Over the next several days, we will be briefly detailing what Jesus was doing on the week that He died. Please join us if you would like to follow along.
? - Friday, April 1st, 30 AD.
Sometime before the events of Holy Week, in a town called Bethany, Jesus raised His friend Lazurus from the dead (John 11:1-45). This, of course, was Jesus' greatest miracle to date and one that left many people amazed and believing in Him. But, not the Jews.
Instead of praising God for what Jesus had done, they were more concerned with the political fallout this would cause with Rome. And from this point forward, they set about making their plans to kill Him (John 11:47-53).
This murderous rage by the Jerusalem establishment caused Jesus and His disciples to retreat. They left Bethany immediately and regrouped in temporary seclusion near a remote wilderness town called Ephraim (John 11:54). And it was here they stayed until Friday, April 1st, AD 30.
Now let us make one thing clear, Jesus was not afraid to die. He did not retreat to the wilderness to save Himself. In fact, He would soon return to Bethany, seal His fate, face His death, and walk the Hill of Calvary with courage and joy.
He retreated on this occasion because it was not His time to die. Had He stayed around He would have been immediately arrested and killed, weeks before the Passover. And because Jesus planned on being killed as our Passover lamb, He safeguarded the timing of His death with omniscient precision.
But, on Friday, April 1st, 7 days before the Passover, Jesus came out of hiding and headed right back to Bethany to get Himself arrested (John 11:55).
Saturday, April 2nd, 30 AD. (Six Days Before His Death)
Jesus arrived again in Bethany six days before the Passover festival on Saturday, April 2nd (John 12:1). This was the town where He had recently raised His friend Lazurus from the dead, and it was a place that He often frequented. Because of this, Jesus was fairly well known to the locals and would have been easily recognized. It was the last place He would want to go if He had aspirations to stay alive, since an arrest order had just been issued by the Jews (John 11:57)
Jesus arrived in Bethany to an honorific feast. Apparently, Mary, Martha, and Lazurus were eager to show thanks for Jesus' miracle. So, on Saturday night, the family threw a great dinner to honor Jesus (John 12:2).
During the dinner, while Martha was serving and Lazarus was talking with our Lord at the table, Mary took a bottle of expensive perfume and anointed Jesus' feet (John 12:2). While Judas scoffed at this gesture and complained because of the lavish expense, Jesus took that moment to remind everyone in attendance that this anointing was in preparation for His death and burial (John 12:7).
Sunday, April 3rd, 30 AD. (Five Days Before His Death)
After the celebration meal the night before, Jesus' presence in Bethany could no longer be hidden. Crowds of people who were eager to meet Jesus, and to see the raised Lazarus, gathered around Him all throughout the day on Sunday. Joy was in the air and many went away believing in Jesus (John 12:11). But, it wasn't long before word would get back to the Cheif priests and Pharisees, who were hell-bent on killing Him, that He was here (John 12:9-10).
Monday, April 4th, 30 AD. (Four Days Before His Death)The next day, Jesus departed with His disciples from Bethany and arrived at the Mount of Olives. This was a suburb of Jerusalem and overlooked the city on its Eastern side. And while churches around the planet celebrate these events as "Palm Sunday," it is most likely that they occurred on Monday.
While at the Mount of Olives, Jesus instructed two of His followers to go into an adjacent town and bring to Him a new mule that had never been ridden (Matthew 11:1-8). This was a tremendous honor in the ancient world and perhaps the nicest thing that was done for Him in this entire week. It would be on this new mule that the Lord would ride into Jerusalem.
Two things became clear in this display.
FIRST - As He rode toward the looming city, on the back of the bumbling colt, He was fulfilling messianic expectations for the end-time King, even though His disciples did not immediately understand it (John 12:16). In Zechariah 9:9, written 500 years before, the prophet foretold that a final King of Israel would ride victoriously into Jerusalem, humbly on a donkey, and would set up His Kingdom there. This Jesus most certainly did.
SECOND - Just as king Solomon had done before Him (1 Kings 1:33-37), Jesus rode into the city on the back of a donkey as the true Son of David (Matthew 21:9). Like Solomon, He did this to announce His Kingdom and reign to the nation. Like Solomon, men and women were celebrating as He went (Mark 11:9). But, unlike Solomon who was lifted up upon a throne in splendor, when He arrived in Jerusalem, for Jesus, there was no throne awaiting Him.
On the afternoon of Monday, April the 4th, Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. He rode in with crowds, accolades, and adulations of praise. But no throne was offered Him. Instead, our Lord went one last time to see the temple in peace. He went to look at it. He went even perhaps to weep over it. And it is likely that He went to think through the actions He would take the very next day (Mark 11:15-17).
When evening came, He returned back to Bethany to await morning (Mark 11:11)
TOMORROW:If you are interested in what Jesus did on Tuesday of Holy Week, turn in tomorrow as we explore it together!