I’m trying something a bit different this week, as I wanted to do a Holy Week devotional for you. Each day of Holy Week will have an aspect of that day for personal reflection. Each day’s reflection would only take a few minutes of your time (or more, if you have it). It would be a great calming pause in your busy day to step back and reflect….
What Happened on Palm Sunday
Jesus has been staying in Bethany in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. It’s about 2 miles from Jerusalem. He rides into Jerusalem, which is filled with Jews who were there to celebrate Passover. The people shout “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” which fulfills prophecy recorded in Psalm 118:26 and they proclaim him their Messianic King. Five days later these same people scream out for his execution…
What made the people praise Jesus as their Messiah? Just to go along with the crowd? Did they misunderstand Jesus’ ministry? Were they caught up in the excitement of others? Whatever the reasons, they each had their own. They saw something in Jesus that benefitted their own lives.
Do you try to fit God into your life on your own terms? Think about your time, your money, your service, your praise, your study of his Word… Where do you put your King into each of those categories?
Do you abandon Him in the moment and give in to worry/stress? Do tough circumstances in your life cause you to draw closer to your King?
In what ways do you show praise, respect, and honor due to our King?
Jesus Rides into Jerusalem
Jesus returns to Jerusalem and enters the temple. The court of the Gentiles was filled with vendors selling the kosher animals needed for Passover. The corrupt money changers who changed money (for a big profit) into local currency (which was needed for the annual temple tax) had also taken up residence in the temple. They were doing business as a convenience to the people coming in for Passover.
Jesus Clears the Temple
This market could easily have taken place anywhere else. Jesus saw the poor being exploited by the money changers and the sellers of animals, who also charged exorbitant prices. He showed his compassion by driving out the buyers and sellers and overturned the tables of the money changers.
The Jewish religious leaders allowed the takeover of the only place in the temple that the Gentiles could come to worship God. Jesus spoke to them: “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it into a ‘den of robbers.’ ” (Mark 11:17) Jesus is quoting Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 to the Jewish leaders.
The temple was to be a place of prayer, not theft. As you can probably imagine, Jesus’ actions didn’t go over well with the religious leaders.
Don’t confuse Jesus’s anger with sin. It was not. Anger is an emotion, and Jesus felt it intensely when he saw the extortion taking place, and God’s house being used in a way that interfered with worship.
It is not wrong to feel anger, it is how it manifests itself in us that can become sinful. The things that make God angry (sin, injustice, etc.), should also make us angry.
•How do you handle your anger?
•Do conflict and injustices bring out the worst in you?
•Do you ruminate over wrongs done to you?
•Is it hard for you to say “I’m sorry”?
Jesus gives us many examples of how to handle our emotions of anger. Handled correctly, we respond with compassion, love, generosity, and graciousness.
Jesus returns to Jerusalem to teach in the temple. Jesus’ authority is questioned by the elders, chief priests, etc. but Jesus turns the tables on them and shuts them down by asking them a question they have no answer for (Mark 11:27-33.)
He teaches extensively in parables and then begins a warning and a condemnation of the leaders called the “Seven Woes”. Jesus doesn’t hold back. He calls them “hypocrites” “blind guides” “snakes” “brood of vipers” and “applause-seekers”, just to name a few.
These leaders should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah. Their passion was superficial, their use of Scripture was misguided, and they were doing more harm than good.
Jesus leaves the temple and goes to the Mount of Olives to continue teaching, and the chief priests and elders plot Jesus’ arrest.
Jesus outright tells the leaders that not only do they not know the Scriptures they claim to be experts in, but they do not know the power of God.
If we don’t know who God truly is (his attributes, promises, etc.), how can we live our lives correctly?
•We need the knowledge of his word to help us overcome our sinful nature.
•We overcome obstacles by experiencing and acknowledging the power of God working through us.
•Do you see yourself as you truly are as you stand before God? He sees you and sees Jesus; not your sin. You are righteous and redeemed!
How has accepting this truth changed your life?
Jesus’ enemies were hypocrites who chose to be blind to the scripture and their motives were to only make themselves look good on the outside.
While we may not see ourselves in these teachers and leaders, it is a warning that we should never let pride invade us.
•How can you increase your knowledge of God?
•How can you know God’s purpose for your life?
•What will help you stay focused on God, not on self?
There is no written mention of this day. Jesus had been spending each night with his disciples and friends, and each day teaching extensively in Jerusalem.
This was to be Jesus’ last quiet, restful, and final day with his loved ones. It may have been a treasured memory for them.
What a week Jesus was experiencing! There was so much to do, so much to prepare for, so much teaching to accomplish.
A Day of Rest
I love that Jesus took a day to rest before his final work began. We can learn a lot about rest from him. Don’t we all have those times in your life when you’re just busy, busy, busy? Your mind and body can’t go 100 miles an hour without a time of recharging.
•Spend a bit of time today and use this Holy Week devotional to recharge. You may find that it gives you even more strength and focus when you go back to your tasks. God promises to give us refreshment when we spend time with him.
•Here are a few verses to meditate on today:
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Psalm 4:8 “In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Exodus 33:14 “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Psalm 23:1-3 “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”
•Take a few minutes to slow down and feel the peace that God promises you.
We covered the Last Supper last week, so instead, let’s move on to what happens next.
After singing a hymn (wouldn’t you love to know what they sang??), they went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He takes Peter, James, and John aside and tells them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Mt 26:38.
Jesus prays in agony three times. Luke’s version says that as Jesus is praying, “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (22:42.) What a precious scene to take in. Could the angels not stand the thought of Jesus being in anguish all alone? Are angels so compassionate that they race unbidden to Jesus’ side? Did the Father send them? So many questions….( So many blog topics….)
Judas betrays Jesus and Jesus is arrested. He gives himself up willingly. He models submission to his Father’s plan. His submission was not weakness, but strength.
His disciples deserted him and ran away.
The Human Side of Jesus
This certainly gives us a clear picture of the human side of Jesus. He knew what was going to happen. He knew why it had to happen.
In past times of distress, (storm on the Sea of Galilee, demonic opposition and temptation, the previous attempts on his life), Jesus has always been composed and calm. But now, we see him “overwhelmed”, feeling “sorrow to the point of death”, and asks for “this cup be taken from me.” Three times he prays this, and each time he submits to his fathers’ will.
How encouraging to know Jesus believed anything was possible for God!- he could remove the cup, and therefore, he asks.
• No matter how dire our circumstances, we know we can ask God to intervene for us, while also promising to abide by his will for our lives.
•Does seeing Jesus suffering in anticipation of dying for our sins give you any new insight into how obedient he was? How much he loved us all? How we can cope with difficult times?
Pin me for later!
7 Last Words of Jesus
Jesus endures false and illegal trials by the Jews and the Romans. He’s condemned, beaten, mocked, forced to carry his own cross and crucified (gruesome torture.) As he is suffering, Jesus speaks seven times. I’m using them for this day’s meditation.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34
Jesus is physically suffering and he still shows love, compassion, and mercy to his executors. He, who is sinless, is enduring this torture so that all humanity can be forgiven. In a way, he is asking for forgiveness for us all as well- our sins put him there.
•How does this change your thinking about forgiveness?
Jesus showed no resentment to the soldiers pounding nails into his hands and feet. Instead, he shows us how much we need to tolerate in his name. We have to forgive.
Have you struggled with forgiveness? I have. Forgiveness is not forgetting. The cruel acts of the soldiers, the acts of the Jewish leaders, the Romans, bystanders, all are written for eternity. The acts will never be forgotten. Jesus’s murderers are forgiven because Jesus asked. We’re forgiven because he took the punishment for us.
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43
Even as Jesus is being crucified, the criminal being crucified on his left mocks Jesus. How amazing really, that the criminal on his right admits his sin and then sticks up for Jesus- “this man has done nothing wrong.” He asks Jesus to remember him “when you come in your kingdom.”
Where did his faith come from? Had he heard him teach? Watch him perform a miracle? Whatever it was, Jesus comforts and blesses this man with the promise of heaven.
•What a “deathbed” confession of faith! Even Jesus’ own disciples had less faith than this criminal. Somehow, he believed in the kingdom of Jesus and asks Jesus to remember him. This man, who only repented at the very end of his life, is remembered forever for his faith and belief.
•Picture this: as Jesus ascends into heaven after his death on the cross, he arrives hand in hand, escorting this forgiven criminal.
•If you are blessed to have made the decision to accept Jesus’ sacrifice for your sin and are forgiven, how does your life show it?
•What gifts are you using to fulfill Jesus’ command to spread the gospel?
“Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.” Then he said to the disciple: This is your mother.” John 19:26
Imagine the grief and suffering Mary must have felt! Can you even put yourself in her place? Watching your own son be tortured and murdered?
Did Mary remember the words of Simeon to her as they presented Jesus in the temple 8 days after his birth? “And a sword will pierce your own heart too.” (Luke 2:35) Again, Jesus seeks to reassure her and thinks of others before himself, even in this impossible situation. He was concerned for his mother and made sure she would be taken care of.
•Our families are special gifts given to us by God. Jesus gives us a picture of how caring for our families should look like. We shouldn’t take our families for granted.
•Show them the same love that Jesus showed to his. If dysfunction or abuse is part of your family, we can still have the compassion of Jesus (or pray to receive it) and pray for those family members.
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
Jesus’ words are the opening verse of Psalm 22. (Psalm 22 is also an amazing prophecy considering crucifixion didn’t exist at the time it was written –“they have pierced my hands and feet, they have numbered all my bones (vv16-17). “They divide my garments among them, and for my vesture, they cast lots” v18. )
We know that Jesus was God in the fullest sense, and they had been together forever. They created the universe together. Yet, here we see that they are completely separated somehow. The Cambridge dictionary definition of “forsake” is to “leave forever, or to give up completely.” He, who knew no sin, who didn’t know how it felt to sin, was going to feel the sin of the world placed on his back, and the total disconnect from God. He was not only suffering physically but mentally with the knowledge of sin and the spiritual abandonment of his Father.
•Can you imagine not knowing what sin feels like? Jesus never felt the shame, remorse, or guilt of sin. But at that moment, he felt it all; magnified in a way we can’t even imagine. God was looking at Jesus as if he had sinned. He felt God’s judgment and condemnation. And why did he take it all on himself?
Because he loves us that much- so we can be with him forever. As his children, we can claim God’s promise to us in Hebrews 13:5 as our own: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”
“I thirst.” John 19:28
Jesus finally speaks of his physical suffering. The scourging, the crown of thorns, the nailing to the cross- his loss of blood may have caused him to be in shock. Burning fever and excruciating thirst often accompanied crucifixion. They offer him wine vinegar (cheap wine) which leads us back to the Psalms- “They…gave me vinegar for my thirst.” Psalm 69:21
Jesus’ suffering was ending. He had completed his work and was ready to end his mission. The phrase in the scripture immediately preceding Jesus’s words were “when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I thirst.” John 19:28.
At the excruciating end of his life, Jesus remains true to his mission and fulfills scripture.
“It is finished.” John 19:30
Jesus’ work was done. He was our Passover Lamb. His suffering is over, and his task completed. Sin, death, and Satan are defeated. He was obedient to his Father and performs the greatest act of love ever known. He has accomplished that which we cannot do on our own. Our debt is now stamped “PAID IN FULL.”
Jesus’ sacrifice was voluntary. No one forced him to pay the price for our sins. He was conscious and in command of himself until the very end.
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Luke 23:46
His final words were a prayer to his Father in heaven, then “he breathes his last.” Luke tells us that he “cried out in a loud voice.” He summons the strength to cry out when he should have been so weak that only a whisper might squeak out.
•Notice that Jesus is in complete control here. He decided the time of his death. Triumph!
•The inner curtain of the temple that had separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was torn in two from top to bottom. This was no flimsy, weak tapestry. It was 60 feet long, 20 feet high, and as thick as a man’s hand!!
Jesus’s conquering death over sin allows us all to enter the Most Holy Place, and he gave us this magnificent act to put an exclamation point on what his sacrifice meant. We don’t need a high priest to enter in and sacrifice for us anymore. Jesus is our High Priest. His sacrifice is sufficient- once and for all.
The curtain is torn. We can freely approach God as righteous ones, all because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Jesus’ human body rests in the tomb. We have Jesus’ own words as to where his spirit resided when he told the thief “today you will be with me in paradise.” The disciples spent the day hiding in fear of being arrested. His followers must have been mourning, grieving the loss of their friend and teacher.
•The world on this particular Saturday would be a one-of-a-kind day. Jesus was dead, and the hopes of the disciples had died with him. Some see a correlation between God resting on the Sabbath after he created the world, and Jesus resting on the Sabbath after he creates a whole new world for us again.
•Maybe this is the most important day to reflect. Jesus has died in your place. Are you now prepared to take up your cross and follow him????
Resurrection Day! He truly lives! We are forgiven and have been given victory over sin and death. We have a glorious hope in a new life. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1 18-19.
Our Christian faith all boils down to this- We believe Jesus was crucified, died, buried and was resurrected. Because he was raised from the dead, it makes all his teachings faithful and true. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” John 11:25-26 (ESV) Our eternal life began the minute we accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and invited him into our hearts and lives.
He has risen!! We have a beautiful future awaiting us!
If you are reading this and are unsure of what you believe, or have questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at [email protected]. I would love to have a conversation with you about it!!
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
Photo Credit: Pixabay, Canva
6 thoughts on “Holy Week Devotional”
I am not a busy woman and retired, but I am sure you will receive my application and grant me membership. At age of 77 yrs I still am busy with the Lord`s things day after day and lo and behold; I still learn new things. I pass this on to my three daughters, who are busy.
Thank you for your encouraging texts and thoughts.
Blessings to you.
Welcome, Annatjie! Little did I know when I began this blog that it would appeal to others besides busy women! I’m so glad you are here! And thank you so much for passing these blogs on. That makes us partners in ministry! God bless you!
I’ve been so blessed by these devotions this week! So glad I found it…thank you!
All praise to God! His Word finds it way to those who need it… 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement!
Thank you , very good!
You’re so welcome! Have a blessed week!