The Week God Won the Battle of the Ages
In six drama-packed days, God created everything the human eye sees—oceans, earth, skies, and man. Each day, the excitement of anticipation rippled through a universe in the process of being born. But on the seventh day, surveying the perfection of His finished work, God rested.
What a week that was!
Jacob served his prospective father-in-law a week for his beloved Rachel, although for purposes of their agreement, each day was interpreted as a year. (See Genesis 29:27–30; 41:25–27; Ezekiel 4:4–6). Those day-years must have gone by like a flash, for “that was the week that was” for Jacob and Rachel.
Daniel’s seventieth week would be another “week” of seven years (see Daniel 9:27) and, divided into two equal parts of three-and-a-half years each, is prophetic of the seven years of tribulation still to come in the world. (See Revelation 4–19.) Terrible as it will be, when Christ returns for His millennial reign, it will just be another “week that was” for the saints.
But history will never record a week as impactful or fruitful as the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ. It surpasses the week of creation, for it speaks of a new creation.
In that week, God won the battle of the ages because His Son, born of a woman, bruised the head of the serpent with a fatal blow.
The world has never been the same since those days. It was a week of pain and potentiality. Every new born-again soul is fresh evidence of the mighty work God did in the “week that was.”
The dominant figure who strides through the events of that week is the Man, Christ Jesus. Through His birth, He changed the calendar of the world from B.C. to A.D. By His death, He made it possible for men to change darkness to light and death to life. He suffered the loss of all things that we might gain all things.
It was an anguish-laden week for the Son of God.
On Sunday, He lost the “holy city.” He sat on a hill overlooking its hallowed walls. His eyes picked out the magnificent temple and other familiar landmarks, and His cry became a sob of unwanted love: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets…how often would I…but ye would not” (Matthew 23:37–39). Before His prophetic eyes the stately temple and the homes turned into a mass of rubble. He saw the coming judgment of God, and He felt the agony of rejected help.
On Monday, He lost His neighbors. What cuts a tender spirit deeper than being spurned by those of your own hometown? Nazareth’s rejection was a bitter blow. He had declared Himself to be a Spirit-anointed prophet, but they said of Him: “Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22). His only comfort, small as it was, was the knowledge that every prophet is without honor in his own country.
On Tuesday, He lost His family. The critical attitude of His own brothers and sisters must have pierced Him deeper than the sword the soldier thrust into His side. “He is beside himself” (Mark 3:21) was the verdict of His own flesh and blood. Were His foes really those from His own household? It would seem so, for his relatives tried to woo Him away from His ministry to a safe place where they might convince Him to turn from His extraordinary and extravagant ideas.
But there is a sense in which Christ did not lose His family. One cannot lose what He never had. His brothers and sisters, with one or two notable exceptions, did not believe in Him at all. Even His mother, although believing to the end, never fully understood the significance of her Son’s mission.
On Thursday, He lost Judas. Judas—the deserter and betrayer! “Jesus therefore said unto Judas, That thou doest do quickly. He…went out…and it was night” (John 13:27, 30). One of the sharpest wounds Jesus suffered was the rejection and ingratitude of this false friend from the inner circle.
On Friday, He lost the rest of the disciples. When He needed them most, “all the disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 25:56). There are two phrases we can bring together here. What a stark contrast they provide. When the disciples first heard His compelling voice calling to them over the waves, “they forsook all and followed him” (Luke 5:11). What a noble surrender that was!
But when Jesus emerged from Gethsemane as a prisoner, accompanied by a motley crowd displaying swords and staves, they “forsook him, and fled” (Mark 14:50). They left Jesus to bear His cross alone. Thankfully, an angel appeared in the garden of Gethsemane to strengthen the Son of God in His night of intense struggle. But there was something beyond the ministry of angels—the intercession of His friends. Yet they failed Him. He learned that He must bear His burden alone, and what a sharp, painful reality that was.
The next day, the picture changes somewhat, for His losses are entered on the positive side of the ledger. On Saturday, He lost His sorrows. He had temporarily experienced the loss of His Father’s nearness on the cross the day before. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), He cried. We can never fully know the depth of this loss. Martin Luther has said, “God was forsaken of God.”
But Saturday was the day after the cross. Christ and the dying penitent—the first trophy of His redeeming blood—were in paradise. The agonies of the crucifixion were over. He was no longer “the man of sorrows.” His sighs and sobs, groans and grief, darkness and death, were gone forever. He experienced the satisfaction of a mission accomplished, a glorious fulfillment to which His immediate resurrection would show.
And what of Sunday? On that day, He lost the devil and death, never to be assailed by them again. That glad Easter day was also a day of recoveries, for He regained all of His disciples save Judas. When He met them with the hearty greeting “All hail” (Matthew 28:9), they worshiped Him.
What a week that was! What a transformation it produced! Had Christ not died and rose again, there would be no saving gospel, no church, and no certain hope of eternal life. What an empty and gloomy world it would be. Men would go to their death like a quarry slave goes to his dungeon at night.
But He did die! He was raised from the dead! He is alive! And innumerable blessings flow from His cross to refresh the world.
The last week of our Lord’s earthly life has been known through the centuries as Passion Week. This comes from Luke’s words: “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3).
Two words for passion—one Greek and one Latin—give us additional insight into this Holy Week. Paul employs a Greek word meaning “what is suffered, suffering of mind, emotion.” (See Galatians 5:24.) This same word is found in Hebrews 4:15 where Jesus shares the feelings of our infirmities. Wycliffe’s translation of Hebrews 2:9 reads, “Jesus, for the passion of death….”
The Latin word is patior, from which we get the words patient, patience, and compassion. The Greek equivalent, sympathy, means “suffering with someone.” Passion Week, then, speaks of the deep suffering the Savior experienced from the night of the Last Supper to His death on the cross.
What a crowded, eventful week it was. On each day of this climactic week, something of unusual interest took place. Never has there been such a week—so tragic, yet so triumphant! It was a week in which the lowly carpenter, now the proclaimed Messiah, journeyed with warrior-like courage to His death. Steadfastly, He set His face toward Jerusalem, the place of His execution. With the insight of a prophet, He had foretold the time and manner of His death. He now walks with measured step to the day of His final triumph over the powers of darkness.
What a week that was!
Did you enjoy this blog post? Then you will love Herbert Lockyer’s book The Week That Changed the World!