Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Passion Week also includes Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. It is called Passion Week because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross to pay for our sins. Passion week is described in Matthew 21-27; Mark 11-15; Luke 19-23; and John chapters 12-19. Passion Week begins with triumphal entry on Palm Sunday on the back of a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
In Christianity, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Spy Wednesday. Depending on the denomination, these days may or may not be celebrated at all. Those that do observe these days, such as Eastern Orthodox churches, typically mark it with readings of Scripture and the singing of relevant hymns.
Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, one week before his resurrection. As Jesus ascended toward Jerusalem, a large multitude gathered around Him. The crowd’s actions along the road give rise to what we call “Palm Sunday”. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. (Matthew 21:8)
The crowds who were crying out “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday were crying out “Crucify Him!” later that week.
It is the day on which Jesus cleansed the temple, was praised by local children, and cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21:12-22).
Monday's events are recorded in Matthew 21:12–22, Mark 11:15–19, Luke 19:45-48, and John 2:13-17.
It is the day when Jesus was issued various challenges by the Pharisees and Sadducees over subjects such as marriage in heaven, paying taxes to Caesar, and the source of His authority. It is the same day Jesus commented on the widow’s donation and was approached by a number of God-fearing Greeks. Tuesday would also be the day Jesus spoke His seven woes against the Pharisees and the evening on which He delivered the Olivet Discourse.
The tumultuous events of Tuesday and the Olivet Discourse are recorded in Matthew 21:23–24:51, Mark 11:20–13:37, Luke 20:1–21:36, and John 12:20–38.
Spy Wednesday or Holy Wednesday
The Bible doesn't say what the Lord did on the Wednesday of Passion Week. Scholars speculate that after two exhausting days in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of Passover.
It is the day on which Lazarus' sister Mary had lovingly anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume. (Matthew 26:6-13). This day is sometimes called the “Spy Wednesday” since it is traditionally thought of as the day Judas conspired with local authorities to betray Jesus. (Matthew 26:14-16)
Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday
The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command.” The Maundy in Maundy Thursday refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they would love and serve one another.
It is the day on which Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples and thereby instituted the Lord’s Supper, also called Communion. Also, Jesus washed His disciple's feet as an act of humility and service, thereby setting an example that we should love and serve one another in humility.
Later, Jesus and the disciples left the Upper Room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed in agony to God the Father. Luke's Gospel says that "his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44, ESV).
Late that evening in Gethsemane, Jesus was betrayed with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin.
Thursday's events are recorded in Matthew 26:17–75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-62, and John 13:1-38.
Good Friday is the most difficult day of Passion Week. Christ's journey turned treacherous and acutely painful in these final hours leading to his death.
Before Christ was led away, soldiers spit on him, tormented and mocked him, and pierced him with a crown of thorns. Then Jesus carried his own cross to Calvary where, again, he was mocked and insulted as Roman soldiers nailed him to the wooden cross.
Jesus spoke seven final statements from the cross. His first words were, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34, NIV). His last words were, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46, NIV)
Why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ’s death are very good! Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” First Peter 3:18 tells us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”
Friday's events are recorded in Matthew 27:1-62, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:63-23:56, and John 18:28-19:37.
After His crucifixion, Jesus was laid in a nearby tomb, and His body remained there for the entirety of Holy Saturday (Matthew 27:59-60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53-54; John 19:39-42)
Indeed, without the resurrection of Christ, we would be in dire straits. If Christ had never been raised, “your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The disciples had scattered when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:50), and they spent the first Holy Saturday hiding for fear of also being arrested (John 20:19).
While his physical body lay in the tomb, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin by offering the perfect, spotless sacrifice. He conquered death, both spiritually and physically, securing our eternal salvation (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Easter or Resurrection Sunday
On Resurrection Sunday, or Easter, we reach the culmination of Holy Week. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event of the Christian faith. The very foundation of all Christian doctrine hinges on the truth of this account.
Early Sunday morning, several women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, and Mary the mother of James) went to the tomb and discovered that the large stone covering the entrance had been rolled away.
Biblically speaking, there is absolutely no connection between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the common modern traditions related to Easter Sunday. Essentially, what occurred is that in order to make Christianity more attractive to non-Christians, the ancient Roman Catholic Church mixed the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection with celebrations that involved spring fertility rituals. These spring fertility rituals are the source of the egg and bunny traditions. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, Sunday (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19). Jesus’ resurrection is most worthy of being celebrated (see 1 Corinthians 15)
Many Christians feel strongly that the day on which we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection should not be referred to as "Easter Sunday." Rather, something like "Resurrection Sunday" would be far more appropriate and biblical. For the Christian, it is unthinkable that we would allow the silliness of Easter eggs and the Easter bunny to be the focus of the day instead of Jesus’ resurrection. By all means, celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. Christ’s resurrection is something that should be celebrated every day, not just once a year.
The fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and that His resurrection demonstrates that we can indeed be promised an eternal home in Heaven by receiving Jesus as our Savior.
We should note that events in the biblical Gospels were not necessarily written in chronological order. Also, since the Romans and the Jews had different methods for calculating the start of the day, an exact sequence of events is difficult to determine. For this reason, we can’t be dogmatic about the chronology of events leading up to Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion.
Sources: GotQuestions Ministries and Learn Religions