What Happened on Holy Week

April 6, 2023

Holy Week among most modern evangelicals is little more than just another work week. Things don't get “alive and hopping” until Sunday or sometimes Friday night. Historically, the church has celebrated the whole week as set apart, ”Holy”, with practices and vespers organized by the church. In the next few blogs, we will look at Holy Week as outlined by the gospels; all to help prepare our hearts as we enter into one of the most sacred celebrations of the Christian faith. Below will be Scripture from the gospels arranged in chronological order with context notes to aid in understanding and devotional reflections to encourage application.


Sunday: Triumphal entry

A Dramatic Reading of Mk 11:1-11

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 

Jesus: “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 

Bystanders: “What are you doing, untying that colt?”  They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 

When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 

People (shouting):  “Hosanna!”

     “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

     “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

     “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

NOTE: What happened and what Jesus taught during the time he was in the temple courts in Mark 11:11, before going back to Bethany, is recorded for us in John 12. 

A Dramatic Reading of Jn 12:20-33 

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, 

Greek Pilgrims (to Philip): “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 

Jesus (to Philip and Andrew): “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

[Suddenly] a voice came from heaven

The Father: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”   

The crowd of people surrounding Jesus were confused.

Some in the Crowd: “It sounded like thunder.”

Others: “An angel has spoken to him.” 

Jesus: “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 

                 Now is the judgment of this world; 

                      Now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 

              When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.”

He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.…

                    [End of Reading]


In His triumphal entry, Jesus enters Jerusalem as Israel’s prophet, priest, and king. Mark makes clear, all three aspects of the messianic office are alluded to in the passage. 

Jesus’ descriptions of where they will find the colt He is to ride and how they shall get it has the feel of  knowledge. Some kind of spiritual knowledge he ought not have known. The peculiar accuracy seems like something lifted right from a story of the Old Testament prophets. Mark is making sure we see Jesus in his prophetic office. Mark notes the donkey had never been ridden. This obscure fact is not without significance since in Numbers 28-29, Deuteronomy 15, and Deuteronomy 26, any animal used in the offering of sacrifice should be "unblemished" and thus set apart for ceremonial (non-ordinary) usage. The donkey had never been used, and so it could be used for a priestly service. Mark is making sure we see Jesus in his priestly office.

Mark also notes the crowd’s response. Jesus rides into Jerusalem to the sound of praise as if He were a conquering king. Cloaks and palm branches are spread out before Him as one would for a king. A prophecy from Zech 9:9 ties Him riding a donkey to the kingly office. Mark is making sure we see Jesus as king. 

Jesus enters Jerusalem in a way that radically redefines the people’s expectation. After all, donkeys are not warhorses; you don’t seek a cavalry galloping into battle on donkeys. In this triumphal entry, Jesus makes it clear He does not intend to conquer and rule in a worldly way. On His cross, the very means and meaning of power, glory, and even victory, will be subverted and supplanted. He will accomplish the mission given Him by the Father, but it will come in a vastly different way than anyone expected. 

Reflect on Philippians 2:5-8 (CSB) in Light of the Triumphal Entry 

Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead, he emptied Himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when He had come as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. 

NOTE: Consider the triumphal entry as a journey down into humility and service. For Jesus’ victory is upside down to the ways of the world. His triumph comes through suffering, His power though obedience, His victory through love. 

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