It is Holy Week – the week in which we re-live in our prayers the journey Jesus made from Jerusalem to his crucifixion on Calvary and his resurrection.
We have produced eight conversations for Holy week to take you back to those tense and frightening days in Jerusalem and place you alongside the apostles as they try to make sense of the political and mystical forces at work in what is happening to them, to Jesus their Lord, and to the people of God.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the Roman province of Judaea was under the authority of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate, who reported to the Governor of Syria and the Emperor Tiberius in Rome. The Jews were a reluctant subject people, but generally peace was maintained. In Jerusalem itself the politically astute Romans allowed considerable authority to the High Priest in maintaining the sanctuary, taking responsibility for law and order, and running the affairs of the holy city. However, it was they who appointed the High Priest and they expected full co-operation from him and his inner circle. The Passover festival was always a volatile time as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice at the Temple and celebrate the festival of liberation from Egypt. The city was over-crowded and emotions ran high. Pilate himself made sure he was present in the city with an enhanced military presence ready to intervene in case of any flare-ups and to remove insurgents from the streets.
Jesus and his friends entered the city as pilgrims on the first day of the week. We call this day Palm Sunday because as he entered the people of Jerusalem flocked to him and laid palms on the ground before him, acclaiming him as their king. This was a clear political challenge to the powers that be.