Jesus at the Beginning and End of His Week of Suffering

“Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’…Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.”

Luke 19:37,41

The week began with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. All four gospels give an account of it. These writers only wrote about the most essential part of the events that took place during Jesus’ final week. They were eyewitnesses, and their reports are therefore absolutely credible. We are grateful for their communications, for otherwise a very considerable and valuable part would probably be missing from our Bibles.

The events in Jesus’ week of suffering especially give us a deep insight into His selflessness, His absolute obedience, His willingness to suffer, and His complete devotion and love for mankind. These days of suffering show us Jesus in poignant imagery we would otherwise not have seen or known in its fulfilled form. Isaiah 53 shows us an impressive prophecy about the sufferings of Jesus, but the Passion Week shows us the reality of the fulfillment.

This moving and eventful week began with the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. How ironic that this entry began with people in joy and hope but ended with Jesus in sorrow and tears! The people’s enthusiasm and joy came from a hope that soon crumbled. We read, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4). Luke writes: “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). 

So everything went according to an appointed time. And we continually read about this in connection with the Old Testament: “that the scripture might be fulfilled.” Jesus knew about this time and was ready to fulfill the scripture. The scribes and Pharisees should also have recognized it, but they distracted the people from Jesus. And Jesus wept over the confusion of the city, exclaiming, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42).

Before His death, Jesus still appeared in all His messianic authority. Even during His last days of suffering, He still took the opportunity to send out clear, straightforward messages to plead with the people to repent. But the broad masses could not be moved and did not suspect how late it was for them on God’s timeline. This was the reason for Jesus’ tears, for the Savior knew that with His entry into Jerusalem, He was also taking the road to Golgotha.

People did not orchestrate the suffering of Jesus according to their will and desire. Everything happened just as God had determined and intended. One must not forget that Christ, the sacrificial lamb of God, was not only given for us but also surrendered! And referring to this, Jesus could conclude His prayer struggle in Gethsemane with the words: “Father, not My will, but Yours be done!” Precisely this was His only consolation on His path of suffering, which became ever darker and more difficult: that He stood persistently and unceasingly in the will of God!

Jesus had entered this city with last attempts to help and save, and was to leave it again as an outcast – burdened with His cross. The rejoicing of the people at His entry had turned into the meanest cries of contempt and rejection. Jesus had to reckon with this, because He did not want to respond to the will of men but to remain firmly in the will of God. With this clear decision, His path of suffering and the cross were decided!

How often has this happened in the life of the steadfast, faithful children of God! But the way of the cross is also the way of victory, and this was Jesus’ only ray of light, which accompanied Him in the shadow of suffering and death.

The attitude Jesus had from the beginning of His week of suffering is one that He maintained firmly and clearly to the end. Let us remember this image of Jesus’ suffering and follow His example, remembering Zinzendorf’s words: “Sorrows pave the way home to You!”

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