The final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry is recorded in Scripture, so here’s the final week, the Passion Week of Jesus Christ.
In the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He sat there speaking to His disciples about the coming destruction of the Temple in His Olivet Discourse, and while prophesying about the many events that would lead up to His second coming, Judas was secretly meeting with the Sanhedrin about how he could betray Jesus. Even though Judas had no idea how his great evil would be, neither would he imagine the great good his evil deed would do. Jesus however, knew all about it.
“Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him” (Matt 26:14-16).
Jesus was betrayed by Judas for thirty pieces of silver which was about the price of a slave. Perhaps Judas thought he was doing the right thing in forcing Jesus’ hand, but in fact, Judas was fulfilling prophecies, and one known by Jesus and recorded by the psalmist was that “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9). That “close friend” was Judas.
As Jesus was staying in Bethany, Mary came to anoint Jesus with a precious ointment. What an exceedingly generous gift Mary had given, but Judas knew it was worth about a year’s wages, so Judas seethed with anger because he knew how much money he could have made by selling the precious ointment. It was made from pure nard, a very expensive extract, and he was angry at wasting it…not for the poor’s sake, but because he was the keeper of the money. Not long afterwards, Judas secretly met with the Sanhedrin on how he might turn Jesus over to the Jews.
“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:3-6).
There isn’t much from Scripture about what happened on Wednesday of the Passion Week. All we can surmise from the timeline is that Jesus spent the night in Bethany, but Jesus’ mind was fully set on Calvary. He knew this was the reason He came to earth. He and the Father had agreed from before time began to purchase those whom God would save through His own blood, so even though the Scriptures are silent about what happened on Wednesday of the Passion Week, this must have been a day and night where Jesus spent time in prayer, but the question is, did Mary know something the disciples didn’t know? Like the fact that Jesus was going to die and be buried? Perhaps, but the ointment may have come from her dowry, so she gave all she had because Jesus would give His own life.
John and Peter walked into that small city until they found a man who they believed was the man Jesus was talking about. They remembered Jesus’ telling them to meet a man and tell him, “The Teacher says, ‘My time is at hand.’” When the man showed them to an upper room, they began to make preparations for the Passover Meal, just as Jesus had instructed them.
“Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover” (Matt 26:17-19).
Scripture doesn’t reveal much of anything until early Thursday when Jesus tells Peter and John to go and make preparations for the Passover Meal. Jesus must have made an arrangement with the man ahead of time, because the disciples found that an upper room had already been reserved for them, and the man who Jesus told Peter and John to look for must have been expecting them. Even so, the disciples were always slow in getting what Jesus was teaching them…but instead of asking how they could be like that, I ask myself, how am I like that?.
Judas left the Passover Meal and entered into the darkness of night. He went to the temple under cover of night to work out a deal with the religious leaders. They were delighted that Judas had come to betray Jesus so they gave him a bag with 30 pieces of silver inside.
“He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Matt 26:23-24).
For a mere 30 pieces of silver, Judas was betraying the Son of God, not knowing that he was fulfilling prophecies, like in the Book of Psalms which says, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9). It’s interesting that Judas went out into the darkness, for this was the darkest of nights. A night were evil would reign; a night the Son of God would be betrayed, but of course, God uses evil for good (Gen 50:20; John 3:16), and Judas’ evil fulfilled God’s redemptive plan to perfection, and that plan was to have Jesus come and give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). That would bring the best of news to those who would trust in Him.
After sunset, Jesus sat down with the disciples to eat the Passover Meal and He told them about a new covenant that would provide for the forgiveness of sins, but only through His own shed blood. What puzzled looks there must have been on the disciples’ faces? When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, he came to peter, and Peter refused Him (John 13:8). Jesus knew that only later would Peter really understand what He was teaching them.
Matthew 26:26-28 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Jesus introduced something totally new on this Passover night. He introduced them to a new covenant which didn’t require animal sacrifices, but instead, the giving of His own body as the sacrifice…and this new covenant made the forgiveness of sins possible. The disciples must have still struggled to understand this, along with His coming betrayal. They expected Jesus to live and reign over Israel forever, not die on a cross. They hadn’t fully grasped that God’s purpose was to have Jesus come and serve, and to give His life as a ransom to redeem many. Jesus, in washing the disciples’ feet, gave them the greatest example of serving…He being God, took the position of a servant. He had told them before that the greatest among them will be the servant of all (Matt 23:11), and here He gives the greatest example of all.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.