The passion and death of Jesus – why do we remember? There are 7 miraculous reasons to remember Jesus’ passion and death, and, most importantly, His resurrection at Easter. It may sound odd to remember suffering and death. Yet, it is important for us to continually recognize the incredible sacrifice involved, Easter is about Jesus’ sacrifice and the wonder and celebration of the resurrection. As T.D.Jakes said – It’s Friday – But Sunday’s Comin’.
There are many traditions leading up to Easter Sunday. Many Christians observe Lent which starts 46 days before Easter with Ash Wednesday. Lent is a period of preparation, fasting, and reflection leading up to Easter. It ends on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.
Holy Week Timeline
Holy Week is the last week of Lent. It includes Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. It does not include Sunday – that is reserved for Easter or Resurrection Sunday. All the other days are days of remembrance and meditation as Christ’s suffering began and then ended with His body in the tomb. Easter is the day of celebrating His resurrection from the dead that brought us new life in Christ.
Churches celebrate Palm Sunday when Jesus was honored as the King. The people bowed before Him as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, waving palm branches and proclaiming Him the Son of David, crying out – Hosanna in the Highest. He went on to from there to spend the night in Bethany. This is recorded in Matthew 21:1-11.
On Monday, as He and the disciples returned to Jerusalem, He cursed the fig tree and, in Jerusalem, drove the moneychangers from the temple, proclaiming it to be a House of Prayer – not a ‘den of robbers’ while showing His authority. That night, He and the disciples returned to Bethany, and probably stayed with Lazarus and his family again. This day is recorded in Matthew 21:12-22
On Tuesday, Jesus and the disciples returned to Jerusalem. On the way, He taught the lesson of the fig tree, The religious leaders, who were furious that He had established Himself as one in authority, had set up an ambush to arrest Him. However, He knew about it and evaded them while pronouncing judgment on them in Matthew 23:24-33.
In the afternoon, He and the disciples went to the Mount of Olives where He gave a discourse on the end times and the second coming. Matthew 26:14-16 indicates that Tuesday is also the day Judas Iscariot negotiated his plan with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus.
There is no definitive record of what Jesus did on Wednesday. It is important to remember that Judas had undoubtedly been with Jesus all of this time except for his side trip to the Sanhedrin. Jesus was carefully following the plan ordained by God while knowing exactly what Judas and the others were doing. Perhaps, on this day, He rested with His friends.
Thursday, which is also called Maundy Thursday, is a far more serious day. The word Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, because this is when Jesus gave us His new commandment to love one another in the same way He loved us in John 13:34.
The Jews were observing Passover and this was the day for the Passover feast or Seder. The Jews were commemorating the time when God spared them from the plague – it ‘passed over’ all the homes where they had put blood on the doorposts as God had commanded – the blood of a sacrificial lamb which spared them from death. Jesus sent Peter and John into Jerusalem to prepare the Seder. That evening, Jesus’ washed the feet of every disciple, including Judas and told them this:
“And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:15-16 NIV
Jesus established the tradition of communion, asking that it be done in order for us to remember what He had done for us. After dinner, all of them went to Gethsemane where Jesus cried out to the Father asking that, if possible, this cup of suffering be taken from Him, Yet, He wanted God’s will to be done and submitted to what was to come.
Judas, who had previously arranged a signal for the soldiers, betrayed Jesus with a kiss and He was arrested and taken to the home of Caiphas, the High Priest. There the Council (the Sanhedrin) began their accusations and in the early morning, Peter denied Christ 3 times. Matthew 26:17-75 tells this story.
Good Friday – The Passion and Death of Jesus
It might be hard to understand why this day is called “Good.” It is the day of Christ’s suffering and Passion. The original meaning of passion was pain and this is the day of His greatest pain, suffering, betrayal, torture, humiliation, and being forsaken by the Father. He is beaten and hung on a cross to die a humiliating and torturous death with a crown of thorns on His head. Matthew 27:1-62
Yet, this is the day He also proclaims – It is Finished. It is the day that the veil in the temple was torn in half from top to bottom. It is the day the dead rose from the grave. It is the day that changed everything.
On the cross, Jesus made 7 very important statements:
- His first words were to the Father establishing forgiveness of sin through unconditional love, “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:34 NIV
- Next, He spoke to the criminal on one of the crosses next to him establishing eternal life through forgiveness of sin, “Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43 NIV
- Then, He spoke to His mother Mary and to John, establishing the family bonds created through His life and death, “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27 NIV
- At about 3 in the afternoon, Jesus cried out to the Father again, experiencing total separation from the Father as He took on the full weight of our sin, “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, emasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Matthew 27:46 NIV
- Jesus then fulfilled prophecy in Psalm 69:21, affirming His divinity and God’s plan “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” John 19:28 NIV
- He proclaimed the finished plan of God and the ultimate victory over sin and death, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” John 19:30a NIV
- His final words proved that He gave His life – it was NOT taken from Him, “With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30b NIV
At around six that evening, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea came and took Jesus’ body to the tomb. This ended Christ’s suffering and set the stage for Sunday.
On Saturday, after the Jewish Sabbath ended at 6 p.m. Christ’s body was treated with spices and wrapped in sheets of linen as Roman Soldiers guarded the tomb. They did not want anyone to steal His body. Nicodemus had purchased the spices. He, along with Joseph of Arimathea, were members of the Sanhedrin. Part of the group who had sentenced Jesus to death as they secretly believed in Him as their Savior. Matthew 27:62-66
This is the day we now call Easter. It is the culmination of thousands of years of preparation; of making the world ready for the Savior; of the supreme sacrifice; of the ultimate victory. This is the day that history itself is based on. Our calendar revolves around the resurrection of the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World. There is no way to overstate the significance of this day.
The foundation of everything Christians believe hinges on the truth of this day.
Early on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, and Mary the mother of James, went to the tomb and found that the stone at the entrance had been rolled away, An angel spoke to them, explaining, “The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:5-6 NIV
Jesus made several appearances that day – to the women at the tomb, to two men on the road to Emmaus, to Peter and to the disciples. John 20:1-23
7 Miraculous Reasons to Remember
Miracle 1 – God Became Flesh
God became flesh and lived on earth with us. When I think of that, I wonder why. Why would Jesus have been willing to give up everything in order to become like us? I know the answer but it is still incredible to me. The love of God is a kind of love we can barely understand.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11 NIV
Miracle 2 – Unconditional Love
The love of God is unconditional. Jesus forgave the thief on the cross who had done absolutely nothing to deserve salvation. He was a sinner. Yet, in one moment of faith, he was saved – just like us. Why? Because of God’s ability to give grace, mercy and unconditional love. For God so loved the world….
Miracle 3 – Eternal Life
Another miracle we could never begin to earn is eternal life. Yet, Jesus promised eternal life. He told the thief on the cross – this day (today) you will be with Me in paradise. Over and over, He told the people why He had come. God wanted to be connected to us again but he couldn’t because of our sin. So, Jesus came and solved the problem. Not only could we connect again, we could connect for all eternity!
Miracle 4 – God’s Family
When we receive Christ, we become part of a new family – the family of God. Just as Mary became John’s son, we have become sons and daughters of God through the blood of Christ. We are no longer orphans. These are bonds that transcend our earthly family because they were purchased with pure blood that washes us white as snow.
Miracle 5 – New Life
When I first accepted Christ as my Savior, I had that strong and wonderful appreciation for the new life I had been given. I still have it, but as with most things, it is now a much deeper and settled realization. Jesus said we must be ‘born again.’ That phrase has been sadly misused and abused, with its true meaning being lost in the process.
Being ‘born again’ does not mean – suddenly perfect, better than those who are not ‘born again,’ free of all worries and cares, nothing bad will ever happen again.
So, what does it mean? It means that God now sees you through the sacrifice and blood of Jesus. It means that you are a new person in the Kingdom of God. It means your sins are forgiven. It also means you will still have struggles, trials, and temptations. It means you will have to learn to take off the old man and put on the new one as you run your race on this earth constantly looking to Jesus the author and finisher of your faith! It means you have a new life as part of the Body of Christ.
Miracle 6 – Eternal Life
It also means that you now have eternal life. It means you are no longer your own – you belong to Christ. Your selfishness and pride are to be gotten rid of. You have some new goals to reach. It means that the old ‘you’ is dead! You have entered into a process of regeneration, change, submission, joy, and peace. You are now a member of the family of God and you live in His kingdom. You are in the world but no longer of the world.
Miracle 7 – The Holy Spirit
One of the things Jesus did was to give us the Holy Spirit. He knew He had to leave this earth and return to the Father. But, He gave us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the One who walks alongside us. He is not only present with us, He actually lives inside us to teach, pray for, speak, lead, and make God’s will known to us. He never leaves or forsakes us. He is Christ’s gift to us. He gives us power, fruit, and we live in His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.
These are 7 of the miraculous results of the passion and death of Jesus and of the His resurrection from the dead.
Celebrating the Life of Christ
While we recognize and remember the passion and death of Jesus, the celebrating is about the fact that He is alive! Right now, at this very moment, He is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us! Holy Week is our chance to acknowledge the immensity of the sacrifice and to participate in the many traditions associated with this week and Resurrection Sunday. But don’t miss the point – because He lives, we can too!
I would encourage you to read this blog by Diane Ferreira on WorthBeyondRubies.com. She is a Messianic Jew and writes about the beautiful meaning of Jesus in the Passover. She has other articles about the Jewish traditions and the significance of each one for Christians.
As you celebrate Easter – remember to celebrate Him and your own new life in Him! Rejoice with shouts of joy and thanksgiving. Bow before Him. Worship Him and celebrate the miracles He has brought into your life.
**WM uses verses from different Bible translations. To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit the Scripture Citations.
You might also enjoy reading – The Work of the Cross