History of Pentecost
HISTORY OF PENTECOST The Feast of Pentecost is taken from the Greek word πεντηκόστη which means “the 50th,” referring to the fiftieth day after Passover and Easter. This would coincide with the harvest festival Shavuot the “Feast of Weeks in the Jewish calendar.” In the Christian calendar, Passover played a part in several visits Jesus…Read More
History of Easter: The Players: Where are They Now?
HISTORY OF EASTER: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PLAYERS AFTERWARD You may be asking yourself, “Self,” you ask, “where are they now?“ And well you might ask. What happened to our players AFTER the events in the Easter story? HEROD ANTIPAS You may remember that I had said Antipas‘ taking his brother’s wife Herodias as…Read More
History of Easter: Why Bunnies and Eggs?
HISTORY OF EASTER The most joyous of Christian festivals and one of the first celebrated by Christians across the Roman Empire commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is set on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. Meaning of the word Easter There are several theories about where we…Read More
History of Good Friday
HISTORY OF GOOD FRIDAY For centuries pilgrims have walked the Via Dolorosa, “the way of sorrow” in Jerusalem, following the path Jesus took on Good Friday. Starting at the judgment seat of Pilate at the Antonia Fortress in the eastern part of the city immediately north of the Temple, the path follows 14 “Stations of…Read More
History of the Trial: How many did Jesus have?
THE TRIAL OF JESUS Beginning Thursday night and extending into Friday morning of Holy Week, the trial of Jesus, which led to his crucifixion, was, in reality, a series of about half a dozen trials distributed across several locations in Jerusalem. Some of these locations are captured in the tradition of the Via Dolorosa, the Way…Read More
History of Maundy Thursday: Shere or Green Thursday?
HISTORY OF MAUNDY THURSDAY Amid the bustle of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter, Maundy Thursday is easy to overlook. Few calendars label it, and some churches don’t observe it at all, though it may be the oldest of the Holy Week observances. It’s worth asking why and how generations of Christians have revered this…Read More
History of Easter: The Sanhedrin — Who was this Council?
HISTORY OF THE SANHEDRIN The Greek word Συνέδριον, sunedrion, means literally “sitting together” and is usually translated as “council.” It is referred to in the New Testament alternately as “the Great Law-Court,” “the Court of Seventy-One,” and “the rulers and elders and scribes.” It was the supreme theocratic court of the Jews. It reflected the local…Read More
History of Palm Sunday: How it starts Holy Week
HISTORY OF PALM SUNDAY The week we now call Holy Week or Passion Week starts this weekend with Palm Sunday. Why was this week so important that three of the gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) devote a full third of their contents to reporting this week, and The Fourth Gospel (John) dedicates its entire last half? Jerusalem,…Read More
History of Herod Antipas: Why Jesus called him That Fox
HISTORY OF HEROD ANTIPAS Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great (whom we met in the Christmas story) and Malthake. After his father died in 4 B.C., he was made tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea in the Trans-Jordan area of Palestine, which he ruled as a client state of the Roman Empire. Like…Read More
History of Pontius Pilate: his Background Before Good Friday
HISTORY OF PONTIUS PILATE The Roman governor who presided over the trial of Jesus and ordered his crucifixion had a complex background. The name Pontius Pilate provides two valuable clues to his background and ancestry. The family name, Pontius, was that of a prominent clan among the Samnites, hill cousins of the Latin Romans. They had…Read More
History of Easter: Historical Climate
HISTORICAL CLIMATE OF EASTER As Passion Week begins this coming weekend, what was the historical climate of Easter Week almost 2,000 years ago surrounding the last week of the life of Jesus of Nazareth? If he was a man “born to die,” not just in the usual sense but also in some unique sense, then…Read More
History of Ash Wednesday: Where does the Ash come from?
HISTORY OF ASH WEDNESDAY In the Western church, the first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday from the ceremonial use of ashes, as a symbol of repentance, in the service prescribed for the day. It follows Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday, and ends with Easter 40 days later, not counting Sundays. Lutheran,…Read More