Have you ever wondered what exactly happened on Thursday and Friday two thousand years ago that were the last two days of Jesus’s life? So far, all we know is that on Thursday, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem from the east through the gate of mercy, which was one of eight gates that allowed entrance into the city. It is also the gate closest to the temple of Solomon in terms of access from outside the city.
The Holiday of Passover
On Thursday, when Jesus entered the city, he told his disciples to meet him at the home of someone very specific, Mathew 26:18. That specific person was Joseph of Arimathea, one of seventy elders of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious body of Israel.
Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday of Passover as God commanded it through Moses in the book of Exodus, a holiday of freedom for the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt.
The Passover celebration started on Thursday evening at the house of Joseph Arimathea, the person that Jesus was referring to in Mathew 26:18.
The Passover celebration involves an elaborate and heavy meal, including 4 cups of wine that are blessed while reading the “Haggadah.” The Haggadah tells the story of exile from Egypt and all the miracles God did for Israel.
It is customary to walk outside after this great meal. Many Passover dishes involve dipping the pizza-size flat bread baked in an open oven with various foods like Humus.
This is when Jesus says that he who dips the bread with me will betray me. That act of dipping the bread to swipe a dip like food is what is meant here.
Jesus and his twelve disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane to walk after the heavy meal of Passover. This is where the betrayal happened, and the rest is recorded in the New Testament. But why did Judas betray his master?
According to historians, Jesus looked for simple-minded men who were not educated, for he knew that their minds had not yet been formed or, in today’s terminology, they had not been programmed into a certain ideology. However, Judas was an exception.
Judas was a learned man with a thirst for knowledge. With his hunger for knowledge, he may have been trapped by the same thing he wanted most, absolute or infinite knowledge, the same offer made to Eve.
Infinite knowledge is not meant for human beings since it is made of two distinct sides with no gray zone. It is either true or false, black or white, zero or one. Any deviation, be it as small as one can think it to be from this rule, will result in either falling into one or the other sides.
This is what happened to Judas. He was offered infinite knowledge, and he could not refuse it. However, once he accepted it and made the tiniest mistake, he was under the power of darkness. Due to his betrayal, Jesus is sentenced to death around 9 AM by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.
The Death of Jesus
Between 4 and 5 PM on that Friday, Jesus was still alive. Knowing that, if Jesus was still alive on the cross by the start of Passover, they would be forced to let him go or face a Jewish revolt since this was the Jewish holiday of freedom, not death. Therefore, the Roman commander in charge of this execution orders one of the soldiers to kill him to avoid being alive when Passover begins.
Once the death was confirmed, the body of Jesus was given to Joseph Arimathea after he presented a document signed by Pontius Pilate to release the body to him. Joseph took the body to a new burial tomb that he prepared for himself and, with Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin, washed the body and then wrapped it with white linen while placing 100-120 pounds of Aloe around the body. Once this was done, they sprinkled Myrrh (perfume) on it.
However, every observant Jew knows that when a person dies, one is only allowed to wash the body and then wrap it in white linen before burying it. No other action or addition of any materials is allowed on the deceased’s body before burying it.
The event raises more questions than it answers. Why did these two righteous Jewish men violate this custom? Is it possible that Jesus’s body would be moved to Nazareth to be buried since his mother lived there?
These questions remain unanswered throughout history, and the last two days of Jesus’ life will forever remain an unforgettable event, not just for the Christian community but also for people worldwide.