A Brief Overview of Holy Week

[This first appeared at LifeChurchNC.com]

March 25, 2018

A Brief Overview of Holy Week 

There are usually five – in some cases, six – days during Holy Week that are specifically commemorated, beginning with Palm Sunday (this Sunday), which commemorates Jesus’s paradoxical Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. (John 12:12-19). Although not as common, some set-apart the following Wednesday as ‘Silent Wednesday;’ a day traditionally viewed as a day when Jesus did nothing.  On this day, likely Jesus spent the day with his friends in Bethany preparing for His betrayal on Thursday and His crucifixion on Friday.

A more common day commemorated during Holy Week is Maundy Thursday, the evening of the Last Supper when Jesus washed His disciples feet and gave them a NEW commandment to love one another as He has loved them. (“Maundy” is the Latin word for command; John 13). Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’s crucifixion and death on the cross, where God Himself, in the form of a human being (Jesus) came to earth, lived a perfectly sinless life, and died for the sins of the world on a Roman execution stake (John 19).  Of course, it wasn’t Jesus’s death that was good, but rather, what it accomplished for us.

Although there is traditionally little associated with this day, Holy Saturday marks the time when Jesus was in the tomb, and symbolizes for some Christʼs wrestling-away the keys of hell in order to fully establish and secure His victory over sin and the grave.

Holy Week culminates in celebration with Easter, or Resurrection Sunday as we prefer to call it – the centerpiece of the Christian faith and the most important event in human history, eclipsing Jesus’s death on the cross (John 20). You see, without the resurrection, we are left hopeless. Without the resurrection, we have no assurance that Jesusʼs death for our sins and the sins of the world was accepted by God.  But by being resurrected, Jesus demonstrated not only His victory over sin and death, but equally importantly, that His death was an acceptable offering to God for the atonement of our sins, making us holy and acceptable to God through faith in Jesus.  Therefore, it is through our faith in Him that we have been raised to new life!

Holy Week Resources & Suggestions 

Serve in the Community 
Jesus said about Himself, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”(Matthew 20:28).  He tells His disciples, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). Holy Week is a wonderful opportunity to follow the example of our Lord by serving others.  Consider grabbing some friends/family and go serve in our community.  Here are a few suggestions.  Please contact our Missions Team if you need any assistance.

  • Serve a meal at Rowan Helping Ministries. Generally, breakfast times are most available. You can also serve, and simply sit and visit with less fortunate families in our community during that time.
  • Take a meal to first responders and law enforcement.
  • Collect and deliver items to Pregnancy Support CenterCommunity Care ClinicFamily Crisis Council.

Eat together.
There is something significant about sharing a meal together.  Over and over in the Scriptures, we see God commanding His people to celebrate feasts together.  In the Gospels, we often see Jesus eating with His disciples, including the self-righteous and the socially-outcast.  Perhaps this would be a good week to invite some friends and family over for a pot-luck dinner just to spend time enjoying one another’s company, with thanksgiving, over some good food!

Wash Other’s Feet (literally)
In John 13, Jesus takes a towel and basin and washes His disciples’ feet.  This scandalous act was not only out of place for a teacher to conduct with his/her disciples, it was out of place in that it occurred during (not before) the meal.  Jesus sets for us the example that serving is the main event, and there are few more humbling (and sacred) acts than that of washing someone’s feet.  Consider incorporating a foot-washing ceremony into this week’s life group or family gathering while reflecting on John 13 together.

Fast from Something 
While fasting is traditionally associated with Lent, and although you may have missed the opportunity to abstain from something over this 40-day period that concludes on Maundy Thursday, it’s not too late!  As a way of giving Jesus your full attention this week in prayer and reflection, while limiting the distractions, consider fasting from certain foods, television, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Worship with Other Churches
As a church, we hold collaboration with other church’s in high regard, and believe that Jesus is gloried anytime we worship Him in Gospel-unity across denominational lines and differences.  Although this is certainly not an exhaustive list, here are a few Holy Week services and commemorations we recommend, hosted by some of our friends and neighboring churches.

Take time to reflect on, learn about and explain the events and meaning of Holy Week to your children.

Observe Passover.
On the night Jesus was betrayed, He shared the traditional Passover meal with His disciples. albeit a likely primitive version. It was Jesus would become the one-and-for-all sacrificial Lamb who would take away the sins of the world.  Author Ann Voskamp offers a wonderful guide to celebrating a Christian Passover (Seder) HERE.

Observe Communion.
“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenantin my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

We encourage you to consider sharing the power, beauty and sacredness of this moment with a group of family and friends sometime this week.  Below are two wonderful resources to guide you.

Recommedned resources

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