Skip to content

Blog / Holy Week and Easter: The People, Places, and Events

Holy Week and Easter: The People, Places, and Events

Easter is the most significant event in the Christian church calendar. In fact, it’s fair to say that without the events of Holy Week, there wouldn’t be a Christian church, or a Christian faith. Easter is the reason the Christian church exists!

maundythursdayEaster commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his execution on a Roman cross. That moment of resurrection is the core of Easter—but the days leading up to Easter are key parts of the story, too. The interplay of prophecy, friendship, betrayal, and grace during the final days before Jesus’ crucifixion is full of insight into human nature—and God’s love.

Have you read the Easter story recently? You’ve probably heard or read many of the most famous episodes in the Easter account, but it’s truly a story meant to be read as a coherent whole. In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to explore the Easter story.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Verses for Holy Week]

Where Can I Read the Easter Story?

The Easter story is told in four different places in the Bible. Each of the accounts (there’s one in each of the four Gospels) tells the same story but from a slightly different perspective. That means that you can get the Easter story from any one of these sources, but reading more than one (or all four) brings a lot of extra detail and nuance to light.

Here’s where you can find the Easter story in the Bible. Click any of the links below to read one of the Easter accounts:

There’s no single “best” Easter account in the Bible; each of the above accounts tells the complete story. (If you’re not sure where to start, go ahead and begin with Mark’s account.) All are short and easily readable—you can read any of them in a single setting.

Learn more about Easter with the resources of Bible Gateway Plus

How Can I Listen to the Easter Story?

Do you prefer to listen to the Easter story? Bible Gateway has a large library of audio Bibles and other resources—including several narrations and dramatizations of the Easter story. Here they are:

1. Easter in the Breathe Bible

The brand-new Breathe Bible Audio New Testament (Tyndale House, 2017) features an extremely high-quality dramatization of the Easter account as found in the book of Mark. With an all-star cast starring Kevin Sorbo, John Rhys-Davies, Josh Lucas, and others, the Breathe Bible audio experience is a great way to listen to this most famous of stories. Click to listen to the Easter story from Breathe Bible.

2. Witness the Bible: The Easter Story Dramatized

A radio theatre-style audio dramatization, with background music and different voices used for the various characters. It’s based on the 1599 Geneva Bible, with a rich vocabulary and a slightly nostalgic feel. Click to listen to the Easter story from Witness the Bible.

3. The Story of Jesus

The key moments of Jesus’ life and ministry into one audio presentation, with background music and sound effects which add to the cinematic effect. Click to listen to the Easter story from The Story of Jesus.

4. The Easter Story from The Message

This well-loved paraphrase of the Bible is one of the most listenable Bibles in our library. It’s a great choice for the Easter story. Click to listen to the Easter story from The Message.

These aren’t the only ways you can listen to the Easter story here at Bible Gateway. There are many audio Bibles in our library; browse through the available audio titles to see if your favorite Bible translation is available in audio. You can also access Bible audio while reading the Bible text itself—after looking up a Bible passage (for example, Mark 14-16), look for the audiobutton button above and to the right of the Bible text. If that button is present, then audio is available for the Bible you’re reading; simply click it to start the audio.

Lastly, you can also listen to these and other audio resources using the Bible Gateway App, available free for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. Click to get the App.

These are just some of the ways you can walk through the Easter story here at Bible Gateway. In the week to come, we’ll be talking in more detail about the individual events that together compromise the Easter narrative. But there’s no better way to prepare your heart and mind for the holiday than to simple read or listen through the Easter account using one of the links above.

Holy Week infographic from the NIV QuickView Bible, available in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

What Are the Major Events of Easter?

While hints, predictions, and echoes of Easter permeate all of the Bible, when most people talk about Easter, they are referring to the week—usually called Holy Week or Passion Week—that culminated with Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. Here are the key events of the Easter story, and where you can read them in the Bible.

You might find it helpful to refer to our timeline of Holy Week, which organizes the people and events of Easter into one chart. Click the image to enlarge it:

Click to enlarge this Holy Week timeline visualization

Palm Sunday

Read it in Matthew 21:1-11.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus arrived at Jerusalem riding on a donkey, where he was welcomed by cheering crowds. (The “Palm” in “Palm Sunday” refers to the tree branches that the crowds used to make a path for Jesus.) His arrival—often called the Triumphal Entry—fulfilled a prophecy by the Old Testament prophet Zechariah about the Messiah’s appearance in Jerusalem. To anyone with a knowledge of Jewish scripture, this identification of Jesus as the Messiah would have been clear.

Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday

Read it in Matthew 21:12-25:13.

On these two days, Jesus made a number of appearances and addresses, most famously to “cleanse” the temple of money changers and merchants who had set up business in God’s house. Jesus also appeared at the temple courts to debate the priests and community leaders.

Holy Wednesday

Read it in Matthew 26:14-16.

Also called Spy Wednesday, Great Wednesday, or Good Wednesday, this day is marked by the decision of Judas Iscariot—one of Jesus’ disciples—to betray Jesus to the authorities in exchange for thirty silver coins.

Maundy Thursday

Read it in Matthew 26:17-46.

This day saw the beginning of a sequence of rapidly-unfolding events that would lead to Jesus’ crucfixion. On this day, Jesus gathered with his disciples to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover. During this celebration, commonly called the Last Supper because it was Jesus’ final meal before his arrest and death, Jesus established the practice of communion which churches around the world continue to celebrate today.

After this communal meal, Jesus and his disciples went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. When his disciples were unable to stay awake, Jesus famously noted that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus himself prayed so intensely that he “sweat drops of blood.” This day closed with Jesus’ announcement to his disciples that his betrayal was at hand.

Good Friday

Read it in Matthew 26:14-27:66.

On the very eventful Good Friday, Jesus was betrayed by his disciple Judas and arrested, then hauled before several different authorities—first the Jewish religious leaders, then the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Sentenced to death, Jesus was crucified alongside two criminals. Upon his death, he was buried in a nearby tomb.

Easter Sunday

Read it in Matthew 28:1-10.

This is it—the culmination of all the drama of Holy Week. On Easter Sunday (appropriately known as Resurrection Sunday), Jesus rose from the dead and, in the days to come, appeared to his astonished followers to tell them the good news: the power of sin and death was broken, and all who believed could find forgiveness and be made right with God.

Questions About Easter

No doubt about it, the Bible’s Easter accounts make some bold assertions, and believers and skeptics alike have pored over its details for centuries. Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions about Easter; click on the questions to read an in-depth answer to each.

  1. Is Easter based on a pagan holiday?
  2. Did the early Christian church make up the events of Easter?
  3. Was the story of Jesus’ resurrection stolen from mythology?
  4. Do the four gospel accounts of Easter in the Bible contradict each other?

Exploring Easter Further with Bible Gateway Plus

Learn more about Easter with the resources of Bible Gateway Plus

If you’ve upgraded to Bible Gateway Plus, you have access to many additional ways to study and explore the story of Easter! Here are four specific resources, available to Plus members, that will help you dig deeper into this remarkable account:

  1. Troubled by questions about the reliability of the Gospel accounts? The Case for Christ Study Bible asks and answers over a dozen tough apologetics questions about Matthew's account of the crucifixion.
  2. Why was Jesus offered "wine and gall" while he was on the cross? Why was "blood money" not allowed in the temple treasury? The NIV Quest Study Bible delves into all the little details of the Easter story.
  3. Do you know the entire cast of the Easter story? The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters has useful profiles of everyone involved, from Barabbas to Zebedee.
  4. Looking for the ultimate guide to the Easter account? The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary walks through every verse, with over 30 detailed entries on Matthew 27 alone.

Upgrading to Bible Gateway Plus unlocks these and dozens of other digital study Bibles, commentaries, and reference books, all of them seamlessly integrated into your online Bible reading! Try it free for 30 days and see what a difference it makes in your reading and study of God’s Word.

Filed under Easter, Holiday