity. Jesus led them to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. It was one of many trips they took to this place during their three and half years together. But this time, something was different. There was an intensity in Jesus’ eyes they hadn’t seen before. He was always focused. But what they saw now was more like still waters on the Sea of Galilee just before a storm.
Peter voiced the Disciple’s beliefs the best, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” They believe Jesus was Messiah, the one who would save Israel. Would this be the week Jesus would finally rise up to take his rightful place as King of Israel? Would this be the time when Messiah would lead the Jews to victory over their Roman oppressors? Would they become significant leaders, people of prominence, in a new kingdom?
It certainly seemed so.
- On Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, he rode in on a donkey to the unfettered praise of the people.
- On Monday, He taught the Disciples another deep truth about faith and prayer using nothing more than a small fig tree that had no fruit. Pray and believe and you can move mountains! Remarkable!
- Tuesday was interesting, even entertaining. Jesus told so many stories filled with so much truth. The Pharisees and other religious leaders sure didn’t like it. You could tell by their questions. It was always fun to watch them squirm as Jesus would kindly, yet directly deflect and deflate their questions with another question. You might think these well educated men would be His greatest supporters, yet they were so frustrated they seemed on the verge of wanting to kill him.
- After the excitement of Sunday through Tuesday, Wednesday is silent. Preparations for the Passover and rest before the celebration seem appropriate.
- Thursday starts well. At the house of Simon, the leper, a woman comes to anoint Jesus with expensive perfume. The Disciples are amazed by the lavish gift. Once again the remarkable nature of this man is confirmed. When will He rise to power? It’s the first day of Passover so He sends the Disciples to prepare the meal. Things seem different during this Passover. Before the meal, Jesus washes everyone’s feet. Can you imagine, a Rabbi lowering himself to wash a Disciple’s feet? The end of the meal was just as unusual. He passed the bread around and told them this symbolized his body, broken for sin. He followed with a cup of wine they all shared. He said this was his His blood, shed for sin. It was intimate, meaningful, unforgettable. They sang a hymn and left for Gethsemane. This was a familiar place to the Disciples. They went there often with Jesus to pray. What happens next is a blur of sleep-induced confusion and activity. While Jesus prayed the Disciples slept. They could hear the passion in His voice, but couldn’t keep their eyes open. Until the traitor showed up. Judas, with an army of Temple guards and crowd of people approached Jesus, kissed him on the cheek and the guards take him away. Not before Peter gets a good swing at them. Jesus stopped the fight and healed the man who lost his ear to Peter.
- It’s hard to tell where Thursday ends and Friday begins. No one slept. Jesus was forced into one trial after another. Liars, all of them, stood to tell stories that would convict Jesus of crimes He never committed. He was beaten beyond recognition. His beard ripped from his face. A crown of thorns placed mockingly on His head. The crowd, so adoring on Sunday, turned. They began to cry, “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!” The Romans were no help. How do these Romans decide when to challenge the people and when to give in? This time Pilate lets a clearly guilty man, Barabas, go free and sends Jesus off with two criminals to be crucified simply because the people demand it. The walk to the cross was long. They force Jesus to carry His cross. Nails are driven into His hands and feet fastening him securely to the wood. Blood and water flow. The agony of the moment is too great. The Disciples, confused, hurt, and afraid stand idly by as hope hangs cursed on a tree. Through excruciating pain Jesus speaks his last words, “It is finished. Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.”
It’s Friday of Passion week. Jesus is dead. Go home.