Easter is not a day – it is a season, and a way of life.
This year, consider beginning your Easter preparation an entire week before so you experience Jesus’ last week on earth as a man. These seven days are called Holy Week because without the crucifixion, there would have been no Resurrection Sunday. Had Christ not hung on the cross, taken on our sins, and defeated Satan’s power, His rising again would not have been as meaningful. We wouldn’t be singing hymns about it. The New Testament probably wouldn’t have been written. And no one would have eternal life.
Through Scripture, you can “walk in His shoes.” We know how the story ends, but try not to jump ahead in your mind and heart. Put yourself in the moment each day, and take the place of the disciples, of Jesus, of the Roman soldiers, and if you dare, of Judas. Live it as it unfolds.
Here is a guideline for your reflections. We are using the Gospel of Luke, but you can also find theses passages paralleled in the other Gospels (Matthew and Mark, and some of them in John). If you don’t have a Bible handy, simply click on the links we have provided.
Start on the Sunday prior to Easter Sunday
Read about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey and the meaning behind it as fulfilled by the prophets. This is traditionally known as Palm Sunday because people laid the branches in His path. Read Luke 19:28-42 and Zechariah 9:9.
Reflection: How often do you praise God for coming into your life?
Read about Jesus at the Temple in Luke 19:45-20:8..
Reflection: Think about your body as the temple. What does Jesus need to clean to be truly honored?
Read about Jesus teaching at the Temple in Luke 20:1-40.
Reflection: Have there been times when Jesus’ truth has seemed harsh to you or hard to follow. Did you grumble and back away? Did you question Him?
Read who Jesus said He was and the reactions in Luke 20:41-47 & Luke 22:1-6.
Refection: It is sometimes hard to be a disciple of the truth and the way. Sometimes we want Jesus to do what we want or act the way we feel He should. Think on this and how that led Judas astray.
(Maundy Thursday – the Day of the Last Supper)
Read Luke 22:7-46. Here is some background: Maundy is an old English word for washing, so it reminds us how Jesus lowered Himself ― literally and figuratively ― to wash his disciple’s feet. Then they celebrated Passover, recalling when God, through Moses, delivered their ancestors out of slavery in Egypt. The night before, they put the blood of a lamb on the door mantle so the angel of death would pass them by. This foreshadows how Jesus will deliver us from the slavery of sin through His death on the cross as the Lamb of God. Finally, follow them into the garden where Jesus prayed for strength to endure what was to come and was then arrested.
Reflection: Jesus told us when we break bread (eat a meal) to remember Him. Do you say “grace” before you eat? Think of the disciples. His disciples couldn’t keep awake even one hour to pray with Him. Tonight see if you can spend one hour praying with Jesus. Scripture tells us He prays for us unceasingly.
Today, sometime between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm stop for a few moments to reflect on Jesus’ death on the cross. Read Luke 22:47-23:48 and John 19:1-37.
Refection: If you can, attend a Stations of the Cross service. There are fourteen steps or stations where Scripture is read about Jesus’ walk to the cross and His death upon it. At each stop, prayers are said. Even if you sit in the pews and do not follow all the movements of kneeling, crossing yourself, etc, it can still be a very heart-piercing service. Some are held outdoors.
Or watch a movie about the life and death of Jesus, keeping in mind He did this all for you. He loves you that much. The Passion of the Christ, Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, and The Greatest Story Ever Told are good ones.
*Or listen to and reflect upon hymns and songs about the crucifixion.
Jesus lies alone in the tomb. Scripture is basically silent about today. Some traditions believe Jesus descended into hell to preach salvation to the lost souls and defeat Satan’s grip. Scripture does state the women left his body in a tomb and hurried away because their tradition said they had to wait to prepare his funeral until after the Sabbath was over. Read Luke 23:50-56 and John 19:38-42.
Reflection: As you prepare for Easter, think of what Jesus is doing for your sake even though you can’t see Him.
Sunday – Easter!
Awaken with a song in your heart. He is Risen ― The Lord Is Risen Indeed! Read Luke 24 and John 20.
Reflection: go to church. Be with family. In your own words, relay to others what you have just experienced through the past week and what it has meant to you.
Remember – every week is a mini Holy Week and every Sunday is a mini Easter. We may praise Him, and then not understand. We may back away, and we may even turn to the world instead of to Him. But we can always return, kneel at his feet, confess our sins, and rejoice in forgiveness. We can approach His table and sup with Him. And we can do it all in remembrance, both today and forever more. That is the Christian walk and the reason we celebrate Easter.