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The Way of Beauty'My Son, with you I am well pleased, so well pleased.'

The Hebrew Scriptures record more than fifty prophecies concerning the passion and death of the expected Messiah. The theme of the Suffering Servant, despised, rejected, and abandoned, anticipates his sufferings.  Amazingly, a few veiled references to the resurrection are found among them. The parallels between the Old and New Testaments offer the singular and compelling case that Jesus, and no other historical figure, fulfilled these prophecies. The most explicit of them are found in Isaiah’s chapters 50-53.  The remaining are scattered throughout the Old Testament.  

Jesus’ passion and death should be considered on two levels, the human and the divine. A common and familiar source of human suffering is malice. It was malice that crushed him.  It was malice that led to his crucifixion.

Overview of Holy Week

 Taken collectively and viewed in human terms, the last hours of Jesus were crowded with high drama.  Judas had already sold him out, and his enemies were seeking a way to expedite his death.

Where were his defenders?  Peter got cold feet.  After boasting of his unwavering support for his Master, he betrayed Jesus not once but three times, swearing in the process.  The other disciples fled. Every man for himself. The early hours of that Good Friday inched inexorably toward the Hour.  Only the Beloved Disciple and a few women remained with the Lord.  His Mother stood by to the end.

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“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”

Once again, the stage is set this week for the Church to reenact the “crowning moment of salvation history.”  The cast of characters includes the familiar players: Judas, Peter, the other disciples, Pilate, leaders of the Jews, Barabbas, the two thieves, the soldiers, and the mob. The stage is large enough to hold us and the rest of humankind.  The sins of betrayal, denials, cowardice, venality, and political correctness are not just theirs but ours as well. 

The truth is that Christ suffered and died for my sins and for yours.  And, warns St. John: “If we say we are without guilt, we deceive ourselves; the truth is not to be found in us.  But if we acknowledge our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong” (1Jn 1:8-9).

The drama of salvation is about to begin.

Prophecies

What do the prophecies tell us about the last week of Jesus’ life?  In most of the passages cited below, the first in parentheses refers to the Hebrew Scriptures, the second to their fulfillment in the Christian Scriptures.  They are offered for personal prayer.

More in The Way of Beauty

Palm Sunday 

Jesus entered Jerusalem as a king riding on an ass.   (Zech 9:9//Mt 21:5)

“Hail, King of the Jews.  Hosanna to the Son of David.” 

Wednesday–Thursday 

The Messiah would be betrayed by a friend.  (Ps 41:9//Jn 13:21)

Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver.  (Zech 11:12//Mt 26:15; Lk 22:5) 

Later these coins were given for the potter’s field and cast into the temple.  (Zech 11:13//Mt 27:9-10)  

Jesus would be falsely accused but would remain silent before his accusers. (Ps 35:11//Mk 14:57-58; Is 53:7/Mk 15:4-5)  

Jesus’ friends deserted him.   (Zech 13:7//Mt 26:56)

Others gave false witness about him.   (Ps 35:11//Mt 26:60) 

Poem for Holy Thursday Evening

Gethsemane

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Gethsemane means “olive press.”
A place where the fruit of the tree is crushed and squeezed
and the unbearable pressure releases the oil inside.
And as the will of the Father
met the will of the Son,
the unbearable pressure
crushing and squeezing him,
the thorns of our wasteland digging ever deeper,
the sweat of our curse pooling on his skin,
he made his choice and cried,
“Not my will, but yours be done.”

And the oil of the Spirit flowed freely.   (Jeff Peabody, First Things, April 2015, 16)

In Jesus’ last hours, he was spat upon and scourged (Is 50:6, 53:5//Mt 27:26, 30) and struck on the cheek (Micah 5:1//Mt 27:30).  

Good Friday   

The Messiah was called the sacrificial lamb (Is 53:5//Jn 1:29 who was given for a new covenant (Is 42:6; Jer 31:31-34//Rom 11:27; Gal 3:17, 424; Heb 8:6, 8, 10;10:16, 29; 12:24; 13:20). 

He was despised and rejected by men (Is 53:3:1-6), the one who bore “our grief” (Is 53:4, 6); “and with his stripes we are healed.” (Is 53:5)

The Messiah would be given vinegar to drink. (Ps 69:21//Mt 27:34, Jn 19:28-30)

The Messiah’s hand and feet would be pierced. (Ps 22:16; Zech 12:10; Ps 22:7-8; //Jn 20:25-27; Lk 23:35)

The Messiah’s bones would not be broken. (Ex 12:46; Ps 34:20//Jn 19:33-36)

The Messiah would be forsaken by God.   (Ps 22;1//Mt 27:46)

The Messiah would pray for his enemies.  (Ps 109:4//Lk 23:34)

The Messiah would be buried with the rich.  (Is 53:9//Mt 27:57-60)

“We adore you O Christ, and we bless you.
Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”

Holy Saturday

“Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness.  The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep, asleep in the flesh, and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began.”

“Rise, let us leave this place.”  (From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday)

Resurrection Sunday

“I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25-26; 1 Cor 15:20)

The Messiah would resurrect from the dead (Ps 16:10; Ps 49:15//Mt 28:2-7; Acts 2:22-32)

“He who makes rich is made poor;
he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity.
He who is full is made empty;
he is emptied for a brief space of his glory that I may share in his fullness.”
 

(St. Gregory of Nazianzen, Liturgy of the Hours I: 161.)

Ascension Day 

The Messiah would ascend to heaven. (Ps 24:7-10; Mk 16:19; Lk 24:51) 
The Messiah would be seated at God’s right hand. (Ps 68:18; Ps 110:1//Mk 16:19; Mt 22:44)

Finally . . .

Listen to the Father’s joy: ‘My Son, I am well pleased with you, so well pleased. May every tongue confess that you are King of Kings and Lord of Lords.’

“We are Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.”  (St. Augustine)

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