Each day through Holy Week we will be sharing suggested scripture readings, devotional thoughts, prayer prompts, and a spiritual discipline practice. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for daily posts, or visit this link for content.
Today’s Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1-7; Mark 11:12-26; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19
Read all four or pick one gospel and read the writer’s account of the events of Palm Sunday.
In this reading of Jesus’ actions, Palm Sunday reveals his humility. He is not like other kinds who enter cities atop war horses in celebration of bloody victory surrounded by those society deems worthy. He is the humble king who saves by dying for the sins of the world. ” – Esau McCaulley
Prayer Prompt: Reflect on the intentional and striking humility of Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey, when his rightful place as the Son of God would have been on a prized horse with an entourage. What does Jesus’ humility speak to you? Ask God to show you in what specific instances or relationships He is calling you to follow the humble of example of Jesus in your daily life.
Spiritual Disciplines: Worship, Celebration, and Sabbath.
One day each week God calls us into rest. Today we worshipped together as a church community and celebrated Jesus’ resurrections as we do every Sunday. Take some time today to enter into His rest. Trust that your needs will be met even if you do no work. Express gratitude to Him for all He has given you.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:12-33; Luke 19:45-48
Prayer Prompt / Spiritual Discipline: Meditation
Through our Lenten Journey we have focused on some spiritual disciplines, one of them being meditation. Choose one account of Jesus cleansing the temple (references above). Read it through several times; practice meditating on what you’re reading. As you meditate, ask God these two questions:
- God, if my heart were a temple and you walked in, what would you turn over?
- God, what makes me angry? Is it righteous anger like you displayed? Or it is unrighteous and self-centered?
“[Jesus] re-orders the temple and stays, spending the next several days there healing and teaching, loving and correcting, using the temple for it’s designed purpose—as a place where people can come and meet with God, receiving his forgiveness, his healing, and his word.
God also does this very thing in our own hearts. Sometimes he has to come and shake us up, overturning tables to reveal our fallenness, our idols, our greed and opportunism and self-centeredness, our misdirected loves and desires. But he doesn’t just upend our lives and step away, he makes room for himself and stays. Healing and teaching. Loving and correcting. Meeting and forgiving. It’s not gentle but it’s merciful. Thanks be to God.”
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:12-13:37;Luke 20-21
Spiritual Discipline: Simplicity
Minimalism has been trending over the past few years with the popularity of “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo and docu-series like “The Minimalists.” Although these things offer valuable advice on how to live a more organized, less complicated life, the spiritual discipline of Simplicity is an “inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle.” (Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline). It does not hold that we do not own material things, but sets them in the proper perspective. Our culture often stresses the importance of making more money and acquiring more things as a way to find happiness. Christ reminds us that joy and a sense of purpose in this life are found by dwelling and walking in His Love – seeking His Kingdom first. Only then will the other things in our lives find their proper place.
In these last few days of Jesus’ life, we are reminded that the “son of man has no place to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20) as he teaches in the temple during the day and sleeps with the disciples on the Mount of Olives. Although few of us are called to live a life such as this, we all have things in our lives which we use to fill the void and feel happy.
Prayer Prompt: Set aside some time today to reflect on these scriptures and the concept of simplicity. Prayerfully ask God which things are becoming clutter for you and clouding your view of Him.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:1-6; Habakkuk 1:2-4
Judas betrayed Jesus. Let that sink in. This is a story you may have heard dozens of times in your life, but have you ever taken the time to reflect on what this really means? Judas was one of the trusted twelve – the inner circle. And we are told in the gospels that he approached the high priests and “watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” (Matthew 26:16)
We are not told much more about what may have happened on this day before the Last Supper. Jesus spent much of his time teaching at the temple, resting with his disciples in the evening on the Mount of Olives. The disciples still had it in their minds that Jesus would be their deliverer on earth; only Jesus and Judas knew what was to come.
Spiritual Disciplines: Lament and Silence
Lament is a type of prayer in which we cry out to God in deep emotion about injustices we see and experience. Often in lament we feel that God has been absent or silent. We most often witness lament in the Psalms and Minor Prophets. It begins with a cry and often ends with an answer from God that brings a peace that transcends understanding. Which unjust situations in the world cause you to feel deep emotion? How does this narrative of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus mirror injustice in the present day? Take some time today to cry out to God. Don’t hold back; he is the One who created your emotions and passions. Then, find a quiet spot and stop. Sit in the silence. Remember that God often speaks in a still, small voice. (1 Kings 19:12). Silence can be hard to find, but it is a treasure worth pursuing.
Scripture Reading: Mark 14:12-52 Luke 22:7-60; John 13-18:27
Today is traditionally known as Maundy or Holy Thursday. The word maundy comes from a Latin word meaning “command,” from when Jesus spoke some of the final words to his disciples “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” It is during these hours that Jesus shared in the Passover meal, (which we now observed as communion) washed his disciples’ feet, and was later arrested in the garden. In the moments of his greatest angst, Jesus finds himself alone, calling out to his Father to “take this cup” if there is another way (Luke 22:42). Although his love for us and his obedience to the Father ultimately bring him to the cross, here we are given a glimpse of his humanness, feeling great emotion and soon, great physical pain.
Prayer Prompt: When you are feeling great pain, do you go to your Father? Do you distract yourself with earthly pleasures? Find solace in the company of a friend? What prevents you from falling to your knees in earnest, passionate prayer? Fear? Shame? Doubt? Take some time to think about this; journal if it is helpful.
Spiritual Disciplines: Prayer and Submission
After following the prayer prompt above, ask God what cup he would like you to drink? Have you asked him to take it away? If he is calling you to something, submit to it. Submission ultimately translates into trust that what He has for you is better than what you could plan for yourself. Don’t expect yourself to submit easily; remember that even Jesus asked for the cup to be taken away. Pray continually that you will be given the strength and faith needed to step fully into his will.
Scripture Reading: Mark 14:53-15:41; Luke 22:66-23:49; John 18:28-19:37
Spiritual Discipline: Confession
The glorious holiness, love and grace of Jesus is on display throughout all of the gospel accounts, and is even more stunning at the crucifixion. There he hangs, for the depravity of all of those he loves – committed followers, family members, betrayers, enemies, past and future generations throughout all of history – and endures the cross in all of its humiliation, pain and trauma. And he prays forgiveness over all of those depraved souls in Luke 23. He says they do not know what they’re doing; and so often we don’t know what we’re doing. We are unaware of our sin and our deeply desperate need of God.
But, then truth is revealed to us, about us, about God, about our world, about others. As awareness grows, we must face it head on, bringing it before the Lord to be healed and made whole – forgiven children. We must confess before Him to receive His grace. But we cannot confess something of which we are unaware.
Prayer prompts: So first, let us pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal our sin and shortcomings to us, for clarity and awareness. And then, let us pray and wholeheartedly confess those things to God. And as we do, Christ’s death which gives us the ability to truly LIVE will be made more and more real in us. And as that happens, because of the cross, we are transformed.
Humans often crave the most simple explanation to things. I imagine this is what the disciples and followers of Jesus were doing at this time – trying to figure out where they went wrong. They had grand hopes for Jesus; he was to usher in the new Kingdom, rescuing them from the oppression of the Romans. But, as they have just learned, this was not to be.
Saturday was the Sabbath, the day of rest. Friday was called Preparation Day, because normally the Jews would be getting everything ready so they could rest and worship from sundown to sundown. But this Sabbath was different. A day normally set aside for refreshment and celebration was now filled with sadness, confusion, and likely some chaos as there was no time to prepare the day before. The scripture does not tell us what the disciples were doing, but we can guess that they were huddled together in the upper room, frightened for their own lives, maybe coming up with a plan for what would come next. The women, we are told, went home after the crucifixion to prepare spices and perfumes, and rested on the Sabbath in obedience.
We are able to read the accounts of this story, already having the knowledge of how it was to end. On Saturday, we wait in eager anticipation of Easter, the day we celebrate in worship and in feasting with our families and friends. Try to take some time today to put yourself in the shoes of each person in this narrative. Read the accounts of Jesus’ burial (which took place before sundown on Friday) in each of the gospels and take in the silence that occurs before Jesus’ resurrection. Pretend for a moment that you don’t know what happens next.
What things in your life are you waiting for? Are you in a season of contemplation, expectation, or celebration? Prepare your heart today for the events of tomorrow. This story is not over.
Spiritual Discipline: Fasting
We fast while we wait. Purposely refrain from something you would normally do today as you prepare to celebrate his resurrection tomorrow.