TYNDALE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AND BIBLICAL INSTITUTE
THE FINAL DAYS OF JESUS CHRIST
A HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
SUBMITTED TO COURSEWORK@TYNDALE.EDU
SURVEY OF NEW TESTAMENT BIBL3302
SOUTH BEND, IN
MAY 20, 2012
THE FINAL DAYS OF JESUS CHRIST
My goal is to briefly recount and address the final week of Christ’s life on Earth. In order to do so I will be referring frequently to the chart below.
The final days of Jesus Christ on Earth were the culmination of everything he came to the planet to accomplish. Knowing what was to come it is my impression that everything he did during this week had certain significance above and beyond the rest of his actions and teachings. While everything he did that was recorded for us in Scripture certainly had significance and his words and actions should be heeded, this week in particular, is supremely important. I believe the gospel writers must have felt something similar. Approximately 25% of the gospels are dedicated to this final week of Christ’s life. This leads me to the conclusion that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John must have seen significance in this time period beyond the ordinary.
Some traditions hold the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem as being on Sunday and the day of the crucifixion on Thursday. The reasons for this are many and varied. Most of the conjecture comes down to tradition that was passed down in the early church and written into the dogma of Catholicism. However, after reading and rereading the gospel accounts, I agree with Daniel Goepfrich and others that the entry into Jerusalem had to have been on Monday. The reason for this is actually a reversal of the traditional line of thought. If Christ was crucified on “the day of preparation” for the high Sabbath, then that would have been Friday before 6pm. The reason for this is that the Sabbath begins on Friday at 6pm and ends on Saturday at 6pm. Therefore, Christ had to have been buried by 6pm on Friday evening or the Jews would have been violating the Sabbath in order to bury Christ. If the crucifixion was on Friday and not Thursday, working back through the gospel accounts the entry into Jerusalem had to be on Monday. Otherwise, with the entry on Sunday, there is a day missing in the gospel accounts of Christ’s final week, namely Wednesday. If the gospel writers dedicated so much time into giving an account of Jesus’s final days, why would they all leave out an entire day? I do not believe that they would! Instead, I believe that some of our traditions may be wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
Our record of Christ’s final days begins on Sunday, March 29th, A.D. 33. This is the day that Christ our Lord healed a couple blind men in Jericho. He had a meal with a man named Zacchaeus. He told the parable of the ten minas. In the parable, the nobleman gave ten of his slaves ten minas each (Luke 19:13). The first made sound investments and his ten minas earned him ten more, he was rewarded and made ruler over ten cities. The second also made good investments and his ten minas earned him five more, he was rewarded and made ruler over five cities. Another slave did nothing with his mina. He hid it and kept it safe. This one had his mina taken from him and given to the first slave. What I have always wondered when reading this parable is what happened to the other seven slaves and the minas given to them? Scripture does not tell us.
On the same day, later that evening, Jesus had dinner in Bethany. It was at this time that Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed his feet with expensive aromatic oil, Judas states that it was worth three hundred silver coins (John 12:5). John tells us in chapter 12 verse 1 that this was six days before the Passover. Another reason why I am saying the triumphal entry happened on Monday, this anointing marked Jesus before his entry into Jerusalem and his crucifixion.
The next day, John tells us (12:12), March 30th, A.D. 33, all four gospels record Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem and just like it was written in Zechariah 9:9, the Lord rode into the city on the back of a donkey (John 12:15). Luke 19:47, 21:37; Mark 11:11; Matthew 21:14-16 each give us a small glimpse into what Jesus was doing each day he spent in Jerusalem and then where he spent the night in Bethany at the Mount of Olives. He spent his time teaching and healing in the temple courts telling parables and preparing his disciples for what was to come.
Tuesday, the 31st, on his way into the city, early in the morning, Jesus went to the fig tree looking for fruit. When he found none, he cursed the tree causing it to wither and die. I have often wondered why Jesus was looking for figs there, when we are told in Mark 11:13 that it was not the season for figs. Jesus cleansed the temple for the second time. And again, he spent his time teaching and healing in the Temple courts. And again, he spent the night in Bethany.
Wednesday, April 1st, A.D. 33, is the day Jesus did a large amount the teaching recorded for us during this week. He answered the question of his authority, he told several parables, he answered the Pharisees’ questions on taxes and the greatest commandment, the Sadducees’ questions on marriage and resurrection. He himself asked and answered the question of Messiah’s identity. He also issued his woes and warnings, pointed out the widow’s offering, and gave the Olivet discourse. It was also on this day that Judas the betrayer met with the chief priests for the first time. And again, Jesus spent the night in Bethany.
Thursday, the 2nd, is the day that the Last Supper was held. Recorded for us in the gospels that day is the preparation for the meal. The meal itself along with Jesus’ washing of his disciples feet is also recorded. The New Covenant was announced at this time. Then, after the meal, Jesus gives the Upper Room and Garden discourse. And, Jesus prayer is the Garden is recorded in all four gospels. Late Thursday evening Jesus is betrayed and arrested.
Overnight, Jesus stands trial before the Sanhedrin. Judas meets with the chief priests again and later commits suicide. Early Friday morning, Jesus’ accusers drag Pilate out of bed and Jesus appears before him. A short time later, Jesus appears before Herod and is beat and mocked for the first time. Then, he is taken before Pilate once again. Pilate offers the people their choice, Jesus or Barabbas, Barabbas is released and Pilate washes his hands of Jesus. It is at this time that the scourging began. Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion, was likely tame compared to the true scourging that Jesus took as punishment for our sins. I shudder to think of what my Savior went through on his way to the cross to pay for my sins.
It was then Friday, April 3rd, A.D. 33, between 9 am and 3 pm that our Lord was crucified. It was one of the most brutal forms of execution that mankind has ever come up with. As he hung on the cross, the gospels record for us the final words of Jesus Christ. “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”(Luke 23:34) Said as a plea to God on the behalf of those crucifying him. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”(Luke 23:43) Said to the believing criminal on the cross next to him. “Woman, look, here is your son!”(John 19:26) Said to his mother, Mary. “Look, here is your mother!”(John 19:27) Said to John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.”(Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34) His desperate cry to God as the sun went dark. “I am thirsty.”(John 19:28) “It is finished.”(John 19:30) “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”(Luke 23:46) Said as Jesus voluntarily laid down his life for the sake of all humanity.
Then, sometime between the hours of 3pm and 6pm, Jesus’ body is prepared for burial and he is laid in the tomb, just in time for the Sabbath to begin at 6pm Friday evening. Saturday, the tomb is sealed and guarded by the Romans at the request of the Sanhedrin.
Sunday, April 5th, A.D. 33, sometime before the break of day, Jesus was resurrected! Praise the Lord! He is risen!
Late Th/Early Fri
Benware, Paul N. Survey of the New Testament. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1990.
Cone, Christopher The Promises of God. Ft. Worth, TX: Exegetica Publishing & Biblical
Goepfrich, Daniel Passion Week. Unpublished class notes, 2012.