Holy Week (or Passion Week) commemorates the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry and pre-resurrection life.
During Holy Week, it is good to read the passages of Scripture that correspond to each day in Jesus’ last week.
Matthew 21-27– Mark 11-15 — Luke 19-23 — John 12-19
To aid in a more complete and clearer understanding, here are some of the more famous and substantial events of the Passion/Holy Week in each of the Gospels:
PALM SUNDAY (So called because the people laid down palm leaves for Jesus to ride his colt over on His way into Jerusalem; kind of like a Red Carpet).
1. Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem — Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-18.
2. Weeping over Jerusalem — Luke 19:41-44.
1. Cursing of the Fig Tree — Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14.
2. Cleansing of the Temple — Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46.
1. Fig Tree Faith — Matthew 21:20-22; Mark 11:20-25.
2. Challenges and Controversies — Matthew 21:23-23:39; Mark 11:27-12:44; Luke 20:1-21:4.
3. Olivet Discourse — Matthew 24:1-25:46; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36.
SPY WEDNESDAY (So called because it was on that day that Judas was spying out an opportunity to betray Jesus).
1. Murderous Plot — Matthew 26:3-5, 14-16; Mark 14:1-2, 10-11; Luke 22:1-5.
2. Preparing the Passover — Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13.
MAUNDY THURSDAY (So called for the new command (or mandate, from the Latin “mandatum”; hence “maundy”) that Jesus gave the Disciples on that day).
1. Passover/Last Supper — Matthew 26:20-35; Mark 14:17-26; Luke 22:14-30.
2. Upper Room Discourse — John 13:1-17:26.
3. Agonizing Gethsemane Prayer — Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46.
GOOD FRIDAY (So called because the only truly Good (Holy) One, Jesus, did a good (necessary and perfect) thing by dying a substitutionary death for the good (everlasting benefit) of His chosen ones).
1. Betrayal and Arrest — Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-12.
2. Unjust Trials — Matthew 26:57-27:26; Mark 14:53-15:15; Luke 22:54-23:25; John 18:13-19:16.
3. Crucifixion of the Christ — Matthew 27:27-54; Mark 15:16-39; Luke 23:36-49; John 19:16-37.
4. Burial — Matthew 27:55-61; Mark 15:40-47; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:38-42.
SILENT SATURDAY (So called because there was very little recorded in the Gospels about that day and because Jesus’ body laid silently in the tomb).
1. Sabbath Silence — Matthew 27:62-66; Luke 23:56b.
While Matthew gives the “fullest” account, it is not as easy to follow as Luke or especially Mark. Matthew was more interested in the importance of themes, rather than a precise and tight chronology and placing of the events.
Luke, like Mark, follows a good chronological sequence, yet not as explicit as Mark. Luke, while full, is only 5 chapters as well.
John is, oddly, the least full (leaving out the sequence and of events on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. And yet John has the most chapters (8), with five chapters (13-17) focusing on the upper room discourse, which is not found in any of the other Gospels.
There are some events of the Passion Week that are only recorded in Matthew, others only mentioned in Mark, others only referenced in Luke, and still others that are only found in John. We need all of the Gospels for the fullest, clearest, and most detailed understanding of Holy Week (especially when we want a full chronology of the events of the week).
Reading these passages, asking the Holy Spirit to help us see them afresh and more vividly can serve to make us more connected (at least in thought and feeling) to the sufferings of Jesus as we contemplate the immeasurable and everlasting blessings that He brought us by His Holy Life and Horrible Death (and Miraculous Resurrection)!
PS. There is an extremely helpful chart of the Harmony of the Events of Holy Week found on page 1866 of the ESV Study Bible.