Between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday, a lot happened in the life of Jesus and His followers. Let's join them on their journey through the week and experience their ups and downs in some key events. Click on the day/event below, and it will open up the story.
After they brought the colt to Jesus, they placed their prayer shawls on its back, and Jesus rode it as he descended the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem. As he rode toward the city, people spontaneously threw their prayer shawls like a carpet on the path in front of him.
As soon as he got to the bottom of the Mount of Olives, the crowd of his followers shouted with a loud outburst of ecstatic joy over all the mighty wonders of power they had witnessed. They shouted over and over, “Highest praises to God for the one who comes as King in the name of the Lord! Heaven’s peace and glory from the highest realm now comes to us!”
When they came into Jerusalem, Jesus went directly into the temple area and overturned all the tables and benches of the merchants who were doing business there. One by one he drove them all out of the temple courts, and they scattered away, including the money changers and those selling doves. And he would not allow them to use the temple courts as a thoroughfare for carrying their merchandise and their furniture.
Then he began to teach the people, saying, “Does not the Scripture say, ‘My house will be a house of prayer for all the world to share’? But you have made it a hangout of thieves!”
When the chief priests and religious scholars heard this, they began to hatch a plot as to how they could eliminate Jesus. But they feared him and his influence, because the entire crowd was totally captivated by his teaching. So he and his disciples spent the nights outside the city.
Jesus observed all the wealthy coming into the temple courts wanting to be noticed as they came with their offerings. He noticed a very poor widow who dropped two small copper coins in the offering box. “Listen to me,” he said. “This poor widow has given a larger offering than any of the wealthy. For the rich only gave out of their surplus, but she sacrificed out of her poverty and gave to God all that she had to live on.”
Some of the disciples remarked about the beauty of the temple. They pointed out all the lovely adornments and how it was built with excellence from the gifts given to God.
Jesus said, “The day of utter destruction will come to everything you admire here. It will all become a heap of rubble!”
“Master, tell us,” they asked, “when exactly will this happen? Can you tell us what warning sign to look for when it is about to take place?”
Jesus responded, “Deception will run rampant and many will appear on the scene, saying I have sent them, or saying about themselves, ‘I am the Messiah!’ These doomsday deceivers will say, ‘The end of the age is now here!’ But listen to me. Don’t let any of these imposters fool you.
“There will also be many wars and revolutions on every side, with rumors of more wars to come. Don’t panic or give in to your fears, for these things are bound to happen. This is still not the end yet.”
Jesus continued, “There will be upheavals of every kind. Nations will go to war against each other, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be terrible earthquakes and seismic events of epic proportion that result in famines in one place after another. There will be horrible plagues and epidemics, cataclysmic storms on the earth, and astonishing signs and cosmic disturbances in the heavens. But before all of this happens, you will be hunted down and arrested, persecuted by both civil and religious authorities, and thrown into prison. And because you follow me, you will be on trial before kings and governmental leaders as an opportunity to testify to them in my name. Yet determine in your hearts not to prepare for your own defense. Simply speak with the words of wisdom that I will give you that moment, and none of your persecutors will be able to withstand the grace and wisdom that comes from your mouths.
“You can expect betrayal even by your parents, your brothers, your relatives and friends—and yes, some of you will die as martyrs. You will be hated by all because of my life in you. But don’t worry. My grace will never desert you or depart from your life. Stand firm with patient endurance and you will find your souls’ deliverance.”
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you will know for sure that its devastation is imminent. At that time all who are living in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those who live inside the city gates, leave and flee, and those who live outside the city must not enter it seeking refuge. For these will be the days of God’s vengeance to fulfill what has been written against Jerusalem. It will be extremely difficult for pregnant women and for those nursing little ones in that day, for great persecution and wrath will rise against this nation. Many will be cut down by the sword or scattered as prisoners to many countries. And Jerusalem shall be trampled down by nations until the days of world empires come to an end.”
“Expect to witness amazing and perplexing signs with the sun, the moon, and the stars. The raging of the sea will bring desperation and turmoil to many nations. Earthquakes will bring panic and disaster. What men see coming to the earth will cause the fear of doom to grip their hearts, for they will even see the powers of the heavenly realm shaken!
“And at last, when you see how the Son of Man comes—surrounded with a cloud, with great power and miracles, in the radiance of his splendor, and with great glory and praises—it will make you jump for joy! For the time of your full transformation has arrived.”
Jesus gave his disciples this parable:
“Haven’t you observed that when the fig tree, or any tree, buds and blooms, the season is changing and summer is near? In the same way, when you see these prophetic signs occurring, you realize the earth is yielding to the fullness of God’s kingdom. I assure you, the end of this age will not come until all I have spoken has come to pass. Earth and sky will wear out and fade away before one word I speak loses its power or fails to accomplish its purpose.”
“Be careful that you never allow your hearts to grow cold. Be careful that you are not caught off guard, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the worries of this life, and that day will come upon you suddenly like a trap. Don’t let me come and find you drunk or living carelessly like everyone else. For that day will come as a shocking surprise to all. Keep a constant watch over your soul, and pray for the courage and grace to prevail over these things that are destined to occur and that you will stand before the presence of the Son of Man with a clear conscience.”
Each day, Jesus taught in the temple and spent his nights on the Mount of Olives. And all the people came early to the temple courts to listen to the words he taught.
As the celebration of the Passover Lamb was approaching, the Jewish religious leaders and scholars of the law continually schemed to find a way to murder Jesus without starting a riot—for they feared the crowds.
Now Jesus was in Bethany, in the home of Simon, a man Jesus had healed of leprosy. And as he was reclining at the table, a woman came into the house, with an alabaster flask filled with the highest quality of fragrant and expensive oil. She came to Jesus, and with a gesture of extreme devotion, she broke the flask and poured out the precious oil over his head. But some were highly indignant when they saw this, and they complained to one another, saying, “What a total waste! It could have been sold for a great sum, and the money could have benefited the poor.” So they scolded her harshly.
Jesus said to them, “Leave her alone! Why are you so critical of this woman? She has honored me with this beautiful act of kindness. You will always have the poor, whom you can help whenever you want, but you will not always have me. When she poured the fragrant oil over me, she was preparing my body in advance of my burial. She has done all that she could to honor me. I promise you that as this wonderful gospel spreads all over the world, the story of her lavish devotion to me will be mentioned in memory of her.”
One of the twelve apostles, Judas Iscariot, went to the leading priests to inform them of his willingness to betray Jesus into their hands. They were delighted to hear this and agreed to pay him for it. So immediately Judas began to look for the right opportunity to betray him.
As they ate, Jesus took the bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to his disciples. He said to them, “This is my body. Eat it.” Then taking the cup of wine, he gave thanks to the Father, he entered into covenant with them, saying, “This is my blood. Each of you must drink it in fulfillment of the covenant. For this is the blood that seals the new covenant. It will be poured out for many for the complete forgiveness of sins. The next time we drink this, I will be with you and we will drink it together with a new understanding in the kingdom realm of my Father.”
Then they sang a psalm and left for the Mount of Olives.
Along the way Jesus said to them, “Before the night is over, you will all desert me. This will fulfill the prophecy of the Scripture that says:
I will strike down the shepherd
and all the sheep will scatter far and wide!
“But after I am risen, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and will meet you there.”
Then Peter spoke up and said, “Even if all the rest lose courage and fall away, I will still be beside you, Jesus!”
“Are you sure, Peter?” Jesus said. “In fact, before the rooster crows a few hours from now, you will have denied me three times.”
Peter replied, “I absolutely will never deny you, even if I have to die with you!” And all the others said the same thing.
Before dawn that morning, all the chief priests and religious leaders resolved to take action against Jesus and decided that he should be executed. So they bound him and led him away to Pilate, the Roman governor.
Now, when Judas, the betrayer, saw that Jesus had been sentenced to death, remorse filled his heart. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and religious leaders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying an innocent man.”
They replied, “Why are you bothering us? That’s your problem.”
Then Judas flung the silver coins inside the temple and went out and hanged himself.
The chief priests, picking up the pieces of silver, said, “We can’t keep this, for it’s unlawful to put blood money into the temple treasury.” So after some deliberation, they decided to purchase the potter’s field of clay, to use as a cemetery for burying strangers. That’s why that land has been called “The Field of Blood.” This fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah:
They took the thirty pieces of silver,
the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
the price of a precious man,
And they bought the potter’s field,
as the Lord directed.
As Jesus stood in front of the Roman governor, Pilate asked him, “So, you are the king of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “You have just spoken it.” Then he was accused by the chief priests and religious leaders, but he remained silent.
Pilate said, “Don’t you hear these allegations?” But Jesus offered no defense to any of the charges, much to the great astonishment of Pilate.
Now, every year at Passover it was the custom of the governor to pardon a prisoner and release him to the people—anyone they wanted. And at that time, Pilate was holding in custody a notorious criminal named Jesus Barabbas. So as the crowds of people assembled outside of Pilate’s residence, he went out and offered them a choice. He asked them, “Who would you want me to release to you today, Jesus who is called Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Anointed One?” (Now, Pilate was fully aware that the religious leaders had handed Jesus over to him because of their bitter jealousy.)
Just then, as Pilate was presiding over the tribunal, his wife sent him an urgent message: “Don’t harm that holy man, for I suffered a horrible nightmare last night about him!”
Meanwhile, the chief priest and the religious leaders were inciting the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be freed and to have Jesus killed. So Pilate asked them again, “Which of the two men would you like me to release for you?”
They shouted, “Barabbas.”
Pilate asked them, “Then what would you have me to do with Jesus who is called the Anointed One?”
They all shouted back, “Crucify him!”
“Why?” Pilate asked. “What has he done wrong?”
But they kept shouting out, “Crucify him!”
When Pilate realized that a riot was about to break out and that it was useless to try to reason with the crowd, he sent for a basin of water. After washing his hands in front of the people, he said, “I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man. The responsibility for his death is now yours!”
And the crowd replied, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”
So he released Barabbas to the people. He ordered that Jesus be beaten with a whip of leather straps embedded with metal, and afterward be crucified. Then the guards took him into their military compound, where a detachment of nearly six hundred soldiers surrounded him.
They stripped off his clothing and placed a scarlet robe on him to make fun of him. Then they braided a crown of thorns and forcefully shoved it onto his head. After placing a reed staff in his right hand, they knelt down before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Then they spat in his face and took the reed staff from his hand and hit him repeatedly on his head, driving the crown of thorns deeper. When they finished ridiculing him, they took off the scarlet robe and put his own clothes back on him and led him away to be crucified. And as they came out of the city, they stopped an African man named Simon, from Libya, and compelled him to carry the cross for Jesus.
They brought Jesus to Golgotha, which means “Skull Hill.” And there the soldiers offered him a mild painkiller, a drink of wine mixed with gall, but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.
Then they crucified Jesus, nailing his hands and feet to the cross. The soldiers divided his clothing among themselves by rolling dice to see who would win them. And the soldiers stood there to watch what would happen and to keep guard over him. Above his head they placed a sign that read, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of Israel.”
Two criminals were also crucified with Jesus, one on each side of him. And those who passed by shook their heads and ridiculed him, saying, “We heard you boast that you could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days! Why don’t you save yourself now? If you’re really God’s Son, come down from the cross!”
Even the ruling priests, with the Jewish scholars and religious leaders, joined in the mockery and kept on saying, “He saved others, but he can’t even save himself! Israel’s king, is he? He should pull out the nails and come down from the cross right now; then we’ll believe in him! He puts his trust in God, so let’s see if it’s true, and see if God really wants to rescue him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”
Even the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus began to taunt him, hurling their insults on him.
For three hours, beginning at noon, a sudden and unexpected darkness came over the earth. And at three o’clock Jesus shouted with a mighty voice in Aramaic, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”—that is, “My God, My God, why have you deserted me?” Some who were standing near the cross misunderstood and said, “He’s calling for Elijah.” One bystander ran and got a sponge, soaked it with sour wine, then put it on a stick and held it up for Jesus to drink. But the rest said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah comes to rescue him.”
Jesus passionately cried out, took his last breath, and gave up his spirit.
At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth shook violently, rocks were violently split apart, and graves were opened. Then many of the holy ones who had died were brought back to life and came out of their graves. And after Jesus’ resurrection, they were seen by many people walking in Jerusalem.
Now, when the Roman military officer and his soldiers witnessed what was happening and felt the powerful earthquake, they were extremely terrified. They said, “There is no doubt, this man was the Son of God!”
Watching from a distance were many of the women who had followed him from Galilee and given him support. Among them were Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of Jacob and Joseph; and the mother of Jacob and John.
At the end of the day, a wealthy man named Joseph, a follower of Jesus from the village of Ramah, approached Pilate and asked if he could take custody of the body of Jesus. So Pilate consented and ordered that the body be given to him. 59 Then Joseph wrapped the body in a shroud of fine linen and placed it in his own unused tomb, which had only recently been cut into the rock. They rolled a large stone to seal the entrance of the tomb and left.
Sitting across from the tomb were Mary Magdalene and the other Marys, watching all that took place.
The next day, the day after Preparation Day for Passover, the chief priests and the Pharisees went together to Pilate. They said to him, “Our master, we remember that this imposter claimed that he would rise from the dead after three days. So please, order the tomb to be sealed until after the third day. Seal it so that his disciples can’t come and steal the corpse and tell people he rose from the dead. Then the last deception would be worse than the first!”
“I will send soldiers to guard the tomb,” Pilate replied. “Go with them and make the tomb as secure as possible.” So they left and sealed the stone, and Pilate’s soldiers secured the tomb.
Very early Sunday morning, before sunrise, Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb. And when she arrived she discovered that the stone that sealed the entrance to the tomb was moved away! So she went running as fast as she could to go tell Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. She told them, “They’ve taken the Lord’s body from the tomb, and we don’t know where he is!”
Then Peter and the other disciple jumped up and ran to the tomb to go see for themselves. They started out together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He didn’t enter the tomb, but peeked in, and saw only the linen cloths lying there. Then Peter came behind him and went right into the tomb. He too noticed the linen cloths lying there, but the burial cloth that had been on Jesus’ head had been rolled up and placed separate from the other cloths.
Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first went in, and after one look, he believed! For until then they hadn’t understood the Scriptures that prophesied that he was destined to rise from the dead. Puzzled, Peter and the other disciple then left and went back to their homes.
Mary arrived back at the tomb, broken and sobbing. She stooped to peer inside, and through her tears she saw two angels in dazzling white robes, sitting where Jesus’ body had been laid—one at the head and one at the feet!
“Dear woman, why are you crying?” they asked.
Mary answered, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.”
Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realize that it was him!
He said to her, “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Mary answered, thinking he was only the gardener, “Sir, if you have taken his body somewhere else, tell me, and I will go and . . .”
“Mary,” Jesus interrupted her.
Turning to face him, she said, “Rabboni!” (Aramaic for “My teacher!”)