The journey of Jesus’ last week during the Passover festival in Jerusalem.
by Jews for Jesus | March 09 2011
More than once, Jesus told his disciples and others around him, “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4, John 7:6, 8), and he often foreshadowed his death: “The Son of Man came … to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). Naturally, this raises the question of when Jesus’ time actually would come, what it would entail, and what it would mean. Here we take a chronological and fact-based day-by-day look at the last week of Jesus’ life, including the Passover, taken from the accounts of the four Gospels. In Jesus’ last week of life, he fulfilled his mission to seek and save the lost, and ultimately, he became the atoning sacrifice for humanity—once and for all.
A week before his crucifixion, Jesus approached Jerusalem, arriving in Bethany six days before the Passover. Over this weekend, he was anointed at Simon the leper’s house by a woman who Jesus said was “prepar[ing] me for burial” (Matthew 26:12). Jesus knew that his time of death was near, and he communicated this to his disciples despite their lack of understanding.
After this, a great crowd came to Bethany to see Jesus. In Jesus’ last week before his brutal death, he shared words of hope and life.
The next day, Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, known as his “triumphal entry,” fulfilling the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. The people praised him despite his humble entrance. This entry into Jerusalem signified the beginning of the end. Jesus visited the Temple and then returned to Bethany. It was Nisan 10 when the Passover lambs were selected. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on this day was how he presented himself as Israel’s Paschal lamb who would soon take away the sins of the world.
On the way from Bethany to Jerusalem, Jesus cursed the fig tree, warning of the consequences of spiritual fruitlessness (Matthew 21:19). He challenged the Temple practice of selling on the premises—a warning against dishonest and disingenuous spiritual practices. Some of the religious leaders began to plot ways to kill him, so that evening, Jesus left Jerusalem, presumably returning to Bethany.
As the days leading up to his crucifixion and the Passover drew near, Jesus reminded his followers and the world that the way of faith looks different than the way of the world.
On the way to Jerusalem, the disciples saw the withered fig tree, and Jesus taught them the importance of their faith (Matthew 21:21)—an especially timely lesson, as he was going to leave them. Upon arriving at the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus’ authority was questioned by the religious leaders. Still, that afternoon, Jesus went up to the Mount of Olives. He taught in parables and spoke about the signs of the end of the age. He told of destruction, wars, and persecution to come, but also shared the hope of his return (Matthew 24:6). His disciples probably had little idea what he was speaking of, but he instructed them to be on their guard.
Also on that day, Jesus predicted that in two days he would be crucified at the time of the Passover. Accordingly, Judas planned the betrayal of Jesus with the religious leaders. The tension was rising, and Jesus knew, yet he continued to teach and serve.
Jesus and his disciples prepared the Passover lamb and had their seder meal together. Jesus shared heartfelt words with them and interceded on their behalf. After the meal, they arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus suffered in agony awaiting what was to come, but his closest disciples kept falling asleep! Even in the midst of his agony, hurt, and betrayal, Jesus knew that what he would accomplish on the cross would far outweigh his present suffering.
Later that night, Jesus was betrayed and arrested. He was tried by Annas, then Caiaphas, and then other religious leaders. Jesus was humiliated, degraded, and made into a laughing stock just before he experienced the worst pain imaginable on the cross—separation from God.
Early in the morning, Jesus was tried by the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod Antipas, and then Pilate again. He was tortured and beaten. He was led to the cross at 9:00 a.m, died at 3:00 p.m., and was buried later that day. The sky went dark, and the Temple curtain was torn in two.
Jesus died at the time when the Passover lambs were being sacrificed, fulfilling the Hebrew Scriptures. He endured the weight of all of humanity’s sin, the weight of cruelty, and the weight of separation from God.
Jesus’ body was in the tomb during the Sabbath, and the Pharisees employed Roman guards to keep watch over the tomb.
On Sunday, Jesus was resurrected from the dead! Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb only to find that Jesus was not there. An angel told them that he had risen! His was the first of many resurrections to come, in which it was a type of firstfruits offering, which were made the day after the Sabbath.
Jesus knew what awaited him as the Passover neared, yet he approached and endured the cross with confidence and grace. The last week of his life simultaneously shows his humanity and his divinity. Jesus’ last days led to the climax of God’s plan of redemption for humanity. From his entry into Jerusalem to his resurrection, every day of Jesus’ last week was filled with meaning, intention, and purpose. A chronological look at Jesus’ last days gives us a glance into the deep suffering yet incredible mercy of our God.
This content was adapted from an earlier Jews for Jesus article.