The Story of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection – The Holy Week and Easter in Jerusalem

“In two days, as you know, it will be the Passover Festival, and the Son of Man, will be handed over to be crucified.” (Matt. 26:2)

 

Those are the words Jesus said to his disciples two days before he was captured and sentenced to death. At the same time, chief priests and elders, who were against Jesus, were making plans how and when to arrest him.

 

Jesus Is Anointed at Bethany

 

Jesus was then anointed in Bethany, at the house of Simon. While he was eating, a woman came and broke a jar containing a very expensive perfume made of the pure nard, which she poured on his head. Christ’s disciples did not understand why she would ‘waste’, as they thought, such a valuable thing. However, Jesus excused her and said that she prepared him for the upcoming burial.

 

To commemorate this event, Franciscan brothers make an annual pilgrimage to Bethany (El-Azariya). This year 2013, they gathered on Thursday 14th of March, first at the Tomb of Lazarus and later in the church. The celebration was followed by the spiritual pilgrimage to Pater Noster Church and the Chapel of Ascension.

 

Holy Thursday – The Last Supper and Arrest of Jesus

 

 

On the first day of Passover, the disciples asked Jesus, where they should eat their meal. So He ordered that they say these words to a ‘certain man’: “The Teacher says, My hour has come; my disciples and I will celebrate the Passover at your house.” (Matt 26:18).

 

Already at the supper, suddenly, Jesus rose from the table and started to wash and dry disciple’s feet. When he approached Simon Peter, the disciple wanted to refuse: “Are you going to wash my feet Lord?” (John 13:6) Jesus wanted to teach his followers that all the people are equal and that no one is better than another: “I am telling you the truth: no slave is greater than his master, and no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16)

 

Again at the table, Christ said to his twelve disciples: “I tell you, one of you will betray me.” (Matt 26:21) After hearing those words, all of the apostles became very upset. Jesus surely knew that one of his disciples – Judas Iscariot, went to the high priests and agreed with them on a prize of the thirty silver coins for betraying his teacher.

 

While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread and asked the gathered to eat it as it was his body, and he took a cup of wine and told them to drink from it as it was his blood. At that moment, Christ revealed that he is going to die for the forgiveness of sins of all his followers.

 

After the meal, Jesus and his disciples went to the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane. He wanted to pray on the mount, he took with him only Peter and two sons of Zebedee: James and John, so they could guard the place while he was praying. However, the apostles fell asleep. Suddenly Judas arrived with the soldiers behind him. He kissed his teacher, and pointed out who should be captured. Christ let the people arrest him to fulfill the prophecies written in the Scriptures.

 

Holy Thursday (28th of March 2013) solemnizes the events described above.  At 7 a Pontifical Mass of Washing of the Feet will be celebrated in the Holy Sepulchre. At 3:10pm in the afternoon, there will be a pilgrimage beginning from St. Saviour’s church to the Cenacle and to the churches of St. James and St. Mark. There will also be a mass in the Basilica of Agony in Gethsemane at 9 pm, followed with time for private prayers from 10 pm.

 

Good Friday – Passion of the Lord

 

Jesus was taken to the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, where all the teachers of Law and elders gathered. “The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some false evidence against Jesus to put him to death.” (Matt. 26:59). Christ, when asked if he is the Messiah, admitted but the gathered people did not believe him and accused him for blasphemy.

 

In the morning, the priests handed Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman governor, who tried to inquire if the one he received was the “King of the Jews”.

 

There was a tradition that at every Passover Festival a Roman governor would free a Jewish prisoner selected by the crowd. The people had a choice between two prisoners: “Which one do you want me to set free for you? Jesus Barrabas or Jesus called the Messiah?” (Matt. 27:16) Barrabas was one of the well-known criminals, but neverthe;ess the crowd wanted him to be freed.

 

Even though, Pilate saw Jesus the innocent, he could not go against the people’s wish. “I am not responsible for the death of this man. This is your doing!” (Matt. 27:24) They wanted Jesus to be crucified.

 

At the governor’s palace, Pilate’s soldiers took off Christ’s garments and put on Him a scarlet robe and a crown made of the thorny branches, which hurt him. After making fun of him, they dressed him in his own clothes and led him towards his crucifixion at Golgotha (Place of the Skull).

 

 

Jesus died on a cross, after screaming “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” Many strange things happened on the day of his death. There was an earthquake and it was completely dark in the middle of the day. “Then the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Matt 27:51) All this made many people believe that he really was the Son of God.

 

Good Friday (29th of March 2013) is marked by various celebrations held in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. The Way of the Cross will be followed at 11:30 am from the First Station to the Golgotha. The “Funeral” procession will take place after midnight.

 

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection

 

There was a prophecy that Jesus would rise from death on the third day after His death. The chief priests knew this and therefore they ordered his tomb to be well guarded to prevent the disciples from stealing Christ’s body.

 

On the Sunday morning after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, went to see the tomb. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord came from heaven to roll away the stone blocking the tomb. The guards were so afraid that they could not move. The angel spoke to the women: “He is not there; he has been raised, just as he said.”

 

Calendar of the Holy Week and Easter Celebrations:

 

Palm Sunday 

 

  • 6:30 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Procession with Palms and Pontifical Mass at Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene
  • 2:30 pm – Bethphage – Palm Sunday procession over Mt. of Olives to St. Anne’s Church
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession

 

Monday of Holy Week

  • 6 am – Jerusalem –  5th Station: Masses until 8 am
  • 6 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre (Calvary): Parish Mass (in Arabic)
  • 7 am – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Daily Solemn Mass
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession

 

Tuesday of Holy Week

  • 7 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion
  • 7:30 am – Jerusalem –  Flagellation: Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion
  • 4 pm – Jerusalem – Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession

 

Wednesday of Holy Week

  • 7 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion and daily procession
  • 7 am – Jerusalem – Gethsemane (Basilica of the Agony): Solemn Mass with signing of the Passion
  • 9 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Veneration of the Flagellation Colum throughout the day in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel
  • 3 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Tabernacle Service

 

Holy Thursday

  • 7 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Pontifical Mass (Washing of the Feet). Procession of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • 1: 45 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Notes: Basilica doors open, and close shortly afterwards. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Service. Notes: Exit after the Service (5 pm). The basilica remains closed for the rest of the day.
  • 3:30 pm – Jerusalem –  Mount Sion: Pilgrimage to the Cenactle and to the churches of St. James and St. Mark (Departure from St. Saviour’s at 3:10 pm)
  • 9 pm – Jerusalem –  Gethsemane: Holy Hour in the Basilica of Agony (No Photographs) Notes: 10pm – midnight: private prayers in silence

 

Holy Friday

  • 8 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Notes: Basilica doors open only for celebration, not for visits), and close shortly afterwards.
  • 8:15 am – Jerusalem – Calvary: Celebration of the Passion of the Lord
  • 11:30 am – Jerusalem – Via Dolorosa: Way of the Cross. Starting from the First Station with the Franciscan Friairs, followed by various groups.
  • 6 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Service
  • 00:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: “Funeral” Procession

 

Holy Saturday 

 

  • 7:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Easter Vigil
  • 3:15 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Entrance and Solemn Procession
  • 6 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Evening Prayer in front of the Edicule
  • 00:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Pontifical Celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in front of the Edicule, with the Custos of the Holy Land officiating

 

Easter Sunday

 

  • 6:30am SonRise service -Garden Tomb
  • 9:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Entrance of the Latin Patriarch
  • 9:45 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Pontifical Mass and Solemn Procession
  • 1200 Resurrection service in Korean broadcast on short wave radio to 2000+ Korean churches planted in the Far East
  • 5 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession

 

Easter Monday

 

  • 8:30 am – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Daily Solemn Mass
  • 10 am – Emmaus (Qubeibeh) – Pontifical Mass and Blessing of bread by the Custos of the Holy Land
  • 2: 30 pm – Emmaus (Qubeibeh) – Solemn Eucharistic Exposition
  • 5 pm – Jerusalem –  Holy Sepulchre: Daily Procession

**times and location subject to change, for more information please contact us.


Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.

*If you are interested in visiting the Holy Land and would like to plan  an individual or group pilgrimage please contact Travelujah

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