Let us now discover the Holy Week Timeline, which is a quick account of incidents that happened during the last days of Jesus on earth according to the four canonical Gospels.
The last week of Jesus Christ’s life on earth is commonly referred to as Holy Week or Passion Week. Christians all around the world prepare emotionally and spiritually to celebrate Christ’s great sacrifice and final victory over sin, death, and hell on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Throughout the Holy Week leading up to His death, burial, and resurrection, churches hold special vigils to remember the Savior of the World.
While Biblical historians disagree on the exact chronology of events during the Holy Week, this Holy Week Timeline or Passion Week Timeline provides an approximate summary of the most important landmarks of the Christian calendar’s holiest days. Follow through Jesus’ footsteps from Palm Sunday, which marks the start of Holy Week, to Resurrection Sunday, the day our Redeemer rose from the dead, learning about the key episodes that occurred each day during Jesus of Nazareth’s final week in this world as a human.
Let us now see an illustrated overview of the Holy Week Timeline.
Holy Week Timeline (Illustration)
We will now look at a more detailed breakdown of the Holy Week, also known as Passion Week, the most sacred and somber week in the liturgical year in Christianity in this Holy Week Timeline.
Holy Week Timeline Detailed Outlook
|Sunday — Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday |
(Holy Week Timeline)
|Jesus began His journey to Jerusalem on the Sunday before His crucifixion and death, knowing that He would shortly lay down His life for the sins of humanity. As they approached Bethphage, He dispatched two of His disciples ahead to find a donkey and its unbroken colt. The animals were to be untied and brought to Him by the disciples.|
Jesus makes a triumphal entry into Jerusalem, fulfilling an ancient prophecy In Zechariah 9:9. The multitude greeted and cheered him as he rode on a young donkey, waving palm branches in the air and chanting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One! Hosanna in the highest!”
He spends the night with His disciples at Bethany. Bethany is a small town east of Jerusalem, beyond the Mount of Olives, leading to the road to Jericho.
|Monday — Jesus Clears the Temple (Holy Week Timeline)||Jesus leaves Bethany with His disciples and heads back to Jerusalem.|
On His way into the city, He curses a fig tree for failing to give fruit.
Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem.
He purifies the temple by expelling those who bought and sold, as well as overturning the money-changers tables and the benches of those who retailed pigeons.
He spends the night in Bethany.
|Tuesday — Jesus Goes to the Mount of Olives (Holy Week Timeline)||Jesus and His disciples leave Bethany and return to Jerusalem. He teaches His followers about the value of faith as He walks by the fig tree He had previously cursed, which had dried up. When Christ returns to the Temple, He establishes Himself as the people’s spiritual authority; When His authority is questioned, He confounds and censures His adversaries, calling them hypocrites.|
On the walk back to Bethany, Jesus gives the Olivet Discourse, which is a detailed prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age. The Olivet talk is the fifth and final of the Gospel of Matthew’s Five Discourses, and it comes right before the account of Jesus’ passion.
Jesus returns to Bethany with His disciples for a night’s stay.
Mark 11: 20-24
|Wednesday — Resting in Bethany |
(Holy Week Timeline)
|There is no record in the Gospels, regarding the events on Holy Wednesday. However, it is believed that Jesus and His disciples stayed in Bethany in anticipation of Passover. They were resting after two exhausting days in Jerusalem. Jesus was preparing for the Last Supper with His disciples.|
Meanwhile, Judas Iscariot and the Sanhedrin, the council comprising the chief priests and the elders (ancient Israel’s rabbinical court), come to an agreement that Judas will hand over Jesus in exchange for 30 silver coins. The Sanhedrin were plotting to secretly arrest and kill Jesus. In remembrance of this event, this day is known as Spy Wednesday. (Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:4-6, Mark 14:10–11)
Jesus warns His disciples that He will be betrayed and crucified (Matthew 26:2). (Six days before the Passover, as Jesus was reclining at the table in Martha’s home, our Savior’s feet are lovingly anointed by Lazarus’ sister Mary of Bethany with an expensive ointment made from pure nard. She also wipes His feet with her hair. Jesus suggests that it is a preparation for His burial. (John 12: 1-8)
What follows Holy Wednesday is the ‘Triduum’ of Holy Week – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
|Thursday — Passover and Last Supper (Holy Week Timeline)||This Thursday is known as Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. The word ‘Maundy’ comes from the Latin phrase ‘Dias Mandatum,’ signifying “the day of the new commandment,” which Christ gave to His followers in John 13:34-35, telling us to love one another as He has loved us. On Good Friday, Jesus freely gave up His life on the cross, demonstrating this love.|
Four significant occurrences happened during this day. First, Jesus dispatches Peter and John from Bethany to Jerusalem to prepare the Passover feast in the Upper Room (for 12 of His closest disciples). In John’s Gospel, chapter 13, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in the Last Supper, an act portrayed as Jesus training them to be servants. It’s the pinnacle of what’s known as “servant leadership.” Jesus tells His followers to love and serve one another.
Second, Jesus breaks bread at the table and uses the unleavened bread and wine as a symbol for His upcoming sacrifice. “This is my body,” Jesus said as he broke bread with His disciples at the Last Supper. “This is my blood,” He said as He poured the fruit of the vine. “Do this in remembrance of me,” He told the disciples. The Last Supper, also known as the Holy Communion, is commemorated on Maundy Thursday by Christians as the institution of the Holy Eucharist.
According to historical researchers, the Passover supper would have consisted of cholent – a bean stew, olives with hyssop, fish sauce, lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs with pistachios, aromatized wine, and date charoset.
Third, Jesus goes out to pray in a garden (Garden of Gethsemane) to the Holiest of Holies, the Great Heavenly Father, at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The disciples fall asleep at this time, and Jesus is in pain and agony over what is about to happen.
Finally, Judas comes forward with a mob to arrest and put Jesus on trial. Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus with a kiss late that evening in Gethsemane, and the Sanhedrin arrest him. In the commotion, Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant with a sword. Jesus heals the servant. Jesus is first led to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Later Christ is taken to the High Priest’s residence, where the entire council has gathered to begin presenting their case against Jesus.
|Friday — Trial, Crucifixion, Death, and Burial|
(Holy Week Timeline)
|The most painful day of the Holy Week or Passion Week is Good Friday. In the final hours leading up to his crucifixion, Christ’s journey became perilous and excruciatingly painful.|
After Judas betrays Jesus by kissing (identifying Him to Roman soldiers and Temple guards), Jesus is rushed through a series of ordeals. He is first taken to Annas (first trial), the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest, who looks for an accusation, biding time till the Sanhedrin is gathering at the High Priest’s house.
Then, He is taken to Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest (second and primary trial), accompanied by other elders and teachers of the law, who are looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they may execute Him. Finally, the Sanhedrin sentences Jesus to death for saying He’s the Son of God.
The third trial takes place immediately at dawn, the condemnation is repeated, then Jesus is taken to Pontius Pilate, the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judaea. (The Jewish leaders realize that their laws prohibit them from killing Jesus themselves, so they hand Him over to the Roman governor.)
Meanwhile, as Jesus’ trial begins in the early morning hours, Peter denies knowing his Lord and Master three times before the rooster crows, just as Jesus predicted that Peter would deny knowledge of Him. Peter remembers what His Master had said to him, and he goes out, mentally broken and weeping bitterly.
When Judas Iscariot sees that Jesus Christ is condemned, he changes his mind and returns the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, declaring that he has sinned by betraying innocent blood. They give a frosty response to him. Judas, stricken with regret, tosses the money, flees, and hangs himself in the early hours of Friday morning.
Jesus is presented before the governor (fourth trial) Pontius Pilate, who after questioning Him, tells the chief priests and the crowds that he “finds no fault in” Jesus.
When Pilate discovers that Jesus is a Galilean (Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction), he hands Him over to Herod (fifth trial), who was in Jerusalem at that time. Herod had wished to meet Jesus for a long time since he had heard about Him and hoped to witness a miracle performed by Him. So he questions him for a long time, but Christ does not respond. The leading priests and scribes denounce Him vehemently. Herod dresses Jesus up in splendid clothing and sends him back to Pilate.
Jesus is now back at the governor’s headquarters. Now, during the feast, the governor was accustomed to releasing any prisoner, who the people desired. At that time, there was an infamous prisoner named Barabbas. Pilate asks the crowd who had gathered whether they want to free Barabbas or Jesus Christ. The horde chooses Barabbas and demands that Jesus be crucified.
Pilate attempts to free Jesus because he finds no fault worthy of death in Him, but the rabid response of the crowd forces him back inside to meet with Jesus again, eventually relenting to Jesus’ death sentence. To appease the throng, he releases Barabbas, and after scourging Jesus, sends him over to be crucified.
The soldiers mock Jesus after He is whipped with different sharp, maiming instruments. Jesus is now in bodily suffering and emotional anguish.
Many key Old Testament predictions are fulfilled during the ordeal of Jesus’ suffering and death (Psalm 22, Isaiah 53) These include information regarding His physical death (being nailed to a cross), mockery from spectators, and separation from God as a result of taking on humanity’s sins.
Jesus experienced the humiliation of false allegations, condemnation, derision, whippings, and rejection before the third hour (9 a.m.). He was sentenced to death by crucifixion, one of the most horrifying and shameful means of capital punishment known at the time, after repeated wrongful trials.
The soldiers spit on Christ, torture and humiliate Him, and wound Him with a crown of thorns before leading him away. Jesus bears his cross to Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), where he is humiliated and insulted once more. Soldiers from the Roman army nail Him to the wooden cross.
From the cross, Jesus makes seven final statements. “Father, forgive them,” he said first. “They have no idea what they are doing.”” “Father, I surrender my spirit into your hands,” He said before passing away. (Luke 23:34, Luke 23:43, John 19:26–27, Matthew 27:46, John 19:28, John 19:30, Luke 23:46)
Then, at approximately 3 p.m. (ninth hour), Jesus breathes his last and dies. Jesus was nailed to the cross and hung on it for six hours going through tremendous physical and mental pain.
At 6 p.m. Friday, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, members of the Sanhedrin, take Jesus’ body down from the cross and lay it in a tomb after obtaining permission from Pilate. Nicodemus ceremonially prepares Christ’s body for burial with spices he had purchased. He had brought around 75 pounds of the fragrant ointment made with myrrh and aloes. They wrap Jesus’ body in long sheets of linen cloth with the spices, as per Jewish burial custom.
Some of the supernatural occurrences which happened during Christ’s crucifixion and death are three hours of darkness, the sanctuary curtain ripping in half from top to bottom, the earth trembling, the rocks splitting, the graves breaking, and the saints resurrecting to life. (Luke 23:44, Mark 15:33, Matthew 27:51-52)
Matthew 26: 57-75
Mark 14: 53-72
Mark 15: 1-47
Luke 22: 54-71
Luke 23: 1-25;33-56
|Saturday — In the Tomb (Holy Week Timeline)||Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb when he died. On Saturday, the Sabbath day, which is the day of rest for the Jews, His physical body was guarded by Roman soldiers throughout the day. After the traumatic events of Friday, the Lord’s day meant that the general populace abstained from activities on that day, and it was quiet.|
Pilate grants a guard and seals the tomb of Jesus at the request of the Jewish leaders because they remember Jesus’ words, “After three days I shall rise again.” in Matthew 27:63.
They were concerned that Jesus’ disciples would seize His body and announce that He has rose again from the dead to the crowds.
One should note that no one could have overpowered the Roman or Jewish guards and rolled the large stone away, which took numerous people to move to the entrance of the tomb in the first place. Furthermore, archaeology and Jewish history demonstrate that to enter a conventional tomb during the period, one had to crouch down and crawl in, rather than walk in and leave standing.
At 6 p.m., the Sabbath came to an end. To anoint Jesus’ body, Mary Magdalene, Mary (James’ mother), and Salome went out and bought funeral spices.
|Sunday — The Resurrection of our Lord and Redeemer|
(Holy Week Timeline)
|On the day of His resurrection, Jesus Christ rises from the grave (before dawn) and makes five appearances.|
The eyewitness narratives in the Gospels reveal the irrefutable proof that Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead. Believers continue to go to Jerusalem two centuries after His crucifixion, death, and resurrection to witness the empty tomb.
The day included multiple improbable witnesses to a miracle, as well as an appearance and message from an angel, similar to Jesus’ birth.
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, Joanna, and Salome go to the tomb early in the morning taking the spices they had prepared, intending to complete the burial preparation of His body. An earthquake shakes the ground, and the Lord’s angel descends from heaven and rolls back the large stone, and sits on it. He has a lightning-like look and wears snow-white garments. The guards shake and become as lifeless as dead men as a result of their terror of him.
The angel eases the concerns of Jesus’ female followers, reminding them of our Savior’s promise to rise again on the third day, and asks them to deliver this message of great hope and joy to the other disciples.
The women notify the rest of the disciples about the miraculous things they had witnessed and the good news of Jesus being alive. However, the disciples did not believe them, and two of Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John, rise and run to the tomb. They stoop and look in, seeing the linen wrappings, while the cloth that covered the head of Jesus folded up and lying apart. They go home marveling at what had happened.
Meanwhile, the guards go into the city and inform the chief priests of all that had taken place. The priests and the elders bribe them and ask them to tell people that the disciples of Jesus stole His body while they were asleep at night. The guards take the money and do as they were instructed.
Later, Jesus appears to the remaining disciples, confirming His identity as God’s Son. His body only displays indications of nail piercings and a spear wound (John 20:20), even though He sustained terrible trauma on Friday.
On the day of His resurrection, Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene, who tells her not to touch Him, since he had not yet ascended to Heaven (John 20:11-17); the other four female followers who come to the tomb (Matthew 28:9-10); two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32); Simon Peter (Luke 24:34); and all of the astounded disciples, except Thomas (Luke 24:36-49, John 20:19-20).
Many believers describe Lent, the Christian season of fasting and self-denial leading up to Easter. as a journey, with the Holy Week as the final destination. The Holy Week Timeline is based on the “passion narratives” found in the New Testament Gospels, which depict Jesus Christ’s suffering (passio in Latin), death, and burial.
Every spring, believers belonging to different denominations such as Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox commemorate the final eight days of Jesus’ life on earth by celebrating the Holy Week. They take time to reflect on the sufferings of Jesus Christ and thank the Almighty Heavenly Father for giving His Only Begotten Sinless Son as an atonement for our sins to redeem humans from death and eternal damnation. The most significant milestones in the history of humanity occurred during the Holy Week. During the sacred week, the churches conduct a variety of special services, readings, hymns, and celebrations to mark each day. Christians congregate in churches during this week to contemplate the significance of the gospel story.
The series of events that transpires during Passion Week follow Jesus Christ’s final days before his crucifixion, and what occurs on Holy Weekdays is based on the Biblical narratives. The dates for Holy Week coincide with the Jewish Passover, which takes place when there is a full moon. Many academics have deduced the Holy Week timetable and four major events: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday based on these accounts.
This Holy Week Timeline captures the joyful screams of ‘Hosanna!’, the solemnity of Holy Wednesday and Maundy Thursday, the horrors of Jesus’ anguish and death on Good Friday, the happy celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter. The Holy Week Timeline is a roller coaster ride as it portrays a variety of emotions that have a direct impact on our choices and influence the way we think and feel.
The Holy Week Timeline vividly illustrates the spotless sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for our transgressions by His death on the cross. Christ conquered and defeated death, grave, and hell ensuring our eternal salvation.
We hope the Holy Week Timeline encourages you to share the Gospel’s good news. The Holy Week Timeline focuses on the events leading to Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. We pray that this Holy Week Timeline will help you better comprehend the significance and story of Passion Week and that it will inspire you to reflect on everything that God has done for you through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The events leading up to Jesus of Nazareth’s death and His glorious resurrection, which is the foundation of Christian faith and worship, are described in this Holy Week Timeline.
Our articles on Lent will help you understand the need for God’s presence in your lives and use this season as a time of repenting, sobriety, refocusing, and renewing. Practice prayer, observe fasting, give up something, and assist those in need.