Holy Week -- most sacred week in the Christian Year
text by The Rev'd Glenn Empey
Holy Week is from Palm Sunday until Holy Saturday. It includes Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Holy Week marks the final days of Jesus life on earth. This led from his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, through days when the authorities plotted against him, to the Upper Room, the Garden Gethsemane and finally to Golgotha and the Crucifixion on Good Friday. Three days later Jesus' followers began to understand his teachings more fully after they discovered his empty tomb.
Palm Sunday -- the Sunday of the Passion
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the people saw this as a great triumph to be celebrated. They lined the streets with palms in hand and sang out praises to Jesus. Many had heard that Jesus was the Messiah. And from the Jewish Scripture, they knew that the Messiah would come to free Israel from all oppression. So they expected a great triumph as Jesus would overthrow the Roman occupiers and establish a new kingdom. As the week continued, these moments of celebration turned to moments of confusion especially for the followers of Jesus.
Maundy Thursday and the Last Supper
On Thursday evening, the disciples secluded themselves in the Upper Room to avoid the authorities who were searching for Jesus. Jesus washed their feet while he explained what was going to happen. He then said a prayer and shared bread and wine and told them that the bread was his body and the wine his blood. This last supper became the Holy Eucharist, a Sacrament of the Church which Jesus himself instituted. After supper, Jesus and his disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.
Good Friday -- God's Friday
While they were in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus spent the night in prayer. In the deep of the night the Roman authorities were led to the garden by Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. They took Jesus for trial by Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor. Through ordeals of humiliation and torture, they convicted Jesus and sentenced him to death by crucifixion. The other disciples had scattered in fear. Jesus was made to carry his own cross to the place of the Crucifixion. There, later in the afternoon, Jesus died. His body was laid in a nearby tomb.
The Sunday of the Resurrection -- Easter Sunday
Three days later, Mary Magdalene and some of the disciples went to the tomb. To their total astonishment, the tomb was empty. Mary saw a person whom she thought was a gardener but then she recognized that it was Jesus. She spoke with him and then ran to tell the other disciples that she had seen Jesus. He had risen from the dead. The disciples began to understand what Jesus had been telling them. In the following days, Jesus appeared to his disciples several times. He even showed his wounds to Thomas who then also believed that Jesus was risen as he had told all of them.