“He shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs…” (Acts 1:3).
The week before the Lord’s sacrificial death and glorious resurrection is known as “passion week”—His week of suffering. Acts chapter one describes how the 11 disciples met with Jesus following His “passion” and resurrection, before His ascension into heaven. During those days He gave many “infallible proofs”—convincing evidence—that He was God’s true Messiah raised from the grave. Jesus was “appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
The Lord’s Passion Week comprised the eight days from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. The New Testament gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, highlight the important events in His life each day leading to His resurrection early on Easter Sunday morning.
Why not begin preparing your heart for Easter Sunday, April 12th, by reading the Scripture accounts of this week, beginning Palm Sunday, April 5th? If you want to understand what His “passion” included, read your Bible in this order:
PALM SUNDAY – Mark 11:1-11; Matthew 21:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19.
MONDAY – Mark 11:12-19; Matthew 21:12-19; Luke 19:45-48.
TUESDAY – Mark 11:20—14:11; Matthew 21:19—26:16; John 12:20-50.
WEDNESDAY – Mark 14:12-72; Matthew 26:17—27:1; John 13:1—18:27.
THURSDAY – Mark 15:1-46; Matthew 27:1-60; John 18:28—19:42.
FRIDAY/SATURDAY – Mark 15:47; Matthew 27:61-66; Luke 23:55-56.
EASTER SUNDAY – Mark 16:1-14; Matthew 28:1-15; Luke 24:1-43; John 20:1-25.
It will touch your heart to follow the words and life of Christ during Passion Week. If you will read the selected passages of Scripture daily, and allow the Author of the Book, the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16-17) to communicate His truth to your spirit, you will be blessed.
The final, painful week of Christ’s earthly life began on Palm Sunday. But when you read the biblical account of Palm Sunday, it seems to paint a scene of celebration instead of a portrait of dread. That day in Jerusalem was the beginning of the week of Passover – the high point of the Jewish calendar. Worshipers from the world over came to celebrate this special week. The historian, Josephus, recorded that the population of Jerusalem during Passover often approached one million.
The gospel writers describe how Jesus, on Palm Sunday, entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, amid shouts of praise. Luke stated that Jesus came to Jerusalem, “near the descent of the Mount of Olives” and “the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice” (Luke 19:37). Matthew added that, “Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.” The huge crowds were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:8-9). “Hosanna” meant, “save now,” and these people, under the hand of an oppressive Roman government, wanted national salvation from that tyranny. They did not understand that the first coming of Jesus was to offer spiritual salvation from a worse tyrant.
The rejoicing multitudes thought Christ’s entrance signaled the return of the Jewish Kingdom—“They supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately” (Luke 19:11). The truth became obvious a few days later, when shouts of “Hosanna” on Sunday, turned to cries of “Crucify Him” on Thursday. Israel longed for the kingly-Messiah, who would break the chains of Rome—but Jesus came as the suffering-Messiah, who would shatter the shackles of sin.
As a nation, Israel missed the fact that the Messiah came first to be a sacrifice for sin. In 750 BC, Isaiah had written about the Messiah: “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:5-6).
That Jesus came first as a suffering Messiah—but will return as a ruling Messiah—was totally missed by Israel on Palm Sunday. Jesus had tried to correct those who thought He would rule and reign at that time, by giving a parable that began, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself; and then return” (Luke 19:23). He will rule and reign, but not until after He was crucified and resurrected. So: First the cross—then the crown.
As the crowds cheered Him on Palm Sunday, Jesus saw what was soon to come on them, and wept. Luke wrote, “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes’” (Luke 19:41-42). Palm Sunday proved to be, instead of the awesome reception of Jesus, the awful rejection of Him as their Messiah.
However, this event was perfect in the plan of God because He was crucified and resurrected so that believers can be redeemed. Jesus was rejected and suffered for our sins on the cross so that we might be saved, forgiven and accepted by God. Scripture records: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
What at first appeared to be a glorious welcome to Jesus on Palm Sunday was, in fact, the first day of Christ’s week of passion and ultimate death on the cross. But, thank God, His rejection on Palm Sunday was followed by His resurrection on Easter Sunday!