Archives For Easter Primer

Stott summarizes three truths enforced by the cross:

  1. Our sin must be extremely horrible.
  2. God’s love must be wonderful beyond comprehension.
  3. Christ’s salvation must be a free gift.

Stott writes:

In conclusion, the cross enforces three truths – about ourselves, about God and about Jesus Christ. First, our sin must be extremely horrible. Nothing reveals the gravity of sin like the cross. For ultimately what sent Christ there was neither the greed of Judas, nor the envy of the priests, nor the vacillating cowardice of Pilate, but our own greed, envy, cowardice and other sins, and Christ’s resolve in love and mercy to bear their judgment and so put them away. It is impossible for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not to feel ashamed of ourselves. Apathy, selfishness and complacency blossom everywhere in the world except at the cross. There these noxious weeds shrivel and die. They are seen for the tatty, poisonous things they are. For if there was no way by which the righteous God could righteously forgive our unrighteousness, except that he should bear it himself in Christ, it must be serious indeed. It is only when we see this that, stripped of our self-righteousness and self-satisfaction, we are ready to put our trust in Jesus Christ as the Saviour we urgently need.

Secondly, God’s love must be wonderful beyond comprehension. God could quite justly have abandoned us to our fate. He could have left us alone to reap the fruit of our wrongdoing and to perish in our sins. It is what we deserved. But he did not. Because he loved us, he came after us in Christ. He pursued us even to the desolate anguish of the cross, where he bore our sin, guilt, judgment and death. It takes a hard and stony heart to remain unmoved by love like that. It is more than love. Its proper name is ‘grace’, which is love to the undeserving.

Thirdly, Christ’s salvation must be a free gift. He ‘purchased’ it for us at the high price of his own life-blood. So what is there left for us to pay? Nothing! Since he claimed that all was now ‘finished’, there is nothing for us to contribute. Not of course that we now have a license to sin and can always count on God’s forgiveness. On the contrary, the same cross of Christ, which is the ground of a free salvation, is also the most powerful incentive to a holy life. But this new life follows. First, we have to humble ourselves at the foot of the cross, confess that we have sinned and deserve nothing at his hand but judgment, thank him that he loved us and died for us, and receive from him a full and free forgiveness.

Against this self-humbling our ingrained pride rebels. We resent the idea that we cannot earn – or even contribute to – our own salvation. So we stumble, as Paul put it, over the stumbling-block of the cross.

Our church is making a special effort to be cross-centered this year as we celebrate Holy Week. A very helpful way to prepare for Good Friday and Easter Sunday is to study Luke’s Travel Narrative. I will be preaching on the healing of the 10 lepers on Sunday and there is a D.A. Carson sermon below that you can watch.

Luke 9:51-19:44, sometimes called Luke’s “Travel Narrative” is a section of Luke’s gospel that emphasizes Jesus’s determination to go to the cross.[1]

For a great introduction to Luke’s Travel Narrative, watch D.A. Carson’s sermon from The Gospel Coalition 2014, “Jesus’s Resolve to Go to Jerusalem.”

Jesus’ Resolve to Head Toward Jerusalem – Don Carson (TGC13) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Throughout the “Travel Narrative” Luke returns reminds his readers that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. Notice these verses:

 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51

He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. Luke 13:22

 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. Luke 17:11

 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. Luke 18:31

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. Luke 19:28

 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Luke 19:41-42.

 Luke’s agenda is to show Jesus determination to go to Golgotha.[2]The point of the travel emphasis is not to trace a geographical route. The person who focuses on a map misses the point. Rather than a list of places, seventeen parables dominate this section[3] and, interestingly, Luke mentions few miracles in this segment.[4]

Green lists 5 points of emphasis in his Travel Narrative:[5]

  1. With Christ, salvation is coming in its fullness to all people, which Green regards as the overall theme of Luke-Acts.[6] See Luke 19:10!*
  2. The expectation was that Mary’s son would be the cause of division in Israel. Those who read this section closely notice the hostility of the religious leaders builds as Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem. By the time he arrives, things move to a murderous crescendo.
  3. Jesus, in order to fulfill God’s purpose, must suffer rejection and be killed. Likewise, Christ’s followers must enter the kingdom through many persecutions (Acts 14:22).
  4. The “journey” to Jerusalem is a time of intensive training for the disciples who are surprisingly obtuse. Much of the content of this section is very didactic or instructional.
  5. Progress is being made in an incredible way for God’s unfolding plan of buying his people back from their bondage to sin..

*As noted in point #1 above, one aspect of the beauty of Luke’s Travel Narrative is that it anticipates the gospel going to all nations. Immediately after Jesus sets his face on Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), the Samaritans reject Christ because of his commitment to Jerusalem. Echoing 2 Kings 1, the James and John offer to call down fire (Luke 9:51-56). This is not altogether surprising since this follows the Transfiguration and recalling that Elijah did call down fire on blasphemous Samaritans (2 Kings 1).

However, with their suggestion of fire from heaven, James and John demonstrate that they fundamentally misunderstand the nature of Christ’s Kingdom. To be sure, God’s judgment was coming. But Jesus was going to take the penalty for sin upon himself on the cross so that the Gospel could go out to Samaria (Acts 1:6-8). Jesus rebukes James and John and goes to the cross to take the fire on him so that the gospel might go out to Samaria and all the world. (See my sermon on 2/16/14, “Fixed on the Cross I: Two Passages to Know on Holy Week”).


[1] Darrel L. Bock, Luke 9:51-24:53, ed. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 957. See also D.A. Carson, “Jesus’ Resolve to Head Toward Jerusalem” (presented at the The Gospel Coalition, Orlando, Florida, April 9, 2013), http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/entry/jesus_resolve_to_head_toward_jerusalem. Green points to this list of travel allusions: 9:51, 53, 56, 57; 10:1, 38; 13:22, 23; 14:25; 17:11; 18:31, 35-36; 19:1, 11, 28, 39, 37, 41, 45. Green, The Gospel of Luke, 398, n. 12.

[2] Green, The Gospel of Luke, 399.

[3] Ibid., 398.

[4] Bock, Luke 9:51-24:53, 960.

[5] Green, The Gospel of Luke, 394–399.

[6] Ibid., 394.

Who Gets Helped by Jesus?

Chris —  March 19, 2014

Are you the sort who gets helped by Jesus? How well do you fit with the below group?

You can listen to the sermon I preached on Luke 17:11-19 and the lepers who call out to Jesus from a distance here.

Four times in the Gospel of Luke Jesus encourages people that their faith has saved them. It is instructive to meditate on the kinds of people Jesus helps. Below is a screenshot from my study notes.

"Your Faith Has Saved You!"

Andreas KöstenbergerOn March 2, I posted 7 Reasons to Read the Final Days of Jesus. Today Andreas Köstenberger answers questions regarding this new book he co-wrote with Justin Taylor. The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived is a great resource to use in preparation for Holy Week. A free study guide is available. I previously interviewed Justin.

Your book cites very specific dates for Holy Week (March 29-April 5 AD 33). Do you think it’s important to use exact dates? Are you fairly confident those are the correct?

Well, as a biblical scholar, and as a Christian, I want to know what I can know about the Bible and about the life of Jesus as precisely as possible. On the one hand, I want to be honest with the limitations we have with regard to the available evidence, but on the other hand, I want to use the evidence we have to the fullest extent possible to determine a given piece of information, such as the dates for Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Also, my experience has been that many use dates; it’s just that some reconstructions seem to be backed up by evidence better than others.

I think the fact that Luke, in particular, correlated the coming of Jesus Christ with other historical data such as the reign of Tiberius tells us that he himself was concerned to give us precise information about important salvation-historical events such as the beginning of the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus. So I feel that in seeking to determine the precise dates of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection we are in good company and have biblical precedent. While I would not want to stake my life on those dates, I think these kinds of responsible reconstructions commend the Christian faith to seekers or doubters and underscore the historical nature of Christianity.

You mention two ways to read the Gospels: horizontally and vertically. What’s the difference between these two techniques?

Reading the Gospels horizontally means to see how each Gospel relates to the others, as complementary witnesses to the same set of historical events and statements. Take the various accounts of Jesus’ resurrection appearances, for example. None of the Gospels gives us all of these appearances, but Matthew, Luke, and John each have some. Reading the Gospels horizontally will give you all the information across the board, which is obviously very valuable, because that way you’ll know all that the Bible says about this particular set of events.

Reading the Gospels vertically means reading each Gospel from beginning to end as independent, self-contained narratives of the life of Jesus. This kind of reading capitalizes on the insight that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each told their own story, and we must respect the literary and theological integrity of their work. As we read the Gospels vertically, we will get a better sense of their respective emphases. For example, Mark does not feature any resurrection appearances though he does end his Gospel at the empty tomb. So we should ask, “Why did Mark write his Gospel in this way?”

Jesus spent a long time teaching his disciples on the night before his death. What did he focus on in this teaching? How can our knowledge of this change the way we live today?

Jesus taught on a few important subjects. Let me mention three. First, he taught his followers about love. He showed them that it is because of love that he went to the cross, and so anyone who would follow in his footsteps must likewise be a man or woman of love. Second, he taught his followers how to continue in close relationship with him now that he was going to return to the Father. He told them is that they would receive the indwelling Holy Spirit and that they must remain faithful to Jesus’ teachings and share the good news with others. Third, he taught his followers about the need for believing prayer in his name. As they embarked on their mission, they could ask Jesus for the resources they would need, and he would supply them with everything they needed to complete their mission. Taking to heart what Jesus taught his first followers will encourage us to become people of love, to continue in close relationship with him, and to appropriate his resources as we go about his mission.

What was one thing you learned from Justin during this project?

Just one thing? I learned a lot from Justin, but one thing that particularly comes to mind is that he really has a passion to help people in the churches and serious Bible students grasp aspects of the Christian faith more deeply and more precisely. He consistently challenged me to communicate clearly and to use responsible scholarship to answer real questions and to help us connect the dots in the biblical story.

Justin-Taylor-On March 2, I posted 7 Reasons to Read the Final Days of Jesus. Today Justin Taylor answers questions regarding this new book he co-wrote with Andreas Kostenberger. The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived is a great resource to use in preparation for Holy Week. A free study guide is available.

Do you think not meditating enough on Holy Week is a common problem in our churches? Why is it important to study the events of the last week of Jesus’s life?

I certainly don’t think evangelicals are in danger of meditating too much on Holy Week. We tend to think, by default, that this is something reserved for more liturgical churches that celebrate Holy Days. But if the subtitle of our book is true—if this really is “the most important week of the most important person who ever lived”—then it is well worth our efforts not only to read through these accounts, and not only to do so once a year, but to make it a part of our best meditation throughout our Christian lives. As we witness these final days, every action and word of Jesus counts. He is setting things in motion to bring the conflict to a resolution and to accomplish our very salvation. By watching him closely in action, through the reading of his Word, we can grow in true worship of our incomparable Savior!

Has your opinion on the order of events changed much from what you’ve written in previous blog posts during Holy Week?

No, not radically. But one of the things that I’ve seen in working on this project is that there’s always more to see in what we see. If I can compare it to watching television, it’s the difference in going from a show in black-and-white with sketchy reception to full-color high definition. The plot and order and characters remain the same, but there is so much more to see as we look closely at a more crisp and defined picture.

Is this book more academic or devotional? Who will benefit from reading it?

We intentionally designed the book to be a hybrid of sorts. We hope it’s accessible and informed by the best of evangelical scholarship. Readers will not find a plethora of footnotes and technical discussions. At the same time, it’s different than simply offering “thoughts for the day.” It’s a book for serious readers who are interested in seeing the complete biblical text in chronological order, in a harmony format, with charts, glossary, maps, and commentary designed to illumine the theological and exegetical key points with helpful cultural and historical backgrounds provided. We think it’s one of those rare books that could be used as easily by pastors as by families, individuals, and small groups.

 What did Jesus do early in the week that was perceived as a threat to the existing powers and structures?

In short, virtually everything! I think you use the right word here, Chris. He was viewed as a “threat.” From his triumphal entry to his cursing of the fig tree to his parables to his cleansing of the temple to his interactions with the Jewish leaders, everything about his words and actions was a challenge to their perception of their own religious, political, social, and financial stability. Instead of a Messianic figure that would endorse their man-made traditions and overthrow Rome, Jesus was the humble servant who came to seek and save those who knew they were sick and lost, and he would do it by dying for sinners and rising from the dead. They had no categories for this, and so their only choice was to seek his elimination.

 What was one thing you learned from Andreas during this project? Did you get together in person to work on this project or did you mostly partner with one another from a distance?

Through the wonders of technology we were mainly able to work on it via email, with an occasional phone call and face-to-face conversation. I learned many specific things from Andreas throughout the project, but the one thing I’d mention is something more general and overarching: the man is humble, teachable, and submissive to the text. He is a world-class New Testament scholar who has taught around the world, authored a major commentary on the Gospel of John, co-authored a New Testament introduction, and co-authored a major hermeneutics textbook. His learning is prodigious and his productivity is legendary. And yet he does not lord his learning over others, but wants to continue to grow in the knowledge of the truth.

Tomorrow, I will put an interview with the co-author, Andreas Kostenberger.

See also:

 

Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday. Whether or not you are observing Lent, we should strive to be more cross-centered as we anticipate Holy Week. Earlier today, I gave seven reasons to read Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor’s The Final Week of Jesus. Below is a quote by R.C. Sproul which summarizes much of what I said in my sermon this morning about the beauty of the cross.

The Cross was at once the most horrible and the most beautiful example of God’s wrath. It was the most just and the most gracious act in history. God would have been more than unjust, He would have been diabolical to punish Jesus if Jesus had not first willingly taken on Himself the sins of the world. . . Yet it was done for us.  This “for us” aspect of the Cross is what displays the majesty of its grace. At the same time justice and grace, wrath and mercy. It is too astonishing to fathom

People Associated With Holy Week

Chris —  February 27, 2014

Do you know who everyone associated with Holy Week who is on the below list? Maybe scan the list and see if you can confirm your knowledge.

This year at The Red Brick Church we are working especially hard to see the beauty of Christ as we anticipate Easter. Doing so will give confidence in our faith, encourage our hearts, and focus us more on our King.

Here is the third of several posts. The first was  What Happened During Holy Week and the second was The Places of Holy Week. The goal is to provide our flock with simple reference posts to make sure we can mediate on the beauty of Christ. I am encouraging our church family to consider reading Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor’s new book The Final Week of Jesus.

If you already have everyone’s identity straight – – then consider watching the Tim Keller sermon given below!

Jesus Vindicated – Tim Keller (TGC13) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

*Refers to those people everyone including small children should know on some level.

*The LORD Jesus Christ is the second person of the triune God, the eternally begotten son of the Father. As God, he has always had a divine nature. When he submitted to the Father’s will and was born of the virgin Mary, he took on a human nature for eternity. His divine and human natures are both complete.[1]

In becoming an ordinary human, Jesus Christ humbled himself. He further humbled himself by being a servant throughout his life on earth. He accomplished the ultimate act of humility by dying a terrible death on the cross. This was particularly humiliating for him because a death on the cross was viewed with great contempt. Although he humbled himself, he was exalted and raised from the dead by the Father and has ascended into heaven where he is now seated at the Father’s right hand. God has exalted him and given him a name that is above all others. One day his exaltation will be complete when he comes again in all his glory.

It is the work of Jesus Christ that makes it possible for people to enter into a redemptive relationship with God. Because of Adam’s sin, all men are guilty of sin. A vast gulf therefore exists between God and all humanity. Jesus Christ is the only one who could span this gulf. He became man, lived a perfect life, suffered all of hell on the cross and died, and was resurrected. In doing so he took God’s wrath on himself, made amends for our sin, defeated Satan, and reconciled his people.

It is significant to note that Jews would have been the last people to believe that God would become incarnate. They would not even say the name of God aloud or write it, much less believe that God became incarnate.[2]

Annas – Former high priest and Caiaphas’s father-in-law. He questioned Jesus during his trial.

Barrabas – A notorious criminal (Matthew 27:16) who was released instead of Jesus.

Caiaphas – A high priest who played a central role in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. Per the Holman Bible Dictionary, “High priest at the time of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus (Matt. 26:3). He was the son-in-law of Annas and a leader in the plot to arrest and execute Jesus. Relatively little is known of his life. He was apparently appointed high priest about a.d. 18 and served until a.d. 36 or 37. His remains have been found in an ossuary box in a burial cave in Jerusalem, which also contains the remains of many of his family members.”

Cleopas – Jesus appeared to Cleopas and an unnamed friend on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection (Luke 24).

Herod Antipas – One of the co-conspirators who brought about the death of Jesus. Approximately thirty years earlier his father, Herod the Great, tried to murder Jesus when he was a baby.

*James the brother of John – One of Jesus’s twelve disciples and in Jesus’s inner circle along with Peter and his brother John. James and John were sometimes called the “sons of thunder” because they asked Jesus if he wanted them to call down fire on a Samaritan village that rejected Christ (Luke 9:54).

*John – The youngest of Jesus’ twelve disciples, John was the author of the Gospel of John and refers to himself within that gospel as “the disciple Jesus loved.” Together, James and John were sometimes called the “sons of thunder” because they asked Jesus if he wanted them to call down fire on a Samaritan village that rejected Christ (Luke 9:54).

Joseph of Arimethea – A wealthy Jewish leader who believed in Jesus but feared what others would think if they found out. He was granted permission to bury Jesus and was assisted by Nicodemus.[3]

*Judas Iscariot – Jesus’s disciple who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He was motivated by greed.[4] He committed suicide

*Mary  – The mother of Jesus.

*Mary, Martha, and Lazarus – Close friends of Jesus where he sometimes visited. Jesus comforted Martha and Mary and raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11). Jesus also admonished Martha over being too task oriented (Luke 10:38-42).

*Mary Magdalene – One of the women who followed and supported Jesus (Mark 15:41). She was from Magdala in Galilee. She experienced dramatic healing when seven demons came out of her (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). She was a key witness to Jesus’ death (Matt. 27:56, Mark 15:40), burial (Matt. 27:61; Mark 15:47), the empty tomb (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1–10), and was the first to encounter the risen Christ (John 20:1–18). Her name being listed first may indicate a leadership role among the women.[5]

It is significant that the first eyewitnesses were women. Women were not considered credible witnesses in that culture. The only motivation Luke had to put women in as eye witnesses was because they were really there.[6]

Nicodemus – A member of the Sanhedrin famous for coming to Jesus at night (John 3). He helped Joseph of Arimathea with the burial of Jesus (John 19:39). He also interceded with Jewish leaders on behalf of Jesus (John 7:50).

*Peter / Simon Peter – Peter was in the “inner circle” of the disciples along with the brothers James and John. Peter denied Jesus three times during Holy Week but on Pentecost, by God’s grace, he preached one of the greatest sermons in history only seven weeks later (Acts 2).

Pharisees – A Jewish sect known for zeal in keeping the Law.[7]

*Pontius Pilate – The Roman official who presided over Jesus’s trial. He objected that Jesus did not deserve death but acquiesced to the crowd’s cries to crucify Christ.

Pontius Pilate’s Wife – She sent word to Pilate to have nothing to with “that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream (Matthew 27:19).”

Roman Soldiers – Soldiers carried out the orders to crucify Christ. We know little about them, though a centurion says, “Truly this man was the Son of God (Matthew 47:43, Mark 15:39, Luke 23:47).

Samaritans – “The Samaritans were the descendants of the foreigners who settled in Israel after the Assyrian invasion in 722 BC and with whom the Jews had often unlawfully intermarried.”[8] In Luke’s gospel, immediately after Jesus set his face on Jerusalem, he was rejected by Samaritans because of his commitment to Jerusalem. James and John enquired as to whether or not they should call down fire, demonstrating that they did not understand the nature of Christ’s Kingdom. Jesus rebuked them and went to the cross to take the fire on himself so that the gospel might go out to Samaria and all the world.

Sanhedrin  – The supreme Jewish religious court council in ancient Israel. Jesus appeared before the Sanhedrin. Note than Joseph of Arimathea, who buried Jesus, was one of the Sanhedrin – – so it wasn’t as though all the Sanhedrin were in perfect agreement about Jesus.

*Thieves on the Cross – Two thieves were crucified on either side of Christ. One repented and believed and Jesus promised that he would be with him that day in Paradise (Matthew 27:44, Mark 15:32b, Luke 23:39-43).

*Thomas – One of Jesus’s disciples who was reluctant to believe that Jesus rose from the dead (John 20:24-29). Thomas previously asked Jesus how they would be able to find him when Christ said that he was going to prepare a place (John 14:1-6).


[1] R.C. Sproul, “Did God Die On The Cross?,” Ligonier Ministries, accessed February 27, 2014, http://www.ligonier.org/blog/it-accurate-say-god-died-cross/.

[2] Timothy Keller, “Jesus Vindicated” (presented at the The Gospel Coalition, Orlando, Florida, April 9, 2013), pt. 15:28, http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/entry/jesus_vindicated.

[3] Kostenberger and Taylor, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, 3372.

[4] John R.W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, Kindle 20th Anniversary Edition (Downers Grove: IVP, 2012), 55–58.

[5] Palmer, C. (2003). Mary. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen & T. C. Butler, Ed.) (1086). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[6] Keller, “Jesus Vindicated.”

[7] Kostenberger and Taylor, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, 520.

[8] Blomberg, Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, 628. See also Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, ed. Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 405.

Places Associated with Holy Week

Chris —  February 27, 2014

This year at The Red Brick Church we are working especially hard to see the beauty of Christ as we anticipate Easter. Doing so will give confidence in our faith, encourage our hearts, and focus us more on our King.

Here is the second of several posts (see also What Happened During Holy Week) which will help in that endeavor. A lot more will follow. I am encouraging our church family to consider reading Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor’s new book The Final Week of Jesus.

Bethany – A village about 2 miles southeast of Jerusalem on the road to Jericho. It was from Bethany that Jesus sent for the colt to enter Jerusalem and Bethany was the home of Jesus’s friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

*Calvary– Latin equivalent of Golgotha

Emmaus – A town approximately seven miles northwest of Jerusalem. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to a man named Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24).

*Gethsemane – A garden at the base of the Mount of Olives where Jesus prayed with his disciples the night before he was crucified.

*Golgotha (also called Calvary) –“The place of the skull,” it is the hill outside of Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified.

Jerusalem – The capitol city of Israel where the Temple was located. It is in a mountainous region and was heavily fortified in the time of Jesus.

Mount of Olives – A mountain outside of Jerusalem with Gethsemane at the base. It is where Jesus gave the famous Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13:1-7, Luke 21:5-36) in which he predicted the future on Tuesday of Holy Week.

*The Temple – The center of Israel’s worship. The Temple was completely rebuilt by Herod the Great in 20-18 B.C. Many detailed diagrams are available online. See Justin Taylor’s, “What Did the Temple Look Like in Jesus’ Time?”

*The Tomb – After the crucifixion, the Bible tells us that Jesus was placed in a newly hewn tomb (Matthew 27:60, Luke 23:53, John 19:41). There was likely a small, single chamber. Jesus was laid on a bench opposite of the opening. The entrance of the tomb was sealed with a large, disc shaped stone that could be rolled away.

The empty tomb offers compelling evidence that Christ rose victoriously. Lee Strobel writes:

William Lane Craig, who has earned two doctorates and written several books on the Resurrection, presented striking evidence that the enduring symbol of Easter – – the vacant tomb of Jesus – – was a historical reality. The empty grave is reported or implied in extremely early sources – – Mark’s gospel and a creed in First Corinthians 15 – – which date so close to the event that they could not possibly have been products of legend. The fact that the gospels report that women discovered the empty tomb bolsters the story’s authenticity, because women’s testimony lacked credibility in the first century and thus there would have been no motive to report they found the empty tomb if it weren’t true. The site of Jesus’ tomb was known to Christians, Jews, and Romans, so it could have been checked by skeptics. In fact, nobody – – not even the Roman authorities or Jewish leaders – – ever claimed that the tomb still contained Jesus’ body. Instead, they were forced to invent the absurd story that the disciples, despite having no motive or opportunity, had stolen the body – – a theory that not even the most skeptical critic believes today.

*The Upper Room – A room where Jesus met on Thursday of Holy Week with his disciples for the Last Supper. In the Upper Room, Jesus washed the disciples feet and announced the New Covenant. He also taught the disciples and prayed (John 14-17).

Via Dolorosa – The route Jesus took through the narrow streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha while carrying the Cross. The name “via dolorosa” means “way of suffering” or “sorrowful way.”


What Happened During Holy Week?

Chris —  February 20, 2014

Justin Taylor (co-author of The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived) has previously posted summaries of what happened each day of Holy Week. Follow the below links to see the relevant biblical texts on Justin’s site.

Justin consulted both the ESV Study Bible and Craig Blomberg’s, Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, Second Edition.

Palm Sunday

  • Jesus, at the Mount of Olives, sends two disciples to secure a donkey and a colt; makes his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem; weeps over Jerusalem.
  • Jesus enters the temple area, then returns to Bethany.

Monday

  • On Monday morning Jesus and the Twelve leave Bethany to return to Jerusalem, and along the way Jesus curses the fig tree.
  • Jesus enters Jerusalem and clears the temple.
  • In the evening Jesus and the Twelve leave Jerusalem (returning to Bethany).

Tuesday

  • Jesus’ disciples see the withered fig tree on their return to Jerusalem from Bethany.
  • Jesus engages in conflict with the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.
  • The Disciples marvel at the Temple.
  • Jesus delivers the Olivet Discourse (in which he predicts the future) on their return to Bethany from Jerusalem.

Wednesday

  • Blomberg notes that, “Nothing that has been recorded can be confidently ascribed to Wednesday of Jesus’ final week.” However, others believe that it is on Wednesday that Satan enters Judas, who seeks out the Jewish authorities in order to betray Jesus for a price.
  • The Sanhedrin plot to kill Jesus.

Thursday

  • Jesus instructs his Peter and John to secure a large upper room in a house in Jerusalem and to prepare for the Passover meal.
  • In the evening Jesus eats the Passover meal with the Twelve, tells them of the coming betrayal, and institutes the Lord’s Supper.
  • During supper Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, interacts with them, and delivers the Upper Room Discourse.
  • Jesus and the disciples sing a hymn together (probably from Psalms 113–118), then depart to the Mount of Olives.
  • Jesus foretells Peter’s denials.
  • Jesus gives his disciples practical commands about supplies and provisions.
  • Jesus and the disciples go to Gethsemane, where he struggles in prayer and they struggle to stay awake late into the night.
  • See this post on Maundy Thursday.

Friday

  • Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested by the authorities (perhaps after midnight, early Friday morning).
  • The Disciples all flee.
  • Jewish trial, phase 1: Jesus has a hearing before Annas (former high priest and Caiaphas’s father-in-law).
  • Jewish trial, phase 2: Jesus stands trial before Caiaphas and part of the Sanhedrin. Peter denies Jesus.
  • Perhaps after sunrise, phase 3 of Jesus’ Jewish trial: final consultation before the full Sanhedrin; sent to Pilate.
  • Judas hangs himself.
  • Phase 1 of Jesus’ Roman trial: first appearance before Pontius Pilate; sent to Herod Antipas.
  • Phase 2 of Jesus’ Roman trial: appears before Herod Antipas; sent back to Pontius Pilate.
  • Phase 3 of Jesus’ Roman trial: Jesus’ second appearance before Pilate; condemned to die.
  • Jesus is crucified (from approximately 9 AM until Noon).
  • The sky is dark from noon until 3.
  • Joseph of Arimathea asks permission to inter Jesus in a tomb and does so with the help of Nicodemus (John 19:38-42).

See also the summary from article by B. Corley in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series):

Corley's Chronology of Jesus's Jewish Trial from the IVP Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (854)

Corley’s Chronology of Jesus’s Jewish Trial from the IVP Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (854)

Saturday – See my post, every day is Saturday at the nursing home.

Easter Sunday

  • Some women arrive at Jesus’ tomb near dawn, probably with Mary Magdalene arriving first.
  • Mary and the other women, instead of finding Jesus’ body, are met by two young men who are angels; one of them announces Jesus’ resurrection.
  • The women, fearful and joyful, leave the garden—at first unwilling to say anything to anyone about this but then changing their mind and going to tell the Eleven.
  • Mary Magdalene likely rushes ahead and tells Peter and John before the other women arrive.
  • The other women, still en route to tell the disciples, are met by Jesus, who confirms their decision to tell the Eleven and promises to meet them in Galilee.
  • The women arrive and tell the disciples that Jesus is risen.
  • Peter and John rush to the tomb (based on Mary Magdalene’s report) and discover it empty.
  • That afternoon Jesus appears to Cleopas and a friend on the road to Emmaus; later Jesus appears to Peter.
  • That evening Jesus appears to the Ten (minus Thomas) in a house (with locked doors) in Jerusalem.

Hoehner’s proposed chronology of Holy Week from the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series) is also helpful though it differs in some of the details from the chronology proposed above.

H.W. Hoehner Chronology of Holy Week in IVP Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (120)

H.W. Hoehner Chronology of Holy Week in IVP Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (120)


As I’ve mentioned in recent days – – I am working on an Easter Primer for our church family. I want to include recommendations for hymns that focus on the Cross and the Resurrection.

So far I have the following:

Alas and Did My Savior Bleed

“Here is Love”

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

“Were You There?”

“In Christ Alone”

“Christ the Lord Has Risen Today”

What am I missing? Which is your favorite?