The Passion Week - Chronology of Events

By Genelle Austin-Lett

Categories: Easter (Passion Week), Jesus' Passion

Each year we endeavor to add information about the Passion Chronology. This year we are answering three interesting questions: 1) How could the disciples have known what Jesus was praying if they were asleep? 2) Did Jesus really sweat blood? 3) Were all Jews against Jesus? You also might want to revisit our discussion of this question: On which day did the crucifixion take place? As you shape your own perspective on the Passion Week, take a look at the comments from Rev. Jim Jones and BibleWise Scholar Mary Jane Chaignot.

  • Two months before the Passover, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. At that point, Jesus as well as Lazarus became marked men. The chief priests and Pharisees wanted to kill both of them. (John 11:18-57)
  • While Jesus knew he was to die on the cross eventually, this wasn't the "appointed" time for the Pharisees and Scribes to put him to death. He stayed away from Jerusalem until the time of the Passover.
  • The road to the resurrection begins six days before Passover. (John 12:1) That would make it Friday and not Sunday, as others suggest.
  • Each event is listed in the appropriate Gospel, so you can go back and refresh yourself with the story.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Jesus arrives in Bethany; 26:6-13 14:3-9   12:1-11
Dinner at Simon's house
  • John has Jesus staying in Bethany with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Matthew and Mark have him dining at the house of Simon the Leper. Edersheim bridges this difference by suggesting that Simon may have possibly been Martha's husband or the father of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Hence, Edersheim suggests that they were all in the same house.

Mary anoints Jesus

  • The ointment Mary used on Jesus' head and feet cost about 300 dinars, a year's salary of a laborer.
    • Two hundred dinars is the amount Philip told Jesus they would need to buy bread for the 5,000 men, women, and children.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Nothing recorded, but where else would Jesus be on the Sabbath?
  • On the way to Jerusalem - Jesus asks Peter and John to go to Bethphage and bring him a colt of a donkey that had never been ridden.
    • Bethphage means house of figs. It also refers to a species of late season figs that never appear ripe, even when they are edible. 1
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Triumphal entry into Jerusalem 21:1-11 11:1-11 19:29-44 12:12-19
  • Riding on a colt was a statement of meekness. The people expected the Messiah to arrive more majestically. In short, it was the meekness of majesty, which was manifested, entering the city with royal authority.
    • Think of the thoughtfulness of Jesus in having the mother accompany the colt - no separation anxiety for mother or colt. The Master doesn't overlook any details.
  • The date of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem corresponds with the tenth day of Nisan - the day on which the paschal lamb was chosen for sacrifice and separated from the flock for the Passover meal later in the week. 2 Look for the pattern of reasons why Jesus waited until the week of the Passover. Note the symbolism alludes to the Lamb of God being set aside for sacrifice.
  • The palm branches were used not only to wave in praise and jubilation, but also to keep the dust settled by placing them on the ground since people were out in force to sing "Hosanna in the highest…peace in heaven and glory in the highest."
  • There is an interesting contrast between the multitude of the heavenly host at Jesus' birth singing "Peace on earth" and this earthly group singing "Peace in heaven."
  • The people were singing the Passover Psalm, which they would sing in a few days, that refers to the Messiah. 3
  • Jesus planned his entry as a counter procession to the Roman entry on the West side of the city. Jesus entered from the East.

Returned to Bethany

Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Barren fig tree 21:18-19 11:12-14    
Second cleansing of the Temple 21:12-17 11:15-19 19:45-48  
  • The guilty fled, but the blind and lame stepped forward to be healed.

Jesus and his disciples returned to Bethany.

  • Barclay shows us where Jesus got his strength. "Before he joined battle with men he sought the presence of God. It was only because each day he faced God that he could face men with such courage." 4
This was the last day of Jesus' public ministry and his last day in the Temple. He arrived early in the city and didn't leave for Bethany until late that night. Some scholars refer to this as the day of controversy and others as the day of rejection. It was both. 5
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Fig tree withered 21:20-22 11:20-26    
  • The fig tree represented the barrenness of Jerusalem.
  • Peter points out the fig tree is withered. Jesus responds with, “Have faith in God.” Jesus gives his disciple a lesson on prayer that includes instructions on forgiveness. The disciples are going to have to rely on prayer and forgiveness to get through the next few days.
Jesus' authority is challenged 21:23-27 11:27-33 20:1-8  
  • The chief priest, the scribes, and elders were waiting for Jesus. They wanted to find out by what authority he could whip the money changers out of the Temple. This was a trick question. If Jesus responded by saying that he had the authority to do it, they would just arrest him for megalomania. If he responded that his orders were from God, they would arrest him for blasphemy. Jesus read their motive as if it were posted on a billboard. He agreed to answer their question if they would answer his first. He asked them whether John the Baptist's work, in their opinion, was human or divine. If they replied divine, then they would have to accept Jesus as the Messiah, because that was the basis of John's preaching. If they said human, then the people who followed John would undoubtedly riot. They had to admit they didn't know. It was the responsibility of the Sanhedrin to know the difference between true and false prophets and they had to shamefully admit they didn't know. Thus, Jesus didn't need to answer their question.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Parables of watchfulness to the nation:        
Of two sons 21:28-32      
Vineyard of the wicked husbandmen 21:33-46 12:1-12 20:9-19  
Marriage of king's son 22:1-14      
  • All three of these parables indict the Jewish leaders. In the parable of the two sons, the Jewish leaders represent the unsatisfactory son, who did not do his father's will. They are the wicked husbandmen in the next parable. And lastly, they are the condemned guests at the king's feast.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
3 questions by Jewish parties: 22:15-40 12:13-34 20:20-40  
  • The Jewish leaders take aim at Jesus, expecting to discredit him in front of the same audience.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Tribute to Caesar        
  • The Pharisees asked if it was lawful to pay tribute to Rome. If Jesus said it wasn't lawful, they would just report him to the Roman authorities and wipe their hands clean of the matter. If he said it was lawful, the Jews would reject him because God was their only King. His questioners knew he was in a no-win situation. Jesus asked whose image was on the coin. When they replied Caesar, he told them to give back to Caesar the things that were Caesar's, but give to God what belongs to Him.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
  • The Sadducees, who don't believe in resurrection, asked him who this woman who was widowed and remarried seven times would belong to in the resurrection. Jesus points out how clueless they are in understanding the scriptures. You can't think of heaven in the same way you think of life on earth. Heaven is not a continuation of this world. So their question is irrelevant.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
The Great Commandment        
  • Matthew tells the story as though the lawyer is continuing the tirade against Jesus. Mark sees it differently. He describes the lawyer showing appreciation for Jesus' routing of the questioners. Jesus simply states the two commandments as they are listed in Deut. 6:5 - loving God with all your heart, soul, and might, and Lev. 19:18 - loving your neighbor as yourself.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Jesus' irrefutable question about Christ 22:41-46 12:35-37 20:41-44  
Denunciation of Scribes and Pharisees - eight woes 23:1-39 12:38-40 20:45-47  
  • The whole thrust behind the "woes" was to point out to the Scribes and Pharisees the fact that life wasn't about them, but about God. Our lives should direct people to God, not to us personally.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Widow's mites   12:41-44 21:1-4  
Greeks (Gentiles) seek Jesus       12:20-36
  • The Gentiles asked Jesus to be their teacher.6 This was an opportunity to escape death. Jesus replied: [John 12:27,28 (to .)] Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Rejection of Christ by Jews       12:37-50
Jesus foretells destruction of the Temple 24:1,2 13:1,2 21:5,6  
Olivet discourse in "code" 24:3-25:46 13:3-37 21:7-38  
Destruction of Jerusalem        
Signs of Christ's Coming,        
Last Judgment        
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Parables of warning:        
Fig tree and young leaves 24:32,33 13:28,29 21:29-31  
Household and porter watching   13:34-36    
The ten virgins 25:1-13      
The talents 25:14-30      
  • These parables highlight the importance of watchfulness and action: household and porter; the ten virgins; and the talents. To read the signs of the times, you need to be alert. A thief doesn't send you an announcement of his arrival: his weapon is surprise. All the virgins had lamps. The foolish just had a different expectation of when they would buy or borrow oil. When Jesus speaks of talents, he is letting his disciples know they had better use the knowledge the Master has given them.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Description of Last Judgment 25:31-46      
Conspiracy of chief priests and Judas 26:1-5,14-16 14:1,2,10,11 22:1-6  
The record is silent. A day of rest and prayer.
Thursday - 6:00-9:00 pm
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Last Supper: 26:17-35 14:12-31 22:7-38 13-17
Observance of Passover,        
  • In Moses' Passover in Egypt, death was merely avoided. In the Passover Jesus celebrated, death wasn't avoided: it was confronted and conquered for all mankind.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Washing of disciples' feet       13:1-20
  • A lesson in true greatness. Love is always willing to serve. Jesus was purifying their footsteps. He let them know they didn't need to be afraid to take the first step in loving. To follow in Jesus' footsteps means to walk with love, act with love, talk with love. The service of love is a constant cleansing of one's walk and life.
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Naming of betrayer 26:21-25 14:18-21 22:21-23 13:21-30
Instituting of Lord's Supper 26:26-29 14:22-25 22:17-20  

The order of the last supper is in 13 steps [some books show more steps, others fewer steps, so this is a general guideline]

  1. The head of the company, Jesus in this case, opens with a prayer and
  2. Gives the 1st cup of wine for everyone in the company to drink.
  3. The head of the company washes his hands. This is where, it is believed, Jesus washed the disciples' feet.
  4. The head of the company dips some of the bitter herbs into the salt water or vinegar and speaks a blessing, eats some of the herbs and hands them to the others.
  5. The unleavened bread is broken into pieces, reserving half to be eaten after the supper, called the after dish.
  6. The 2nd cup is filled and the youngest in the company (John) is instructed to ask questions about the significance of the Passover.
  7. Psalms 113 and 114 are sung.
  8. The 3rd cup of wine is filled, followed by prayer, and they all drink the cup.
  9. Everyone washes his hands.
  10. Supper begins by eating the unleavened bread and bitter herbs and the lamb. Everyone in the group must eat at least an olive size portion of the lamb. All of the lamb is to be consumed or destroyed. No bones of the lamb are to be broken.
  11. The after dish of the bread broken earlier is eaten. It is believed this is where Jesus said, "Take eat, this is my body."
  12. The 4th cup of wine is the point when Jesus told them to all drink of it, this was his blood.
  13. Conclude with hymns and prayers. Psalms 115-118 and the Great Hallel – Psalm 136.
Foretelling of Peter's denial 26:33-34 14:27-31 22:32-34 13:37-38
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Christ the way, truth, life,       14: 1-15
Promises the Comforter       14:16-31
The vine and the branches       15:1-27
Jesus' going and returning       16:1-33
Intercessory prayer       17:1-26
This truly is the Lord's prayer. Read the whole prayer. Verses 1-5, Jesus is talking about himself; verses 6-19 are for his disciples; verses 20-23 are for each of us. We didn't get left out of that prayer. Verses 24-26 are the doxology.
Thursday - 9:00-10:30 pm
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Jesus prayer in Gethsemane 26:30,36-46 14:26, 32-42 22:39-46 18:1
The question is often asked, “How could the disciples record Jesus’ prayer if they were asleep?” The answer might surprise you. The word “sleeping” in the Aramaic also means “dozing” and “reclining.” * Jesus was not right beside the disciples while he prayed. But he wasn’t far away, and no doubt they heard the anguish of his words and could well have felt completely helpless, even to know how to pray for him. And so they were not alert – they could not stay awake. In all likelihood, Peter, James, and John dozed off at different times, and probably heard different parts of his prayer.

Luke 22:44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. This verse is often interpreted to mean that Jesus actually sweat blood. But, the actual wording is a figure of speech that creates a powerful visual image of the overwhelming stress and suffering Jesus experienced. It wasn’t meant to be taken literally -- that his sweat turned to blood. It’s meant to describe the depth of his agony.

*Rocco Errico, Aramaic Light on the Gospels of Mark and Luke, 2001

Betrayal and arrest 26:47-56 14:43-52 22:47-53 18:2-12
Healing of Malchus' ear     22:51  
Jewish ecclesiastical trial:        
Before Annas - 11 p.m.       18:13-23
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Before Caiaphas and Sanhedrin 26:57-75 14:53-72 22:54, 63-65 18:24-27
Jesus had a large Jewish following. They certainly had not all turned against him. The Jewish rulers, however, were determined to protect what little power they had in the midst of Roman oppression. They were caught up in their own selfish power play to preserve their religious freedom and practices. Jesus was a threat to their Jewish traditions and to the deals the religious officials had made with Rome. In stark contrast, many of the Jewish people loved the message of the Galilean prophet. In fact, Jesus was arrested and tried at night because the high priest knew the people would rally to defend Jesus. (Rocco Errico, Aramaic Light on the Gospels of Mark and Luke, 2001)
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Peter's Denial 26:69-74 14:66-72 22:55-62 18:25-27
Before Sanhedrin at daybreak 27:1,2 15:1 22:66-71  
Judas hangs himself (Acts 1:16-20) 27:3-10      
Most people believe that Judas hanged himself, per the account in Matthew. Luke has an interesting account in Acts when he says, Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. Acts 1:18 Some scholars contend that, in the process of hanging himself, he slipped and impaled himself on a sharp rock. Still others contend that Judas was murdered. We have no biblical account for the latter.
Roman civil trial        
Before Pilate 27:2,11-14 15:1-5 23:1-5 18:28-38
Before Herod (Antipas)     23:6-12  
With Jesus being a Galilean, Pilate feared taking action since Galilee was out of his jurisdiction. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas. Herod could easily have saved Jesus. He wanted Jesus to perform a miracle or two and answer his questions, but Jesus didn't do or say anything. Herod's guards dressed him in a purple robe, pushed a crown of thorns into his head. They hit and spit on Jesus before leading him back to Pilate.
Before Pilate 27:15-31 15:6-20 23:13-25 18:39-19:16
Crucifixion at Golgotha (Calvary) 27:32-56 15:21-41 23:26-49 19:17-37
Seven Last Sayings of Jesus: 27:46 15:34 23:34, 43, 46 19:26-28, 30

1. Luke 23:34
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

2. Luke 23:43
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

3. John 19:26,27
Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!

4. Matt 27:46
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Ps 22:1
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

5. John 19:28
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

6. John 19:30
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

7. Luke 23:46
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:

Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Darkness, earthquake; Veil of the Temple is rent 27:50-54 15:33,38 23:44,45  
Burial in tomb 27:57-61 15:42-47 23:50-56 19:38-42
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Sealing of tomb, guard set 27:62-66      
The tomb was sealed. A Roman military unit called the Kustodian, stood watch over the tomb. The unit consisted of four rows of four men and they were roughly equivalent to Navy Seals. They formed an impenetrable wall of protection, preventing anyone from opening the tomb. The penalty for breaking the seal on the tomb was death--for all 16 guards as well as the seal-breaker. It was highly unlikely that these guards would leave their post!
After the Sabbath (6:00 p.m.), Mary Magdalene and others purchase spices to anoint the body   16:1    
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
The empty tomb 28:1-8 16:2-8 24:1-8 20:1-10
Appearance to Mary Magdalene (article 1, article 2)   16:9-11   20:11-18
To the women 28: 9,10   24:9-11  
Report of the guard 28:11-15      
Appearance to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus   16:12,13 24:13-32  
Luke records two people walking with Jesus. One was Cleopas, the other is unnamed. Scholars believe that, when there is no name, it was probably a woman. This may have been Cleopas' wife.
Appearance to Simon Peter     24:33-35  
Appearance to company of disciples (except Thomas)   16:14 24:36-43 20:19-23
Activity Matthew Mark Luke John
Next 40 days before ascension        
To disciples at Jerusalem; Thomas now convinced       20:24-31
To seven disciples at Sea of Galilee; the seaside Morning Meal and the charge to Simon Peter: "Feed my sheep"       21:1-24
Instructions to Apostles and 500 others on mountain in Galilee 28:16-20 16:15-18    
The Disciples Fishing by Mary Ellen Dohr

To all of the Apostles     24:44-49  
Ascension Probably at Olivet near Bethany   16:19 24:50,51  


1 Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown. A Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1993. Vol 3 p. 313

2 Ibid. 313.

3 Ibid. 315.

4 W M. Barclay. The Gospel of Mark. London: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975. p. 269

5 Hester H.I. Hester. The Heart of the New Testament. Liberty: Quality Press, 1963. p. 192.

6 Ibid. 192.

Barclay, Wm. The Gospels of John, vol 2; Luke, Mark, and Matthew vol 2, London: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975.

Borg, Marcus and John Dominic Crossan. The Last Week. San Francisco,CA: rperCollins, 2006.

Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Mclean, VA: Macdonald Publishing, Co. 1883.

Hester, H.I. The Heart of the New Testament. Liberty, MO: Quality Press, 1963

Josephus, Flavius. Complete Works of Flavius Josephus. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1960.

Kee, Howard Clark, Eric Meyers, John Rogerson, & A. Saldarini. The Cambridge Companion to the Bible. Cambridge: University Press, 1997

Bible Characters