Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Also included within Passion Week are Holy MondayHoly TuesdaySpy WednesdayMaundy ThursdayGood Friday, and Holy Saturday. Passion Week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of His people. Passion Week is described in Matthew chapters 21-27; Mark chapters 11-15; Luke chapters 19-23; and John chapters 12-19. Passion Week begins with the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday on the back of a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

The Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1-11): The climax of the Christian story is upon us. Christ is about to enter the gates of Jerusalem to songs of praise, only to hear those same voices turn first to accusations and then to jeers as he goes to his death on a cross. This entry has its genesis in Jesus’ strategy to bring himself and his message to Jerusalem. This was much more than a PR opportunity not to be missed because of the concentration of people in Jerusalem during Passover.

Matthew begins, as does Mark, with the finding of the animals. The actions of the crowd are as they are reported in Mark. Their acclamation, using the words of Psalm 118, which, heralds the Davidic Messiah. Matthew simplifies their cry. It becomes: ‘Hosanna to the son of David.’ ‘Son of David’ is an appropriate title for Israel’s Messiah. It is found on the lips of the Canaanite woman, two sets of two blind men (20:29-34; 9:27-31; Mark 10:46-52), and a few verses later on the lips of children who also cry: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ (21:15).

Jesus at the Temple: ‘“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.  “It is written,” he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers”’ (vv. 12-17).  Jesus is stated to have visited the Temple in Jerusalem, where the courtyard is described as being filled with livestock, merchants, and the tables of the money changers, who changed the standard Greek and Roman money for Jewish and Tyrian money. (Gentile money could not be used at the Temple because of the graven images on it.) Jerusalem was packed with Jews who had come for Passover, perhaps numbering 300,000 to 400,000 pilgrims.

The Authority of Jesus Questioned: All sorts of folks ask Jesus questions in Matthew’s Gospel, and both their questions and Jesus’ answers are striking. There are many different kinds of questions asked of Jesus. Both the Baptizer and Pilate ask questions about Jesus’ identity; John asks if he is in fact the one they have been waiting for (11:2-3), and Pilate asks if he is the king of the Jews (27:11). The Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, chief priests and elders asked questions to try to trap.

 Here in Matthew 21 Jesus responds to the question put to him with a question of his own, and a parable to illustrate it. The chief priests and elders ask Jesus where his authority comes from. His return-question is about John the Baptizer. He asks them if John’s baptism came from heaven, or from the human mind? His question reverses the trap which the chief priests and elders are trying to set for Jesus. His accusers take the fifth, refusing to answer Jesus lest it incriminate them in the eyes of the crowds. So, Jesus, in turn, doesn’t answer their question about his authority either, but he does tell them a parable.


Passion Week ( 24–27)

The Olivet Discourse ( 24–25)

The Anointing of Jesus’ Feet (26:1–13)

The Arrest, Trials and Death of Jesus (26:14—27:66)