It’s Holy Week! I love looking and making sense of the supernatural world around us. This is a great week to recall some of the supernatural events that surround the most supernatural and paranormal event in history: the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
In the past few years, I’ve released several posts about the amazing events this week commemorates. Below, I’ve linked to them, and I encourage you to take some time each day this week to read one of the posts and contemplate just what happened. Newsletter subscribers will get some additional thoughts.
Let’s start with some background on Easter 1
Passover of the Death Angel
The original Christian Holy Week coincided with the Jewish Passover week. The Passover festival celebrated the birth of Israel as God’s chosen vessel to represent him to the nations. This occurred in the book of Exodus, culminating with the slaying of a sacrificial lamb on Friday.
The Hebrews were in a condition of slavery to the superpower of its day, Egypt. God wanted to birth a nation from captivity to freedom. In the process of birthing his new nation, he had to decimate the ability of Egypt to chase down his newly freed people. This decimation culminated in the Passover. God gave all the people of Egypt (not just the Hebrews) the choice to be counted as a member of his people.
Those who wanted to be counted as members of God’s people had to kill a lamb for the Passover dinner, while smearing some of its blood on the doorposts.
That night, the death angel passed over the homes marked with the blood of the lamb, thus prompting the Egyptian super-power to expel the slaves (plus many Egyptians and other inhabitants who also partook in the Passover) from Egypt. Thus, God finished a 400 year long process of creating the nation of Israel: a nation that represented him to the world.
Today, many people celebrate the birth of their nation with feasting and celebrations. In the United States, we like to attend parades, grill meat and shoot fireworks. Well, the Jews also enjoyed celebrating the birth of their nation, with a particular emphasis on the supernatural nature of God’s birthing Israel out of slavery. So each year the Jews reenacted the Passover week with celebrations and memorials, culminating in a Passover meal. The week culminated on Friday with the high priest killing the Passover lamb at about 3 p.m.
Christians remember a particular Passover Celebration that occurred nearly 20 centuries ago, which began with Jesus entering the capital of Israel with much celebration: the triumphal entry.
Holy Week of The Supernatural
Generally speaking, the events of the Holy Week involve
Palm Sunday: This celebrates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Jesus, who was Jew, entered Jerusalem at the start of the Passover celebration in such a way as to declare himself King of the Jews. The inhabitants of Jerusalem, who felt enslaved by the Roman Empire, recognized the symbolism and celebrated Jesus in a culturally significant way that declared him King of the Jews, which included waving palm branches during Jesus’ parade into the city.
Holy Monday through Wednesday: The Jewish religious leaders, recognizing Jesus was a threat to their authority, plotted to kill him. Meanwhile, Jesus went to the Temple, God’s house on earth, and teaches daily. Jesus prophesied that it would be destroyed within one generation, but that God was creating a new Temple in the body of Jesus.
Maundy Thursday: Traditionally recognized as the day Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Passover dinner, known today as The Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the New Covenant. After dinner, Jesus went to the Garden to pray until he was betrayed by Judas and arrested.
Good Friday: Traditionally recognized as the day Jesus was tried, condemned, whipped and executed by crucifixion. Jesus hung on the cross several hours, bleeding and suffocating to death, until he finally died at about 3 p.m., the same time that the high priest was killing the Passover lamb across the valley in the Temple. Before the sun went down, Jesus was then entombed, marking this as the first day Jesus was in the grave. Through the Cross, God accomplished many wonderful things.
Holy Saturday: The second day Jesus was in the tomb, Saturday is generally considered the time Jesus was in hell preaching the defeat of the spiritual powers already in prison.
Easter/Resurrection Sunday: This third day Jesus was in the tomb also sees God resurrecting Jesus back from the dead in a new, eternal alive human body. He began appearing to his followers that day. Over the next forty days, hundreds of followers saw his resurrected body and heard him preach about the Kingdom of God.
A few decades later, Apostle Paul wrote that neither the Jewish leaders nor their Roman overlords killed Jesus: the spiritual powers that rule the Domain of Darkness did. Paul also wrote that Jesus triumphed over these wicked spiritual forces on the Cross and through the Resurrection.
Obviously, the Resurrection is uber-supernatural, but the Holy Week includes many other significantly supernatural events.
This week, I’ll release a few posts pointing out some of the supernatural occurrences that surround this Holy Week, including one that relates to Jesus’ ability to see into the spirit realm. Yes, Jesus was a seer!
Death Angel image from Horne, Charles, and Julius Bewer. The Bible and Its Story: The Law, Leviticus to Deuteronomy. Vol. 2. New York, NY: Francis R. Niglutsch, 1910.
Golden Gate image from Vincent, John, James Lee, and R. E. M. Bain. Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee and the Journeys of His Apostles. New York, NY;St. Louis, MO: N. D. Thompson Publishing Co., 1894.
Triumphal route image from Brand, Chad, Charles Draper, Archie England, Steve Bond, E. Ray Clendenen, Trent C. Butler, and Bill Latta, eds. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.
- Easter is the festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The name, which has been attested as early as the eighth century A.D., is believed to have derived from annual sacrifices in honor of Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess. The Eastern church, following the practice of early Jewish Christians, first observed the celebration on the fourteenth of Nisan, the first day of Passover. The Western church, following the Gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection (Matt. 28:1 par.), set the festival on a Sunday, the first to follow the new moon which occurs on or immediately after the vernal (spring) equinox as determined by the Council of Nicaea (325); thus the dates for Easter may range from March 22 to April 25. Eastern Orthodox churches, which employ a different system of calibration, may observe the festival one, four, or five weeks later.
Following earlier English translations (Tyndale, Coverdale), the KJV at Acts 12:4 reads “Easter” for Gk. páscha, the seven-day Passover festival after which Herod Agrippa I intended to sentence and execute Peter. (Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 300.)
The special celebration of the resurrection at Easter is the oldest Christian festival, except for the weekly Sunday celebration. Although the exact date was in dispute and the specific observances of the festival developed over the centuries, it is clear that Easter had special significance to the early generations of Christians. Since Christ’s passion and resurrection occurred at the time of the Jewish Passover, the first Jewish Christians probably transformed their Passover observance into a celebration of the central events of their new faith. In the early centuries the annual observance was called the pascha, the Greek word for Passover, and focused on Christ as the paschal Lamb.
Although the NT does not give any account of a special observance of Easter and evidence from before A.D. 200 is scarce, the celebrations were probably well established in most churches by A.D. 100. The earliest observance probably consisted of a vigil beginning on Saturday evening and ending on Sunday morning and included remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion as well as the resurrection. Evidence from shortly after A.D. 200 shows that the climax of the vigil was the baptism of new Christians and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. By about A.D. 300 most churches divided the original observance, devoting Good Friday to the crucifixion and Easter Sunday to the resurrection. See Church Year. (Fred A. Grissom, “Easter,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 451.) ↩