Dustin and I wanted to lay out a plan for scripture reading and activities as we approach Easter, so I put together some information and reading based on the New Testament accounts of this time as Jesus' death approaches.
Lent: Old English, “Lengthen.” Days are getting longer with spring approaching. Lent is a good time to reflect and pray, giving thanks to God for sending us a Savior who gave His life for our sins. Fasting is closely associated with this time as a way to express our dependence on God. Of course, it is done with a heart change, expressly to give God our time, to meditate on Him and our need for Him. After prayer we may not feel led to fast during Lent and that's okay. It is a good time, however, to remember the forty days of fasting that Jesus did in the wilderness, to soberly look at ourselves and consider the depth of our sin and the height of God’s love for us, and to ask God for forgiveness.
Noel Piper says,
“Lent is a season of waiting. In that sense it is like Advent. But while Advent waits eagerly for the appearance of the Savior, Lent waits, with heavy responsibility, for his death. The light of Advent candles grows brighter as we approach the Savior’s arrival. In Lent all grows darker as we draw nearer to the unthinkable – the death of God.”
Good scripture reading for each Sunday leading up to holy week of the accounts of Jesus’ last days:
Jesus’ triumphal entry as King and Messiah into Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. He rides on a donkey (signifying humility) and is greeted with “Hosanna” and the waving of palm branches, though the people will soon disown him. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-28; John 12:12-19
Jesus preaches in the Temple and cleanses it by chasing off the moneychangers and vendors. Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48
Jesus and the Pharisees dispute in the Temple, where His authority is challenged and He confronts them. He leaves for the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. There he delivers the “Mount Olivet Discourse.” Judas agrees to betray him to the Jewish priests for 30 pieces of silver. Matthew 21:23-46, 24:29-51, 26:14-16; Mark 11:27-12:12, 13:1-13, 14:10-11; Luke 20:1-18, 22:1-6
Holy, or Spy Wednesday.
On Holy or Maundy Thursday, at the Passover Feast, Jesus and his disciples share the “Last Supper.” It was a time for goodbyes and preparation for separation. Jesus blesses his bread and wine as his flesh and blood and shares it with his disciples. He informs them that one of them will betray him. Jesus and his disciples go to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prays and his disciples desert him, first by falling asleep and then by running away. Matthew 26:17-29, 36-46; Mark 14:12-31, 32-42; Luke 22:7-23, 39-46; John 13:1-30, 36-38
In the middle of the night, Jesus is betrayed by Judas’ kiss and arrested. Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-11
At sunrise, he is denied three times by Peter. When brought before Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest, and his Council, he is condemned. He says that he will rise from death after three days. Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:53-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:12-27
They hand him over to the Roman authority, Pontius Pilate, who sends him to Herod (Antipas, the son of Herod the Great). Then Pilate asks the crowd who he is to pardon: a murderer, or Jesus? The crowd condemns Jesus and he is sentenced to death. Matthew 27:1-26; Mark 15:1-15: Luke 23:1-25; John 18:28-40
Jesus carries his cross to Calvary, where on the “third hour” (9 am) he is crucified. He is mocked as he hangs between the two thieves. On the “sixth hour” (noon), darkness covers the land. Jesus cries out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:32-49; Mark 15:16-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-27
Jesus commits his spirit to his Father and dies. An earthquake destroys the Temple. Many understand now that Jesus was the Son of God. His body is taken down and anointed, then buried by Joseph of Arimathea. Matthew 27:50-61; Mark 15:37-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:28-30, 38-42
The Jewish Council remembers his vow to return and has the tomb guarded and sealed with a heavy stone. His disciples wait; thinking all was over and lost. Matthew 27:62-28; Luke 23:56
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary see an angel roll away the stone in front of the tomb. The angel tells them Jesus is already resurrected and is on his way to Galilee! On their way to tell the others, Jesus appears to them. Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-49; John 20-21
The Lord is risen!!!
I Peter 1:3-5
I hope and pray that this may be helpful for you. I give thanks and praise to my Lord Jesus Christ who died so that I might live!