Take a journey through the events and days of Holy Week (also known as Passion Week.) Each day’s devotional takes an aspect of that day for personal reflection. It would be a great calming pause in your busy day to step back and reflect on the last week of Jesus’ life on earth.
What Happened on Palm Sunday
Jesus makes a triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, which is filled with Jews who were there to celebrate Passover.
Waving palm branches, the people shout “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” which fulfills prophecy recorded in Psalm 118:26. Five days later these same people scream out for his execution…
What made the people praise Jesus as their Messiah? Did they misunderstand Jesus’ ministry? Were they caught up in the excitement of others?
How do you worship our King? Think about your time, your money, your service, your praise, your study of his Word… Where do you put Him into each of those categories?
Monday of Holy Week
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.
Jesus Clears the Temple
Jesus sees the poor being exploited by the money changers and the sellers of animals, who also charged exorbitant prices.
The compassion of Jesus causes Him to drive out the buyers and sellers; overturning the tables of the money changers.
Jesus speaks: “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)
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?
Jesus gives us many examples of how to handle our emotions of anger. Handled correctly, we respond with compassion, love, generosity, and graciousness.
Tuesday of Holy Week
Jesus returns to Jerusalem to teach in the temple. Jesus’ authority is questioned by the elders and chief priests.
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 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.
While we may not see ourselves in these teachers and leaders, it is a warning that we should never let pride invade us.
•What will help you stay focused on God, not on self?
Wednesday of Holy Week
There is no written mention of this day. Jesus had been spending each night at the home of Mary and Martha. This was to be Jesus’ last quiet, restful, and final day with his loved ones.
What a week Jesus was experiencing! There was so much to do, so much to prepare for, so much teaching to accomplish.
We can learn a lot about rest from Jesus. 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.”
This day is also called “Maundy Thursday” after the Latin word for “command” (mandatum) referring to the last instructions of Jesus to His disciples at the Last Supper.
This was Passover- the yearly feast to commemorate God delivering the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt.
Jesus deviated from the normal script when He left the table to wash the feet of the disciples (John 13:4-11) He did this to set an example for them to follow (serving God, each other, and all people.)
The Lord’s Supper
He also instituted the “Lord’s Supper”- the taking of the bread and the wine as a sign of His body; broken for us, and the wine; His blood shed for us.
“And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.’” Luke 22:19-20.
He identifies Himself as the “Passover Lamb”- His blood would bring salvation to all who believe in Him.
After the meal, 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.” Matthew 26:38.
Betrayal of Jesus
Judas betrays Jesus and Jesus is arrested. He gives himself up willingly. His submission was not weakness, but strength.
The disciples desert him.
This certainly gives us a clear picture of the human side of Jesus. In past times of distress, (storm on the Sea of Galilee, demonic opposition and temptation), Jesus has always been composed and calm.
But now, we see him “overwhelmed” and feeling “sorrow to the point of death” Jesus prays twice for the Father to remove this “cup” from Him; each time submitting 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?
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. 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 still shows love, compassion, and mercy to his executors. He, who is sinless, is enduring this torture so that all humanity can be forgiven.
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.
•How does this change your thinking about forgiveness?
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43
Even as Jesus is being crucified, the criminal on his right admits his sin and asks Jesus to remember him “when you come into 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.
•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?
“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! 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.
“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)
We know that Jesus was God in the fullest sense, and He had been with His heavenly Father forever. 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 Almighty God. He was not only suffering physically but mentally with the knowledge of sin and the spiritual abandonment of his Father.
Jesus 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 for eternity.
“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.
Excruciating thirst often accompanied crucifixion. Jesus’ suffering was ending. He had completed his work and was ready to end His mission.
God created a need, a thirst, in us to know Him. Are you “spiritually dehydrated”?
“It is finished.” John 19:30
Jesus’ work was done. He is our Passover Lamb. His suffering is over, and His task complete.
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.”
•Are there sins from your past that you have trouble accepting the “paid in full” receipt for? Think about the words “it is finished” and how He paid all your debt.
“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.”
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 at the moment of Jesus’ death. 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. 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.
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 hide in an upper room, fearful of being arrested. His followers must have been confused and mourning, grieving the loss of their friend and teacher.
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 lives! The triumph of Easter Sunday shines brightly after the ultimate sacrifice of Good Friday.
Jesus gave us 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, and was buried. We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day. 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 begins the minute we accept Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice of Good Friday and invite him into our hearts and lives.
He has risen!!
If you are reading this and are unsure of what you believe, or have questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at annmarie@busyblessedwomendotcom. I would love to have a conversation with you about it!!
Would you like this devotional in a printable format? It is free for you and comes with journal/note pages for answering the reflection questions. Click on the image below to go to my Resource Library.
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
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