Holy Week is the commemoration and celebration of the events of Christ's life during the week leading up to Easter, which is the most important day in world history. Easter makes Independence Day look like the day the music died. Easter makes the moon landing look as insignificant as driving out to the desert and walking around in a hazmat suit.
On Easter we celebrate the resurrection. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then everything we do as a church is meaningless and we should be mocked as the most pathetic group of people in world history.
But he did rise from the dead. So in anticipation of our Easter celebration, Holy Week is full of rich traditions and applicable ways of remembering the work of Jesus.
This year, we want to engage some of these traditions and disciplines and allow Jesus to infuse new life into them. This can't be done by meaningless repetition or half-hearted participation. These disciplines are not an end in themselves, but are tools to know Christ more deeply and discover Him as the substance of our experience of life!
This Guide is Comprised of Two Parts:
First, you'll find a community group study for Holy Week which is designed to prepare our hearts and minds for the content of the week.
Second, you'll find daily devotions for you to do on your own, coupled with disciplines to participate in to further enrich your devotions this week (scroll down to the appropriate day).
May this guide aid you in growing your affection for Christ as you seek Him during Holy Week.
Part 1: Community Group Study
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter Triumphal Entry: Luke 19:29-44, Psalm 118:26, Zechariah 9:9
On this day, Jesus, accompanied by His disciples, entered the city of Jerusalem in triumph (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; and John 12:12-19). An enthusiastic crowd greeted Jesus by spreading palm branches along the road and shouting Hosanna, a Hebrew expression meaning “save us.” The people hailed Jesus as the “Son of David,” the Messiah promised long ago by God. Everyone understood the coming messiah to be a great political ruler, and his followers were distressed later that week at his death (Luke 24:19-21). They didn’t understand that the cross was the very reason the messiah came (24:25-26)!
Read Luke’s account of the Triumphal Entry (19:28-44) and discuss the following questions.
- Look at Zechariah 9:9. What statement is Jesus making by riding into Jerusalem this way?
- Why does Jesus respond to praise and singing by weeping over Jerusalem?
- Where do you see yourself in this story?
If you look Psalm 118, and Luke 24:19-21, you can see that the crowd expected Jesus to rescue Israel from it’s political enemies. What his disciples would find out one week later was that Jesus had come to rescue people from sin.
- Was there ever a time in your life that you expected God to show up or do something, and something different (or nothing) happened?
- What are some ways that we worship a false idea of Jesus that we have made up?
- What are some of the dangers of not turning from our false presuppositions and expectations of Jesus?
- How does Christ’s sacrifice allow us to turn from those ideas and trust in Him?
Part 2: DAILY DEVOTIONS
Holy Monday: Luke 19:45-48, Mark 11:12-19, John 2:13-25. Clearing the Temple
This gospel reading contrasts the hearts of the money changers and religious leaders with Christ. Not only did these people misuse the temple by their actions, but they distracted everyone from worshipping. Jesus clears the temple to restore worship.
Today, those who worship Christ are the temple of God (1 Peter 2:5, 1 Corinthians 3:16). Therefore, Holy Monday’s personal discipline will include ‘fasting’ from distractions, specifically various forms of media. Media is not inherently evil or sinful, but it often can provide just enough noise to drown out the voice of God. In place of our usual media intake, let us restore worship in our hearts and minds through prayer, silence, rest, and meditation on God’s word.
- Personal Discipline: Other than for required work purposes, go through Monday without TV, Movies, DVD’s, CD’s, Music, iPods, Internet, newspapers, magazines, Excessive Phone Calls, texting, etc.
Holy Tuesday: Matthew 24. The Mount of Olives.
The big idea here is the urgency of true repentance. This Gospel reading predicts the coming suffering of Christians, the lawlessness of unbelievers, and signs before Christ’s return. We are reminded to be ready for His return at any moment. We are called to be eagerly and joyfully expectant, and this response only results by Jesus transforming our hearts to trust and desire him.
Just as distractions can prevent us from worship, so can a love of this world and the things of this world (i.e. physical comfort, selfish gain, etc. 1 John 2:15) if we love them more than God. .In order to symbolically (and literally) curb our earthly appetites, we will participate in a fast from food as prescribed in Scripture. Food is a wonderful gift from God that we need to survive, although, our goal today is to discipline ourselves to hunger for God above all else.
- Personal Discipline: Keep doing the media fast from Monday and engage in a fast from food. This may look like fasting certain types of food (especially if you have a medical condition), but if you are able, we encourage you not to eat, and to only drink water from midnight Monday to midnight Tuesday. In place of food and drink, pray. Direct your hunger to God, who is the true source of life (Matthew 4). For more information on fasting, visit this link: http://bit.ly/HlGTVY
Holy Wednesday: Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:1-6. The Plot against Jesus
These passages detail the deception and betrayal of Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve Disciples of Jesus. Later on, Peter would also betray Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75). In similar ways, we are all guilty of betraying Jesus. Before we came to Christ, we were his enemies (Romans 5:8).
Judas never became reconciled to Christ, but we can. By the grace of God, we can be made right in God’s sight and enjoy relationship with Him because of Christ’s sacrifice and gift of salvation. Because of his grace, we can also enjoy right relationship with each other. (Matthew 5:23-24, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, Galatians 6:1-3, Phillipians 2:1-12)
- Personal Discipline: Love God by working on mending a broken relationship. Ask: have I been selfish toward anyone lately? Do I owe anyone an apology? Have I been resentful? Pray for God to correct wrong thinking and remind you of how you have been reconciled with Him. Pray for the people that come to mind by name, and ask God to love them through you.
Maundy Thursday Morning: Matthew 26, John 13, Luke 22:1-53. The Last Supper & Gethsemane.
Note: The word "maundy" comes from a Latin phrase that means "new commandment." It refers to the Jesus’s words to His apostles recorded in John 13:34: “A new command I give you: love one another.”
In this reading, Jesus celebrates the Passover feast with his disciples (Exodus 12). During the feast, Jesus announces the end of the old covenant and the beginning of the new covenant. This was prophesied by Jeremiah 600 years earlier (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Since the church began 2000 years ago, Christians have worshipped God for making this new covenant in which God gives us new hearts that rejoice in him, and hearts that desire to serve him and others (Ephesians 2:1-10).
- Personal Discipline: Do some “random acts of kindness.” Be creative! Invest in someone with your time or talents. Love someone who is hard to love. Write a letter to someone you appreciate. Bless someone who curses you. Pay attention to someone who is ignored. Give a thoughtful or unexpected gift. Whatever you do, do it out of a thankful heart for what Jesus has done for you, and tell others about Jesus as you bless them. Acts of true kindness please God much more than legalistic rituals (Isaiah 58)
Maundy Thursday Evening: Mark 14:43-72, Luke 22:47-65. Betrayal & Arrest.
Here we remember the undeserved suffering of Jesus, endured for our sake. We are mindful of the cost to be reconciled to God our Father. The Gospel reading shows us the betrayal and arrest of Jesus, his trial and conviction, and finally his torture, crucifixion and death at the hands of sinful humanity. The detailed Gospel readings are as follows. Choose a few readings and dig deep:
(John 13:31-18:1, John 18:1-29, Matthew 26:57-75, John 18:28-19:16, Matthew 27:3-32, Mark 15:16-32, Matthew 27:33-54, Luke 22, John 19:25-37, Mark 15:43-47, John 19:38-42, Matthew 27:62-66.)
“One will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one would dare to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8
Good Friday: John 18:28-19:16, Luke 22:66-23:25. Trial & Crucifixion.
Note: Good Friday is the solemn remembrance of Jesus' death on the cross. The term is a very fitting one since the Lord's death was for our eternal good.
This is the darkest moment in human history, as Jesus, the God-Man, is executed at the hands of sinful humanity. In every way, Jesus’ death looks like a defeat, but we remember his final cry from the cross: “It is finished.” In one day, Jesus paid our debt of sin and made a way for us to come to the Father (Matthew 27:51). Not even death can separate us from the unfailing love and power of God.
Invest time reflecting on what the cross means to and for you, your loved ones, and even your enemies. Cry out to God asking Him to rescue people you know who are not following Him.
- Come to the Good Friday Communion services tonight at your local Living Stones Church (For more info go to livingstoneschurches.com. Focus your attention, energy, and prayers on the lost.
Holy Saturday: Mark 16:1-8, Romans 6:1-11, 1 Corinthians 15 The Wait
The crucifixion was over, Christ was buried, the eleven apostles and other disciples were scattered and felt defeated. They were questioning if Jesus really was the Messiah, or if hope had been lost. However, dawn was approaching.
Today we know that the disciples did not wait in vain. Christ’s victory over sin and death was only hours away. Even with this knowledge we still sometimes question God’s ability to change circumstances, overcome sin, or provide for us. We often find ourselves waiting for God to act but don’t believe that he actually can.
- Take time today to asses your heart and seek out areas of unbelief.
Pray through some of these questions:
- What sins feel too big to overcome?
- What do you feel like God is not providing, and is that thing important?
- Are you content with the way your life currently is?
- Do you believe that God is intimately aware of your feelings and needs?
- Do you feel like Jesus’ death on the cross has truly freed you from guilt and shame?
God is listening to your prayers and he is powerful enough to answer them in ways that are best for you. Continue to watch expectantly and pray. Join with others in prayer. Ask God to guide you into conversations that reveal areas of unbelief and glorify Jesus.
Easter Sunday: Luke 24, John 20-21 He is Risen
Christ’s resurrection and victory is affirmed in this morning’s theme. Love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and joy are the gifts that we receive because Christ lived, died and rose for our sake. He is worthy of our praise, and today is a day of celebration!
GLORY BE TO HIM FOR ALL THINGS, AND MAY YOUR EASTER BE BLESSED.
Come to the Easter gatherings- and invite your family and friends.
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