December 2, 2023

Passion Week

The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival (Passover) heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They kept shouting: Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord –the King of Israel! – John 12:12-13 (HCSB)

In all of history, there has never been a more important week, nor will there ever be. This is the focal point of eternity; the point at which Satan is defeated and redemption is sealed. Every moment prior to this was merely prelude; a longing in anticipation of this week. Every moment since has been and will be a celebration in the halls of eternity; a testimony to the price paid and the victory won during that pivotal week; the week we call the PASSION WEEK.

For years Jesus had lived with the knowledge that this week would come. He knew that, in time, he would be the final Passover lamb. We don’t know when Jesus became aware of his sacrificial destiny, but when he was just eight days old, Mary was told by Simeon, “this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed – and a sword will pierce your own soul. . .” (Luke 2:34-35). It’s easy to see how Jesus would have learned early of the suffering of the Lord’s “servant” foretold in Isaiah 53. As his Messianic identity developed, Jesus would have understood the application of the prophecy to himself.

This was the fourth Passover since his baptism. It’s impossible to say if Jesus had anticipated from the beginning that his death would come on the fourth Passover. Either way, he certainly had been aware for several months that this would be his last. And now he is entering Jerusalem with a complete understanding of what is coming.

The week begins with Jesus’ “triumphant” or “royal” entry into Jerusalem on Sunday. He had arrived at Bethany on Friday and stayed at the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Prior visits to Jerusalem had been quiet and without fanfare. Not so this time. Jesus entered the city with the people praising him as a King. Not only was Jesus no longer avoiding the plot against him, he was actually challenging the Sanhedrin in anticipation of the coming arrest and execution.

It was a full week, with Jesus teaching many parables, answering questions, and cleansing the temple for the second time. Finally, Jesus gathered his disciples for the Passover meal on Thursday evening and so began the chain of events that led to his crucifixion and burial on Friday.

Not surprisingly, all four Gospels provide significant detail regarding the Passion Week. This was the week where Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish leadership manifested and reflected the cosmic conflict between God and Satan.

Even in the shadow of the cross, Jesus continued to teach and minister to those he came to save. Such was his love for people. Such was the need to clarify his message. Such was the power of this servant who never stopped giving himself in sacrificial service to others, even as he was hanging on the cross. It was always about people. It was always about their redemption. It was always about their life.

This was the driving force in his life and ministry. This was why he came. This was his mission and calling. This was his passion.

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For a listing of all of the events recorded for this period, see Passion Week Events.


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