“Reconstructing the Holy Week from Scripture”
Adapted from CNA
Friday: Preparation Day, the Passover
The disciples arranged for the Passover meal, which took place after sundown on
Thursday. We might call it Friday Eve, because by Jewish reckoning, the day begins with
the previous sunset. That’s why we call 24 December “Christmas Eve.” Jesus and the
disciples ate the Passover in the upper room. Judas left during the meal. Jesus and the
remaining disciples adjourned to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed and the
disciples kept falling asleep. Judas arrived to betray Jesus, who spent the rest of the night
being tried by the Sanhedrin and by Pilate. The following morning, which was still the
same day by Jewish reckoning, the Crucifixion significantly took place just as the Passover
lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple. Matthew 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:55-56, and
John 19:31 all inform us that this took place on Preparation Day, which is the Jewish name
for Friday. Mark and John explain that the next day was the Sabbath. Later the disciples
realized that in giving them the bread and pronouncing it His body, Jesus Himself had been
the Passover lamb at the Last Supper. Thus Jesus, our Passover lamb, was sacrificed for our
sins on Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), and His blood protects us from the angel of death.
Jesus died on the cross and was buried before sunset. So Friday was first day that Jesus lay
in the tomb.
Saturday: the Jewish Sabbath
Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath. According to Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-3, and Luke
23:56-24:3, the day before the Resurrection was a Sabbath. This is the second day that Jesus
lay in the tomb.
Sunday: the first day of the week, the Festival of First Fruits
On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave. It was the first day of the week and the day after
the Sabbath, according to Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-3, Luke 23:56-24:3. John 20:1 says the
Resurrection took place on the first day of the week. He does not explicitly say that the
previous day was the Sabbath, but there is no room in his narrative for any intervening
days. The first day of the week is the Jewish name for Sunday. Sunday is also the eighth day
after the creation in Genesis, so Paul describes Jesus’ Resurrection as the first fruits of the
new creation in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23.
This week’s FORMED.org recommendation: The Passion of Christ in Light of the Holy Shroud of Turin by Fr. Francis Peffley