Holy Week Devotionals 2022

Palm Sunday - Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey (Luke 19:29-44)

Key Word: “COVER”
Have everyone talk about what they think of when they hear the word, “cover.”
There is no wrong answer…just whatever comes to mind.
Question: Have you ever listened to a friend when they tried to get you to do something you knew you shouldn’t do? What was the result?

Even though it’s hard for us to imagine, there was a time when sin and death did not exist.
If we go all the way back to the creation of the world in Genesis chapter 1, we see that God created the world and called it, “good”. He also created human beings, “in His own image” which means they were a reflection of Him. We were created to be in a loving relationship with God and bring Him glory. God placed the first two people, Adam and Eve, in the garden and told them to work the land and take care of it. Adam and Eve had a close relationship with God where they regularly walked and talked with Him. They were in charge of the garden and everything in it. There were trees all over the beautiful garden they could eat. The only rule God gave them…They were forbidden to eat from one specific tree in the middle of the garden, the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

STOP AND THINK… Put yourself in Adam and Eve’s position. If you were constantly walking to the middle of the garden to eat from the Tree of Life, and you kept seeing the tree you weren’t allowed to eat from…how do you think you would have felt about that tree? How about in our life today, when we are told we can’t have something, does it make us want to have it that much more?

READ the following passage: Genesis 3:1-8
Questions: What did they cover themselves with? Fig Leaves (Remember this…it will be important at the end)
What did they do when they heard God coming? They hid from Him
How do you feel when you have been caught sinning?  Do you feel like God is angry at you? Have you ever wanted to hide from God?
[The following section will help you understand the answers to these questions]

Contrary to what we might think, God was not surprised by Adam and Eve’s disobedience. God is omniscient, which means He knows everything. Their disobedience simply set in motion the plan that He already had. There is always a consequence for sin, whether we can see it or not. Because God is a just and holy God, He HAS to punish sin. Even the serpent was cursed for his part in deceiving Eve. The bad news for Adam and Eve was that their disobedience caused them to have to leave the garden and live separated from their Creator, but in the midst of their pain, God gave them a glimmer of hope.
In Genesis 3:15, God said that one day…an offspring from Eve’s family line would crush the head of the serpent and defeat him forever. The word, “offspring” in the Hebrew language is the word, “seed” and it refers to a single male person. Our hope rests completely on the actions of the “seed” of Eve.
READ Genesis 3:21. What did God do right before He kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden?
From the very beginning, God establishes a system where the punishment for sin is death. We see this echoed in the New Testament as well, Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is DEATH…”
By sacrificing the animal and “covering” Adam and Eve with the skin, God was showing that He had covered the cost of their sin. They tried to cover themselves with Fig Leaves, but that didn’t work because plants can’t pay the price for sin. Even animals can’t cover our sin forever, that’s why God sent Jesus.
Through Adam and Eve…sin and death entered the world and changed everything forever, but one day, the seed of Eve would come to give up His own life on the cross to cover the sins of the world.

KEY WORD: How has your understanding of the word “cover” changed after reading this story? [The word, “cover” in the context of this story is similar to the word, “atone,” which means to “pay for.”]

God, as we spend time this week reading stories that point us to the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, please help us to understand how big it really was. Thank You that in the middle of Adam and Eve’s sin and punishment, You gave them hope that one day our relationship with You will be restored to what it was in the beginning.

Monday - Jesus curses the fig tree & cleanses the temple (Mark 11:12-18; Luke 19:45-48)

Key Word: “JUDGMENT”
Have everyone talk about what they think of when they hear the word, “Judgment.”
There is no wrong answer…just whatever comes to mind.
Question: Have you ever done something you regret, and wished you could take it back? What were the circumstances?

After Adam and Eve sinned, and were forced to leave the garden, the world and the people in it began to change. They were experiencing the consequences of sin…pests, famine, disease, sickness, natural disasters and violence toward each other. As time passed, things continued to get worse. Fast forward a few thousand years, and sin had increased greatly, so much so that violence and evil was the law of the land.
READ Genesis 6:5-8

STOP AND THINK… Would you say our world today is more or less wicked than Noah’s time? Why or Why not?

READ the following passages: Genesis 6:11-13 and Genesis 6:17-22
Most of us are familiar with the story of Noah and the Ark. God sees that people are wicked and sin is out of control, and hits the reset button. We see God wipe out all the animals and people except for a select few, and destroy the earth in the process. God chose to execute His divine right to judge sin, and the punishment for sin is death.

READ Genesis 8:1, 20-21
“BUT GOD,” we see these two words in the first verse, and they are quite possibly the most beautiful words you can read in a story like this, because they show us both sides of God. We see that He is just and holy, but we also see that He is loving and merciful.
In the midst of great judgment, God displays great mercy as well, and promises Noah He will never again destroy the earth with a flood. To ensure Noah can trust that promise, God makes a covenant with him. A covenant is a serious binding agreement, and in God’s case, He can’t break it. God even gives Noah and his family a special “sign” to remember the covenant.
READ Genesis 9:12-16

Why do you think God gave the rainbow as the sign of the Covenant? [Use Genesis 9:12-16 to answer]
Is the focus of this story God’s judgment on the earth or God’s mercy towards Noah? [It’s really both!]
Why is it important to understand the seriousness of sin? [Sin is the same today as it was in Noah’s time, and the consequence for sin is still death. The only way to be made right with God and fix your problem of sin is through Jesus. It’s really a life or death decision!]

Noah and his family were still sinners just like Adam and Eve, so it didn’t take long for sin and evil to spread out all over the world again, but God wasn’t surprised by this. He knew this would happen, and that’s why, before the creation of the world, He already had a plan - A perfect plan. A plan that would rescue the world, not destroy it. A plan that would include sacrificing someone very dear to Him. In Noah’s story, we see God pour out His judgment on many people and save only one family, but one day…we will see God pour out His judgment on JUST ONE to save many!

KEY WORD: How has your understanding of the word “judgment” changed after reading this story? [The word Judgment means, “The ability to make a wise decision, and then demonstrate that ability through action.”]
Do we see this in our story?

Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Thank you God for Your wisdom. We worship You and acknowledge that You are greater than us. We trust Your ways and Your plan even if we don’t always understand what You are doing.    

Tuesday - Jesus teaching on Mt. of Olives; Judas agrees to betray Jesus (Luke 21:5 - 22:6)

Have everyone talk about what they think of when they hear the word, “SUBSTITUTE.”
There is no wrong answer…just whatever comes to mind.
Question: Have you ever had to trust your parents even though you didn’t understand what they were doing?

In the first eleven chapters of the bible, we see God dealing with mankind in general, but starting in Genesis chapter 12, God initiates a relationship with a man named Abram…whose name will soon be changed to Abraham. It’s not that God changed His mind and tried something new…it’s that God’s plan was unfolding in a different way. God was going to establish a covenant with Abraham. We saw this concept in the story of Noah. A Covenant is a serious, binding agreement where one or more promises are shared between two parties. In this particular covenant, God promised Abraham three main things. Great blessings in all that he did, a special land where his descendants could live, and a special descendant, through whom the entire world would be blessed. The word descendant or offspring is the same word we saw in Genesis 3. It is the word, “seed,” and it refers to a SINGLE MALE person.
In the context of history, God initially fulfilled the promise of a male descendant in Isaac, who was born to Abraham when He was 100 years old. From the time God first made the promise to Abraham in Genesis chapter 15 to the actual birth, Abraham and Sarah had to wait 25 years.

STOP AND THINK…Have you ever had to wait a long time to receive something that was promised to you? How long is the longest you had to wait?

READ the following passage: Genesis 22:1-14
Do you think Abraham was upset with God for asking him to sacrifice his son, and how do you think that made him feel?
What does Abraham’s obedience show about his relationship with God? [He trusted God]

Abraham was overjoyed when Isaac was born, so you can imagine his shock and confusion when God asked him to sacrifice his only son…the fulfillment of the covenant promise. But Abraham obeyed, and when God saw his faithfulness, He provided a substitute, just like Abraham told Isaac He would.
Many years after this story, another Father would ask His Son to do something just as crazy. That Son would also climb a mountain carrying His own wood, and would willingly allow Himself to be bound and placed as a sacrifice upon that wood. That Son would be a great descendant from Abraham’s line…the “seed” that was promised to Abraham, and the same seed that was promised to Eve long ago. His name was Jesus, and when He gave up His life on the cross, He became the substitute for all of us who have sinned against God. Instead of pouring out His wrath on us, God poured out His wrath on Jesus, affording us the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins, IF we put our faith in Jesus as our substitute.
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

KEY WORD: How has your understanding of the word “substitute” changed after reading this story? [The word “substitute,” is a person or thing acting or serving in place of another]

Thank you God, for providing Jesus as our substitute. It’s easy for us to see how much we mess up, but we know that if we confess our sin, You will always forgive us. Thank You for loving us in spite of our sin!

Wednesday - Silence (There are no specific events mentioned about this day)

Key Word: “REDEEM”
Have everyone talk about what they think of when they hear the word, “REDEEM.”
There is no wrong answer…just whatever comes to mind.
Questions: Are there any examples of modern day slavery? Do you feel like you are slave to anything in your life?
At the end of the book of Genesis, all the descendants of Abraham, including Jacob and his entire family are living in Egypt because of a famine in the promised land of Israel. Life in Egypt while their brother Joseph was second in command afforded them certain privileges. Life was good, and their family was growing rapidly. But after Joseph died and a new Pharaoh took over, things quickly changed, and they found themselves slaves, trapped in a foreign land. Their slavery lasted for 400 years before God sent Moses to rescue them and lead them back to the promised land.
God knew that Pharaoh wouldn’t let the people go easily, so He told Moses that He would send 10 plagues on the Egyptians that would force Pharaoh to let His people go. The first nine plagues destroyed everything…their homes, their animals, their crops, their water supply and their wealth, but the tenth plague took something from them that can never be replaced.  

STOP AND THINK…Do you feel like the Israelites would have been influenced by the gods that the Egyptians worshiped?

READ the following passage: Exodus 12:1-30
Questions: Why was it so important for the animals to be perfect (without defect)? [Defects or imperfections on animals represented sin, therefore they could not be used to pay the price for sin]
How does the specific requirements for the animal sacrifices connect to Jesus? [They both have to be perfect]
In our world today, being “passed over” can be a negative thing. Talk about what it means to have God “Pass over” our sin and instead place it on His Son.

Taking a lamb on the 10th day and sacrificing it on the 14th at twilight was the rule for the Jews, and every year after it happened, they were to continue to do the same thing as a way to remember this great event in their history. Even in the time of Jesus, the Israelites were still celebrating Passover. It was one of their largest celebrations. What they didn’t know was that the significance of that event was SO much bigger than being rescued from the land of Egypt. This story was meant to draw our attention to the real Passover Lamb, the Messiah who entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey on the 10th day, who was crucified, and gave up His Spirit at EXACTLY TWILIGHT on the 14th day. Jesus fulfilled Passover down to the tiniest detail, making His sacrifice the greatest rescue the world has ever seen. Before Christ set us free, we were all slaves to sin (Romans 6:6), and just like God redeemed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He also redeemed us. God purchased us back by paying the ultimate price…His Son’s life for ours.

KEY WORD: How has your understanding of the word “Redeem” changed after reading this story? [The word redeem means, “To free from captivity by payment of ransom; the buy back or win back.]

Thank You Jesus, for being our substitute. Thank You for being willing to pay the price we could not pay so we can be redeemed and set free from sin.

Thursday - Jesus washes disciples’ feet; The Last Passover meal; Garden of Gethsemane; Arrest/Denial/Trial (Luke 22:7 - 65)

Key Word: “SHADOW”
Have everyone talk about what they think of when they hear the word, “SHADOW.”
There is no wrong answer…just whatever comes to mind.
Question: If you make a mistake, or do something wrong today (in your school, in your job, or with another person), what is the typical process you go through to make things right?  
After God led the Israelites out of Egypt, He made a covenant with them and promised to take them as His people, and bless them greatly if they would obey. God gave them ten laws they would need to know in order to obey. We call these laws the 10 commandments. God also told them to build a special place called a tabernacle, where He could dwell among them, and where they could come to make sacrifices for their sin and worship Him. Inside the tabernacle, God had them build a special room where He would dwell. Nobody was allowed to enter or even look inside the room, except for one day every year. Even on that day, they had to bring the blood of a bull with them in order to enter the room.
The people wholeheartedly agreed to this covenant, and everything seemed great, until 5 minutes later when the people began to disobey God and started worshiping false idols. But nevertheless, the system was set and the cycle began. Anytime the people would sin, they would bring one of the animals designated for sacrifice, and the priest would kill the animal as a substitute to cover (pay the price) for their sin. This system would continue until the final Jewish temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Roman general Titus.
Just like the other stories we have seen this week, this system was never meant to be the way that people were saved. It was just a temporary part of God’s plan, a shadow or picture, meant to reflect something else…something much better.

STOP AND THINK…Throughout the bible, the necessary payment for sin is a blood sacrifice. Why is that? [The consequence for sinning against a holy God is death. Blood represents life (Leviticus 17:11), therefore blood had to be shed, resulting in a death, in order to pay the price for sin.]

Many times in the Israelite’s history, God made it clear what He really wanted from them:
READ the following passage together: Jeremiah 7:21-26
Even though most of the Israelites did not understand what God really wanted from them, some DID get it. King David was one of those people. He understood that sacrifices weren’t enough and wrote about it in one of his Psalms: READ Psalm 51:16-17
Even though God’s own people refused to obey or listen to Him, God still had a plan for them. God loves us so much that He made a way to take our stubborn heart and make it new!
READ Ezekiel 36:24-28

Questions: Do you relate to how the Israelites felt … constantly disappointing God?
Do you ever feel like you are just going through the motions and don’t have a real love for God?
How can we overcome the temptations of this world and truly be men and women after God’s own heart?

Many stories in the bible are a mere shadow of a better reality to come. A shadow is a reflection of something. Shadows today are usually the result of the sun cascading off of our physical bodies and reflecting a distorted version of ourselves onto the ground. In the book of Hebrews, the sacrificial system is described as just that…a shadow.
READ Hebrews 10:1-4
Even before the world was created, and according to God’s will, Jesus was Plan A. He was going to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life for all who believed in Him.

KEY WORD: How has your understanding of the word “Shadow” changed after reading this story? [Much like what God did for Adam and Eve before they left the Garden of Eden, the entire sacrificial system is designed to be a reflection of the future sacrifice Jesus would make on the cross.]

We praise You God for everything You do for us! You are a loving and gracious God and You give us gifts that we do not deserve. Thank You for giving us a new heart to help us follow after You.

Friday - Trial and Beatings; Crucifixion and Burial (Luke 22:66 - 23:56)

Key Word: “FINISHED”
Have everyone talk about what they think of when they hear the word, “FINISHED.”
There is no wrong answer…just whatever comes to mind.
Question: Have you ever been given a BIG job to do? How did you feel when you finally finished the task and accomplished the goals you set out to achieve?  
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the climax of the entire Bible. When we looked at Genesis 3 earlier this week, we saw God promise Eve that one of her descendants would crush the head of the serpent. Throughout the Old Testament, we see this promise restated. To Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to Moses, to Israel, to Joshua, to David, and on and on. And yet…one young man after another fails to finish the task and fulfill the promise. Even David, who was called, “A man after God’s own heart,” failed. They all failed to finish the task because they were all selfish, and filled with sin. In order to be saved, and have our sins paid for, we needed someone different to come and help us…someone perfect, and God knew just who to send.  

STOP AND THINK…Do you think it was difficult for God to offer up His only Son and send Him to die for the sins of sinners like you and me?

After Jesus was arrested in the Garden, He spent the entire night being questioned and interrogated by the religious leaders of Israel, until He was eventually brought before the Roman prefix or governor at the time, Pontius Pilate. The religious leaders were accusing Jesus of blasphemy…a crime punishable by death. After questioning Jesus Himself, Pilate determined that Jesus was innocent of all the crimes He was accused of, but because there were so many Jews in town to celebrate Passover, he didn’t want to stir up the mob, so he gave into their demands and ordered Jesus to be crucified.
READ the following passage together: John 19:16-30
Jesus was led up to a place called, “Golgotha,” and crucified at approximately 9:00am. He spent 6 long hours on the cross paying the price for our sins and giving us the opportunity to be reconciled to God, and at 3:00 pm, He cried out the 3 most important words anyone has ever said. IT IS FINISHED. In the Greek language…this phrase means, “Paid in full.” Jesus had been sent by God to accomplish a mission…rescuing sinners and redeeming them from their sin, and after Jesus hung on that cross for 6 hours, He had FULLY accomplished the task His Father had given to Him. The sacrifice for sins had been made, and it was FINISHED. It was over…no more animals needed to die, and there was no longer a need for the sacrificial system! HALLELUJAH!!  

How come all the animal sacrifices were not able to pay the price for our sins? [Animals are not moral creatures so they cannot choose right or wrong. This means they cannot live a perfect life and take on the sins of the world in order to pay the price God required. Only Jesus could do that.]
How is an animal sacrifice different from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross? [Animal sacrifices were just a temporary solution to deal with the problem of sin. They were not able to fully cleanse anyone from their sin, and they were always intended to point forward to a BETTER, more permanent solution, which is only found in Jesus’ sacrifice.
READ Hebrews 10:14-18 together.
When we put our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are cleansed from ALL of our sin forever.  

When Jesus came to earth the first time…He had a very specific mission. He lived a perfect life, and then died in order to pay the price for our sin. But He did not stay dead. 3 days later, Jesus came back from the grave, and appeared to many people, proving that He was indeed, God in the flesh. And after He had finished His mission, He returned to heaven.
But Jesus will return a second time to gather His followers from every corner of the earth and take us home to be with Him in heaven forever, and what a glorious day that will be! On that day, our salvation will finally be complete

KEY WORD: How has your understanding of the word “Finished” changed after reading this story? [In connection to our celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we should always remember that Jesus FINISHED the job His Father gave Him…fully accomplishing salvation for those that put their faith in Him.]

God, You are a good good Father, and we are so thankful You sent Your Son to save us from our sin and bring us back to You. May we never forget the great sacrifice Jesus was willing to make on our behalf. God, pull our hearts close to Yours over the next few days as we think about and remember how much You love us…so much so that You did not spare Your own Son, but freely gave Him up for us.

HOLY WEEK EVENTS: Saturday - Jesus is in the tomb

Key Word: “DARKNESS”
Have everyone talk about what they think of when they hear the word, “DARKNESS”
There is no wrong answer…just whatever comes to mind.
Question: Have you ever tried to run away from or avoid your responsibilities? Why do you think our instinct is to run away?
Even though the Jews didn’t understand this concept — God loves BOTH Jews and the Gentiles. Jews considered themselves God’s chosen people, and Gentiles were just, “everyone else.” But being in that “everyone else” group also meant you were “less than” as well. Jews just assumed they were better than everyone else because of their association with the one true God. They failed to notice that throughout their history, there had been many Gentiles that had joined them and been welcomed in by God (Rahab and Ruth to name a few). This wasn’t the only thing that kept the Jews and Gentiles separate though, most of the Gentiles surrounding the nation of Israel were not what you would call friendly. No, most of them were quite violent and hostile towards Israel, always on the verge of a war or hostile takeover.
So when God came to one of His prophets named Jonah, and asked him to go preach a message of repentance (turning away from sin) to the people living in Ninevah, an enemy city in Assyria, you can imagine how excited he was to obey!

STOP AND THINK…Be honest, are there people in your life, and in your schools that you feel are “less than” or beneath you? How would you describe them, and why do you think we naturally rank or judge the people around us?

Most of us have heard a version of the story of Jonah at some point in our life. God tells Jonah to go preach to an enemy city and Jonah doesn’t want to go, so he runs away and gets on a ship headed in the exact opposite direction. God sends a terrible storm to disrupt the path of the boat, and when the other passengers are terrified, Jonah knows exactly what is happening and tells them to throw him overboard. They are reluctant at first, but eventually give in and toss him overboard, hoping the LORD will save him. God does save him, but not in the way you might think. God sends a big fish to swallow Jonah.
READ Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish: Jonah 2:1-10
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by darkness?
Do you ever think to ask God for help when you are afraid?

Jonah’s prayer shows us that in that dark, damp, smelly, grave-like place, the only correct response one can have is to cry out to the LORD. And when he did…God answered. Just as Jonah spent three days in the belly of the fish, Jesus spent three days in the belly of the earth as payment, not for His own sins like Jonah, but for all the sins committed against His Father. When Jesus suffered the pain of the cross, He cried out as well, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” And God answered by pouring out His anger to atone (cover or pay the price) for sin. But tomorrow morning, the darkness of the grave will pass, as the Light of the World will pour Himself out in a different way…in a way that brings life to hardened, stubborn hearts and awakens them for the first time.  

KEY WORD: How has your understanding of the word “Darkness” changed after reading this story?
One could argue that there really is no such thing as darkness…just the absence of light. The bible tells us that Jesus is the Light of the World, which makes sense, because when Jesus was dying on the cross, we know that darkness covered the land.  

God, we praise You for the times in our lives when You allow us to be swallowed up by the consequences of our actions. Please forgive us for running away when You call us to obey. Thank You that death could not defeat our Savior, Jesus. Thank You that He rose from the grave on the third day, conquering sin and death so that we could be FREE.

HOLY WEEK EVENTS: Jesus RISES from the dead!

We hope you will join us at one of our services…6:00pm on Saturday night; or Sunday morning at 9:00 and 11:00am, as we celebrate together the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!