Easter is for YOU
An 8 Day Study on Holy Week
I want to take you back to the last week of Jesus’s life on Earth. This week is called Holy Week and holds a ton of historical information that gives us a look into the humanity of Jesus as well as the Father’s love for us. In this week I hope you will see an opportunity to reframe how you think about Jesus’ death and resurrection.
On this day Jesus asked his disciples to get him a donkey to ride into Jerusalem, this was to fulfill the scriptures of Zechariah 9:9. Crowds gathered around him with palm branches, this is the reason we call this day Palm Sunday, shouting Hosana which means praise, adoration, even savior. Though later these same people would be shouting crucify him.
Palm branches are a symbol of victory, eventually this would symbolize Jesus’ victory over sin and death only 7 days later but he had a long journey before that day came. In Luke’s account of this day, he says that Jesus wept over the city. Jesus longed for all people to know the peace that he offered but knew that they were not ready yet and that he must pay the ultimate sacrifice for them to finally understand.
Jesus offers a different way to peace than what everyone expected. Jesus did not come as a king that would take down the Roman Empire, like the people desired, but a king that was willing to die for us. God had a different way to save his people, it is not the way we would have chosen, it is not our way. This is the beauty of the God we serve; His way is better than ours.
Often, we are tempted to put God into a box. We want to keep him as a king that would do what we want. Our expectations can even affect the way we view God as our Father and our Savior. How many times do you find yourself wanting control over the plan over your life? It is easy to fall into the trap of expectations. We expect things to go the “right” way when we have done the right things. This mindset does not allow us to see the ways God is working in our life through all things.
Today, reflect on the ways your expectations of how you think God should show up in your life inhibits you from seeing God is all things.
Monday Jesus makes his way into the temple. This temple was called the Second Temple and divided into four courts, the court of the gentiles, the court of women, the court of Israel and the court of priests. Each court was designated for only certain people to enter and ultimately was the place one came into God’s presence and offered a sacrifice to appease God’s wrath. When Jesus entered the outer court for the gentiles, he saw how the temple was not being used properly and caused disruption to the practices taking place. He drove out all the animals and this is when he famously flipped the tables. Many say that this disruption could have been the final act that convinced the religious leader to plot to kill Jesus.
This scene is often used as an example of righteous anger, so why was Jesus so upset with the actions taking place in the temple? The temple was a place of worship but through the years it had become a more corrupt place and the temple was not being used as it was created for.
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we no longer need to sacrifice animals to appease God. Jesus broke that expectation. So how does this verse apply to our lives now?
According to Paul’s words, our body is a temple, and we must use it as it was created for. Paul also says that we were created to follow God’s commandments and Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God and love people.
Instead of complicating our purpose, we have clear instructions on how to live. We must not fall into the ways of the money changers and use our temple as created. We are created to honor God and love others.
Today, focus on the ways you can live with loving others as your priority.
1 John 4:4
On this day Jesus comes back into Jerusalem where His authority is questioned. Similarly, this is the day the Passover lamb would be scrutinized to see if it was worthy of sacrifice. This is exactly what the religious leaders were doing to Jesus. They questioned who he was, what he came to do, and if he had the authority of a king. In typical Jesus fashion, he answered their questions with another question, ultimately proving his authority.
In our life we are going to be questioned and even scrutinized. However, unlike Jesus we are going to come up short. The good news is we have authority with Jesus. Through his sacrifice we are adopted into God’s family. We are made whole and biblically perfect. This does not mean we are free of mistakes, obviously we know that we will sin and turn away from God’s plan because our flesh desires something else.
We are not supposed to live a perfect life, this is impossible. But what we can do is choose Jesus’s way over our own. When scrutiny comes, when going the other ways seems better than Jesus, we must remind ourselves of the authority that we have. We are not destined to fall into temptation. We can beat the false ideas that attempt to overcome us. We are overcomers and sit with authority next to Jesus.
Today, when you feel like you are not enough to beat the temptations thwarting your life, reaffirm the identity you have as an heir and co-heir with Christ.
Traditionally, this day is considered a day of rest for Jesus. He has traveled to and from Jerusalem and is preparing for the days ahead, but something else was happening that is worth talking about. This is the day Judas turns on Jesus.
What we know about Judas is that he was the treasure for the disciples, naturally greedy and even a thief. Judas had protested Jesus’ actions before in scripture when he says that an expensive jar of perfume should have been sold and the profit given to the poor rather than poured on Jesus’ feet. We can assume that Judas was probably going to take funds from the profit after it had been sold. So, it is not surprising when Judas asked how much it was worth to turn Jesus over to the religious leaders. He was looking for ways to betray Jesus, and to honor himself.
We might not be looking for ways to betray Jesus, but we can easily turn to looking for ways to honor ourselves, rather than God. We can say that Satan has tempted us to turn away from God or to make a bad decision. The reality is that the devil only has power when we allow him to have it. Scriptures say that the devil entered Judas, but that he was open to it. Jesus says that when you seek you will find. This means that when we are seeking out ways to honor ourselves, they will come, just like Judas. The good news is that the opposite is true as well. When we make the choice to seek out ways to honor God and to honor others those things will come as well.
Today make the choice to seek out ways that will be honoring to God rather than ways that only serve yourself.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Thursday is a day we all know well; it is the Last Supper. This is the day the disciples, Jesus and practically everyone in Jerusalem were celebrating Passover. This would become the very last Passover ever celebrated because of the events that would occur in the following days. Jesus and his disciples were gathered around the table, eating, relaxing, and enjoying their time together when Jesus makes a bold remark. He says that one of them around the table would betray him. We know that Judas already betrayed Jesus for some money and yet every one of the disciples asked if it was him. Peter even makes the statement that he would never betray Jesus. He was so confident in the fact that he would not do this he said that even if he needed to die, he would still not betray Jesus.
It’s important to note the two sides we see at the table. Judas is living knowing he has already denied Jesus. 30 pieces of silver was enough for Judas to turn Jesus in. On the other had we have Peter who is living in denial. He believes there is no way that he would ever do something like that. His pride is blinding him from the potential that he too could fall.
We can see ourselves in one of these two disciples. We can live totally denying Jesus, because let’s be honest, living as a Christian is not easy. Or we can live in denial not recognizing our own faults.
Faith lives in the middle of deny and denial. Somewhere in the middle is a life we are called to live. How do we stay in the middle? Well Jesus tells us that we can experience communion at any time. We can remind ourselves of the sacrifice that was paid for us through bread and wine and celebrate the resurrection that came. Grounding ourselves with the truth of how much God loves us that he would send his son to die for us can keep us from drifting too close to either side. We are given a new life through the resurrected king, and a new way to live.
Today spend some time participating in communion. You do not need any special bread or wine, whatever you have will do. What is important is remembering the sacrifice and celebrate how deeply loved you are.
This Friday is one of the most important days in history. We see Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with one more prayer before he would be taken away to be crucified. The Garden of Gethsemane overlooks the city of Jerusalem and Jesus was most likely looking out towards the city while he was there, seeing his fate right in front of him. Jesus took his three closest friends with him, Peter, James, and John. He prayed three times for the opposite of God’s will. His humanity shows as he longs for a different way, though he knows that this is what must be done. Jesus says his soul is overwhelmed to the point of death, referencing Psalms. Even in his most emotional and deep moments he quotes scripture, showing how deeply God’s words are implanted in his heart.
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you feel like you are dying? Jesus shows us that we do not need to hide from intense feelings like these. In fact, we can cry out to God and be honest with our prayers. Jesus modeled vulnerability for us. Unfortunately, being a Christian does not mean our life will be easy or free from pain. But we have a savior that knows everything we are feeling because he felt it himself. Our God is a God of empathy and compassion. When we are at our lowest moments, we can be comforted by the fact that God is with us. Jesus experienced the pain of crucifixion so we may live in freedom. Freedom does not mean the absence of pain but the presence of a loving God.
Today remember and honor a good savior who empathizes with your pain.
This day is called Silent Saturday because Jesus has died. The disciples have run away and we can assume it is because they are afraid. They are worried that after years of walking next to Jesus that he wasn’t really who he said he was. Joseph of Arminathea was not a disciple but asked Pilate for Jesus’ body so it could be wrapped and prepared for death. Then a giant stone is rolled in front of the tomb and closed off so no one could take Jesus’s body. We can imagine that the disciples were experiencing sorrow and were questioning everything.
Maybe you are in a silent Saturday of your own, waiting on God to make a move in your life. You might be sorrowful and longing for God to reveal himself as a God that is for you. There is no need to feel shame if you are in a place like this. It is natural to doubt, doubt does not mean you don’t have faith, it means you are human. The words of Jesus can comfort us when we are in our darkest nights. Jesus reminds us that he is with us always. When he seems far it is only because the enemy tries to plant doubt in our hearts. God has never left you. You are never separated from the love God has for you.
The curtain was torn in two. This verse proclaims that God has created a life for us. The temple used to be protected by a curtain that hung and only the high priests could enter and see the glory of God, but Jesus’s death changed that forever. We now can see God’s glory in everything we do. This is the good we see in Jesus’s death.
Today, remember that in everything you do God is with you and you are never alone.
1 Corinthians 15:14
1 Corinthians 15:17-19
Finally, we have made it to Easter Sunday. Of course, we know this is the day Jesus rose from the grave. He had defeated death and his ministry had come to end. He fulfilled all scriptures that said the savior would be resurrected. Today is a day of celebration, but why did all of this happen? Well to put it simply, it was for you.
Easter is for you. Everything Jesus did, his ministry, his death, and his resurrection was all for you. Take that in. God loves you so much that he did everything possible to become close to you. He desires a relationship with you. He wants you to not be bound by fear of death but walk in the newness of life. He has even given us the Holy Spirit, so we are always with him and have guidance in our life.
Christ needed to die. We needed someone to pay the sacrifice of sin, so we do not have to live apart from God. Our life has just begun through Christ. Every day, we can wake up celebrating our new life.