Holy Week is a special time in the life of the Church. It’s a time to remember the events that transpired in the life of Jesus between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday. This devotional details these events.
Each day begins with a Scripture passage to read. I encourage you to not rush through the reading, but slow down and read the text with a focused mind and an open heart. After reading the text, read the Think section. This section gives you insights to consider from the text. Then read the Apply section. The application is an important step as you evaluate your life and consider what you can do to live a life more conformed to Jesus.
Conclude your devotional time with prayer. The Pray section gives you several prompts that are based on the text; you can pray as the prompts lead but also pray as the Lord leads you. Pray for yourself and pray for others. God desires to hear your prayers and He will answer.
I’m praying for you to grow in the Lord during this Holy Week and I look forward to hearing how God used this devotional in your life.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Read Mark 11:12-18.
Jesus made His way into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. This grandiose spectacle had many people coming to see what was happening as the crowds were chanting “Hosanna”. We have all experienced a big event and can relate to how the euphoria eventually wears off. In this passage, the disciples have come to that place and are reflecting on the events that took place the day before.
Two interesting events occur as Jesus and His disciples head to the temple in Jerusalem. In the first event, Jesus is hungry and sees a distant fig tree in bloom. The fig tree is a sign that the barren winter is over and a new plentiful harvest is coming. Seeing no figs on the tree, the Savior curses the tree saying, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” Jesus had a significant reason for doing this and Mark records it in his gospel. Israel is often represented in the Scriptures as a fig tree and the clear message here is Israel’s lack of readiness to produce fruit. In Matthew’s account of this story, Jesus expounds on the meaning of cursing the fig tree and encourages the disciples to have a deeper faith than Israel had.
The second event occurs as they approach the temple. Seeing the money changers, Jesus is fired up and drives out all of those who were buying, selling, and changing money. All of these Judaic practices were set up as a way to try to meet the requirements of the Mosaic Law, but the extension of these secondary laws was never-ending, having clarification upon clarification, until it became a level of unprecedented legalism. After clearing the temple Jesus taught in the synagogue from Isaiah 56:7-8 saying, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” He is drawing attention to the original intent of the temple as a place of prayer and worship.
These two events help deepen our understanding of how our Lord longs for Israel to see His divinity. Jesus is truly God, the long-awaited Messiah, who came to redeem us, and He calls us to follow Him and return to a right relationship with God.
Are you truly recognizing the deity of our Lord and His righteousness? Do you spend time in the Word and in prayer? What steps are you taking to grow deeper in your relationship with Him? Make a legitimate plan to grow spiritually; put it on your calendar, set a reminder, and ask someone to help you be consistent.
Thank the Lord for His divinity and sacrifice. Ask Him to help you be intentional and consistent in your spiritual growth.
Read Mark 11:20-12:44.
Strolling back out of the city, the disciples passed by the withered fig tree from the day before. The condition of the tree is a reminder of the power of Jesus as well as the coming judgment and reproof on the Jewish people for their wickedness. In spite of this, Jesus encouraged the disciples, telling them of the power of faith. He extends an impassioned call to them to have deeper faith, forgiveness, and intensified prayer. Jesus’ stories continued on as He demonstrated the ongoing conflict between the current religious leaders and His divine authority.
Jesus’ authority is questioned as we near the end of the chapter, and instead of a direct response, He asks the priests to examine a different situation with John the Baptist, where they already had assessed John’s claims that Jesus is the coming Messiah. The dispute with the priests didn’t end there. In chapter 12 Jesus begins by speaking to the priests in a parable about vine-growers. In this short story, the owner of a vineyard sent many representatives to the managers to receive what was owed to him. They all are beaten and killed. In a final bid to set all right, he sent his own son who was subsequently killed. This is, of course, a direct reference to God sending Christ to the Jews and their rejection of Him at the hands of the priests. Upon hearing the parable, the Pharisees and Sadducees were relentless as ever and aggressive in their attacks. Through it all, Jesus used every situation as an opportunity to reveal His deity.
As Christians, we deal with attacks toward us and we often get frustrated. Sometimes we only focus on our victimhood because we are feeling attacked. As believers, being conformed to Jesus, we should have the same perspectives as our Savior. Do we appreciate the opportunities given to us to tell others about our Messiah? Have we adequately studied the Word and are prepared and looking for opportunities?
Think over the past week. When have there been opportunities for you to directly or indirectly share your faith? Are you truly open to the possibility that God may want you to discuss spiritual things with others? Make a list of times in the past week where you had, or could have had opportunities to share the Lord with others. Think about the next week and list out two times when you think you may have time to discuss the Scriptures with others.
Ask the Father to reveal Himself in the things you are doing. Ask Him to show you the right time to speak and give you the words to say. Pray throughout the day; intentionally pausing many times to ask God to lead you in His way.
Read Luke 22:1-6.
It’s Wednesday. Judas is in the city with the chief priests and scribes plotting the arrest and execution of Jesus, while on the other side of town Jesus sends Peter and John to find a place to have the Passover dinner where Jesus will reveal to His disciples His Father’s plan. At first glance, it looks like Satan is in control and is going to stop the will of God. He has an evil scheme and the right people in place to carry it out. Emotions are at an all-time high and hatred is running rampant in those who oppose Jesus.
Was this the plan? Did Satan want Jesus dead? Did God have to scramble to try and make something out of this Satanic enterprise? No, this is completely opposite of the truth. Everything happens within the framework of God’s will. The New Testament is very clear that everything in the life of our Lord was controlled by His Father. Jesus said on many occasions that He only says and does what the Father tells Him. He did everything exactly as the Father desired, and precisely when the Father had appointed. From His birth to His death, everything happened on divine schedule; God’s timing is exactly right. There were many attempts to kill Jesus throughout His life and all were unsuccessful. Jesus’ death was no surprise to Him. He said, “No one takes it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.”
Christ was not sacrificed on the schedule of the Jewish leaders who hated Him. He did not die on the schedule of the Romans who worked Him in to be executed on their timetable. He did not die because Judas betrayed Him. He did not die because Satan planned it. God established His hour. Today, you can rest in the truth that God is in complete control of everything that happens in your life, and nothing happens apart from His will.
Look at your own life and ask this question: Where am I in this whole scene? Do I stand on the side of Judas and the false leaders, rejecting Christ and what He did on the Cross? Or do I stand with Christ and accept Him as God’s perfect Lamb who was sacrificed for my sins. Am I guilty of believing that my circumstances are bigger and stronger than God? Do I trust in the Sovereignty of God and in His plan for my life?
Ask God to help you trust in His complete Word for your life. Worship Him and give Him the thanks He deserves.
Read Luke 22:14-20.
On this Thursday night of Passion Week, the day of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, everything Jesus anticipated is more vivid than it has ever been before. He will die tomorrow as God’s Passover Lamb. Tonight, as He meets with His disciples, He will bring an end to the Old Testament sacrifices and inaugurate a new covenant. The Passover meal pointed back to God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt but a new memorial, the Lord’s Table, will look back to the cross and the far greater deliverance that God accomplished there. Jesus has been looking forward to this night since the beginning of time. In verse 15 He says, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you”. Such strong convictions; Jesus is sharing His Heart! This will be His very last Passover meal as He lets the disciples know there will be no more Passover meals until the Kingdom of God comes.
After giving thanks, Jesus took the bread and broke it and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me”. The word remember or remembrance occurs 186 times in God’s word. If Yahweh tells us 186 times to remember, we should listen! Whenever we read about the Israelites falling into sin again, or finding themselves in bondage, or being oppressed by an enemy, it is usually because they forgot where they came from and who it was that saved them and gave them their blessings. They get prideful and begin to worship all sorts of idols. If they would just keep their eyes and hearts on Yahweh and remember what He has done for them, they could live with God’s blessings instead of ending up in such a mess. This is just as true for us today as it was for Israel. Christians can have a passion, just as the Israelites did, for enriched and extraordinary experiences, while virtually ignoring the rich and normal means of grace that God has provided.
The bread and the cup remind us of the Lamb of God. He was chosen by God, sacrificed for sinners, and His sacrifice has satisfied God’s justice—a sinless life poured out on our behalf so that our sins can be fully forgiven. Let’s not forget! Today remember and rest in His Grace!
Look back and remember the time of your salvation—where you were, and how God saved you from bondage. Look at where you are today, are you trusting in God and His plan?
Ask God to recall from memory all the wonderful blessings He has provided to you.
Read John 19:28-30.
In every book, movie, television show, or children’s story there is a singular moment where you think, “WOW! It was all building up to this.” It might be when a person is waking up from a coma, when a team scores the winning goal, or when a hero rides in and saves the day. In the text you just read you saw a moment like this—the greatest moment in all of history. It is when the hero, Jesus, pays the ultimate price and gives His own life, so the war of sin and death would be finished.
When we read this text we see three things:
• Jesus accomplished all that he intended while on earth, in preparation for this moment.
• Jesus fulfilled all prophecy written about Him.
• Jesus finished the process of the Father’s plan to die and conquer sin and death.
When we think about the death of Christ on Good Friday we cannot forget that in this singular moment the plan that had been put in place by God Himself to redeem humanity from the curse of sin and death came together. There was no more to accomplish, no more to fulfill, no more to finish. It was complete.
When we think about the last moments we will have in this life, we would all love to go see the Lord in our sleep. What a great way to go—fall asleep on earth and wake up in heaven! Yes, please! As amazing as this sounds there are things we know about that moment, even now, that the most peaceful passing cannot change; we have moments of sin we cannot take back, we have words we have spoken that cannot be unspoken, and there are thoughts that we wish were never in our minds.
On this GOOD FRIDAY, rejoice! Although you remember these moments, God does not remember them because Jesus accomplished, fulfilled, and finished all that He set out to do. When Jesus said, “It is finished!”, your sin was paid for, your debt before God was cleared, and your eternal life secured.
So, how do you apply today’s text? Rejoice in the finished work of Christ today!
Pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the finished work of Jesus.
Read Matthew 27:62-66.
On Saturday Jesus was in the tomb. He was dead and everyone knew it, even the Jewish religious leaders. Those leaders were worried because they remembered something Jesus said, “After three days I will rise.” So, what did they do? They acted. They put guards at the tomb to make sure nothing happened to the body of Jesus. They didn’t think He would rise from the dead, but they were concerned His body would be stolen and the “lie” would be spread that Jesus did rise from the dead. Their action, though it was based on a wrong assumption, was more responsive than what the disciples did. Whereas the Jews acted on Jesus’ words, the disciples remained silent and still. On Saturday the disciples were silent and still over the death of Jesus, and they were also silent and still in their reaction. It wasn’t until the next morning that this started to change for them.
Jesus made it very clear to the disciples what was going to happen when He died. He told them that on the third day He was going to rise from the dead. This wasn’t a secret, in fact just a few days before, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in front of them. They knew He had power over death but they didn’t believe He had power over His own death, so when they should have been buzzing with excitement and anticipation, they were silent and still.
How often we are like the disciples! We know God’s Word, we know His power, but we doubt and remain silent and still. What is an area of your life that you need to stop being silent and still in, and wait on Jesus to act with anticipation and excitement?
• Your family
• Your job
• Your friends
• Your lost relationships
Trust in God’s Word and in His power with anticipation and excitement, knowing that He will act.
Pray to God about the areas in your life where you are silent and still. Ask Jesus to change your heart to be in line with His Word and His power.