Easter falls this year on April 12th, a fairly typical date on the calendar in most years. This year it's right in the middle of a whole set of restrictions surrounding COVID-19. Likely we'll be talking about this Easter for the rest of our lives: "Remember 2020 when all Christians around the world stayed home at Easter."
However, for many of us "stay at home" also means that the pace of life has slowed just a bit. And maybe that means we can prepare for Resurrection Sunday more than we typically do, not less. This post is to help you do that.
The Bible slows down with important events, giving us minute detail of vitally important events and almost no mention at all of things that don't contribute to the history of salvation. As examples, centuries go undescribed between Joseph and Moses (the gap between Gen 50 and Exod 1), and centuries pass between the last chapter of the OT and the first of the NT.
But when we get to the final days of Jesus the clock really slows down. We get detailed conversations and a fairly complete record of the eight days from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. This makes sense given how eternally significant the crucifixion and resurrection are to the people of God of every age. There is no salvation without the events on these dates taking place—for anyone. Not Abraham, not Moses, not King David, not the apostle Paul, not anyone. Virtually every page of the NT bears the imprint of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, the culminating moments that take place on Friday and Sunday of this week. It's almost harder to find passages in the NT that aren't connected to the cross and resurrection of Christ than to find ones that are. The clues are everywhere: This is important, pay attention.
So, yes, these eight days are a big deal. They are worth revisiting in our personal reading and time with the Lord. To help you with that, below are readings connected to each day from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday. You can easily do this alone or you could read it aloud with those you're "staying at home" with. This list is from Andreas Köstenberger and Justin Taylor's book The Final Days of Jesus (also see Gospel Coalition who created a self-study course that tracks through this same material with a brief video and supplementary readings).
On Good Friday we'll be streaming a brief time of singing and reflection. This will be around 30 minutes or so, from 7-7:30 pm. See the church website to watch.
Below we'll include the dates of the very first holy week, all occurring in the year AD 33. Sometimes it's good to put specific dates and years on events so important to us. It reminds us they are historical realities and no mere myth and legend.
Here are the readings for each day:
The First Palm Sunday - March 29, AD 33*
Jesus Enters Jerusalem: John 12:12–19
Jesus Predicts His Death: John 12:20–36
Jesus Visits the Temple: Matthew 21:14–17
* To see why Köstenberger and Taylor feel AD 33 is the best date for Jesus' death go here.
Monday - March 30, AD 33
Jesus Curses a Fig Tree: Mark 11:12–14
Jesus Cleanses the Temple: Mark 11:15–18
Tuesday - March 31, AD 33
The Lesson from the Fig Tree: Mark 11:20–26
Jesus Teaches in the Temple: Mark 11:27–12:44
Jesus Predicts the Future: Mark 13:1–37
Wednesday - April 1, AD 33
Jesus Continues His Daily Teaching in the Temple: Luke 21:37–38
The Sanhedrin Plots to Kill Jesus: Luke 22:1–2
Thursday - April 2, AD 33
Jesus Instructs His Disciples Peter and John to Secure a Room for Passover: Luke 22:7–13
Jesus Eats the Passover Meal with the Twelve, Tells Them of the Coming Betrayal, and Institutes the Lord’s Supper: Luke 22:14–30
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet, Interacts with Them, and Delivers the Upper Room Discourse: John 13:1–17:26
Jesus and the Disciples Sing a Hymn Together, Then Depart to the Mount of Olives: Mark 14:26
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denials: Mark 14:27–31
Jesus Issues Final Practical Commands about Supplies and Provisions: Luke 22:35–38
Jesus and the Disciples Go to Gethsemane: Luke 22:40–46
Friday – April 3, AD 33
Jesus arrested, Peter's denials, Jesus crucified and buried: Luke 22:47–23:56
Saturday – April 4, AD 33
The Chief Priests and Pharisees Place Guards at the Tomb: Matthew 27:62–66
Sunday – April 5, AD 33 (see above [*] on AD 33 for this first Resurrection Sunday)
Jesus raised from the dead, several resurrection appearances: Luke 24