What Happened During the Final Week of Jesus?
Remarkably, this year the dates of Easter week coincide exactly with those of the final week of Jesus, according to most likely estimates, as follows. Justin Taylor and I include a rationale for the original dates in our book The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived (Crossway, 2014). Here is a brief synopsis of these events.
Sunday, March 29: Jesus triumphantly enters the city of Jerusalem, mounted humbly on a donkey in keeping with prophetic messianic prediction. He later predicts his impending death and teaches at the Temple.
Monday, March 30: Jesus curses a fig tree, symbolizing spiritually barren Israel, and cleanses the Jerusalem Temple, possibly for the second time, in prophetic fashion. He thus acts as the one who is going to restore proper worship as the replacement and fulfillment of the Temple.
Tuesday, March 31: Jesus teaches his followers a lesson about the fig tree he cursed the previous day. He continues to teach on the Temple grounds and engages in various controversies with the Jewish leaders. He also predicts the future preceding his return in his Olivet Discourse.
Wednesday, April 1: Little is known about Jesus’ whereabouts at the midpoint of the week. The Gospel narratives only mention the unfolding plot by the Jewish authorities against Jesus. But this is only the quiet before the storm that is brewing and that will shortly turn into a hurricane.
Thursday, April 2: Jesus and his followers engage in preparations for celebrating the Jewish Passover, Jesus’ Last Supper at which he institutes a new covenant with his new messianic community, the remnant of the new Israel. Judas the Betrayer leaves the Upper Room, and Jesus instructs the remaining eleven apostles in some depth. Later, Jesus agonizes over his impending death in the Garden of Gethsemane. Subsequently, Peter denies Jesus three times, in keeping with Jesus’ earlier prediction.
Friday, April 3: After nightfall, Jesus is betrayed and arrested. He is subjected to trials before the Jewish and Roman authorities. At the beckoning of the Jewish leaders, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, pronounces a “guilty verdict” against his better judgment. Jesus is crucified.
Saturday, April 4: The Jewish Sabbath extends from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. Nothing is known about the whereabouts of the disciples. Most likely, they went into hiding for fear of the Jewish authorities. The latter ask Pilate for permission to secure Jesus’ tomb.
Sunday, April 5: When several female disciples of Jesus, including Mary Magdalene, approach his tomb, they find it empty. Later, Jesus appears to Mary, as well as ten of the apostles, and several others. This is the Lord’s Day, Resurrection Sunday!
For a day-by-day synopsis of Scripture passages, followed by brief commentaries, see The Final Days of Jesus.
For more resources on Easter (including daily devotionals, short videos, and more), click here.