It’s going to be a great week! It has to be. Because on this very week, thousands of years ago, Jesus shook the very foundations of the earth. All of history points forward or backward to what happened this week as Jesus was put on trial, killed, and ultimately resurrected.
The story of Easter is likely a familiar one. You know about the empty tomb. You know about the crucified Savior who was buried there. But that empty tomb was the culmination of the most important week that has ever been on the calendar. It was the crescendo of a series of spectacular events that God orchestrated on our behalf.
When we flip back on the calendar to this week, we take baby steps toward that empty tomb and our hearts and minds expand to absorb all that Resurrection Sunday really means.
I don’t know about you, but the resurrection, the crucifixion, and God’s plan for my redemption can sometimes soar right over my head. I know that they matter, but I can’t seem to wrap my little brain around the bigness of it all.
Through the years, I’ve learned to prepare my heart for Easter by retracing the steps of Jesus in the week leading up to His death and resurrection. When we flip back on the calendar to this week (often referred to as Holy Week), we take baby steps toward that empty tomb and our hearts and minds expand to absorb all that Resurrection Sunday really means.
As Easter fast approaches, will you join me in taking some time each day to read in the Gospels about what Jesus did on this very week all of those years ago? As you do, will you ask God to move your heart closer to His and to help you see what happened Easter morning with greater understanding and passion?
Here is an outline of what happened each day of Holy Week along with Scripture readings and some questions to guide you as you go. As you read and reflect, we’d love to hear what God is showing you. You can tell us in the comments below.
The Triumphal entry into Jerusalem is found in Mark 11:1–10.
Have there been times in your own life when you celebrated Jesus with great enthusiasm like the Jews in Jerusalem on this day?
How do the people describe Jesus in verses 9 and 10? Why do you think they changed their minds so quickly about who He was? What causes you to question who God really is?
A tree with no fruit.
Jesus curses the fig tree in Mark 11:12–14.
Imagine yourself as the fig tree. If Jesus looked at your life would He see fruit?
A den of robbers.
Jesus cleanses the temple in Mark 11:15–19.
What does this scene reveal about the character of Jesus?
What are some modern ways we rob God of what He deserves?
A fig tree and prayer.
Jesus and His disciples pass by the fig tree. It has withered to its roots. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach about prayer and forgiveness in Mark 11:20–25.
What “mountains” are you facing in your life right now? How does Jesus ask you to respond to those mountains?
Jesus taught that when we pray we need to forgive “anything” we have “against anyone” so that we can be forgiven by the Father. Is there anyone you need to forgive today?
By what authority?
Jesus’ authority was questioned by the religious leaders in Mark 11:27–33.
What jumps out at you about the way Jesus handled conflict with His accusers?
Parables, parables, parables.
After a run-in with the religious leaders, Jesus moved on to teach the people in a series of parables (that’s just a fancy word for a story with a point). The list of the parables Jesus taught on this day is below.
- The two sons (Matt. 21:28–32).
- The tenants (Matt. 21:33–44).
- The marriage feast—one of my favorites (Matt. 22:1–14).
- The fig tree (Matt. 24:32–35).
- The thief and the master (Matt. 24:36–44).
- The faithful vs. wicked servant (Matt. 24:45–49).
- The ten virgins (Matt. 25:1–13).
- The talents (Matt. 25:14–30).
- The sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31–46).
The plot thickens.
By this point, the religious leaders were working overtime to find a way to arrest and kill Jesus (Mark 14:1–2).
What was it about Jesus that irritated the religious leaders so much?
What is it about Jesus that irritates you?
A beautiful thing.
Jesus is anointed with expensive oil by a grateful woman in Mark 14:3–9.
Jesus described what she did as “a beautiful thing to me.” Why was it beautiful to Him?
What can you do today to sacrificially show Jesus your love for Him?
On this day, Judas agreed to betray Jesus in exchange for money (Mark 14:10–11).
Have you experienced betrayal by a friend? Reflect on the fact that Jesus knows that specific pain.
Stinky feet made clean.
Jesus and His friends gathered for the Passover (Mark 14:12–21). While they ate, Jesus taught them about the Lord’s Supper (Mark 14:22–25). During this meal, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet as an object lesson on humility.
Death is still the cost of sin, but Jesus paid that price on the cross. The empty tomb reminds us that Jesus defeated death in His resurrection.
In John 13:12–16, Jesus teaches, “When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.'”
Does the way you treat others indicate that you want to be the servant or the master?
Whose feet is God calling you to wash or who is He asking you to sacrificially serve?
Jesus and His three closest friends went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. In that garden, Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:32–50).
Jesus asked God to remove the cup from Him if possible. Is there anything in your life that you’d like God to remove?
Ultimately, Jesus deferred to the Father’s will (v. 36). Tell God that you want His will for your life.
A speedy trial, a long walk, a slow death.
Jesus endured six trials in short order (John 18:12–27, Luke 22:66–71, Luke 23:1–25).
He was then publicly humiliated and forced to take a death march (Matt. 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19).
In Mark 15:25, Jesus was crucified.
Several hours later, Jesus died on the cross while His mother and followers watched (Mark 15:33–41).
Spend some time in these passages. Let the impact of what Jesus did for you sink in deep.
The world’s saddest funeral.
Joseph of Arimathea petitioned the court for Jesus’ body. He tenderly removed Jesus’ body from the cross, prepared it for burial, and put it in a tomb. Jesus’ mother, Mary, and follower Mary Magdalene were the only other people at the burial (Mark 16:1–8).
Imagine you were Mary at the tomb. Feel the monumental sadness that this moment represents.
The Bible is silent. Jesus remained in the tomb.
Jesus is risen! (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20).
Why does the resurrection still matter?
Read Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:1.
Scripture says “the wages of sin is death.” Another word for wages is price. The price everyone must pay for their sin is death. Because we can’t fix our own sin problem, we are spiritually dead. This reality is overwhelming, but there is hope.
In John 5:24 Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has moved from death to life” (emphasis added).
Faith in Christ moves us from the tomb created by our sin to eternal life with Him. Yes, death is still the cost of sin, but Jesus paid that price on the cross. The empty tomb reminds us that Jesus defeated death in His resurrection.
He is risen!