For anyone who has studied in-depth the last week of the Savior's mortal ministry, you know there are some, well, inconsistencies. Did Jesus really cleanse the Temple on Sunday (as Matthew and Luke describe), or did it happen on Monday (as Mark's gospel records)? Were there two women who anointed the feet/head of Jesus (one on the Saturday before Palm Sunday as John records, and one on Wednesday), or was it just one woman? Was Jesus actually crucified at 9:00 AM or at noon of Good Friday? Or perhaps the most perplexing of all, was the Last Supper an actual Passover feast, or did Jesus celebrate the feast a day early?
The simple answer, no one really knows. Scholars disagree on how to resolve the inconsistencies, however, when you study Holy Week as four separate stories, a beautiful tapestry of depth and meaning arises. In searching for timelines of Holy Week, I never found one that really addressed all of these intricate issues. So, I decided to make my own. Hopefully, this timeline of the events of Holy Week will help you appreciate the beauty of this most significant week in history. Hopefully, it will help you understand that the Gospel writers most likely were more interested in preserving the profound symbolism of Holy Week, and not so much an hour-by-hour chronology of events.
Over the next week, in an attempt to show the hidden meaning of the events of Holy Week, I will share several of the most precious gems I have discovered over the years. To begin, I will start with Palm Sunday.
Each of the four Gospels records the events of the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. According to the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), the event took place on the same day when the Passover lambs were being chosen. According to the Law of Moses, the Israelites were to select their lambs on the 10th day of the month (five days before Passover, see Exodus 12:3). Once selected, the lamb was then taken into the homes of the families of Israel where it lived for the next five days (see Exodus 12:3-6). On the fourteenth day of the month, the family was then to kill the lamb, without breaking any bones, and smear the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their home. This made for a poignant lesson for the children, who after living with the lamb and becoming fond of it, would see it killed and eaten, so that they could be saved.
The significance of this is that on the very same day the Israelites were choosing their lambs (the 10th day of Nisan), Jesus rides into Jerusalem and is chosen by the people (the true Lamb of God). Also, during the same time that the lambs were being taken into the Jewish houses for the next five days, Jesus teaches in his Father's house, the Temple of God. The power of the symbolism is amazing.