You can read the story of Holy Week in Mark’s Gospel beginning at chapter 11. I’d like to remind you of what happened.
It began on Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and received a rapturous welcome (Mark 11). He is the promised Messiah. Palm Sunday reminds us that Jesus is the King.
On Monday, Jesus went into the temple and drove out the traders who had turned God’s house of prayer into a den of thieves and robbers.
On Tuesday, our Lord went to the temple again. The Pharisees asked him questions about taxes, about the resurrection, and about the greatest commandment (Mark 12). They were trying to trap Him, but Jesus turned the tables by asking them a question. He quoted from a psalm where David speaks of the Messiah as his Lord. “If David calls Him Lord,” Jesus asked, “How can He be His Son?” There can only be one answer: Almighty God took flesh and came to us in the person of Jesus Christ. God became a man. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, full of grace and truth.
Nothing specific is recorded on Wednesday, though, by tradition, this was the day when Mary poured perfume over the head of Jesus. Either it was a day of rest for Jesus, or else He may have come back to the temple and spoken the words recorded in Mark 13 about His glorious return.
Concerning that day or that hour, no one knows…
Be on your guard, keep awake.
For you do not know when the time will come. (Mark 13:32, 33)
Thursday was the night of the Last Supper, when Jesus gathered with His friends. This was the night when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night He was betrayed, the night He was arrested.
The suffering of Jesus came in three parts – at the hand of His friends, at the hand of His enemies, and at the hand of God.
Thursday was all about Jesus suffering at the hand of His friends. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and they all forsook him and fled. His friends, those who were closest to Jesus, did not understand Him, and when He asked them to watch and pray, they fell asleep.
On Friday Jesus suffered at the hand of His enemies. He was bound, accused, flogged, ridiculed, and crucified.
Jesus was crucified at 9 in the morning, and He died at 3 in the afternoon. In the first three hours Jesus spoke three times, each of them amazing expressions of His love.
To those who nailed him to the cross:
“Father forgive them, they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
To the thief on the cross:
“Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
To His mother and to John:
“Behold your mother,” and “Woman, behold your son” (John 19:26, 27).
And then after three hours of agony on the cross, darkness covered the land.
When Jesus was born there was light at midnight, and when He died there was darkness at noon.
There in the darkness, Jesus bore our sins. And bearing our sins He endured the judgment that was due to us.
He no longer knew the comfort of His Father’s love and this is why He cried out in a loud voice:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mat. 27:46; Mark 15:33).
He was forsaken so that we would never know what that is like.
But it did not end there. Jesus spoke three more times in the darkness.
“I thirst,” (John 19:28)
He said, reflecting the agony of His suffering.
“It is finished,” (John 19:30)
He said, because He had done all that was needed for our salvation. And
“Father, into Your hands I commit my Spirit” (Luke 23:46)
because His life was not taken. It was given.
As a believer, you can say, “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me.”
On Saturday the body of Jesus lay silent in the grave.
On Easter Sunday He rose from the dead in triumph, and He lives forever – our glorious Lord and Savior and coming king.
Friends, these are hard and distressing days, but we have living hope in and through Jesus Christ our Savior and our Lord.
If you don’t already have a church, I hope you will join us online for the service on Good Friday as we remember the death of Jesus, and for our Easter service as we rejoice in His resurrection.
May the Lord bless you with peace and strengthen you in hope this Easter.