The year was AD 33.1 The excitement in the cool spring air of Jerusalem was palpable. Thousands of Jewish pilgrims had gathered from around the world for the upcoming Passover feast, and word had spread that Jesus—a thirty-something itinerant rabbi, prophet, and healer from Galilee—had raised Lazarus from the dead, had withdrawn from Bethany—a village just a couple miles east of Jerusalem—to a town called Ephraim in the wilderness (
Winds of revolution whipped through the air of Palestine throughout the first century, and Jesus, with his teaching authority and ability to capture the imagination of the masses, not least on account of his ability to heal and raise the dead, looked very much the part of the long-awaited Messiah. In order to gain and maintain power, the Romans could kill—which they did quite effectively—but how could they defeat a leader who could raise the dead at will?
After observing the Sabbath (Friday evening through Saturday evening) at Bethany, Jesus arose Sunday morning to enter the city of Jerusalem. It was March 29, AD 33—the first day of the last week of his earthly life.
Sunday, March 29, AD 33
Jesus Enters the City (
The Passover crowds and inhabitants of Jerusalem were filled with messianic expectation, and Jesus does not disappoint. On Sunday morning, Jesus and his disciples are on the Mount of Olives as they approach Jerusalem. He sends two of his followers to the nearby village (Bethphage or Bethany), instructing them to bring a donkey and colt on which he will sit for his entrance into Jerusalem. By this intentional symbolic action, Jesus will clearly communicate his kingship to the expectant crowds of Passover pilgrims by fulfilling the prophecy of
As Jesus makes his westward descent down the Mount of Olives and toward the Holy City, the crowds rightly interpret his actions with expectant joy and respond in kind by spreading robes and leafy palm branches in his pathway to create a royal red carpet (see
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
The crowds are openly acclaiming Jesus instead of Caesar as king!
The whole city is shaken by the events, and the crowd keeps spreading the word to any in Jerusalem who have not yet heard who Jesus is (
Jesus Predicts His Death (
Some Greeks who were among the Passover pilgrims seek an audience with Jesus. John does not record the Greeks’ question, but Jesus responds by predicting his death and describing it as the very purpose for which he has come into the world (
The Jewish crowd, of course, does not like this kind of talk and objects that according to the Mosaic law, the Messiah must remain forever. Jesus does not directly answer their objection but instead commands them to “walk while [they] have the light” (i.e., Jesus himself, the “light of the world,”
Jesus Visits the Temple (
Before returning with the Twelve to Bethany at the end of the day, Jesus visits the temple complex. Jesus continues to upset the religious establishment: healing the blind and lame, and receiving the praise of children.
This initial visit to the temple sets the stage for the unforgettable events that were to occur there the following day.
1. Most scholars believe that Jesus was crucified in AD 30. We are persuaded that the evidence strongly points to a date of AD 33. For an introductory discussion of the issues, see Andreas J. Köstenberger, “The Date of Jesus’ Resurrection,” The ESV Study Bible, ed. Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 1809–10. See also Colin J. Humphreys and W. G. Waddington, “The Jewish Calendar, A Lunar Eclipse and the Date of Christ’s Crucifixion,” Tyndale Bulletin 43.2 (1992): 331–51.
2. Many Jews came to Jerusalem a week early to ceremonially cleanse themselves and prepare for the Passover.
Taken from The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, by By Andreas J. Köstenberger, Justin Taylor, with Alexander Stewart. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ stands as the most important event in human history. The Gospel writers understood this, devoting a proportionally large amount of space to Jesus’s arrest, trial, crucifixion, and empty tomb. But how do the four Gospel accounts fit together? What really happened and what does it all mean? Combining a chronological arrangement of the biblical text with insightful commentary, this book offers readers a day-by-day guide to Jesus’s final week on earth.