Passion Week

For many Christians, the week leading up to Easter Sunday is called Passion Week or Holy Week. These seven days have been described as “the most important week of the most important person who ever lived.”[1] One could just as easily add that this is the most important week of the year for Christians, because in it we remember the most important event in all of human history—the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Our prayer is that the six daily devotional readings that we have written will help prepare your heart for a glorious celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Join us beginning Sunday, March 29 - Friday, April 3 as we post a new devotional each day.

Friday, April 3 – Community at the Cross

Reading: John 19:16-30

In John 19:16-30—a passage that describes the death of Jesus Christ on the cross—there are a couple of stunning verses, which are easy to miss in light of the great cosmic drama of salvation that’s going on. Jesus is bearing the sin of the world, and yet in the midst of that suffering and pain, you see this expression of tender love and care for His mother and for His dear disciple, the one He loves.

His dying request from the cross was that the two people dearest to Him would continue to live as mother and son. Jesus is both a loving son and loving friend who wants to see that His beloved are practically cared for, but the spiritual meaning here is unmistakable. This illustrates the creation of the new family of God, the one that transcends genetics and physical family. It’s at the foot of the cross that spiritual community develops. For many of us today, who are disconnected from physical family, or whose physical families are broken and create a lot of pain and heartache, spiritual family becomes even more important.

As you head into this Easter weekend, reflect on the sacrifices Christ has made for you and the ways He has provided for you through your spiritual family. Meditate on how He ministers to you and how you should be following His example in caring for others until His next triumphal return.

Thursday, April 2 – Jesus Washes Feet

Reading: John 13:1-17

When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He demonstrated the life that we are called and privileged to lead as His disciples is a life of humility and sacrifice.

Recognizing that there was no servant present to wash the feet of the guests and that the disciples apparently were not humble enough to perform the work of a servant, Jesus humbled Himself and served them. He did so knowing that the Father “had put all things under his power.” When Jesus bowed His knee to wash the disciples’ feet, He did so knowing that when He comes again, every knee will bow to Him. Security in His identity set Him free to serve humbly.

No doubt embarrassed that the Messiah had humbled Himself to perform a task that he was not ready to do, Peter protested that Jesus should not be serving them in this way. Instead of protesting, Peter should have embraced the example being set by Jesus to further educate himself on how to serve others authentically and wholeheartedly.

Today, let’s reflect on the humility of Christ in serving others and resolve to live out that humility as His followers.

Wednesday, April 1 – Jesus our Passover

Reading: 1 Corinthians 5:7

In today’s passage, Paul called Jesus our Passover Lamb. In order to understand the significance of the events of Passion Week, we must remember that they occurred in the context of the Passover Feast, an annual celebration and remembrance of God’s deliverance of His people. On the night when God struck down the firstborn in every household in Egypt, He provided instructions for the sacrifice of a lamb whose blood on the doorframes of the homes of the Israelites would cause God to pass over those homes and deliver them from death. (See Exodus 11—12.)  The blood of Jesus, our Passover Lamb, delivers us from spiritual death and gives us life eternal.

Charles Spurgeon once said:

Jesus Christ is not only a Savior for sinners, but He is food for them after they are saved…What the Christian lives on is not Christ’s righteousness, but Christ. He does not live on Christ’s pardon, but on Christ. And, on Christ the Christian lives daily. . . . It is not the doctrine of justification that does my heart good, it is Christ the Justifier. It is not pardon that so makes the Christian’s heart rejoice, it is Christ the Pardoner.

Jesus was sacrificed for us, our Passover Lamb whose blood delivers us from the curse of death unto life eternal. Reflect today on what it means to live as one who has been delivered from certain spiritual death.

Tuesday, March 31 - Jesus Shows us How to Glorify the Father

Reading: John 12:20-33

In today’s passage, John describes how the Father’s name was glorified by the perfect obedience of the Son throughout His life, but even more so by His obedience unto death, even death on a cross.

If one wants to see the real Jesus, we must look at Him, as He said in this passage, as lifted up on the cross. There we see the essence of His mission and the climax of the revelation of the glory of the Father’s name. On the cross, Jesus finished the work of love He was given to do by the Father: His death, for our life. As followers of Jesus, and those who benefit eternally from His death, we too are called to be with Him in sacrificially living out His love for others. In this we too bring glory to the Father. The beautiful paradox is that in our little dyings, we experience the abundant life that Jesus promises.

Reflect today on ways you can follow Jesus’ example to live sacrificially for the glory of the Father’s name.

Monday, March 30 - Jesus Does the Unexpected

Reading: Matthew 21:12-27

When Jesus overturns the tables of the moneychangers and merchants preying on those who had come to offer sacrifices in the Temple, we see Him doing something that catches us off guard. Typically, in the Gospels, we see Jesus as meek, compassionate, and engaged in the lives of those who have needs. But here, we see Him acting almost violently and aggressively against those who are turning His house into a “den of robbers.”

Jesus quotes a phrase from Isaiah 56:7 as a rationale for his actions, saying “my house is a house of prayer.” That’s where the quote stops in the text of Matthew’s Gospel. However, the text of Isaiah 56:7 goes a step further. It reads, “my house is a house of prayer for all people.”  Under the authority of the temple leadership, these moneychangers and merchants had set up their business in the Court of the Gentiles on the grounds of the temple. In doing so, they were prohibiting Gentiles from coming to worship God. Cleaning out the temple in this way proclaimed that it is His house, a place where He is being worshipped, and a place where all nations, Jews and Gentiles, may come to worship God together.

This unexpected and jarring action radically challenged the authority of the Jewish leaders and their belief that the Messiah came to bless only them. Jesus makes it clear that He has come to bring salvation to all nations just as the prophet Isaiah foresaw many years earlier.

Let’s reflect today on what expectations we may have of Jesus that do not fit with the reality of who He actually is.

Sunday, March 29 - Jesus Redefines Triumph

Reading: Matthew 21:1-11

As Jesus enters Jerusalem on the Sunday before the crucifixion, His messianic identity is confirmed twice through fulfilled prophecy. The first time was by Jesus Himself, when He asked for a colt to ride into Jerusalem as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9, “… Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” By doing this, He confirmed that He is indeed the divine king – the Messiah—whose mission it was to bring salvation. The second confirmation was by the crowds that welcomed Him with the prophetic words of Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Many Christians call this day “Palm Sunday,” because of the palm branches that were spread before Jesus as He came riding into the city. Some refer to this event as the “Triumphal Entry.” There is some irony in calling this passage a triumphal entry because while there was triumph, it was not the kind that people were expecting. Jesus triumphed over sin and death as our Savior, but not over the Romans as a conquering king. To witness conquering in that way, we await Jesus’ Second Coming.

As we begin our Passion Week devotionals, we would do well to reflect upon our own expectations of Jesus’ saving work in our lives and what it means to wait on that day when He returns in ultimate triumph.


Each devotional is taken from a conversation between Denver Seminary’s faculty Dr. Hélène Dallaire, Howard Baker, and Denver Seminary President, Dr. Mark Young.

About Each Contributor:

Dr. Mark Young
President of Denver Seminary

Dr. Hélène Dallaire
Professor of Old Testament

Howard Baker
Assistant Professor of Christian Formation

 

[1] Andreas J. Kostenberger & Justin Taylor with Alexander Stewart, The Final Days of Jesus.

For last year's Passion Week devotionals, please visit this page.

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