HOLY WEEK DEVOTIONALS
Day 1: Jesus - the Triumphant King
Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19
The first Sunday of Passion Week, known as Palm Sunday, follows the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. On this day, Jesus tasked two of His disciples with procuring a donkey for Him to ride on. He sat on the donkey and began riding down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem as a crowd gathered outside the city to meet Him.
Because Israel was under Roman rule at the time, the crowd that followed Jesus expected Him to be a political savior who would free Israel and establish an earthly kingdom. As they laid down palm branches and cloaks for His path, they shouted “Hosanna,” which means “O, Save!” Little did they know that Jesus came, not to save them politically from the Romans, but to save them spiritually from sin. The establishment of His rule, instead of being geographical, would be in people’s hearts.
It is ironic that, as the crowd hailed their king (Luke 19:38), Jesus came to Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey. This fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy (Zechariah 9:9), but a victorious king would normally ride on a horse—not a small donkey! Just as Jesus had humbly come into the world, He also came humbly into Jerusalem, showing that His purpose was not in establishing a physical kingdom but a spiritual kingdom.
Despite this humble entrance, Jesus will indeed come once again to the earth and to Jerusalem as the victorious King that He is, riding on a white horse and ready to rule the nations (Revelation 19:11-16). Christians have this day to look forward to, for Christ will come as the conquering King, and we will be with Him to rejoice in His victories and our victory in Him.
Things to ponder:
-Is Jesus the king of your heart? If so, what does it mean to submit to Jesus’ rule in your life? What does that look like?
-What do Jesus’ humble actions teach us about how we should live?
-Take time to worship Him today as the One who saves and the soon-coming King.
Day 2: Clearing of the Temple
Matthew 21:10-17, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-48
The scene Jesus entered in today’s story would have been a bustling one. Jesus entered the Temple area into the Court of the Gentiles, which was an exterior court surrounding the Temple itself. As the name implies, this was the only part of the temple where Gentiles were permitted to go. In fact, signs were posted around the area warning non-Jews of the deadly results of trespassing deeper into the Temple courts.
God intended for the Temple to be a house of prayer for all nations, Jew and Gentile alike. However, the activities going on in the Court of the Gentiles at the time made it nearly impossible for Gentiles to pray and worship. Those coming to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover were within the Court purchasing animals for sacrifices, an area which was innappropriate for sellers to have set up shop. Money-changers also made it “a den of robbers” by taking advantage of those exchanging foreign money to pay the temple tax. Furthermore, Jesus’ actions in Mk. 11:16 indicate that people were using the Court of the Gentiles as a shortcut to reach the other side of Jerusalem.
There was no way Jesus could stand for such hypocrisy, disrespect, and selfishness in God’s house, so He--quite literally--turned the tables on them. His zeal for the Lord to receive worship from all nations compelled Him to do all that was necessary to make sure that this holy place remained that way.
With immorality driven out, Jesus once again established the Temple area as the house of prayer it was intended to be: he began teaching daily there, healed the blind and lame who came to Him, and received the worship of children.
Followers of Jesus ought to express the same zeal for God to receive the worship He deserves. No longer is worship centralized to a single temple in Jerusalem. Because the veil was torn at Jesus’ crucifixion, the people of God can experience His presence everywhere. We now worship Him in churches around the world and in our ordinary day-to-day.
Christ died that His Church might be presented to Him “holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). It is up to us to ensure that that happens. We must keep careful guard over the ways in which we worship, both in our churches and in our everyday lives, so that peoples of all nations are able to experience God’s presence.
Questions to Ponder…
- As a member of Christ’s Church, can I honestly say my life is “holy and without blemish”? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you areas that you need to surrender to God.
- Does my daily life encourage or undermine the ability of others to see Jesus in me?
- Does the way I worship at church reflect that of someone filled with zeal for God to receive worship? How can I help our church better become a house of prayer for all nations?
Day 3: Day of Controversy & Parables
Matthew 21:23-24:51, Mark 11:27-13:37, Luke 20:1-21:36
Within our Scripture reading today, we find some of Jesus’ famous quotes:
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
“The greatest commandment: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
But the point I want to focus on from today’s happenings is that most of Jesus’ topics are giving a warning to the people. We can learn much from what Jesus spoke to the Pharisee’s, disciples, and others. Throughout his conversations the main theme is to be watchful, and alert.
At this moment in our timeline, the religious leaders are not accepting Jesus’ ministry or message. They are struggling to believe He is the son of God. They do not want to attribute that authority to Him. And they definitely are not submitting to Him as the Messiah. In fact, they are testing him by questions and made up scenarios, trying to get him to blaspheme God’s law.
Jesus warns the religious leaders, actually speaks sharply to them about how hypocritical their actions and teachings are. They would pray to be seen. Give to be praised. Focused only on their outward appearance.
He then leaves the temple area where He had been with the Pharisees and teachers, and he walks with His disciples up the Mount of Olives. A conversation begins about the future and Jesus refers back to his warning to the religious leaders. This teaching he gives the disciples is pertinent for us today.
We need to be watchful of those who may try to deceive us. Jesus warns that many will come claiming to be the Christ and will deceive many. But we need to be diligent in learning the truth. Be diligent in connecting with God. As we grow stronger in our beliefs we will be able to recognize false teaching. We are reminded in 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
- During this week leading up to Easter take time to reflect on the authority Jesus has as the son of God. What place of authority have you given him in your life?
- Also, what areas in your life are weak and you see the enemy attacking? How can you strengthen that part of your life?
Day 4: Jesus Anointed for Burial
Matthew 26:1-16, Mark 14:1-11
In our readings today, some of the deepest hatred of Jesus began to unfold. The chief priests and elders were assembled to scheme up a way to arrest and kill Jesus. Later Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, agreed to betray Jesus to the chief priests for only thirty pieces of silver.
Yet in contrast, the Scriptures tell of an unnamed woman who expressed the deepest of love for Jesus. While Jesus was enjoying a meal, she approached him with an alabaster jar of nard perfume and broke it over His head. This action was greatly distressing, even to Jesus’ own disciples who described it as a waste because the money could have been used to care for the poor. After all, the perfume would have been worth about $54,000! Furthermore, Mary had anointed Jesus’ feet with the same type of expensive perfume at a dinner only four days prior (Jn. 12:1-8)!
Jesus provides an entirely different perspective, however. He said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial” (Mt. 26:10b-12).
At first glance, it is easy to judge the disciples for their reaction, thinking that they should have appreciated this act of incredible love for Jesus. But would any of us have responded differently? An entire year's worth of wages that could have provided food and basic necessities for multiple people was poured out in a single moment over the head of Jesus.
Jesus revealed in His response to the woman that worship is the highest endeavor in life. Even above love for neighbor, Jesus acknowledged that costly love for God is of immense value. I doubt many of us could say that we would truly be willing to give Jesus such a costly gift, but we ought to work towards that! Our hearts must be growing ever-deeper in love for Jesus and dedication to worship Him with everything we have.
- Spend time in prayer today asking God how you can love Him more. Is there a practical way you can express worship to Him today?
- Take time to worship along with this song, “Alabaster Heart.” While you listen, consider if your heart is fully open and surrendered to God. Would you describe your heart as an alabaster jar of perfume, ready to be broken and poured out in worship to Jesus?
Day 5: The Last Supper
Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-23, John 13:1-30
What is Passover?
Passover is the celebration that commemorates the freedom of the Israelites from Egypt.
Passover is being celebrated when the ever famous “Last Supper” takes place. This is when Jesus breaks the bread and shares the wine with his disciples as a representation of his body and blood to be shed. Let’s take a deeper look into what is happening at this supper, and why it has changed Passover for us today.
Traditionally, on the first day of Passover, there would be three loaves of unleavened bread. The middle piece of bread was broken in half, wrapped in linen, and hidden. The children would search for this bread, and whoever found it was given a gift. When Jesus broke the bread to share with his disciples, it is believed that he took the middle loaf. This gives us new perspective on the reasoning behind the three loaves; the Holy Trinity, three in one. Jesus being the middle, to be broken, wrapped in linen, and hidden away. We search for Jesus today, in spirit, and those who find Him are gifted with the highest gift we could ever receive; Salvation!
To love like Jesus is easier said than done. Here, at the last supper, Jesus shares a meal with those He knows will betray Him. He is still surrendering to God’s will, because He knows that His sacrifice is the only one that will save all of God’s children. Today, think of people who have rejected you. Think of those who have hurt us. Jesus died for them, and he died for you too. Forgiveness is what gets us closer to understanding a love like Jesus’.
-In your walk with Jesus, what is one way you have felt his unending love?
-Reading the passages from the Bible listed above, how would you have felt if you were at the Last Supper with Jesus?
Day 6: The Crucifixion
Scriptures: Matthew 27:1-66, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:66-23:56, John 18:28-19:37
Today we are going to be reading from Matthew 27:1-66. I would like to focus more on the passages of scripture from this event. I will be focusing more on Matthew 27:27-31 for this devotional part.
In Matthew 27:27-28 it says “some of the governor's soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and They called their entire regiment”. Herod and his soldiers mocked Jesus by stripping him down to a rode before they turned him over to Pilate. The robe was believed to be purple or red of some kind which was associated with wealth and rank. They beat, spit and mocked Jesus as they had him stand before his company! For those of us who believe, our hearts break for what has happened. This emotionless account stirs deep emotions within us. More than simple historical facts, these events are the basis of our salvation and the cost paid to redeem us from our sin. Jesus withheld his power and suffered this horrific event because he loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for us.
-If Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, why did he have Jesus flogged and hand him over to be crucified?
-What do you think the people thought after Jesus withheld his power and did nothing? The people knew Jesus had power and they saw he didn’t do anything.
Day 7: The Tomb
Scriptures: Matthew 27:57-61, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42
After His death on the cross, that evening, Jesus was buried in a nearby tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. He was a Pharisee who in secret believed in Jesus as the son of God, Messiah. Along with Nicodemus, another religious leader who in the past had sincerely sought after Jesus for truth. These two men wanted to show honor to Jesus and give him a proper burial, not a criminal-type. Joseph had carved out the tomb himself and he gave it up for Jesus.
Nightfall comes, and looking at the record of events for the next day, we only know that the disciples are mourning, weeping, not understanding why Jesus died. Their expectations of the Messiah were that he would be a conquering king. Even though he told them several times of his future, they did not understand. Now in the midst of it, they are disappointed and grieving.
We are blessed to know that the mourning only lasted that day because the next morning Jesus’ tomb was found empty! But for this day of silence, mourning, lets reflect on what Christ’s death accomplished for us.
Isaiah 53:4-5 says, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Jesus’ death brought peace between God and man. Our sin separates us from God, but Jesus paid the price of redemption so that peace and freedom would fill our hearts and souls as we turn our life over to God.
-Today, thank God for what He has brought you out of, sin he has saved you from. If there is an area of your life you need to make right with God, do that today.
-As Joseph and Nicodemus honored Jesus in His death and burial, let’s honor him by remembering what His death accomplished for mankind and for us personally.
Day 8: The Resurrection
Scriptures: Matthew 28:1-13, Mark 16:1-20, Luke 24:1-49, John 20:1-31
When we come to the resurrection, the verses that bring most meaning to me other than the verses in the gospels, “He is not here, He is risen, just as he said.” Are the verses of Promise from Jesus, I am the resurrection and the life, and whoever lives believing in me, will never die. John 11:25 and John 14:19 – Because I live you shall live also.
The truth is, without the resurrection, the crucifixion would be meaningless, Jesus would have been just another great teacher or leader who was killed for his beliefs. But our Lord, did not just declare that he was God’s chosen, that he came from God, and was God, and came to be a sacrifice for our sins, but, died for us to bring total absolution for our sins, his blood didn’t just cover our sins, but actually totally removed our sins from us, to the one who believes and confesses Christ, that is your standing before God.
And He rose to bring us the promise of life eternal. And that is your hope. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul asks the question which is a quote from Hosea 13 – Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting? And he answers it with – But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
To the one who believes in Jesus today, death is not the end, but a journey. One of the often quoted portions of scripture and most of us have memorized it. Psalm 23, the psalmist says Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – you are with me. To the believer, because of Jesus, our hope is eternity with Christ and death is just a shadow. The story is told Donald Barnhouse’s wife died leaving 3 small children, Dr. Barnhouse and his children were devastated. One day he was walking with his children down a sidewalk and a city bus drove by and its shadow passed over them. He said to his children, would you rather be hit by the bus or the bus' shadow? Obviously, they said the shadow. That is what death to the believer is, being hit by the shadow. Jesus was hit by the bus, so all we are hit by is the shadow. Jesus said to the one thief on the cross beside him – today you will be with me. That is our hope and future. So my friends, celebrate – he’s alive!