Jesus’ 4-Day Easter Weekend

The timeline for Jesus’ final days was filled with tremendous swings of highs and lows. From Thursday night to Sunday morning, it was a weekend that changed the world. Do you know the details around the full story?

Last Supper - EasterWhen Jesus rode a donkey into the streets of Jerusalem at the beginning of His final week, He was a celebrity of sorts as people waved palm branches and cheered Him like a passing parade.

We call it Palm Sunday.

He had only recently raised a very dead Lazarus from his tomb in Bethany, 2 miles outside of Jerusalem. Word was spreading fast about the miracle-worker many were touting as the Messiah, that mighty conqueror and savior of the persecuted Jewish people long-promised by the Hebrew prophets of old.

The Jewish religious leaders were very aware of this too, although they thought Jesus to be a fraud and imposter. He certainly didn’t fit the mold of their own Messiah expectations. Additionally, they feared a public ruckus during the busy Passover weekend celebration which might incur a crackdown by their brutal Roman oppressors.

The Jewish chief priests, elders, and Caiaphas, the high priest himself, conspired to arrest Jesus and kill him in stealth. (Matthew 26:3-5) They bargained with one of the twelve disciples, Judas Iscariot, for 30 pieces of silver to inform them of an opportunity to capture Jesus. (Matthew 26:14-16)

Timeline of Jesus’ Death
Here’s a breakdown of events involving the arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and post-death appearances of Jesus as they occurred from Thursday evening to Sunday morning.

Thursday Evening (6-12 midnight) – things break down quickly after Jesus conducts His own ceremonial Passover supper with the disciples in Jerusalem. A late evening walk and prayer time in the local Garden of Gethsemane is where Jesus is arrested by Roman soldiers in cahoots with the chief priests after Judas’ betrayal.

  • The Last Supper (Matthew 26:20-30; Mark 14:17-26; Luke 22:14-38; John 13:21-30)
  • In the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-45)
  • Jesus is Betrayed and Arrested (Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-11)

Friday Morning (1-9 am) – In the course of only a few hours, Jesus is rushed through several interrogations and court proceedings. After their own quickly assembled religious council/court condemned Jesus, the religious leaders, knowing that they needed Rome to approve their death sentence, took Jesus then to the local Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. After Pilate finds no reason to charge Jesus, he has Him sent to King Herod, the corrupted political leader of the Jews, who was in Jerusalem at the time. Jesus refused to answer Herod’s questions, so Herod sent him back to Pilate. Although Pilate found Jesus innocent, he feared the crowds and sentenced him to death after the Jewish crowd urged him to crucify Jesus. Jesus was then beaten, mocked, stripped naked, and given a crown of thorns. He was made to carry his own cross and led away to Calvary, also called Golgotha, a rocky hill just outside the city walls.

  • The Religious Leaders Condemn Jesus (Matthew 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65, 15:2-5; Luke 22:54, 66-71; John 18:12-14)
  • Jesus Stands Trial Before Pilate (Matthew 27:1-2, 11-14; Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:1-5; John 18:28-37)
  • Jesus Sent to Herod (Luke 23:6-12)
  • Jesus Returned to Pilate (Luke 23:11)
  • Jesus Sentenced to Death by the Jewish Leaders and Crowd in Jerusalem (Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:23-24; John 19:16)
  • Jesus Led Away to Calvary (Matthew 27:32-34; Mark 15:21-24; Luke 23:26-31; John 19:16-17)

The Crucifixion (Friday 9-3 pm) – Soldiers drove stake-like nails through Jesus’ wrists and ankles, fixing Him to the cross beams of two large lengths of wood. An inscription was placed over His head that read, “The King of the Jews.” Jesus hung on the cross for approximately six hours until He died. While He was on the cross, soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothing. Onlookers shouted insults and jeered. Two criminals were crucified at the same time. At one point Jesus spoke to His mother Mary and John. After that moment, darkness covered the land, and then Jesus died.

  • Jesus Is Crucified (Mark 15: 25)It was the third hour when they crucified him. The third hour in Jewish time would have been 9 am.
  • Jesus Says “Father, Forgive Them…” (Luke 23:34)
  • Roman Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus’ Clothing (Mark 15:24)
  • Jesus Insulted and Mocked (Matthew 27:39-40, Mark 15:31; Luke 23:36-37, 39)
  • Jesus and the Criminal (Luke 23:40-43) 
  • Jesus Speaks to Mary and John (John 19:26-27)
  • Darkness Covers the Land (Mark 15:33) And when the sixth hour (12 noon) had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour (3 pm).
  • Jesus Cries Out to the Father (Matthew 27:46) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
  • Jesus Is Thirsty (John 19:28-29)
  • Jesus Says “It Is Finished” (John 19:30)
  • Jesus Says Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit” (Luke 23;46) Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. 
Events After Jesus’ Death (Friday 3pm – Sunday am) – As Jesus breathed His final breath, an earthquake shook the ground and caused the Temple curtain to rip in half from top to bottom. There is at least one Roman soldier who reconsiders who Jesus was. Other soldiers break the legs of the two crucified thieves but one only pierced Jesus’ side to confirm death. Jesus is laid in a tomb of a wealthy sympathizer. Jesus rises from the dead and makes early Sunday morning appearances to the women visiting the grave, and then to the disciples and others that day, and then to many other witnesses over the course of the next 40 days.
  • An Earthquake and the Temple Veil Is Torn in Two (Matthew 27:51-52)
  • The Roman Soldier Says “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:47)
  • The Soldiers Break the Thieves’ Legs (John 19:31-33)
  • The Soldier Pierces Jesus’ Side (John 19:34)
  • Jesus is Laid in a Sealed and Guarded Tomb (Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)
  • Jesus Rises From the Dead and Makes Appearances (Matthew 28:1-21; Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-50; John 20:1-29, 21:1-25)

Confronting Easter
Yes, that first Easter week began so exciting and promising. But then it quickly turned so dark and evil, reaching great depths of tragic despair. What was in play was much bigger than anything that one person, apart from Jesus, could have naturally expected or honestly anticipated.

But Easter has to be confronted. It cannot be simply ignored.

As such, the resurrection of the crucified Christ was and is the most significant event in human history. And we all are confronted with the very real evidence available to us of the resurrected Christ.

How we respond is our own personal crucible. 

Do you know and believe the full Easter story? 
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” – Matthew 28:8-10

1 Note: The Bible specifies some but not all times associated with the last 4 days of Jesus’ life. A helpful resource is: Timeline of Jesus’ Death, by Mary Fairchild, in Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023,


Categories: Abundant Living, Calling, Devotion, Discipleship, Easter, Evidence, Evil, Faith, Fathering, Forgiveness, Holidays, Israel, Jesus, Marketplace, Old Testament, People, Prayer, Prophecy, Purpose, Resurrection

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