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Some Thoughts on Holy Week

I’m 65 years old now, which means I’ve been to 65 Palm Sunday services in my life. But today, as I sat in my 65th, something occurred to me that I’d never noticed before. We were told our sermon was going to be from the book of Matthew, so I instinctively flipped to the (near) end of the book, thinking I would find the triumphal entry scene near the end.

Only, it’s not.

I kept flipping backwards–from 28 to 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22. . .no triumphal entry scene. Then our pastor said, “Let’s read from the 21st chapter of Matthew. . .”

And that’s when it hit me. One quarter of the gospel of Matthew is dedicated to the week that we often call Jesus’s worst/hardest week. His ministry lasted 3.5 years, so the first 3/4 of the gospel of Matthew covers this huge span of time, but then the clock slows. Everything comes to a crawl so that the story can be concluded with great depth and caring.

As I pondered that, I got to thinking, “Wait a minute. What actually happened during the hardest week of his life–outside of the crucifixion and the awful events leading up to it? What type of ministry did Jesus do, after arriving in Jerusalem?”

And here’s what I found:


1). Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He chewed out the people for turning his house into a den of iniquity.

2). Once there was room for the blind and crippled to get in, he healed them.

3). The religious leaders flipped out on him, so he left.

4). The following morning, he caused a fig tree to wither.

5). He went back to the temple to teach but the leaders asked for his credentials.

6). Jesus put the leaders in their place.

7). Jesus then shares the parable of the vineyard.

8. Jesus reveals Himself as the stone the builders rejected.

9). The pharisees want to arrest Jesus, but they’re afraid of the reaction of the people.


10). Jesus shares the parable of the wedding feast.

11). The Pharisees plot to arrest Jesus. They try to trap him with a question about Caesar.

12). The Saducees try to set Jesus up with a question they think He can’t answer.

13). Jesus flips the script on the Saducees.

14). Jesus is asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” and responds: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”


15). Jesus shares an interesting truth: But the greatest of you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

16). Jesus gives a warning to the scribes and Pharisees, that they not make disciples, only to lead them down a hellish path.

17). He calls the spiritual leaders blind men.

18). He uses the phrase: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” several times.

19). He tells the people that he longs to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks.


20). The disciples point to the temples and Jesus responds: “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”

21). Jesus goes to the Mt. of Olives and the disciples ask when these things will happen, what signs will mark the end of the age.

22). Jesus responds: “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many people. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pains.

23). Jesus warns that believers will be hated on his account. He explains that many will fall away and betray one another and that many false prophets will rise up.

24). Jesus says that the one who endures to the end will be saved.

25). He references the book of Daniel (a prophetic book) and says, “When you see these things happening, flee to the mountains.”

26). He references the tribulation and explains that very hard times are coming.

27). Jesus says: But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

29). Jesus says: And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet blast, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

30). He shares the parable of the fig tree.

31). He explains that no one (not even the angels or himself) knows the day or the hour when these things will take place, but that (just like the days of Noah), people will be going about, living their lives, oblivious.

32). Jesus cautions them to be alert.

33). Jesus says: For this reason you must be ready as well; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.


34). Jesus shares the parable of the 10 virgins, urging them to keep their lamps lit.

35). Jesus shares the parable of the talents, encouraging us to use what he has given us to be most effective.

36). Jesus shares the story about the sheep and goats, encouraging us to choose the path of the sheep, not the goats. Sheep will care for those in need.

37). Jesus speaks of a terrible demise for the goats, the ones who don’t take care of others.


38). Jesus tells his followers that after the upcoming passover, he will be crucified.

39). The chief priests and elders plot to kill Jesus.

40). A woman with an alabaster box anoints Jesus with oil. His followers are incensed that she wasted expensive oil, but he chastens them by saying: “Why are you bothering the woman? For she has done a good deed for Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.”

41). Jesus goes on to say that the woman was preparing Him for burial with the anointing of the oil.

42). Judas betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

43). Passover is prepared.

44). The Last Supper takes place.

45). Jesus explains the bread and the wine.

46). After singing a hymn, Jesus and his followers went to the Mt. of Olives.

47). Jesus tells Peter that he will soon deny Him. Peter refuses to believe such a thing possible.

48). They go to the Garden of Gethsemane.

49). Jesus’ soul is deeply grieved, almost to the point of death.

50). Jesus wants some alone time so he tells his disciples to go away and pray.

49). He prays, ““My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

50). He finds His disciples sleeping. Jesus says to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying, so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

51). He goes back for more alone time. Once again Jesus prays, “My Father, if this cup cannot pass away unless I drink from it, Your will be done.”

52). Once again He finds his disciples sleeping.

53). A third time, He prays. A third time He finds them sleeping. Then Jesus says: “Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

God’s Timetable is Remarkable!

And this, friends, is where the “Easter story” USUALLY picks up, about the time Jesus is betrayed into the hands of the religious leaders. But when you think about the week He just had, what was on his heart for much of it?

Us. His creation. His people. He wanted us to love one other, help one another, and remain faithful. Not to be caught up in deception or false belief systems, but to stay true to what He taught. Not to be puffed up with pride or convinced we have all the answers, (like the Pharisees and Saducees) but to remember that the least would be the greatest, and the greatest, the least.

Most of all, to keep our eyes wide open, because perilous times will come. Things will get rough. We will have to be brave. Strong. True to Him.

And, (I can’t help but notice), He wants us fully awake as troubles get closer and closer. THREE times He had to tell his own disciples to wake up. THREE times, they dozed off.

So, stay awake. Stay diligent. Stay in the Word. Stay humble. Keep your lamps lit. Keep that oil flowing. Spend time with Him. And love people. Deeply.

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Jessica Ferguson

Saturday 30th of March 2024

Beautiful! Thank you, Janice! Thank you, Jesus, for saving me!


Sunday 31st of March 2024


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