It’s tempting to jump from Palm Sunday to Easter, skipping over all the dark and difficult stuff in between. Who doesn’t love to celebrate a winner? The week began with an exuberant parade as throngs of Jerusalem dwellers and tourists cheered for Jesus. The week ended with a bloody corpse stuffed into a small cave after intense pain and humiliation, dished out through religious intrigue and government machinery. Seven days was all it took for Jesus to go from first to worst.
Of course, from our place in history we know about the sudden twist at the very end of the story. We know that the tears lasted only for a night and that joy came in the morning. That incredible, inconceivable, unpredictable-yet-predicted miracle is the foundation of Christian faith. As one writer put it, “Faith in a corpse buried somewhere in the Middle East will redeem no one.” But as an even greater writer, the Apostle Paul, put it, “in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
But it’s important to dwell for a time in the days between Palm Sunday and Easter. The Son of God bore the sin of the world, including mine and yours. He experienced betrayal, injustice, torture, and death for you, for me, for everyone. The Risen Lord has scars. Our need for redemption put them there.
Let me suggest a resource to help you take a slow stroll through the events of Holy Week. Spend some time reading and digesting the various accounts of the four gospel writers. Listen to their unique voices, especially where they overlap and where they don’t. Don’t get hung up on the details that one leaves out and another includes. Instead, just soak it in and meditate on it. Let the Spirit speak to you through these ancient stories. It’s a LOT of reading, but it’ll be worth it.
Here’s a roadmap you can use:
- Palm Sunday – Matthew 21:1–11, Mark 11:1–11, Luke 19:28–44, John 12:9–19
- Monday – Matthew 21:12–22, Mark 11:12–19, Luke 19:45–48
- Tuesday – Matthew 21:23–26:5, Mark 11:27–14:2, Luke 20:1–22:2, John 12:37–50
- Wednesday – Matthew 26:6–16, Mark 14:3–11, Luke 22:3–6
- Thursday – Matthew 26:17–75, Mark 14:12–72, Luke 22:7–71, John 13:1–18:27
- Good Friday – Matthew 27:1–61, Mark 15:1–47, Luke 23:1–56, John 18:28–19:42
- Saturday – Matthew 27:62–66
- Easter Sunday – Matthew 28:1–20, Mark 16:1–8, Luke 24:1–53, John 20:1–21:25
It’s fruitful for us to dwell in these steps in the journey from the gates of the city to the empty tomb. The “dark and difficult stuff in between” illustrates the incredible depth of God’s love for us and the lengths to which God will go to save us. If you discover (or rediscover) something meaningful that touches your spirit, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.