As Easter quickly approaches, our minds are typically filled with ideas of chocolate stuffed bunnies and where to hide the infamous plastic eggs. Whereas none of this is ultimately bad for us, do we really take time to consider the depth the week leading up to Easter holds?
How about this year we do something different? How about we take a step back and enter this season with prepared hearts that draw us to the cross, rather than to the store. Even though there are countless ways to prepare our hearts for this season, here is a start that will help you prepare for Holy Week in the simplest way possible.
Let’s start by learning what Holy Week is. It is the week leading up to Easter, starting on Palm Sunday. The point of this week is to provide each believer reflection on the events leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. This is a week to celebrate, grieve, and rejoice in the different events that occurred as Jesus prepared for the biggest sacrifice anyone has ever made.
We can prepare our hearts for this week by learning about each day and what scripture has to say about each event that occurs.
Palm Sunday is the kickoff of this great week. This day celebrates when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion. John 12 describes people laying palm branches down in front of Jesus as he entered.
“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!’” —John 12:12-13
Some churches offer palm branches as people enter to worship on Palm Sunday to reflect on this triumphant entry, and others simple celebrate the day their King entered Jerusalem.
To prepare your heart for what scripture has to say, read the following:
- Matthew 21
- Mark 11
- Luke 19
- John 12
Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday as some denominations refer to it, is a day when people reflect on the Passover Meal or Last Supper. This is the day when Jesus called his disciples together for one last meal in preparation of the events that would proceed in the days to come.
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” — Matthew 26:26-30
Some churches reflect on this day with a traditional Jewish Passover Meal, while others simply have an opportunity for their members to come partake in the dipping of the bread and wine.
Maundy is derived from the Latin word mandatum, meaning commandment. It refers to John 13:34 when Jesus says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Here are scripture readings to prepare your heart for this day:
- Matthew 26
- Mark 14
- Luke 22
- John 13
Good Friday is recognized as the day Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. In most religious circles, it is called Good Friday, as another way of saying Holy Friday. Many churches will hold Good Friday services that will highlight and remember the blessed day when Jesus died for all our sins.
This day is a key day in the Christian faith. Meditating on this day and remembering the reality of Jesus dying on the cross to take away our sins is of utmost importance.
Here are a few Gospel references to prepare your heart and remember this day
- Matthew 27
- Mark 15
- Luke 23
- John 19
This day is the day between Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is also called Black Saturday in some religious circles as some denominations and religions believe this is the day when Jesus descended into hell to take back the keys to death. The argument for this belief stems from 1 Peter 3:19-20.
Whereas scripture as a whole does not give us many details on this day, here are a couple Gospel references to prepare your heart:
- Matthew 27: 62-66
- Luke 23:55-56
Easter Sunday is the best day of week. It is a day to celebrate and rejoice that our King has risen from grave and beat eternal death forever! The best way to celebrate this day is to read what God has in Word for us and rest in the fact that Jesus paid the ultimate price for each of us so we can dwell with God forever in his glory.
Prepare your hearts by reading these key pieces of scripture
- Luke 24: 2-3
- John 11: 25-26
- Acts 4:33
- 1 Peter 1:3
- Mark 15: 46-47
- Luke 24: 6-7
- Acts 3:15
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
- Mark 16:5-7
- Matthew 27:65-66
- Luke 23: 46-47
- Romans 6:8-11
- Mark 15:32
- Romans 8:34
- Colossians 1:13-14
- Ephesians 1:20
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Philippians 2:8
Preparing your heart for Holy Week is important to remember the goodness of our great God and King. Reading the scriptures outlined above will not only prepare your heart, but also allow you to be prepared to testify about all the events leading up to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Use this outline as a way to prepare your own heart, educate your mind, and equip yourself to enter this week with sweet reverence for God’s amazing power.