Holy Week, Timeline and Details

Holy week

The Christian Holy Week is the week immediately prior to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Holy week begins with Palm Sunday and ends on Resurrection Sunday, which is the most important day on the Christian calendar. The Holy Week timeline and details have utmost theological importance. The movements, actions, and statements of Jesus and his disciples during Holy Week are of great importance. So what happened during the final week before the resurrection of Jesus, popularly known as Holy Week?

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What follows is a general timeline of Holy Week culminating in Resurrection Sunday.

Palm Sunday of Holy Week

The Sunday that kicks off Holy Week is known as Palm Sunday. It's called this because of the Palm branches that were laid on the path that Jesus rode the donkey on his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

  • Jesus sends disciples to go get him a colt from the village
  • Jesus' triumphant entrance into Jerusalem on the colt
  • Jesus spends the night in Bethany
  • Matthew 21:1-3
  • Luke 19:29
  • Mark 11:1
  • John 12:12

Monday of Holy Week

  • Jesus leaves Bethany
  • Jesus curses the fig tree on the way into the city
  • Jesus weeps over Jerusalem
  • Jesus cleanses the temple for the second time in His ministry
  • Late in the day, Jesus looks into the Temple, then leaves the city
  • Jesus spends the night in Bethany
  • Matthew 21:12
  • Mark 11:22
  • Luke 19:45

Tuesday of Holy Week

  • Jesus leaves Bethany
  • Jesus finds the fig tree withered; teaches on faith
  • Jesus possesses the temple and its precincts; confounds and pronounces woes upon His enemies
  • Jesus leaves city; Olivet Discourse on way back to Bethany
  • Judas bargains with Sanhedrin to betray Jesus
  • Jesus spends the night in Bethany
  • Matthew 21:20
  • Mark 11:22
  • Luke 20:36
  • John 12:20

Wednesday of Holy Week (Silent Wednesday)

  • No event recorded
  • Jesus remains in Bethany throughout the day, spends the night in Bethany.

Thursday of Holy Week (Passover)

  • Peter and John sent to make preparation for Passover meal
  • After sunset, Jesus eats a meal with the twelve; washes disciples' feet; Judas departs
  • Lord's Supper instituted
  • Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane; Jesus' agony.
  • Under intense stress and fear, and understanding the imminent sacrifice of his brutal torment, Jesus experienced a medical condition known as hematidrosis during which he was sweating blood (Luke 22:44). This would be extremely consistent with the level of anguish as relayed by Matthew (Matthew 26:38) and Mark (Mark 14:34). It is also extremely consistent with our current medical understanding. Hematidrosis is caused by the rupture of tiny capillaries near sweat glands.
  • Around 1am: "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Jesus (Mark 14:34)
  • Betrayal by Judas; arrested by Sanhedrin
  • To house of High Priest as Sanhedrin is convened; Peter betrays Jesus
  • Matthew 26:1
  • Mark 14:1
  • Luke 22:1

Friday of Holy Week (Good Friday)

  • The Trials of Jesus
  • The 1st trial, before Annas [nighttime hours]; Annas is looking for an accusation, biding time till Sanhedrin is gathered at High Priestly villa
  • The 2nd [and primary] trial before Sanhedrin, Jesus is condemned, misused
  • The 3rd trial, immediately at dawn [meanwhile, Peter denies Jesus a third time; Jesus looks upon him]; the condemnation repeated, then Jesus was taken to the Romans
  • The 4th trial before Pilate [till "beginning at Galilee"]
  • The 5th trial before Herod [looks for miracle]
  • The 6th trial before Pilate
  • Jesus is scourged; the city cries, "Crucify Him or we will tell Rome!"
  • Jesus is finally turned over to be crucified
  • Jesus mocked (Roman soldiers); the crown of thorns
  • Judas hangs himself
  • Jesus bears His cross to gate on the north of the city and is crucified around 9am
  • Jesus' Seven Sayings from the Cross"
    * Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
    * "Today you will be with me in paradise" (after one of the thieves repents)
    * "Woman, behold thy son..."
    (Darkness noon to 3pm)
    * "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?"
    * "I thirst."
    * "It is finished."
    * "Into thy hands I commit my spirit."
  • The Death of the God-Man
  • About 3pm; the veil was torn, rocks rent; some graves opened and people rise [to mortality] and go into the city
  • Jesus' side was pierced
  • Passover lambs were slain in the temple
  • Jesus was buried by sundown
  • Matthew 26:1
  • Mark 14:53
  • Luke 22:54
  • John 18:13

Saturday of Holy Week (In the Tomb)

  • At the request of the Jewish leadership, Pilate grants a guard and sets a seal on the tomb of Jesus
  • Matthew 27:66

Resurrection Sunday of Holy Week

Some don't include Sunday as one of the days of Holy Week. However, since it is the crescendo of the greatest news humanity has ever heard - all human sins are forgiven if we accept Jesus, the savior - it should, without a doubt, be included. If the events surrounding the resurrection and the resurrection itself seems implausible to you and you have an open mind to consider the evidence why many believe it to have happened, you may check out the reasons to trust the reasons to trust the resurrection of Jesus.

  • Jesus Christ rises from the dead (before dawn) and makes five appearances on the day of His rising:
    * to Mary Magdalene [given a message to the disciples]
    * to the other women who come to the tomb [intending to complete the burial preparation of His body]
    * to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus
    * to Simon Peter [nowhere recorded, but alluded to in Luke 24:33 and 1 Corinthians 1:5]
    * to the astonished disciples [Thomas is absent]
  • Matthew 28:1
  • Mark 16:1
  • Luke 24:1
  • John 20:1

It's noteworthy that the first-century Jewish day/night cycles were from sundown to sundown. The slaying of the lambs between the evenings on Nisan 14 would have taken place on Friday afternoon, consistent with what is relayed in John 18:28. However, the day/night cycles of the Galilean Jews were likely from sunup to sunup. In this case, the slaying of the lambs on Nisan 14 would have taken place on Thursday afternoon, which is when Jesus and his disciples had the feast. In either case, the modern day/night cycle would need to be offset to account for these differences.

  • So explain this to me, how does Friday Saturday and Rosen on Sunday equal three days and three nights, like Jesus foretold of His death in Matthew 12:40. Jesus says, for just as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. By your math, you count Friday as a day, He was barley in there before sunset, so that can’t count as a day. Saturday is the only “day” he is in the tomb by your math, because he was Risen by or at Sunrise on Sunday. Plus have you checked the Jewish calendar for what day Passover was?

    • Thanks for the question, Robert. There are various things to consider. First, it’s important to distinguish between the modern week of celebration (arrived at through tradition) and how the original timing may have worked out. They may be one and the same but they don’t necessarily have to be. For example, the Western celebration of Christmas may be one tradition that is likely not consistent with the original timing of the event (we don’t know when Jesus was born). But even more importantly, it’s highly significant to read literature properly by considering both the cultural contextual understanding of word usage and figures of speech/thought. Lastly, it’s highly significant to avoid pouring Western modern-day understandings of concepts and imposing them on a cultural setting thousands of years ago in the East – such impositions often die the death of a thousand cuts.

      Even in modern Western parlance, we use so many figures of speech without even thinking of them. If we were to take them all so literalistically, we’d be beyond confused. We’ve just gotten so used to them, we don’t really even acknowledge/realize we’re using them. No, cats and dogs don’t literally fall from the sky when it’s raining. No, sunset does not literally mean that the sun rises (the planet rotates to expose it). When kids learn ABCs in school, they are not literally learning just the ‘A’ the ‘B’ and only the ‘C.’ “Snail mail” does not literally mean that snails are delivering our envelopes. So on and so forth.

      There are various ways in which to understand the timing. Here are two articles that may help to provide more depth on that front: https://www.compellingtruth.org/Jesus-crucified-Friday.html and https://www.gotquestions.org/three-days.html . These speak to the Samaritan/Jewish calendar and how to reconcile that.

      As far as the actual “day and night” is concerned, first, Jesus is likely using “three days and three nights” as an emphatic hyperbole to parallel Jonah. Such figures of speech are actually used all throughout the Bible so it’s not an exception to the general way the biblical narratives unfold and it’s nothing novel. Second, if you do a deep word study of the Greek text (see the Blue Letter Bible), you see some interesting in one of the entries for this passage: “Eastern usage of this term differs from our western usage. Any part of a day is counted as a whole day, hence the expression “three days and three nights” does not mean literally three whole days, but at least one whole day plus part of two other days.” So now, we have at least two reasons NOT to hold a strict Western ultra-literalistic view of “day” as strictly being a full 24-hour period and impose it on people and authors speaking and writing in an entirely different cultural context thousands of years removed.

      I would go further and argue that this timing “issue” is not even significant. If Jesus rose from the dead, and there is more than ample evidence for this, then this timing issue that is supposed to be a problem does not matter one iota. Even in the absence of ways to resolve such issues, if such a tremendous miracle has already happened, and Jesus proved his deity by his resurrection which verified his central claims, it’s far more important to consider what he has to say on matters of the ultimate destiny of each and every person. The passage you cited, continues with Jesus speaking of judgment and repentance – these are far more significant to think about as we each consider our place in the world and our standing with the God who created us. Happy Easter!

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