Beyond the social, cultural, and religious celebratory traditions of Easter, try a very practical approach to Easter this week. Carve out 20-30 minutes each day next week (Monday – Sunday) and do the following. ◊
Easter has a way of sneaking up on us. One can see Christmas coming a mile away with the fall holidays of Halloween followed closely by Thanksgiving. The decorations and holiday events herald the coming celebration of Christmas in ways that are hard to miss.
Of course, Easter does have its advance celebrations of Ash Wednesday and the Lent season, but these have never been highlighted events for me personally. Sad to say, in the past, it’s typically been the closing of Q1 from my sales and business perspective that often alerts me to that the fact that Easter is just around the corner. Palm Sunday (the week before Easter) is a big milestone in this season although it seems to be less emphasized these days. And Good Friday is certainly a meaningful time for me to give pause moving toward Easter Sunday and all the church and family gathering plans.
The Buildup to that First Easter
To be clear, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave following his killing on a cross in Jerusalem by the Romans in the first century. Killed and buried on a Friday afternoon. Discovered missing from His tomb on Sunday morning. Seen alive and well by his friends and disciples that same day. Seen alive and well by as many as 500 people over the next 40 days.
This is why Christianity, the Way, exploded throughout the Roman Empire and the world over, and is very vibrantly alive in the hearts, minds, and souls of over 2 billion people today. No matter how hard people may try, you can’t bury truth when you see and experience it.
But what happened before and during that pivotal week in Jerusalem?
Jesus, the itinerant carpenter turned rabbi/teacher from the northern region of Galilee, was winning hearts and minds across the land of Israel among the people with his teachings and miraculous healings and provocative stance against the religious status quo.
In the time leading up to His triumphant entry into the bustling capital city of Jerusalem, Jesus spoke of the coming Kingdom of God and articulated memorable parables conveyed to his personally developed group of 12 disciples and other followers made up of friends and fellow Jews. He was literally a Jewish superstar who had the countryside and entire city of Jerusalem all abuzz when He rode into the city on a donkey.
He purposely orchestrated the entrance as a fulfillment of the words of the prophet Zechariah:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! 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. (Zechariah 9:9)
Jesus knew exactly who He was and what He was doing. He knew the attention He was creating. He knew the danger He was moving toward and the ultimate outcome.
Before arriving in Jerusalem, He predicted his death by crucifixion at the hands of the chief priests, scribes and Romans, and his being “raised on the 3rd day.” (Matthew 20:17-19, Mark 10:32-34, Luke 18:31-34). On His way to Jerusalem, He healed 2 blind men before a large crowd near Jericho (Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43). In his last miracle before entering Jerusalem, Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:1-57)
As Lazarus lived in Bethany, less than 2 miles outside Jerusalem, this final action is the reason that the crowds were so enthralled and singing praises for the “coming King” on “Palm Sunday.” These incidents were what moved the High Priest, Caiaphas, and the Jewish Sanhedrin (city ruling council) to plan to kill Jesus out of fear of trouble with Rome.
A Practical Approach to Easter Week
Beyond the social, cultural, and religious celebratory traditions of Easter, try a very practical approach to Easter this week. Carve out 20-30 minutes each day this next week (Monday – Saturday) and do the following:
- Monday – read Matthew 19 and 20, Mark 10, Luke 18, and John 11 – this depicts the time just prior to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
- Tuesday – read Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12 – this highlights Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
- Wednesday – read Matthew 22 and 23, Mark 12, Luke 20, John 13 – this documents Jesus’ teaching in Jerusalem and warnings to the religious leaders.
- Thursday – read Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, Luke 21, John 14, 15, 16 and 17 – this articulates Jesus’ final instructions to the disciples.
- Friday – read Matthew 26 and 27, Mark 14 and 15, Luke 22 and 23, John 18 and 19 – this reports the trial, crucifixion, and death of Jesus.
- Saturday – read Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 and 21 – this describes the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus.
- Easter Sunday – attend an Easter service and enjoy the day with your family and friends.
With what is laid out above, make it a week of reading the Bible’s four documented historic Gospel accounts of the activities and circumstances of Jesus’ last week leading to the world-changing resurrection event which we celebrate as Easter.
With meditative and prayerful focus, relive the path to Easter this week in a way that stirs your mind and heart beyond religious ritual or nodding acquiescence to holiday tradition. As you read, in your mind’s eye, place yourself in Palestine as a 1st century Jew in Jerusalem or in the countryside experiencing this heralded man who claimed to be one with God, and then actually proved it.
May God bless you this Easter week as you vividly experience the Scriptures with a new level of meaning and significance.
Happy Easter! “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” (Luke 24:34)
This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. – John 21:24-25