The final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry is recorded in Scripture, so here’s the final week, the Passion Week of Jesus Christ.
After having been up all night, Jesus stood in front of the Sanhedrin while one false witness after another lied about Him, but Jesus remained silent through it all, so Caiaphas the High Priest angrily asked Him, are “you the Christ, the Son of God?” to which Jesus said, “You have said so.” After that, the high priest tore his clothes, and one by one, they came up to Jesus and hurled insults at Him, spit in His face, slapped Him, and struck Him several times.
“Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him” (Matt 26:65-67).
The Jews condemned Jesus at an illegal trial in the middle of the night. They used false witnesses to testify against Him, and they accused Jesus of being God, which by the way, He is, however they really didn’t understand that this was the very reason Jesus came to be born into human flesh. He came to live a sinless life of perfection, then fall into the hands of the religious leaders, suffer from the scourging by the Romans, and die in agony on the cross. But that was not the end of Jesus as everyone had thought because three days later, Jesus would be raised to life, and it would change the world forever.
There was nothing good about this Friday at all, at least for Jesus or His followers. As they watched Jesus hang on the cross in agony for hours, 3 hours of darkness overcame the land. Then, around 3pm, just when the Jews were killing the Passover lambs, Jesus yield His spirit to the Father. Then there was a faint rumble…then boom, a great earthquake, and suddenly some of the saints of old came out of their graves, many in Jerusalem seeing them. When the Roman centurion saw all that had happened, he fell on his knees, realizing that this Man truly was the Son of God!
“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 26:51-54).
It is no coincidence that the very time Jesus died on the cross, around 3pm, was the very time the Passover lambs were being sacrificed, but no sacrifice would match that of Jesus! He died once and for all who would trust in Him. Apparently, the Roman centurion came to believe. When he witnessed all of the supernatural events, like the three hours of darkness, the mighty earthquake, and reports of the dead being raised, he and those with him were suddenly convinced that Jesus was the Son of God. The Romans had done hundreds and hundreds of executions by the cross, but never had anything like this happened before…or since.
As the two women came to anoint the dead body of Jesus, they must have wondered how they were going to get into the tomb to anoint His body since they couldn’t move the stone from where Jesus was laid. Then, there was a great earthquake and when the two women arrived, they noticed that the stone had been rolled away and an angel of God and he announced that Jesus wasn’t there…He was risen!
“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay” (Matt 28:5-6).
The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and since Jesus only took upon Himself our sins, and was sinless Himself, then there was no way death could hold Him. The Apostle Peter declared, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24). The saints being raised after the great earthquake may be God’s way of telling us that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection has broken the curse of sin and has now made eternal life possible for all who trust in Him. Now, not even death can separate us from Him (Rom 8:38-39). Jesus said God is the God of the living and not the dead (Luke 20:38).
All the disciples, except for Thomas, were hiding out behind locked doors, perhaps thinking that they’d be next. Many of them looked as if Jesus’ death had dashed all their hopes. Now they were sitting there with the windows closed and the doors locked… hiding from the Jews, but suddenly…Jesus appears out of nowhere!
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19-20).
Jesus had been speaking to His disciples about going up to Jerusalem to suffer, and die, and then being raised on the third day, but they just couldn’t understand it or at least, they couldn’t accept it, and they were even afraid to ask Him about it. They had heard Him talk about these things, but they were afraid to ask Him about it (Mark 9:32), so really, they wouldn’t have understood all of this until after Jesus had been raised from the dead. By then, they understood, and they made sure everyone else understood it too. They went out into all the world and preached the gospel (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), and they’re still doing that through their gospels and their letters in the New Testament. They still have good news for everyone: He is risen! And because He lives, we can live too…with Him…forever!
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.