The Holy Week of Easter

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What is the meaning of Holy week and why is it important?

 

The Holy Week of Easter culminates with the central event of the Bible and of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The free Passion Plays that take place across the UK every year tell the Gospel story of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection, but what are the other dates of Holy Week and what do they mean?

 

Palm Sunday

This is the start of Holy Week and is also called Passion Sunday. On this day we remember Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem on a humble donkey. He was greeted by crowds of people who waved palm branches and welcomed him.

“Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

 

Maundy Thursday

The day when Jesus celebrated his last Passover with his disciples. Passover is the time when Jewish people remember that God rescued them from Egypt with a great exodus. During the Passover feast, they ate unleavened bread and roasted lamb and drank wine and Jesus described the bread as a symbol of his body that would be broken and the wine as a symbol of his blood which would be shed for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:17-30).

John 1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

 

Good Friday

The day when Jesus was crucified. This day is often commemorated as a day of mourning, of fasting and of sorrow. However, it is named ‘good’ Friday because on this day Jesus was killed in our place and suffered the weight of sin and its penalty of death so that we could be forgiven and given eternal life.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

Holy Saturday

The day when Jesus lay in the tomb after the crucifixion. In the Gospel of Matthew we read that when he Christ died, the earth shook, there was great darkness. During this time Jesus descended into Hell. This descent is described as a triumph because he defeated the Devil and released  people from the tyranny of death. For many centuries, this was described as the  ‘Harrowing of Hell’.

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

 

Easter Sunday

The day when Jesus rose again. In the Gospel of Matthew we read that after Christ died, the earth shook, there was darkness, and many people rose from the dead. Then, after his resurrection graves opened up and released their dead and many of them walked about in Jerusalem and were seen by many people there.

Acts 2:24 “But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.”

Banner reading Find out more about Easter Passion Plays in the UK