Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and culminates in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday. It's also the final week of Lent, which is the 6-week period of reflection before Easter. Christians observe Holy Week as a sacred memory of the events leading up to the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Each day holds special meaning based on the actions of Jesus in his final hours.
Palm Sunday, which is often called Passion Sunday, is marked with a celebration of the day Jesus rode a donkey into the city of Jerusalem. As Jesus entered the city, the people greeted him by waving palm branches and proclaiming him their savior. At that point, the people of Jerusalem weren't aware that Jesus was going to be crucified or that they themselves would be the ones calling for his death. Palm Sunday is also used as a day to remember the sacrifice Jesus made following his triumphant entry.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
These three days were fraught with conflict between Jesus and others. On Monday, Jesus entered the temple to discover that people were hawking their wares in the house of God. He got angry and overturned their tables, driving them out of the temple. He preached to the people about reserving the temple as a place for prayer; then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem. On Tuesday, Jesus was questioned by the Jewish leaders, who weren't convinced that he was the messiah. Jesus told these leaders several parables in an effort to get them to believe that he was, indeed, the messiah. His efforts weren't successful. On Wednesday, Jesus continued preaching his message to the people while the elders, chief priests and scribes began to plan his death. It's on this day that Judas, one of Jesus' 12 disciples, took a bribe to betray Jesus to those who wished to kill him.
Maunday Thursday, often called Holy Thursday, is the last day of freedom Jesus had before he was arrested. Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples, which is still celebrated in Christian churches as Holy Communion. Jesus washed his disciples' feet to demonstrate humility and love for fellow humans, as well as to bring home his message of helping others to know the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. After the meal, Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he stayed late into the night.
In the early morning hours of Good Friday, Jesus was arrested. This is also when Judas betrayed Jesus by kissing his cheek, the sign he arranged with those who bribed him to let them know which man was Jesus. Jesus stood trial where he was whipped, beaten, spat upon and then made to carry his own cross up the hill where he was nailed to it. A crown of thorns was forced on his head, as well. Late in the day, Jesus died. He was removed from the cross, wrapped in cloths and buried in a nearby tomb.
During the day on Holy Saturday, Jesus lay in his tomb and his followers mourned his death. A guard stood watch to make sure no one tried to steal the body. Early Sunday morning, it was discovered that Jesus was no longer in the tomb and had risen from the dead, which marks Easter Sunday and the end of Holy Week.
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