Day 40: Holy Week
Illustration: Juliana Crownover
Lent officially ends after forty days, leading us to Holy Week and the march to the cross. Holy Week is the most somber, penitential week of the whole church year, a time when we reflect on how our sin necessitated Christ’s death.
In preparation for Holy Week, we invite you to prepare yourself for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead by reading the passion story for yourself. We have presented this without interpretive comments or explanation. We want you to experience the events of the Gospel unadorned, with just the words of the text to guide you.
Of course, by attending the various services during Holy Week, you will hear this story recounted several times. However, you will likely enter much more deeply into this week if you read the story of these events for yourself. Thus we invite you to read the story of the Gospel twice, once as Mark presented it and once as Luke presented, it in preparation for the Three Holy Days at the end of the week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
You can do this at whatever pace you like. One suggestion would be to break up this reading into four days, reading one Chapter each day. Ideally, you would read these stories in a slow, methodical, meditative way, pausing to reflect on the great mystery of the events of Jesus’ Passion.
You might even emulate how Christians have approached the Bible for centuries by reading it contemplatively. In particular, you might put yourself at scene of the Last Supper, in the Garden or at the Cross to experience first-hand what it felt like to experience these events first-hand. You might carry on conversations with the various characters in your imagination. There has never been a greater love story than the account of how Jesus died the most gruesome death known in His day to free us from the bondage of sin.
We should also remember what a privilege it is to be able to do this. For much of the Church’s history, laypeople did not have direct access to the Scriptures because it was too expensive to reproduce. A Bible was the ultimate luxury good for the first fifteen-hundred years of the Church.
One of the greatest inventions of the Reformation was to emphasize the importance of biblical literacy for each Christian. Coinciding with the invention of the printing press and the massive reduction in cost to produce books this brought about, it became possible for the first time for individuals outside the clergy, University schools or Monasteries to interact with the Scriptures directly.
Direct interaction with the Scriptures revolutionized the Christian faith for many people. It played a central role in the English Reformation and lead to the widespread expectation of literacy that we enjoy today. In fact, in the reign of James I, English laypeople begged for a vernacular translation of the Bible. In 1611, they got their wish when the King James Version of the Bible was published, one of the seminal events in the history of the Church of England and in the development of the English language itself.
Our ancestors begged for a copy of the Bible to soak in its saving message. They yearned to shape their lives and live in conformity with its teachings. With this in mind, we would do well to recapture their zeal and experience the story of the Passion like we are hearing it for the first time.
The Holy Gospel According to Mark
1Now two days before the Passover was Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the High Priests and Scribes were all seeking to arrest Jesus quietly and kill him. 2For they were saying, “Not at the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
3Now Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper. While he was dining, a woman with an alabaster jar full of costly pure ointment came in. After breaking the flask, she anointed his head. 4And some became indignant, saying, “Why waste such expensive ointment? 5since she could have sold this myrrh for over three hundred denarii and given it to the poor.” So they were censuring her. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has performed a good work for me. 7For you have the poor with you always and can do good for them whenever you want, but you will not always have me around. 8She’s done what she could. She has anticipated my burial by anointing my body beforehand. 9I tell you the truth, wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the whole world, what she has done will be received in memory of her.”
10Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went out to the High Priests so that he might betray Jesus to them. 11And when they heard his proposal they were happy and agreed to pay him in silver coins. And Judas was seeking an appropriate time to betray Him.
12Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare to celebrate the Passover”? 13He sent two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you carrying a jar of water. Follow him. 14Wherever he enters, tell the master of the house that the Teacher says, ‘Where is my guest room where I can celebrate the Passover with my disciples.’ 15And he will show you a large upstairs room furnished and prepared. Prepare it for us there.” 16So the disciples went out and came to the city and found it just as Jesus had told them and they prepared the Passover.
17Then, when it became evening, the twelve came. 18And they were reclining at the table and eating when Jesus said, “Truly I saw to you that one of you eating with me will betray me.” 19They began to be distressed and to say, one at a time, “It’s not me, is it”? 20He said to them, “It’s one of the twelve, one who dips with me in this bowl. 21Since the Son of Man will go just as it is written about him, but woe to the man through whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better if that man had never been born.”
22And as they were eating, He took bread, and after He had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them and said, “Take, this is my body.” 23And taking the cup, after having given thanks, He gave it to them and they all drank from it. 24And He said to them, “This is my blood of the Covenant which is shed for many. 25Truly I say to you, I will not by any means drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the Kingdom of God.”
26After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27And Jesus said to them, “All will fall away since it stands written, ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 29And Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else falls away, I won’t.” 30And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today, before this night is through and the rooster crows, you will refuse to acknowledge me three times.” 31But with great emphasis, Peter kept saying, “If it’s necessary for me to die for you, then, there’s no chance I’ll deny you.” And they all were saying the same thing.
32Then they came to a place called Gethsemane. And He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go pray.” 33And he took Peter, James and John with Him and Jesus began to feel distress and anxiety. 34And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved unto death. Stay here and keep watch.” 35Going on a little way, he fell on the ground and was praying, if it might be possible to let this hour pass from him.” 36And he was saying, “Abba Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will, but your will be done.” 37And He came and found them sleeping and He said to Simon Peter, “Are you asleep? Are you not able to stay awake one hour?” 38”Stay awake and pray so that you might not come into temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.” 39And again, he went away and prayed the same thing. 40And again, when he returned, He found them asleep, for their eyes were heavy and they did not know what to tell Him. 41And He came a third time and said to them, “Are you sleeping like the rest and snoozing? Enough, the hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Get up, let’s be off, Look, the one betraying me has come near.”
43And just then, while he was still talking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived and with him was a crowd with swords and clubs from the High Priests, Scribes and Elders. 44And the one betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whoever I kiss is the one, arrest Him and lead Him away securely.” 45And when he came, “he went right up to Jesus and said, “Rabbi,” and he kissed Him. 46And they laid hands on Him and arrested Him. 47And one of those standing by drew his sword and struck the servant of the High Priest and severed his ear.
48Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to apprehend me like a bandit? 49Day after day I was with you in the Temple teaching and you didn’t arrest me. But it has happened so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.” 50And all the disciples took off and fled. 51And a certain young man was following him, wearing just a linen cloth and they tried to arrest him. 52But he fled away naked, leaving his linen cloth behind.
53Then they brought Jesus to the High Priest and all the Chief Priests along with the Elders and the Scribes gathered together. 54And Peter followed Him from afar off until he was outside the courtyard of the High Priest and Peter was sitting with the servants, warming himself by the fire.
55Then the High Priests and the whole Council were trying to secure testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they weren’t able. 56For many offered false testimony against Him, but their testimonies did not match up. 57Now some rose up and offered false testimony against Him, saying, 58“We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and after three days, I will raise up another that is not man-made.’” 59But none of their testimony was in agreement. 60And after this, the High Priest arose in their midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Don’t you have an answer? What do you have to say in response?” 61But He was silent and did not answer them at all. Again the High Priest asked and said to Him, “Are you the Christ, the beloved Son”? 62And Jesus said, “I AM and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of the sky.” 63Then the High Priest ripped his tunic and said, “What more need do we have for further testimony? 64You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” And they all were pronouncing Him guilty, condemning Him to death. 65And some began to spit on Him and to cover His face and to punch Him saying to Him, “Prophecy!” The offers also took Him and slapped Him around.
66Now, while Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the High Priest came. 67When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared intently at him and said, “You were also with the Nazarene Jesus.” 68And he denied it, saying, “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about.” And he went outside to the outer court and a rooster crowed.
69Then, when the servant girl, saw him, she again began to say to those standing by, “He’s one of them!” 70He again denied it. And after a little while, those standing around were saying to Peter, “You are really one of them since you are a Galilean.” 71But he began to curse and swear, saying, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” 72And just then, the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And coming undone, he wept.
1And right away, when it was morning, the High Priests with the Elders, the Scribes and the whole Council made a plan. They bound Jesus and carried Him off, handing Him over to Pilate. 2So Pilate asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And He answered and said, “You say so.” 3Then the High Priests accused Him of many things. 4So Pilate again asked him, saying, “You’re not going to answer anything? Don’t you see how much they are charging you with?” 5But Jesus said nothing more, amazing Pilate.
6Now at the Feast, Pilate customarily released to them one prisoner, whomever they asked for. 7And there was one named Barabbas, having been arrested with the insurrectionists for committing murder in the uprising. 8And rising up, the crowd began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9And Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release the King of the Jews to you”? 10For he knew that the High Priests had handed Jesus over out of envy. 11And the High Priests incited the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead. 12Then Pilate again answered and said to them, “So what do you want me to do with the one you call ‘King of the Jews’”? 13And they again shouted, “Crucify Him!” 14So Pilate started saying to them, “Why? What has He done wrong?” And they hollered all the more, “Crucify Him!” 15So Pilate, wanting to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them. And he handed over Jesus, after having him flogged, to be crucified.
16So the solders led Him away to the courtyard (called the Praetorium), and they called together the whole regiment. 17Then they dressed Him in purple cloth and after weaving together a crown of thorns, they placed it on Him. 18And they began to salute Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19And they were beating Him on the head with a staff and they were spitting on Him and were taking a knee to worship Him. 20And after they mocked Him, they took off the purple garment and put His own clothes back on Him. And they lead Him away to crucify Him.
21And they compelled a passerby, a certain Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus) who was coming from the marketplace to carry His cross. 22And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which, when translated, means “the place of a skull”). 23And they were offering Him wine mixed with myrrh to drink, but He didn’t take any.
24And they crucified Him, distributing his garments by casting lots for them to determine what each would take. 25And it was the third hour when they crucified Him. 26And the inscription of his charge read, “The King of the Jews.” 27And they crucified Him along with two robbers, one on His right and one on His left. 28And this was to fulfill the Scripture which said, “And He was counted with the transgressors.” 29And those passing by were blaspheming Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Ha! You who wanted to destroy the Temple and in three days rebuild it, 30save yourself and come down from the cross!” 31Likewise also the High Priests together with the Scribes were mocking Him, saying, “He saved others, can He not save Himself” 32Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross so that we might see it and believe Him.” And those crucified with Him, were also reproaching Him.
33Now when the sixth hour had come, it became dark over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani,” (which, when translated means, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”) 35And some of those standing around, who heard it, were saying, “Look, He’s calling Elijah!” 36And one of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and offered it to Him, saying, “Let Him be, let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down.” 37But Jesus let loose a loud cry and expired.
38Then the curtain of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who was standing before Him, saw Jesus cry out and expire, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”
40There were also women, standing afar off looking on, one of whom was Mary Magdalene, another was Mary, the mother of James, the younger, and of Joses, as well as Salome. These women, when He was in Galilee, used to follow Him and minister to Him. There were also many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
42Already evening had come, when it was the day of preparation, (that is, the day before the Sabbath). 43Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council who was looking forward to the kingdom of God. He dared to go into Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus. 44Now Pilate was surprised that He had already died. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had died a while ago. 45And getting confirmation from the centurion, Pilate released the body to Joseph. 46And after purchasing a linen cloth and pulling Him down, he wrapped Him in the cloth and laid Him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone over the entrance of the tomb. 47And Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where He had been laid.
The Holy Gospel According to St. Luke
1Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread was at hand (which is called the Passover). 2And the High Priests and Scribes were trying to figure out how to kill Jesus, since they were afraid of the people. 3And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, being one of the twelve. 4And going out, he was talking with the High Priests and the officers about how he might betray Jesus to them. 6Judas made an agreement with them and was looking for an opportune time to betray Him when no crowd was around.
7Now the day of the Feast of Unleavened bread came, on which it was necessary to sacrifice the Passover lamb. 8And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go, prepare the Passover for us so that we might eat.” 9And they said to Him, “Where do you want us to prepare it”? 10And Jesus said to them, “Look, when you enter into the city, a man transporting a vessel of water will meet you. Follow him to the house he enters. 11Then tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, where is the lodging place where I can celebrate the Passover with my disciples?’ 12He will show you a large furnished upper room. Prepare it there.” 13And leaving, they found it just as He had told them and they prepared the Passover.
14Now when the hour came, He sat at the table, and His twelve apostles were with Him. 15And Jesus said to them, “I have eagerly desired to celebrate this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I say to you that I will by no means eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
17And taking the cup, after giving thanks, he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18For I say to you that I will by no means drink from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God has come.” 19And taking the bread, having blessed it, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20Likewise, after supper, he took the cup, saying, “This is the cup of the New Covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.”
21“Nevertheless, the hand of the one who betrays me is at the table. 22For the Son of Man goes according to what has been appointed. Nevertheless, woe to that man through whom He is betrayed.” 23And they began to debate with one another about who among them could do such a thing.
24And it happened that an argument arose among them about who seemed to be the greatest. 25And He said to them, ‘The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority are called ‘benefactors.’ 26But it shall not be so among you, but whoever is greatest among you, let him be as the youngest and he who leads, let him be as one who serves. For who is greater, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves at it? Is it not the one who sits? But I am among you as one who serves.”
28“And you are those who have remained continuously with me in my trials. 29I also am arranging for you a kingdom as my Father has given it to me 30so that you might eat and drink at my table and might sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
31Then the Lord said, “Simon, Simon, look, Satan has asked for you to sift you like wheat. 32But I have prayed for you so that your faith might not fail. So when you have turned around, strengthen your brothers.” 33And he said to Him, “Lord, I am prepared to go with you to prison and even to death.” 34And Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today before you deny three times that you know Me.”
35And He said to them, “When I sent you out without a money bag, pouch or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “No, nothing.” 36So He said to them, “But now the one who has a money bag, let him take it. Likewise also a pouch. And one who does not have a sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” 37And they said, “Lord, look, we have two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”
39And after going out, He went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives and His disciples followed Him. 40And He went away from them about a stone’s throw and got on his knees and was praying, 41saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” 43Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44And being in agony, He was praying fervently. And His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45And getting up from prayer, He went to the disciples and found them asleep out of grief. 46And He said to them, “Why are you asleep? Get up and pray so that you might not fall into temptation.”
47And while He was still speaking, a crowd came. And the one known as Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. And he drew near to Jesus and kissed Him. 48And Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49And when those around Him saw it, they said, “Shall we strike with the sword?” 50And one of them struck the servant of the High Priest and cut off his right ear. 51Then Jesus answered and said, “Stop this!” And he touched his ear and healed it.
52So Jesus said to the High Priests, temple police and Elders who had come out against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, like you would against a bandit”? 53Day after day, when I was with you in the Temple, you did not lay your hands on me, but it is your hour and the power of darkness.” 54Then, apprehending Him, they led Him away and entered into the house of the High Priest. Now Peter was following along from a distance.
55And when they had made a fire in the midst of the courtyard, Peter sat down together with them in their midst. 56Then, when a servant girl saw him sitting by the fire, she looked intently at him and said, “This one was also with Him!” 57But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I don’t know him.” 58Then a bit later, another saw him and said, “You are also one of them.” And Peter said, “Man, I’m not.” 59Then, after about an hour had passed, another was insisting, saying, “Truly this one was also with Him, since he is a Galilean.” 60Then Peter said, “Man I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And just then, as he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.” 61And the Lord turned and stared right at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord when He said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 62And going outside, Peter wept bitterly.
63Then the men who were holding Jesus were mocking him and beating Him. 64And blindfolding Him, they were slapping Him on the face and asking Him, saying, “Prophecy! Who’s striking you?” 65And they were speaking many other blasphemies against Him.
66Now, when day arrived, the Elders of the people gathered together with the High Priests and the Scribes and led Him away to their Council, the Sanhedrin, 67saying, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” And He said to them, “Even if I tell you there’s no way you will believe.” 68And if I ask you, there’s no way you’ll answer me or let me go. 69From now on, the Son of Man will be sitting at the right hand of the power of God.” 70And they all said, “Are you the Son of God?” And He said to them, “You have said that I AM.” 71And they said, “Do we have any need to have witnesses? For we have heard it from His mouth!”
1Then the whole multitude of them got up and led Him to Pilate.2And they began to bring charges against Him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding the people to pay taxes to Caesar and speaking of Himself as Christ, a king.” 3Then Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And Jesus answered him and said, “You say so.” 4So Pilate said to the High Priests and the crowds, “I find nothing amiss with this man.” 5But they pressed him, saying, “He is riling up the people, teaching throughout all of Judea. He started in Galilee and wound up here.”
6So Pilate arose and asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7And realizing that He was under the authority of Herod, he sent Him to Herod since Herod was in Jerusalem during those days. 8And, when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly happy since for a long time he had wanted to see Him since he heard about Jesus and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. 9So he interrogated Him with many words, but Jesus did not answer Him. 10Then the High Priests and the Scribes stood there, vehemently accusing Him. 11And Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt, mocking Him. Dressing Him in royal robes, Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. 12Now Herod and Pilate become friends with one another on that day as they had previously been enemies.
13Then Pilate called together the High Priests and the rulers and the people. 14He said to them, ‘You brought this man to me as one misleading the people. Look, I have examined Him before you and found nothing amiss in this man according to anything you are asserting against Him. 15Herod didn’t either, since He sent Him back to us. So, look, He’s done nothing worthy of death. 16Now, after having Him flogged, I’m going to release Him.”
18But altogether they started shouting with a loud voice, saying, “Take this one away, release Barabbas to us!” 19(Barabbas was someone thrown into prison for inciting a riot and for murder.) 20And again Pilate addressed them, wanting to release Jesus. 21So they cried out saying, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” 22And a third time he said to them, ‘What has He done wrong? I have found nothing amiss. So after I have him flogged, I’m going to let Him go.” 23And they were screaming at the top of their lungs, demanding Jesus be crucified. And their shouts prevailed.
24So Pilate decided their request should be granted. 25He released the insurrectionist and murderer thrown into prison whom they asked for and delivered Jesus over to their will.
26And as they took Him away, they grabbed hold of Simon of Cyrene who was coming from the marketplace, making him carry His cross to bring it behind Jesus.
27Then a large multitude of people followed Him, including women mourning and lamenting Him. 28And Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Rather, weep for yourselves and for your children, 29since, look, the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that have not given birth and breasts that have not nursed.’ 30Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us,’ 31since if such things are done when the wood is green, what will take place when it becomes dry?” 32So they led Jesus away and two other criminals were put to death along with Him.
33And when they came to the place which is called, “Skull” they crucified Him there, along with two criminals, one on His right and one on His left. 34And Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Then they cast lots, dividing His garments.
35And the people had been standing there, watching, and they sneered. Then the officials said, “He saved others. Let him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen one of God.” 36And having mocked Him, the soldiers came up and offered Jesus some sour wine, 37saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38And they wrote this inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39Now one of the criminals hanging beside him was reviling him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save us and yourself!” 40But the other one answered him, rebuking him, and saying, “Don’t you fear God since you are under His judgment? This is just for us since we are receiving according to what we have done. But this one hasn’t done anything improper.” 43And he said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
44Now it was already the sixth hour and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour 45as the sun gave out. And the curtain of the Temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice and said, “Father into Your hands, I commend my spirit.” Then, having said this, He expired.
47And when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “This man was certainly righteous.” 48Then the whole crowd that had come together for this spectacle, having seen what happened, turned away, beating their breasts. 49And everyone who knew Him, was standing afar off and the women who followed Him from Galilee saw these things.
50Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and righteous man. 51(He was not in agreement with the Council and their actions.) He was from the Judean city of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God. 52He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53He took Jesus down, wrapped him in a linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb hewn out of stone in which no one else had lain. 54It was the day of preparation for the Passover and the Sabbath was drawing near.
55And the women who had accompanied Jesus from Galilee, followed Him. They saw the tomb as His body was laid therein. 56Then they returned to prepare aromatic spices and myrrh. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the Commandment.