Holy week is the week where the Jews celebrate Passover and the Christians celebrate Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. In the Jewish calendar the feasts lead up to the celebration of passover where they celebrate the liberation from slavery in Egypt and the “passing over” of the angel of death sparing their homes by the covering of shed blood from a sacrifical lamb.
Many Christians recognize God’s feasts as given to Moses and pointing to God’s plan of salvation. Christianity claims Jesus as King of the Jews who pronounced Himself as the fulfilment of prophecy at the Feast of Tabernacles prior to His death and ultimate resurrection. On the 8th day as prescribed in Leviticus 23:36 at the height of the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles the Jewish leaders were reading the promises of God regading salvation. Isaiah 12: 3 “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.” At this moment of the celebration Jesus announces Himself as this salvation. John 7:37 If any one is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water”. This connection was not missed by the Jews and stirred up the controversy as to who Jesus was.
A few months later after raising Lazarus from the dead Jesus is ushered into Jerusalem as King of the Jews riding in on the back of a donkey as foretold in Zechariah 9:9. Jesus was coming to Jerusalem as the passover lamb. As is tradition for the Jews on the 10th day of the first month of Nisan, a lamb was taken into the home and kept there for 4 days and inspected to make sure that he had no blemish. He was then suitable to serve as the passover lamb sacrifice. So too, Jesus, on exactly the 10th day of Nisan, rode into Jerusalem, God’s home, and for the next four days he was examined and questioned by the priests to see if they could trip him up. Pilate made the declaration that he could find “no fault” in Him. To satisfy the religious leaders, he washed his hands of “personal responsibility” and delivered Jesus up to be crucified. This pure, sinless Lamb of God was then led to be crucified, and died at the exact time that the passover lamb was being sacrificed in the Temple.
His entry into Jerusalem was a detailed picture of the lamb being brought into the home for examination. Because He had raised Lazarus from the dead the week before, the crowds were claiming Him to be Messiah as He rode into the city on a donkey. They cut down branches from the brooks and ravines and laid them down at His feet, shouting out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna” (Which means, save us now) This was the greeting for the Messiah.
Now celebrated by Christians as Palm Sunday, Jesus is proclaimed as King of Israel and foretells of his death and resurrection. (see John 12:24) As commanded by God in Leviticus 23:41 we should perpetually celebrate for generations. As Christians, we share in this rich lineage and teach our children of God’s provision for His people. Giving the background and making the connection for our children to God’s feasts and Jesus’ fulfillment of God’s promise on Palm Sunday sets the grand stage for the week to come.
Maundy Thursday is the day Jesus shared the passover meal celebrating liberation from bondage and the last supper with the disciples where He washed their feet, identifies the one who will betray Him, commands the disciples to love one another, institutes the breaking of the bread and drinkng of wine to symbolize his body and blood, reveals what is to come to the disciples, tells of the Holy Spirit and His return. John 17:33 records Jesus saying “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” There are many things we can do to celebrate and teach our children about the last supper by the types of food we eat, washing the feet of our guests, and the sharing of the bread and wine to remember the broken body and blood. Do a search on the passover meal or Seder meal to find out more about the meal.
Good Friday was the day of preparation for the passover celebration and is a solemn day where we remember the trial, beating, and crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus who took the penalty of sin of the world on Himself, as God’s own sacrifical lamb. Many Christians attend a Good Friday worship service to remember. Watching portions of the Passion of the Christ brings the reality of his suffering home.
Easter Celebration – He is Risen! Celebrated by Christians as the greatest event in the history of the world where death was overcome. This fulfillment of God’s perfect plan provides redemption for all who believe. Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you shall be saved.”
Each day through the passion week take a moment to read the scriptures account, remember the events, and make this week a true celebration for the greatest act of love that redeems us for all eternity. He is risen!