Based on Matthew 21-28, Mark 11-16, Luke 19-24, John 12-20
Just a few days before His crucifixion Jesus traveled to the town of Jericho with crowds following Him and crowds waiting there to get a glimpse of Him. Along the way, Jesus noticed a man named Zacchaeus, a much despised tax collector. Not only did He speak to him, Jesus visited in Zacchaeus’ home.
From Jericho, Jesus walked approximately six hours up the rugged terrain to Bethany, the town where His friend Lazarus, whom Jesus had earlier raised from the dead, lived with his two sisters, Mary and Martha. While there Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume, as if she sensed His death was eminent.
From Jericho, Jesus traveled to Bethpage, a Sabbath’s day journey (less than 1/2 miles) from Jerusalem. There He mounted a donkey on which He rode into the city of Jerusalem like the prophet Zachariah foretold hundreds of years before (Zachariah 9:9). As Jesus approached Jerusalem, He began to weep. He experienced an overwhelming sadness that “He had come to His own, and His own had received Him not” (John 1:11). Jesus also knew the destruction that would come to Jerusalem because of their rejection of Truth.
Then going to the Temple, Jesus encountered dishonest money changers. Angered by such disgrace of the place that was to be a ”house of prayer,” Jesus drove them out. However not to be deterred from sharing God’s truth, He once again taught and healed the sick.
At evening time, Jesus returned to Bethany, but the next morning made His way back to Jerusalem. What a dreadful journey that must have been. While at the Temple, the chief priest, scribes and elders challenged Jesus and His authority. In fact they challenged Him from morning to late afternoon. After such grueling, Jesus made His way down the Temple Mount, through the Kidron Valley and over to the Mount of Olives. Meanwhile the religious leaders discussed how to have Jesus killed.
Now back in Bethany, Jesus stayed at a Leper’s house, named Simon. There a woman slipped in carrying an alabaster jar filled with the finest perfume and anointed His head with the fragrance. A couple days later Jesus sent His disciples ahead to Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover Meal where Jesus joined them. And it was there Jesus washed their dirty, dusty feet, wanting them to see it is about serving, not being served.
Following the Passover meal, Jesus once again walked through the Kidron Valley and back to the Mount of Olives where He prayed in the Garden of Gethsamene. Praying for three hours, He first asked God to spare Him from a dreadful death but ultimately said: “Not My will, but Yours be done.”
Shortly after midnight on Friday, Judas, one of the disciples, arrived at the Garden accompanied by army officers and religious leaders. By kissing Jesus, he signaled that Jesus was the One to arrest. There Jesus acknowledged that He was the Son of God, the Messiah. The chief priests were so distraught at Jesus’ words that they tore their robes signifying the finality of the their verdict that Jesus should be killed.
In the early hours of the morning Jesus was taken to a Roman Governor. Though finding Him “without fault or blemish,” he sentenced Jesus to die on a cross on a hill called Golgotha.
By 9:00 that morning sinless Jesus was nailed to a cross between two criminals. At 12:00 noon the sky grew dark; darkness covered the land. As one writer said: “When Jesus was born at night, it became light. When He died during the day, it became dark.” That awful darkness remained until 3:00 when Jesus said: “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit. It is finished.” Then He drew His last breath.
His body was laid in a tomb belonging to a man named Joseph from Arimathaea. A heavy stone was rolled over the entrance to the tomb. A Roman soldier stood guard to make sure no one took Jesus’ body.
The Sabbath began at sundown and all was quiet. At least for that day. But Sunday morning came! Some women went to the tomb taking spices to care for Jesus’ body. But to their utter amazement, the stone was rolled from the entrance and the body was gone. Jesus was not there! An angel appeared saying: “He is not here, He is risen.”
And that is why we have reason to rejoice and cry out: “He is risen indeed!”